Artist Resources: Ink

Ink has been around as a tool for artists and writers since before 2000 BC, a material that scientists have been able to evaluate because of its permanence and one of the reasons artists are drawn to it today.

Carbon and Iron Gall ink are two of the earliest known inks with recipes deriving from natural plant and animal life.  Carbon ink is created from burnt wood or bones, mixed with animal glue.  Carbon doesn't fade over time and isn't harmful to the paper, however it might smudge in humid environments, even if it is on an old document.  Iron Gall ink is created from iron salts and the oak galls found on many species of oak trees.  It goes on blue-black and dries to a brown. Because of its acidity, iron gall ink can damage paper long term.  Conservators have different methods of handling the problems each type of ancient ink brings to the field.   

Today, fine art ink can be made from many different ingredients, the goal of which is to create a liquid or paste substance with brilliant color, rapid drying, water resistance and permanence. Inks are either pigment or dye based for their color.  Pigments are solid, opaque or transparent particles suspended or dispersed in a liquid; whereas, dyes dissolve in the liquid vehicle.

IPC line
Inks are also manufactured in various liquid vehicles, like acrylic resins, shellac or alcohol.  Each manufacturing company also adds ingredients such as waxes and driers to augment the ink's properties even further.  Acrylic inks have wonderful permanence and lightfastness and they mix well with water.  Shellac based inks can be either pigment or dye based and may or may not be mixable with water, but they have brilliant color and some water resistance.  Alcohol inks are dye based inks, and are often used in markers for their fluidity.

Dynasty offers artists a line of brushes created specifically for ink artists, the IPC line, with several shapes and tufts that are unusual, unique for the medium.  The IPC line can be used for application, blending or texturing.  However, if you're using inks to color your drawings or scratchboard art or as part of mixed media work, you will likely prefer a soft brush line, like the Faux Kolinsky or the speciality brushes in Black Gold.  

Shadows and Tall Trees, 5" x 3.5",
Alcohol ink on Claybord by
Andrea Pramuk
Featured Artist Andrea Pramuk uses inks quite frequently in her work.  Much of her work is a mix of alcohol inks and cold wax.  She has been using the larger Black Gold rounds for years because of their ability to hold a lot of fluid for her soft abstract pieces.

If you're interested in working with ink, choose the type of ink you'd like to try before choosing a brush.  Whether the ink is pigment or dye based, shellac or acrylic based will alter the brush you choose.  How you decide to apply the ink will also help you find the correct brush.

If you already work in inks and would like to share your art with us, please do so!  We always love hearing from our artists.

Keep Painting,

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.