I have a small commission to write a benediction – and I need to use watercolours. The benediction begins: “Beneath the tall green trees…” so I felt that I would keep it understated and atmospheric with some green lettering beneath some blown ink marks on a soft green background. I have recently learnt that if you place a droplet of gin preferably diluted, it dissipates the particles of pigment. Of course, it’s high in alcohol so it will work; and probably not damage the paper.
Up till now I have got this effect by splashing water (flicking it off my hand) on the background, but it is more difficult to control the splashing and also you really need to judge the exact right moment of wetness / dryness. With the gin it there is more leeway in how dry the background is, and you can control it better. I diluted the gin 1:3 and placed a drop carefully with my brush. It just spread a soft white area which diffused gradually with the green edges.
When I first painted the background, I wetted the area then didn’t quite paint up to the edge so that the baseline would be diluted. The lettering will be on the white area. Now for the blown ink marks. I’d like these to be subtle, but I don’t mind if its recognizable that these are blown marks. When you start a mark, you usually have a blob and I didn’t want this so I placed a drop of ink on paper and using a green striped straw, (green naturally, b.t.w.) almost flat on the paper, I blew the ink off the paper and upwards. I also blotted the base of the ‘tree’ with kitchen towel. This blowing technique takes a bit of practise and I prefer it with diluted ink or watercolour.
And another thing – if you accidentally splash paint or go over a line, you can paint some neat gin into it and blot it up immediately. I’m new to this gin-lark, but so far it seems to work! I learnt it from a hardened ‘gin painter’ at a workshop!
Here you can see the blown effect in my Rope of Words artwork.
The Rope of Words is going very well indeed. We have now sold over half the books! We’ve had lovely reviews in The Edge, SSI Magazine. Letter Exchange and the American magazine: Bound and Lettered. We have been invited to sell them at the CLAS AGM at the British Library, where they can be personalised. Later this year it will feature at the Wantage Literary Festival and be at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair. The support has been overwhelming and thanks to so many of you too for your enthusiasm and lovely letters.