The Black and White of Pen and Ink Drawings – Ink Art

Clear lines, strokes and dots of Black Ink that make beautiful works of Art – Ink Work or Pen and Ink Drawings have been my forte. Original hand drawn Ink Art and Illustrations as well as Art Prints of my Pen and Ink Drawings are available at my Shops. I like to draw and paint Birds and Flowers the most. Sometimes I use Ink Pens along with Watercolour and Gouache colours for my Artworks. In this post I am going to share all about my favourite medium – Ink. Because it is Black Ink on White Paper usually, the Art works are also called Black and White Illustrations.

Link to the post on Doodle Art, Zentangle Art and Mandala Art

We have explored Zentangle Art, Doodle Art and Mandala Art in my previous posts. These Arts are mostly done in Ink. I have also shared about selecting Pens and Markers for your Art in another post. It is the main material for Ink Art. Ink and Paper are the only two materials required for Ink Art. For some techniques we may draw the initial sketch in pencil. Please refer to these posts for detailed information on these topics. It would be additional helpful information on Pen and Ink Drawings.

Link to the post on Selecting Pens and Markers for your Art

This time let’s take it a level higher. Explaining in simple words we can say – creating Drawings, Illustrations and Sketches using Ink Pens and/or Ink with bamboo sticks or brushes is called Pen and Ink Drawings. Very good quality Ink Pens with a variety of nibs are easily available. We don’t have to use brushes or Inks from bottles anymore. This has led to a lot of people taking up many of these Art styles.

Tattoo Designs, Ink Illustrations, Stippling Art, Mandala Art, Doodle Art and Zentangle Art are all very popular on Social Media. We have many artists sharing these works made with Ink. Botanical Illustrations in Ink are loved by many.

Click here to view my virtual Art Gallery and see more of my Artworks. You may also visit my shops (links on the homepage) to buy my Art. My works of Art would make suitable Wall Art for contemporary spaces both Residential and Commercial.

Artist Pens have Inks that are fade-proof, water-proof and permanent and are available in all major colours. ‘Archival Inks’ as they are referred to are also fade-proof, water-proof and permanent Inks.

Earlier Ink artworks would be made using brushes or bamboo sticks dipped in Inks, just like Calligraphy. If it interests you, do read my earlier post on the Art of Calligraphy. Painting with those would have surely been more difficult. Pens that are available now make it much much easier to draw and paint. These Pens have become so much a part of our Artworks that we use them even for something like just giving an outline or darkening a pattern.

Link to the post on Calligraphy

These Pens are available in a set as well as loose Pens. The ink, nibs and grip of Pens of all brands have a minor difference. I have used pens by almost all the major brands and have liked all of them. I use Micron Pens (Archival Inks) most often. I also use Pitt Artist Pens by Faber Castell for brush nibs and accented tips.

My other favourites would include Uni Pens and Winsor Newton Markers for a more Watercolour like finish. These are more like Artist choice Pens. It would be absolutely ok for students to do the same kind of Artwork with the other Pens or Markers that they regularly use. No problem at all. Permanent Ink is also available in bottles. We can still use the traditional method of writing or painting using Ink from bottles with brushes or bamboo sticks.

The Paper you select must be thick to absorb the Ink. Handmade Paper gives the authentic olden days look. If the Paper is thin the Ink bleeds or may move on the back side of the Paper too! The Pens should move smoothly and give a good finish to your bold and confident strokes.

Work in progress of an Ink Art
A closer look at the making of one of my Ink Illustrations

Black and White does not mean just a dark black tone. It is important to shade and show dark light areas even in Ink drawings. For this we can use any one of the following techniques or we can create one of our own. The shading adds depth and makes it look 3D and more realistic. Sometimes people use a black colour pencil and shade the colour, it is an easier way out though. Like me you can also do a combination of two or more of these Ink Art techniques if you want. Here are some of the techniques :-

Ink Art Techniques
Ink Art Techniques

I am completely in awe of the Japanese Art of Ink Wash Painting. Also known as ‘Sumi-e’ Painting. It is typically monochrome, meaning it uses shades of black on handmade white paper. I was told that the Ink and brush and/or bamboo sticks used for this Painting are same as those that were used for the Art of Calligraphy in China in earlier days. ‘Ink Wash Painting’ as they called it is said to have began during the Tang Dynasty in China.

