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Ink and Graphite Process Studies (2016-2017)

Mixed Media

This is a series of experiments using india ink, graphite, and other materials on paper. I wanted first to experiment with different methods of applying ink to paper so I mixed india ink with bubble solution to create “prints” of the bubbles on newsprint. I found that certain proportions of solution to ink work better for larger, lighter prints while a variation allows for smaller, darker prints. I also found that partially saturating the paper with water creates a fractal effect when the ink solution mixes with the paper’s fiber. The result is beautiful nearly every time and it requires very little action from the artist.

Later experiments grew out of my interest in the Zen Buddhist tradition of Enso calligraphy. The Enso is a circle drawn in a single stroke meant to represent enlightenment and freedom from the constraints of the conscious mind. Because the action is quick and simple, the resulting stroke reflects the state of mind of the artist as he drew it. The Enso is a performance and, like improv comedy or high-level sports, the goal of practice is to allow your intuition to take over.

I find that drawing and mark-making of all types is usually most vivid when the artist is free from the constraints of their conscious mind. Picasso said “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” The thinking mind inhibits our innate knack for expression, and self-judging thoughts that tell us our drawing looks like shit suppress our natural ability to create. We put emphasis on the end result and frame our process according to what we think it should look like, which always gives the power to our thinking brain and throws intuition out the window.

The goal of Enso drawing is to emphasize the process. It is a moving meditation and each stroke is no better or worse than the last because each simply exists as it is.

In these experiments I tried not to try, resulting in a few beautiful and numerous chaotic and murky pieces. All of them were great fun to create.