Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Docks Ink

Friday, 6th April, 2007

I’M SITTING at the plank bench at the bottom end of the garden where sparrowhawk was perching earlier in the week. We saw it swoop at the feeder at breakfast-time then it flew down here to pluck its victim which was, as we suspected, a goldfinch: a few black-and-yellow primaries are lying amongst the spring leaves of nettle and cow parsley behind me.goldfinch feather

Dock leaves Following my Noodler’s test the other day, here’s an experiment to see how waterproof various inks are after 5 or 10 minutes drying:

Bleeding Lines

The latter three, as you’d expect, take the watercolour without any bleeding of the ink line. Both kinds of Indian Ink dried completely in the ten minutes it took to do the test and only the Noodler’s ran into the watercolour wash.

Note how much blacker the two kinds of Indian Ink are compared to the others. For me, the dip pen line seems more varied - it has more of the quality of inkiness that I’m after. A bit more life in it.

Noodler’s & Wash

dock leaves This is my persistent problem with Noodler’s: in the drawing of dock (left), the vein down the centre of the leaf was the first thing I painted, using a pale raw sienna wash with a touch of green in it. But the watercolour has picked up the ink, turning it a dingy brown.

There are several possible causes of the problem:

  1. I’m not giving the ink enough time to dry and react with the cellulose in the paper (a unique property of Noodler’s) to become waterproof and permanent

  2. The Noodler’s ink in the pen has mixed with a small residual amount of ordinary ink and lost its waterproof properties.

  3. The Parker pen that I’m using is delivering too much ink to the paper

Staying on the Surface

I’ve noticed that, on the cartridge paper I’m using, Noodler’s tends to stay on the surface rather than soak in. I like this effect as it gives a slight stipple to the line but it probably means that the ink behaves rather like FW Acrylic Ink; it sits there in a film and takes a long time to dry.

I’ll continue to experiment because I’d like to get Noodler’s & watercolours to work but at the moment it looks as if going back to a dip pen Indian Ink would be my best way of working; for that quality of ‘inkiness’, for the depth of the black and for being waterproof – at least when I’m outdoors and accidental spillage isn’t a problem.ArtPen

I’ll go back to my Rotring ArtPen, rather than the Parker, when I’m drawing with Noodler’s. The extra fine sketch pen nib of the ArtPen delivers less ink to the paper, hopefully giving it a chance to dry before I apply the watercolour.