It was introduced to Japan by the Zen Buddhist Monks. Sumi-e Artists paint Nature, People and Places. Their brushes are special and different from regular brushes and it is all about these clear black strokes. I have been wanting to learn this Art since a long time. Let’s hope I get a chance soon, may be sometime in the future!

If you have any questions on how to use this medium, feel free to ask them in the comments below. Have an Arty Week!

Year in a Review

In the Holiday mood, I am also going to take a break next week. Most people have already signed off till New Years. As a shop owners, we are busy making products, posting on social media, settling accounts, packing, shipping and making new and the cycle continues year round. That makes us use our phones for long hours at work. A little digital detox to spend time with yourself, family and nature can rejuvenate us.

My Desk
My Desk! It’s Christmas 🎄

And we can come back in the New Year refreshed and charged up for another year ahead. Many people also use this time to upgrade their skills, read up on books they always wanted to. I started my Blog this year in September 2020. I have 17 Posts by now. The response to the Blog has been overwhelming. It’s been a good journey with your love, support and encouragement.

So I thought I would do this year in a review post. Helps me connect with the new followers too! Here is a list of the posts I have done on Arts and Crafts so far. You may click on the title to go to the post. All these are listed on my Blog page – ‘The Art Life’

So just in case you missed out on reading any of them, you still can. Please note the Blog page shows only the last 10posts and so to see the previous ones you may use the links above or scroll to previous posts.

If you like reading my posts and wish to continue our association, you may click follow or subscribe to the Blog. This will make the posts come to your Email Inbox and you may read them at your convenience.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December Calendar with a Christmas Wreath that I created Digitally

This is an Instant Digital Download (JPEG) File that can be purchased at my Etsy Shop NMARTWORKS Picture Format opens with any Photo Editing Software. Once you pay, you can instantly download and use.

Selecting Pens and Markers for your Art

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way! Yay! Christmas is coming! And with Christmas comes creativity. I see such amazing Art and Craft ideas on social media. There is so much one can make and do. It is also the time for Gifts. What is the best gift for an Artist? Yes! Art Material. I did a post on Pencils and Pastels earlier. Based on that many friends asked me to do one on Pens and Markers.

We usually refer to Pens and Markers by the name of the brand. That makes it difficult to do a post without mentioning any of the names. In every country there is a particular brand that is popular and widely used by all Artists from that Country. Ink Artists, Illustrators, Manga Artists, Architects, Interior Designers, Fashion Designers, Calligraphers, Students, Crafters and maybe more – All of them use Pens and Markers for their rendering.

If you have read my previous post you would know that this is an all you want to know information post and not a product review or an endorsement post. I was thinking about how to do this post without sounding repetitive? So I thought it would be best to do this in a Q&A format. I have tried my best to answer all the questions that I think can pop up while buying Pens and Markers. In case you have more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Pens and Markers
The different nibs of Pens and Markers

These are some of my Pens and Markers I arranged to click a picture.

1. Are Pens and Markers different? Hmm, well actually not. They are called Pens or Felt Pens or Sketch Pens or Markers – different names in different countries. They are all Pens available in colours, black, white, glitter and neon shades. The terms are used interchangeably. Like I said we usually call them by the brand name and not as Pens or Markers.

2. Do we get Artist Quality and Student Quality? Technically Yes! But they aren’t really labelled as such. Pens positioned as Artist Pens are Artist quality while the regular ones are Student quality. The pigment, colour and finish for an Artist Pen is better. We also get Industrial Grade Markers. This determines the price points.

3. What mediums are used? We get Oil Based, Water Based, Alcohol Based Pens and Markers. There are Gel Pens, Permanent Ink Pens, Waterproof Ink Pens, Washable Ink and Water Soluble Ink Pens and Markers. The Ink Technology and Ink is different in all of these. That is why two Pens of different brands – both with Waterproof Inks will give different results.

