Sunday, April 5, 2015

Walnut Ink

Double-crested Cormorant
I haven’t written a blog about art for a long time.  It is about time since I know several of my readers are artists. 

Earlier this past winter I was at our local duck pond when I found myself talking to a stranger and soon realized we were both artists.  Joan does a lot of her work with walnut ink.  She gave me a notecard painted with walnut ink and I knew immediately I wanted to try some.  The sweet lady immediately gave me a little container. 


I’ve tried several shades of brown ink in the past and none quite hit the mark.  Some were too red, too cool, too ……,.  I love the color of walnut ink.  It has a lovely rich brown.  It reminds me of antique drawings.  Upon reading about walnut I find many of the old drawings were originally drawn with a black ink and have now faded to the lovely dark brown I so admire. 
This ink is different from any ink I’ve tried.  It bleeds beautifully and also lifts more easily than any color I can remember trying.  By ‘lifting’ I mean you wet a little area and then blot, thus lifting some of the color off.  The three crossed hatched lines in the dark area of the sample were lifted off. 
In fact it lifts almost too easily.  The sea lions were one of my first experiments.  I used a pen first and then mostly smeared the ink with a wet brush.  I almost lost my lines! 
By the time I painted the fox I knew I wanted the detail, but I didn’t want to lose my lines, so I inked just a few lines, added washes with a brush and then went back and added more a pen.   

The ink is available from DickBlick.com and from Utrechtart.com.  Just search for ‘Walnut Ink.’  It says it is intended for pen (dip pen) or brush, but doesn’t say anything about using it in a fountain pen, so I haven’t dared to fill my fountain pen with walnut ink. It is a ‘pigmented ink’ and so probably doesn’t flow well in the fine mechanism of a fountain pen.  If anyone knows the answer to this I would be interested.
Hydriomena Moth
One last comment on the ink.  I always wonder how an ink or pigment will handle prolonged exposure to light.  Many of the cheap ball point pens and jell pens we buy fade terribly.  The bottle assures me it does not fade and my own light test did well too.  About three months ago I put a sample on my south facing windowsill and covered up half the sample.  I can’t say there has been a lot of sunshine during the past three months, but I see no sign of fading. 


10 comments:

  1. I have read about people using Walnut Ink but have never pursued it. I appreciate your thoughts about the ink. It does give that old fashioned look to a sketch.

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  2. Wow, Elva, sooo beautiful! Thank you for sharing the information. Cheers, Sadami

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  3. If it's true walnut ink, Elva, it's too corrosive to use in a fountain pen. I've made my own and that's fun but I always use it with a dip pen. --- Larry

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    1. Thank you, Larry. That makes sense to me. I can't find much information on the walnut ink I'm using ... just that others like it too.

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  4. I like seeing some color in the ink drawings. The cormorant & fox are great. The moth is fantastic! Just because I am into moths & butterflies since our Ecuador trip! I look forward to seeing some walnut ink dragonflies...

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  5. I love the results you got using the walnut ink.Beautiful

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  6. Gorgeous, Elva! Your practiced hand at drawing always amazes me. And now I know you can do more with walnuts than shell them. Was about to say the moth and fox were stellar, but looking back at cormorant and sea lions, I wouldn't be able to pick just one as the best of the 4.

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  7. I have a bottle of this stuff...never got excited about it, but I love seeing what you've done! All of these images look like they were done in the early part of the last century.

    I wouldn't be putting the ink in a fountain pen unless it was a junky throwaway that I used often and flushed often. If it became damaged, nothing lost.

    Another option would be to check into De Atramentis Document Inks that are so hot right now. The have a permanent brown, but what's even cooler than that is they have various permanent ink and you can mix to your heart's content to get the right brown AND it's safe for fountain pens. You'll have the best of both brown worlds!

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    1. Thank you, Laure, for the heads up about the De Altramentis Inks. I hadn't heard of them. They sound like something meant for me to try.

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  8. I really like walnut ink because it is so much warmer than black and white. I fill a cartridge for my radiograph pen and draw away. Haven't noticed any problems.

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