Exercise 5b: Trying new media

Supports: cartridge paper 170gsm, watercolour paper 300gsm, black paper, tin foil

Tools: toothbrush, dried aquilegia seed heads and stems, string, apple stem, stick, bubble wrap, air blower, garden cane, cotton buds

Mediums: water-soluble ink, bleach, hard pastels, fine willow charcoal, water, used teabag, salt, bicarbonate of soda, nail varnish, rollerball pen, watercolour

Using new media

  1. Sepia ink applied by toothbrush, in a sweeping motion.
  2. Lines and blotches drawn in black and yellow ochre ink on 300gsm paper using dried aquilegia stem.  Dried seed head used in ‘pouncing’ fashion to create irregular stippling in black ink.
  3. Square of 300gsm paper covered with black ink, then drawn into with string dipped in neat bleach.
  4. Apple stem dipped in indian red ink and used to draw lines and dots on 300gsm paper.
  5. Spirals drawn into tin foil with wrong end of paintbrush.
  6. My newly acquired Sennelier oil pastels used for the first time – attempted to draw a couple of cherries.
  7. Split stick dipped in yellow ochre ink and used to draw dual-lines on 300gsm paper.  Other end of stick used to print dots in blue-black ink.
  8. Hard pastels used to draw leaf form, outlined loosely in thin willow charcoal.
  9. Bubblewrap print in yellow ochre  ink.
  10. Dried aquilegia seed head dipped in black ink and dragged across 300gsm paper.  Used the stem to draw finer lines.
  11. Toothbrush dipped in blue-black ink used to splatter over two dried flower heads set down on the 300gsm paper.
  12. Indian red & yellow ochre ink dripped from paintbrush, and blown across 300gsm paper by a Giotto Rocket air blower.
  13. Indian red ink drawn into by garden cane dipped in neat bleach on 300gsm paper.  Hard to make much on an imprint at all, quite unlike the effect of bleach on black ink.
  14. Flower stem dipped in black ink, left until almost dry, and then used to draw lines.
  15. Edge of stick dipped in blue-black ink and used to make random marks – lines, stipples, and splotches on 300gsm paper.
  16. Wavy thin willow charcoal line brushed across one way with water on 300gsm paper.
  17. Square of 300gsm paper ‘painted’ with used teabag, then splattered with sepia ink.  While the ink was still wet, I applied coarse sea salt (bottom left hand corner) and bicarbonate of soda (just left of centre).  The salt, after a while, caused the ink to turn a dark green colour, while the bicarb gave an almost verdigris effect (quite textured, too).
  18. Applied sweeping lines of nail varnish (Cerise Noire) to square of 300gsm paper.  Once dried, I painted over it with black water-soluble ink, to find that the nail varnish acted as a resist.
  19. Hard pastel smudged background, with thin willow charcoal applied on top by pulling and rolling it along on its side.
  20. Neat bleach applied to black paper using cotton bud.
  21. String dipped in blue-black ink and drawn over 300gsm paper.
  22. Loosely painted watercolour flower on 300gsm paper, partially outlined with thin willow charcoal.  Same charcoal used to create soft background.
  23. Bubble wrap smeared with indian red ink, printed on paper, then outlined with Uni-Pin 0.3 pen.
  24. End of garden cane dipped in ink, then rolled on its edge to create lines on 300gsm paper.

What I enjoyed most:

  • the mixing of different media
  • seeing one ink colour bleeding into another
  • discovering the random and somewhat unpredictable selection of marks achievable using found ‘tools’ (such as sticks, seed heads and string)
  • the effect of bleach, particularly applied to black ink (water-soluble).  The resulting colour changes were far more significant than when applied to other colours (I tried both yellow ochre and indian red ink)
  • combining hard pastels and charcoal
  • splattering ink with a toothbrush
  • blowing ink with an air blower that I usually use to remove dust from my camera lens – terrific fun!
  • seeing an almost ‘verdigris’ effect emerge from sepia ink when salt and (especially) bicarbonate of soda were allowed time to sink in
  • using the end of a piece of garden cane to create what look to me like long grasses

Best tools/media for different marks:

  • light – dried flower stem, toothbrush splatters, inky stem left to dry partially
  • heavy – seed head, stick, paintbrush, nail varnish
  • assertive – stick, seed head, air blower, nail varnish, oil pastels
  • tentative – stem, bleach, thin charcoal, air blower, garden cane
  • fluent – bleach, ink, string
  • continuous – ink
  • broken – seed head, bubblewrap, toothbrush, stick
  • dotted – toothbrush, bubblewrap, garden cane
  • expressive – ink, air blower, string, toothbrush, watercolour, garden cane, bleach

Loved this exercise.  Great fun, and a real kick up the backside to start seeing the potential in everything!  I need to find out more about the likely long-term effect of bleach on any kind of support or on other mediums.  I know it shouldn’t be combined with any other toxic or solvent substances.  Over all, though, I can foresee taking several discoveries forward from this – sticks, canes, string, air blowers, and toothbrushes, in particular.