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What are India inks and why use them?

India Inks are highly pigmented and give powerful colour saturation and I love using them for their brilliance and transparency. Manufactured to remain lightfast and permanent, they are also totally waterproof when dry. Similar to watercolour they are diluted with water and used with brushes just like traditional watercolour techniques or in dip pens, technical drawing pens, and airbrushes. The white ink is the only opaque ink that I use and it has excellent covering power.

Below: 'Waste Not, Want Not' illustrating the beautiful intensity of ink colour.

‘India ink’ (also known as Chinese ink) stems from one of the oldest and most durable pigments of all time: carbon black. Originally made from ash mixed (soot) with a binder such as water, liquid or glue, various recipes for carbon black can be found as far back in history as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Modern day India ink is pigment mixed with water or varnish or gelatin to make the ink more durable or waterproof when dry.

My personal preference is not use the coloured Acrylic inks which are made with pigments suspended in acrylic resin binder or polymer emulsion.

Lightfastness – whilst the inks are made to be lightfast, as with all artworks, I would not recommend leaving them in direct sunlight for any length of time, such as in a conservatory, sunny wall or near a sunny window. Over time the powerful ultraviolet rays of the sun could cause fading, breaking down the chemical bonds to fade the colour of any object. As well as ultraviolet, other major contributors to fading include visible light and solar heat.

Below: 'Summer Magic', 'Afternoon Rockpooling' and 'Black Rock' three paintings that I feel show how the ink colour really sparkles .

For more examples of how I have used India inks in my work, just click on any the images in this blog.

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