4. Individual or Set? If you are trying a new brand for the first time, it is best to buy different pens individually and try them out. They have testers kept with papers to try them at all stores. I even try the fresh pack Pen before buying to check the nib and ink. The manufacturing dates, import dates and other details are not clearly visible on single pieces. This makes it better to buy them in a set. The drawback is we are not allowed to open a set and try it out. It makes complete sense to buy individual pens to try and once you short list and select which brand you want, it is better to buy them in a set.

5. Which brands are good? I have tried Pens by almost all the well known brands. All of them are good. Brand Loyalty is very strong for Pens and Markers. I have understood that each Pen has Ink that works very well for a purpose. Depending on your use and Artwork you would have to select Pens that suit you by the Trial and Error method. The Art store usually stocks more of the popular ones and of course you know why. Further your location will play a big factor in your selection. Not all brands are available in all countries. Sometimes the Pens that are being imported regularly go out of stock or are priced too high.

6. What do they mean by the numbers on the Pens? The numbers indicate the nib size: for example 01 means a nib for drawing a 1mm thick line while 03 means a nib with 3mm thick line. We also get accented nibs, brush nibs, round nibs and felt nibs. As mentioned above the construction material of the nib and the ink is different in all pens. Further some brands use the numbers for colour coding. We also get dual tip Markers – meaning two different usable nibs on both sides top and bottom.

All in all, it is best to try different Pens on the Paper, carry your own page if you like where you have tried various Pens and buy the ones you think will work best for your work. I have already explained where and how to use each of the mediums in the previous post. Like, if you want the colours to blend: use the watercolour ones while if you don’t want the ink running, best to use the permanent waterproof ink Pens. Even in a simple brush nib Pen we get a lot of variety.

Scribbles Art
My scribbles trying out Pens in rough

The sponge of a brush tip Pen is different by all brands. I usually select a Pen with a medium hardness brush nib. I would like it to turn with pressure but not fray resulting the sponge in tatters. Constantly applying too much pressure on the Pens with very hard nibs can result in sore hands. That is what I meant when I said select Pens that one feels is most comfortable using.

Another important thing to see and note is how the Ink spreads on different papers. Do we get a smooth finish line or a dented one? Does the Ink bleed and spread or create blots and spots? When we apply two strokes next to each other – does the Ink mix or create patches? Does the Ink dry fast when applied or takes hours to dry? Artists would note all this. It makes a difference to their Artwork.

These are all small points but important to check before buying. Many times Art stores mix old and new pens when stocked in the individual Pens section. These pens are expensive and nobody wants to waste money buying a damaged nib or dried up ink Pen or Marker. It takes me at least 15-20mins selecting my Pens even when I know the brands. Last but not the least I compare prices and check for discounts if I buy more pieces. I run out of pens in about three to six months depending on how many Artworks I made. The Inks dry up after about three to five years, if kept lying around.

That lists about all the points I can think of that will help you make an informed purchase decision for the Pens and Markers. Ah! That’s too much. Give me one name and one set – if that is your buying style, I suggest pick any standard well known brand with other Stationery or Art Supplies and buy a set of their Markers. You can’t go wrong. It’s the same for students. However if Art and Craft is your passion, hobby or profession – the choice is yours! Have an Arty Weekend!

Special Tip: Always check the Cap is tightly closed before you put away your Pens and Markers after Use.

Three Arts that you can give a try – Doodle Art, Zentangle Art and Mandala Art

It’s been tiring juggling work from home alongside family and home responsibilities. The last few months have been difficult for all of us. We need activities to do individually or as a family. Something to refresh and take a break. In the process if we get to learn and grow, it would be a bonus – right! Stepping out is a big No-No. That leaves us with very little to do apart from the mundane daily tasks. In this article I am sharing three Arts that I feel everyone can give a try! Doesn’t need any prior training or experience and are very popular.

These are my top three because; Materials required for these would be easily available at home. In case you wish to purchase the material locally or online, it is standard and easily available. The selection is quite simple and specific. Another reason I like these is because there is no right or wrong here, just beautiful Artworks. They don’t have to look like anything or have any logical sense. Loads and loads of free online tutorials and reference material is available. Further all of them help de-stress, develop creativity, improve skills and most importantly give a sense of accomplishment – a feeling of having created something. It builds confidence, develops brain power and directly or indirectly keeps one more joyful and happy.

