Inking Part 2 - Mind Over Matter
This is about setting up. Here you see me transferring the printed digital sketch from my lightbox with pencil, and it comes out to look like this:
Essentially dull and lifeless especially when compared to my reference, but a clean transfer nonetheless. I don’t ink directly from the lightbox on bigger projects because eventually that will kill your eyes and you can’t feel the paper as well.
Now the real preperation begins:
❀ Inking to me is a meditation.
A lot of the ways I approach work is philosophical, not technical. I can go on about Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh, philosophy, and Sumi principles such as The 4 Gentleman, and you can read about it here if you like, (Part 6 will have a whole slew of references), but I want to talk about the more essential aspects of Thought and how they can influence your work.
I suggest warming up by doing Water paintings, which is basically painting with water and letting it disappear. Inoue Takehiko talks about it in his book Sumi, but it is a good practice in learning how to give yourself into letting go.
☆ You will make mistakes. It won’t be perfect. The trick is to get into a mindset where perfection doesn’t matter and you are drawing from your heart instead of your brain. This takes a lot of time to get used to, but I guarantee your work will be better for it.
❀ Mantras - Inking is Feeling.
The way I approach my work is NOT technical, no matter how technical it may look, so discussing line weights is hard for me. I will go into the nitty gritty of it in the next part, but for now I’ll share some thoughts for the approach I take with my lines.
➛ What am I Inking? - Seems like an obvious question, but it isn’t to me. Always have this question in the forefront while making a stroke.
What exactly is this thing? What does it feel like? How much does it weigh? What does the material of this object look like in different lights? What is the emotion behind this image? What does this object mean?
With Inking WEIGHT is everything. A lot of people say light is, but that isn’t my approach, it’s too technical. I have to FEEL something. Every stroke has the potential to transfer your emotion into it. You can be as technical as you want, and yes I’ll go into that in the next part and while it’s certainly important…to follow the light source, use the right tools, whatever…to me that doesn’t really matter if your stroke doesn’t have emotion behind it, and it’s definitely easy to tell when it doesn’t. It makes a huge difference in your work.
These last two watercolor examples are old and have many flaws, but I’m showing these for the emotion behind them. The bottom excerpt is from my comic Family, and it was very hard for me to work on. Not for the technical aspect, but because of the psychological intensity of it and how much it hit home to my own experiences with dealing with family who has mental illness. I hope the shift in dynamics and tension translated here, but even if it didn’t and I could convey the shifts better now…that was the idea behind the strokes.
Again, this is why I say that books on Zen Buddhism are my most important art books, and they have nothing to do with art and yet they have everything to do with it.