Bleach Wash And Mark Making Drawing

This is a very striking way of working, in that it brings such a luminous effect to the drawing. Drawings using this medium rely strongly on the effects of light.

For this exercise you will need a selection of brushes that you think are appropriate to the marks you need to make. You will also need to stretch some paper because in the first example we are going to cover the surface of the paper with ink. Indian ink will not do for this work as when it dries it becomes waterproof and therefore permanent. I use a product called Quink, which is soluble in water and does not dry permanent. When bleach is applied it affects the ink by bleaching out the colour and leaving a bright stain that gives the dynamic effect of light against the dark of the ink. This approach to working is the opposite of what we would normally be doing - in effect we are adding the light rather than adding the darker tones.

To start, cover the paper with ink. For the first trials let it dry. Then take the bleach and dip one of your brushes in it. Make some test marks, the test marks in my example rather look like Chinese calligraphy. You can practice as much as you want before you do a drawing. Get to know the potential of the process. However be aware of the health and safety aspects of using such materials as bleach and follow the directions that have been put on the product to protect yourself.

In the first drawing of the portrait I set the sitter up so there was a strong light coming from one side. This gave me a strong contrasting tonal subject. I then dipped the brush into the bleach and started to draw in the strongest areas of light, and like magic the light and luminosity appeared. When you first do this drawing the effect is quite startling, it's like doing a drawing in reverse. My next step was to put in the tones that were of the middle range. To do this one dilutes the bleach with water to take away its strength. Practise before putting down the next tone on a piece of prepared practice paper so you have the right strength of mix to give the right tone. The two landscapes are done through the power of suggestion -a process I have mentioned before with the images you see in cloud formations. The same process is applied from the beginning, and that is to lay down the wash of ink in the first instance. However, before letting it dry, paint wet into wet with different strengths of bleach. As a suggestion do this in the area at the top of your paper to suggest the sky. At the bottom part of the drawing I have allowed the ink to dry to work into it in a different way giving a contrasting mark in the drawing. Other techniques I have used to make marks in this drawing have been splattering the bleach on to the paper with a toothbrush, drawing lines with a dip pen with the bleach, and laying diluted areas of bleach down to vary the tonal aspect of the drawing. As I explained earlier, this drawing has been done from autosuggestion rather than observation. However, there is nothing to stop you from doing a drawing in this medium from observation.

Bleach Drawing
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  • caelan
    Does quink ink need to be permanent to work with bleach?
    5 years ago
  • Berardo
    Which bleach want to use for sketch and marks in the face?
    5 years ago

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