So here is my list :-

1) Doodle Art : All of us would have tried drawing something at some point of time. Whether it was good or bad doesn’t matter. Without making a conscious effort or scribbling while your mind is pre occupied with something else is called ‘Doodling’. The Art is called ‘Doodles’ or ‘Doodle Art’. It can help express emotions. I scribble cute animals, flowers, hearts, stars and anything else that comes to my mind in my notebooks. These were my school, then university and even office notes and not drawing books. I memorised the data with the help of those diagrams. Making doodles on otherwise boring black white pages helped me do a recap of the matter on that page. In the exam we can draw these on the rough page or if it is a fair diagram, representing it graphically gained me extra marks for the answers.

Leaves Doodle Art
Leaves Doodle Art – My scribbles

Even today when I do brainstorming for ideas, I scribble it in my notepad. I do post my midnight scribbles on social media. Emojis, Infographics and Designs are some of the applications that come to my mind. It is continuously drawing whatever comes to your mind without a logical explanation or making sense out of it. Many people often mistake it with hand drawn Art. It requires only a pen and paper. For the first time we can search the Internet to make a beginning somewhere. Draw anything you like or connect with. It will not look the same. Big ears, small eyes everything is allowed. It is your art and you decide how you want it. It is all good as long as you like it.

Zentangle doodle Art
Zentangle and Doodle Artworks that I have done

3) Zentangle Art : Patterns or Designs made by repetitive lines or curves. These are used to fill objects. We don’t need to know shapes, shade and light, perspective or any other information about drawing. For the first one,draw small equal squares using a ruler and pencil or pen on your paper. Keep a constant white border between these squares. Then draw any combination of dots, lines and squares to create patterns or designs. A simple challenge to make it interesting would be to make sure no two patterns on this page are exactly the same. They can be similar. Here again these are designs and fills. There is no need for it to look correct or real. Each piece is a work of Art. I once did these patterns on a sheet of paper, removed photocopies or prints of the Art, laminated it and used them as placemats for my home. I have made bookmarks with these too.

Mandala Art
My Mandala Art

4) Mandala Art : Mandala Art has religious significance and origin. However often people just refer to a circular pattern when they say Mandala Art. One can try this Art without any connection to the religious beliefs – just as a random circular geometric pattern. To draw this we would need a pencil, a pen, paper and measuring tools to make a grid. If you wish to make it colourful you can use colour pencils and coloured pens of your choice. We need to prepare a grid using a compass, protractor, ruler and pencil. After this there are a million permutation combinations or possibilities resulting by connecting the intersection points of the grid using lines and curves through repetitive patterns. There are patterns and designs and represent nothing otherwise. I draw a lot of these both by hand and digitally. They are considered therapeutic. Can be used to decorate different things as well.

Mandala Art
Mandala Art with white pens on black paper – Reverse

If we look carefully we will find so many patterns by Mother Nature. The number of possible combinations in patterns and designs are so vast that one can definitely find a few strokes that are easy and manageable. The Artwork can be a combination of these. There isn’t any need to follow any specific rules to classify the Art as just one of them. Many people use the terms interchangeably also. I have a lot of practice and training in these but I am sure even beginners will be able to do a pretty good job. There is nothing like right or wrong here. I understand it is difficult to know where and how to begin with when it is the first time. As we do more, our hand or our strokes develop and we grow. Keep your first piece next to something you made after a few months of practice and you will notice your growth.

DIY Zentangle  Art
DIY Zentangle Bookmark Pattern
DIY Mandala Art
DIY Mandala Art with grid making

Apart from the above, the one important thing that you will definitely need is your zeal and enthusiasm for Art. The idea was to introduce these and develop your interest in them. I hope I managed to interest you enough, so that you look up and give the Arts a try. These Arts require focus and patience. So to begin with I would suggest selecting simple projects. I have shared two DIY projects you could try. I have purposely kept them naturally imperfect to show that it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is : You enjoy! Have an Arty Weekend!