Distress Inks and Tangle patterns

Last night when I arrived home after an absolutely visit with a dear friend, I found the postman had delivered a set of mini Distress Ink pads in the new colours released last year! It was way too late to do anything with the inks, so I decided I’d have a look at them in today’s video for YouTube.

I started by trying blends of the colours. My instincts were not to mix the salmony pink Saltwater Taffy with the other colours – Villanous Violet, Blue Ribbon and Salvaged Patina. Orangey tones with purple, blue and/or pale green-turquoise colour, would make mud, my instincts told me.

However, when I used them all for one background, I was really surprised by the colours that resulted. They were lovely! No mud! Just lovely, aged, vintage-ish colours. What a wonderful surprise!

After spraying water to create water stains, stencilling and another spray of water drops (drying in between each procedure), I edged each paper with Hickory Smoke. Then, it was time to draw!

I used an 0.1 and 0.3 Molotow fineliner pens for drawing. They’re new to me and so was keen to try them out. The ink is lovely! But, I found the pens rather light and awkward to hold. The natural place to rest my fingers was way too high up the pen to be comfortable.

I’ll use the pens until the nibs are wrecked or they run out of ink, whichever comes first. The ink is very black and very opaque. The nibs do write really smoothly on the paper I used. But, they’re just not comfortable for me to hold, and that comes down to personal preference! Otherwise, they really do seem to be great pens!

I started drawing with the tangle pattern ‘spoolies’ to the left. This is where I noticed how the grip I had on the pen was uncomfortable and making it really difficult for me to draw smooth, precise lines. I ended up doing a mash-up of spoolies and diva dance!

The pointy leaves (or shark fins or points of crescent moons, depending on how you want to see them) actually echo the pointed part of spoolies. These then were replaced by the tangle pattern swirl, which is very similar to spoolies. Finally, the pointy leaves/fins/horns of the moon returned.

As I wanted to lift these off the background, I used a crosshatch pattern to darken the spaces between them.

Then, in my not-so-clever wisdom, I decided to help the illusion of volume and layers along by adding colour using Distress Inks as watercolour inks or paints.

I’m not at all sure about the end result, which wasn’t helped as I decided to splatter gold paint over it.

I often ask myself what on earth was I thinking and will I ever learn. This is another of those occasions. I kept compounding the problem as I tried seemingly good ideas.

As I said, I wonder if I’ll ever learn …

No matter what, it was lovely to be sat drawing just for enjoyment. Even though I’m not happy with the end result, I learned a lot about these new-to-me Distress Ink colours. Also, I’ve learned that a spray of water really can make the background lovely. And it’s OK to repeat sprays as more colour or stencilling or edging colours are added.

But perhaps the most important thing is that sometimes the process, the enjoyment of creating and learning is more important than an end piece that I’m happy with. Perhaps, in the coming hours, days, weeks or months, I’ll be able to look at this with fresh eyes and see it as not as bad as I know think it is!

How I pre-colour paper for my sketchbook

Today’s vlog is a little bit different. I had a query about the coloured paper I use for my pattern explorations sketchbook. When I said I coloured it myself with Distress Inks, I was asked if I’d make a video of the process, so I did today.

Here’s a list of the materials I use:
* Distress Inks, though you could use any other ink pads
* Cut ‘n’ Dry foam and blending/make-up brushes
* Stencils
* Paper – today I used Canson Imagine mixed media paper, A5 in size
* A spray bottle of water if you want to create a bleached, grungy kind of finish.

The video shows, far better than I could put into words, how to colour the paper. And the techniques I show are but a start!

Why do I colour the paper?

White paper is just fine for drawing on, but it can be a tad stark, clinical. I think having a background colour, with some texture to it either from the unevenness of colour or stencils, gives some life to the drawing right from the off. I find it a more visually appealing way to start drawing.

It’s also a fun and fascinating thing to do. You never quite know how it’s going to turn out. Each colour combination gives a different ‘feel’ to the background, as do the stencil patterns that are used, or stamps, or methods to further distress or increase the texture.

The colour from Distress Ink can be subtle or more intense. I prefer the more subtle, mostly. What tool you use to apply the ink can help with this, but it’s all still a bit random, and I like that! Mind you, that randomness may be my way of applying the inks; I’m not interested in a perfectly even application – I want the variation!

I do find it easier to get a more subtle effect with the blending brushes. They pick up less ink than the cut ‘n’ dry foam. The cut ‘n’ dry foam is useful for adding ink around the paper edges to create a darker border.

Do I have to use Distress Inks? What about other media?

No, of course not! There are many other ink pads available. I personally prefer the dye-based inks for paper I’m going to draw on.

The only pigment inks I’ve used are Distress Oxides and the powdery nature of the pigment particles clogs my pens up quite quickly. I’ve not used other pigment inks to know whether this happens with them. I know pigment inks can take a goodly while to dry, though you can speed this up using a heat tool specifically for craft work, though the heat can warp the paper.

Other media? Of course! You can colour the paper with whatever media you have in your stash or that appeal to you. Watercolours or watercolour pencils would work brilliantly! I would, however, consider the paper you use for this. You’d need one that wouldn’t be damaged by the quantity of water you’re planning on using.

There’s many other media that could be used, I’m sure. The supplies available to both mixed media artists, card makers, paper crafters as well as artists are multitudinous!

I stick to Distress Ink, with the occasional very controlled spritz of water, because I don’t like working messily. I like the color palette available and the more grungy, aged, vintage, distressed effects that can be achieved with them.

Does it affect other media used later?

Yes, and no. It all depends on the coloured media you’re using and also how much ink you’ve used to colour the paper.

If you use watersoluble media, the Distress Ink is likely to dissolve in the water. That means you may get a blended colour, particularly if there’s a lot of Distress Ink on the paper or it’s one of the darker colours. This isn’t a problem for me, generally.

If you’re using dry media or alcohol markers then the Distress Ink isn’t affected. However, as alcohol markers are transparent, there will be some visual colour mixing.

Are Distress Inks Archival?

Distress Inks are acid-free, so they don’t affect the paper. However, they are not light fast and will fade/discolour in time when left in bright light. This doesn’t worry me as this is for sketchbook work, kept out of the light in book form. Even when I use this kind of paper for other artwork it’s fine as I tend to scan the artwork to use in a digital format.

Here’s the video:

Morning drawing and Distress Ink Backgrounds

This morning, I created some backgrounds to draw on. All the paper as Fabriano Medioevalis (3.3″ x 5.5″).

With three of the papers, I used white Posca pen to draw a pattern before colouring the paper with Distress Inks. For the other four, I just used distress inks.

Finally, I chose one of the papers to draw an entangled garden design on. I used a Uniball Eye pen (micro) and a Signo DX 0.38 pen.

It was all a bit of an experiment, especially the Posca pen. I was, however, quite happy with the results, and I now have a little collection of coloured papers to draw on when a large, blank sheet of white paper overwhelms me. And of course, they’ll be useful for the morning vlogs too!

I’ve yet to decide what I’d like to do with today’s drawing. It needs some shadow, highlight and/or colour to bring it to life. I’m going to sit with that for a while.

Of course, I’ve made a vlog of this mornings arty experiments and, here it is:

Now, I need to turn my attention to gathering sketches for my next colouring book for the Creative Haven series.