Cre­ate Im­pact with ink and imag­i­na­tion

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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.

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