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Washable Ink at the Botanical Garden

June 9, 2014

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Earlier this spring, a bit before drawing on the street was seasonable here in Montreal, I spent an afternoon sketching in the greenhouse at the MTL Botanical Garden.

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Looking back in time, my location drawing has been a fairly steady transition from black and white line drawing, through line and wash, and towards painting on location.  Mostly I see this as a natural progression. An ‘improvement’ from drawing towards painting. I think most people would feel that paintings are somehow more challenging. A ‘higher art’ than drawing?

There’s some biological reason behind it I’m sure. A painting, being tonal, can tap into the eye-to-brain function and convince us we’re looking at reality. But, oddly, that’s why I love line work. Because it’s not such a straightforward illusion of reality. There’s something about an ‘unfinished’ sketch that really appeals to me. It’s partially the speed of execution (they are more fun for the artist – no labor, just free-flowing seeing), and partially the way line is both specific about detail yet an abstraction at the same time. A line drawing conveys so much, so compactly. I can’t get over the joy of that magic trick.  How does it work? That a drawing can make us see an object in our mind?

That’s why I’m currently hooked on washable ink.

It really is the best of both worlds. I’m convinced that this approach is the ultimate sketching tool. The Lamy fountain pen, (or washable dipping inks – Lamy in a bottle, or Private Reserve) I’m using these days, combined with watercolor. It’s so much fun. Melting your drawings, into paintings. (Yes, yes, I’ve said it all before – but I love this so much, it’s a mini-obsession right now). I’ve recently discovered that the paper matters a great deal. I’m getting nice results with coated stock, such as this 8×8″ watercolor book by Hand Book.

Here’s another before and after showing the drawing, the melting with color, and the results.

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All this being said – I am still on that path, walking from drawings toward painting. In a future post I’ll show you more of that transition. I’ve been getting some nice stuff recently. Things are piled up on the scanner waiting for you.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2014 12:00 pm

    Fantastic !

  2. June 9, 2014 12:45 pm

    Truly fantastic. :)

  3. June 9, 2014 2:46 pm

    Very interesting post, Marc. Your sketches are impressive and full of life…
    Did you need an authorization to paint in the greenhouse (did you use your easel ?) ?
    Thank you

    • June 10, 2014 10:16 am

      I didn’t ask for permission – I don’t think they would officially allow it. Honestly, there isn’t enough room in the greenhouse. But I’m very careful to move out of people’s way. No easel, just holding the book in my hand – so I can immediately move. Also I go in the mid-week. Weekends are just too busy in there!

  4. Mark Leibowitz permalink
    June 10, 2014 6:33 am

    Oh wonderful exploration of the progression from line to color. I’ve often thought of pure watercolor,without pencil, or ink, or lines of any kind as”flying without a net”. Very interesting Marc

  5. July 28, 2014 6:57 pm

    How can we know the location of the next USk ahead of time ? Even hrough I’m subscribed I never get notification.
    thanks
    best

  6. July 30, 2014 3:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Amy's Art School News and commented:
    This is a fascinating post about using water soluble ink and watercolor from Marc Taro Holmes. I love his artwork!

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