Ink and paper

Fig.1 Conversations on the train – Ann Kiernan (2017)

I love ink , it breathes and flows and creates organic shapes that are so pleasing to me. When it is added to paper, I can get lost in it’s unpredictability, and that beautiful crisp edge it offers when it finally dries on the thick paper.

The Chinese black ink stick dates back to approximately 12th century B.C, when monks found that the soot of pine needles or burnt vegetation which was caught in the ovens for firing porcelain, could be mixed with animal glue and moulded into a stick form. The ink stone is used for grinding the ink stick on with some water to become fluid, depending on the amount of water used it can take between five minutes to thirty minutes. In this period the monks would use the time to meditate, contemplate the painting and warm up fingers and wrists. The Ink stick, ink stone, brush and the paper make up the set of what known as the ‘Four treasures’ of East Asian painting.

Of course the ink was a result of a need to make more permanent marks on paper which had been around for quite some time by the 12th century. In Mediterranean parts a material called papyrus was used but is not considered real paper, it was strong but rough. The first know paper making process was recorded in China by Cia Lun some time between 25 and 220 AD. This invention was probably one of the greatest achievements for civilisation. Great treaties, great literature and great art have all been put to paper, holding records of historical events in safekeeping for generations.

The tooth of paper, that little bit of resistance when using pencil or dip pen triggers in me many happy memories of getting lost in drawing right throughout my life. For me my process will always begin on paper, like the monks it’s my form of meditation, a warm up, but also it brings a focus that digital sketching can not, and that is the fact that it is not so easy to ‘undo’.


Jaranson C. Traditional East Asian Brush Painting[online]

Lityuga, M.A. The invention of paper [online] / M.A. Lityuga ; EL Adviser A.M. Diadechko // To Live in a Safer World : materials of the eighth scientific practical student`s student`s, postgraduate’s and teacher’s of LSNC of the foreign languages department, Sumy, March, 28, 2014 / Відп. за вип. Г.І. Литвиненко. – Sumy : Sumy State University, 2014. – С. 151. A history of paper[accessed December 2017]

Chinese Ink and Inkstone[online]


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