Q. I’ve noticed more advertisements for watercolor inks lately. What are they exactly, and how can one utilize them?
A. Watercolor inks are a fun and exciting medium, and can be combined with great success with other media, especially watercolors.
They’re generally much brighter than watercolors, and you can use them with your watercolors to brighten up areas in your paintings. In fact, because of their brightness, watercolor inks are often used by graphic designers and illustrators for work that’s going to be photographed.
Keep in mind, however, that watercolor inks don’t blend like watercolors and they are almost impossible to lift. They behave much like ink on an ink blotter, and once they are on your paper, that’s it! Be sure to practice using the inks on scrap paper before you drop them into a painting.
Years ago, watercolor inks weren’t lightfast and would eventually fade. Today, many inks are permanent. Be sure to check labels to make sure you choose an ink that will stay put.
One of my students, Kathi Logan, loves watercolor inks because of their brightness. You can see her painting, The Hidden Winery, above, in which she combined her traditional watercolors and watercolor inks. She added the inks in areas where she wanted especially bright color. The very colorful areas you see in the trees in the foreground were made using watercolor inks.