Thursday, March 8, 2012

I See Spots: Using Ink and Intuition

After teaching nearly twenty years some of my projects are just rerun projects but worth doing again.  Actually most are reruns or adaptations of an old project.  
Detail of Intuitive Ink Spot Drawings
I think this project is one that over the years has continued to entertain and challenge students. 
The one I am currently working on (below) is a new look to an old project.   

Not finished but close
The project starts as an ink spot blown around with a drinking straw to set the stage.  There is just something about blowing ink around on a paper that entertains students.   They think it is really fun.  Most of my students will ask to do this and then often ask to do it again.  
I usually only work with 5 or 6 at a time so I can control the situation.  
I use water soluble black ink in a jar with an eye dropper, and cheap drinking straws. (We don't recycle the straws, fresh straw for fresh students.)

Intuition is key to the success of this project.  
The project is a great exercise in developing creative solutions.  

This 15 yr old demonstration piece I did uses imagery in the white spaces but the ink created the edges of the images such as the folds in the dress of the dancing woman or the dogs nestling together, the caterpillar on the branch.
Start with a few drops of ink on paper. Before the ink starts to soak in take a straw and with a sudden burst of wind, begin blowing the ink, following the trails of ink, turning the paper as necessary.   
I have used three variations and I know, there are more out there. 
  • 1. Use the white space left behind to add design without any planning just allowing intuition to lead you marks.  (Top example)
  • 2. Use imagery in the white spaces created by the random ink spots.  This takes more imagination and works best with older students. (Dancing woman)
  • 3. Use the random black ink spots to make creatures.  (Below: Fantasy creatures
  •   And I guess, if all else fails, as I say to my can make anything into flowers or in this case, maybe trees.

This unfinished demonstration piece from 2 years ago uses the ink spots as the stimulus for the fantasy creatures using colored pencil over the ink.

Still waiting it's turn, the next ink challenge.  What can you see?

If Ink interests you be sure to see my post on March 6th Mixed Media: A Wash of Color and a Bit of Ink  uses ink in a more controlled method but fun just the same.   

It is feels so good to find time for creative play.
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  1. Darla ~ this is an excellent post ~ great ideas here and love your creations ~~thanks, namaste, carol (A Creative Harbor) Happy weekend ^_^

  2. I wish I had an art teacher like YOU!!! Entertain kids? I'm excited to grab a straw and start smearing ink!!! Thanks for the tutorial and the fabulous inspiration art!

  3. Great, step to step and spontaneity, is an art without frontiers. Saludos

  4. Oh, Carolyn, did I say entertain....I meant inspire!!!

  5. These are fabulous...I totally agree,my class of 5 year olds always love messing about with ink and straws... :)

  6. Oh I love this! What a fun way to use your creative mind. Thanks for sharing the steps.
    Happy PPF! Helen @ Natures Walk

  7. These are wonderful and so glad to have found you... I used to do this project with my Grade 8 art classes and it always got them working really well... thanks for the reminder... such fun... have a wonderful weekend and have marked the 6th on my calendar for the next tute...xx

  8. This project looks fun!
    So much talent, too!! :)
    Happy PPF!!
    Mixed-Media Map Art

  9. I'm so happy I found you here via PPF. I love this intuitive way of painting!

  10. What a neat technique!! It looks like lots of fun and who knows what will come out of it!

    (Note to self - try this!)

  11. These are wonderful. Thanks for posting the instructions. I did this years ago in school, but had forgotten all about it.

  12. I love these!! I think ink is soooo much fun! Thank you for sharing all of your ideas!

  13. What a fun!! I should try it!! Thanks for sharing!

  14. I used to loooove this technique when I was in school!!! I will have to try it again... Yours are fantastic :)


  15. Darla,
    You sound like such a fun person who is very talented and knows how to inspire. You are a great teacher....thanks for the tutorial, will try it later and will return to read more of your blog...following you now ; ) have a great weekend , hugs Annabelle

  16. Interesting idea and beautiful results, very creative! Funny how the inkstains create very organic shapes.

  17. Wow these are awesome! I just HAVE to try this!!!!Deb

  18. This is wonderful! The tecnique brings the real artist out.

  19. This is so wicked! I want to do this! Yours turned out extraordinary!!!

  20. This does sound like fun! I think your idea that all can be flowers is neat! I love the oranges. I believe your unfinished ink blots are two sci-fi creatures about to engage in battle!

  21. This looks fun for the adult too. Thanks for sharing this project. . . I'll have to get the straws out. Blessings, Janet PPF