I want to try to use ink and water to suggest movement in an abstract way. Dropping ink into an area of water allows it to spread out in an uncontrolled, organic way. I hope to use gravity to influence the direction in which these ‘movement marks’ spread in order to achieve the effect I am seeking.

My idea is to create this area of a piece first then add a detailed charcoal drawing to it, thus creating contrast between the subject and the space they have just passed through both with media and method.

Tests of ink and water; various relative amounts, orders and methods of application:

Similar tests, including pencil and charcoal. Test 5 is closest to what I want to achieve, and the area around the knee in test 2 is also on the right track:

Larger scale, A2. I was unable to give the ink a wide enough margin of water to achieve the desired effect without buckling the paper:

Watercolour paper, A3. This is almost the effect I want. I need to source some larger paper to give me a larger area in which to influence the movement of the ink. I especially like the hands and feet. (I wonder if the impact of the area around the hands will be lost once populated with charcoal detail? Perhaps I should use coloured ink):

Checks with wider margins of water:

(Top to bottom)

– water first, ink applied with stick next to top edge

– water first, ink applied within water

– ink first, water pushed against it with a wide brush

The top one is the effect I want to achieve.

Tests to check I can still achieve a good finish with charcoal on Watercolour paper:

The surface of the watercolour paper has a deep tooth. Using the technique I employed for my final piece in Part 4 does not achieve a fine enough finish (top sketch). A slightly different method is required; several layers of charcoal worked into each other with a paper stump to achieve depth of tone (bottom sketch). I found that the result is somehow richer than on smooth paper.

Another impact of the deeper tooth is that the charcoal crumbs leave much darker marks on the paper as they roll down it:

In part four I enjoyed this effect and left the marks in place but for this piece they are contrary to the effect I’m trying to achieve. To minimise it I thought perhaps I might turn the piece on its side and let the trails go over the ink wash…

… but having tested it quickly on a dry inkwash, I’m glad I didn’t just ‘wing it’; the two types of mark are incongruous and absolutely don’t work together.

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