GO BACK TO BLACK
Create Impact with ink and imagination
The best art is created within limitations. There is joy to arranging the bare minimum of elements for the maximum impact. Here I’ll aim to create an impactful piece using a limited palette.
While attending art school I dabbled in almost every medium, but nothing quite clicked until I picked up ink. Inspired by comics artists and cartoonists, I found pleasure in creating mood and atmosphere using just a jar of black ink. Recently, I’ve been trying to incorporate colour back into my work, while retaining what I love about ink. Digital tools have enabled me to experiment and develop my sense of colour, while still working in the traditional medium I love most.
Contrast is core to my work, visually and conceptually. I love images that pop, offering both depth to get lost in and space to breathe. Lighting is fundamental, too. I like to think of it theatrically, adding drama and drawing the eye in. I also consider emotional and conceptual contrasts: hope doesn’t exist without despair, love isn’t as potent without resentment. Here I want to suggest great violence, in the past and future, but in the present moment all is still and beautiful.
I work primarily in ink wash. I find that there’s something incredibly satisfying about ink. One bottle of black can evoke so much tone and atmosphere. It’s permanent and demands to be handled with care.
I work with two brushes at once. One loaded with ink or pigment, the other with clean water. This way I can lay down a mark with the ink, then blend it out with the clean brush. I can also work in reverse and lay down a clean water wash, then drop pigment in for softer edges and flowing textures. Ink is about moisture control: the more water, the harder it is to control. Yet relinquishing control is the key to beautiful washes and having fun.
Michael loves the instant gratification of ink and the drag of brush on paper. He’s worked on books about spooky beings and grand adventures. Follow his shenanigans and find more of his work at www.mikemanoart.com.