Christmas card sketch, walnut ink

Pine cone sketch

Pine cone sketch

Here is a new little drawing made with the homemade walnut ink. It’s intended to be the design for a Christmas card, of which I plan to put a couple up on my Redbubble and Imagekind pages. This one came out a little stiff – probably because I drew it a bit on the small side, and also because I just tightened up, knowing that I intended it to be a professional piece (sort of). I’m also not thrilled with the distribution of values, though that part at least is fixable. There’s a chance I’ll attempt a redo, larger and looser.

Isn’t it just a pretty color for an ink, though? I’m not the only one out there making and using ink from black walnut hulls. Here is an old WetCanvas post by a member named Bluegill (Mark Tabler), an outstanding ink artist, who uses homemade walnut ink as well. In this post, he has made available the results of some lightfastness tests he conducted upon his walnut ink. I was quite interested to see this, of course, since I still haven’t gotten around to setting up the Great Lightfastness Test of 2010 (we’ll have to see if that doesn’t turn into the Great Lightfastness Test of 2011), although I have at least obtained my blue wool samples and have them ready to go. In the meantime, Tabler’s tests seem to indicate that walnut ink is fairly lightfast, though not perfectly so. Good enough for me; and when I do my own tests, hopefully I’ll get confirmation on that.

Here is Mark’s House Portraits page, exhibiting drawings done in walnut ink, and here is his Homemade Black Walnut Ink page, sharing his recipe and procedure for making the ink. Good stuff. I also want to share one of the best walnut ink wash drawings I’ve seen, posted on this page at Science-Art. Go ahead and click on the drawing for a larger view. Beautiful. I’ll get there someday if I can help it.

If you’re interested in using real walnut ink, I’d really recommend making your own. If you don’t live in an area with black walnut trees, as in my case, then you can purchase walnut hulls from a natural dyes shop and simply follow the process described in my post here. Or you can do a hunt for walnut ink to purchase online – just beware, not all of them are actually made from walnuts, and the ones that are not won’t necessarily tell you that on the order page.

Looking at the design above, I think I will redo it. It’s gotten to an okay place, but it’s not finished yet. I’ve made many sketches of pine cones, from life, which I had collected over the past few weeks with this little project in mind. It’s so important to work from life, whenever circumstances allow. I could have taken a photo and traced it; but in sketching from life, I really learned about pine cones: their structure, their rhythms, their mathematical patterns. At this point, I feel like I could probably draw a pine cone from memory if I were asked to. I may not have the time to redo this – but if I do, hopefully that familiarity will serve me well.

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4 Responses to “Christmas card sketch, walnut ink”

  1. Mark Tabler Says:

    Well, I just now saw this post, and 1) that’s a gorgeous pine cone drawing; 2) thank you for the very kind compliments!

  2. Jasmine Says:

    I agree, it’s just lovely. Thanks for this and Merry Christmas! 😀

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