Old ink and brush work

I’d love to share with you some of my work from a few years ago, when I had a go at painting with ink and brush.  When I lived on the Isle of Man, I was asked to draw a few Bible heroes and decided to experiment with my newest tools.

Firstly, Indian ink smells amazing  –  and also has a very distinct taste come to think of it!  This isn’t to say that I casually drink ink as I work.  I love ink work because it’s so sensory!  The feel of the brush, the musty aroma of the thick black ink, the mucky hands and the rhythm of work…

When you work with ink, it’s almost as though the whole experience is like a ritualistic procedure.  You set up your workstation, unpack your inks and brushes, get your inky old handkerchiefs out for when the mess happens.  Unscrew the lid, dip the brush just far enough into the jar.  Depending on how fine you’re working, you might need to ‘dump’ ink onto larger, blacker areas so that your brush is loaded just right.

And when you’re done, carefully pack it all away.  Gently wash the brushes until the water runs clear  –  and this is where taste comes in  –  thoroughly clean them by sucking the rest of the ink out and spitting it into the sink!

What makes total sense (when you do it) does sound a bit odd in writing.  I wouldn’t have done it in the first place if it wasn’t for coming across a video by Doug TenNapel (Earthworm Jim creator).  I had been following Axe Cop creator Ethan Nicolle which was what originally got me into comic art.  Up until this point, I had been using digital ink and tablet  –  on Manga Studio Ex.  Those interested might still be able to pick up a free demo!

Which brings us to the characters I inked!  My favourite by far is David.

David, the ‘man after God’s own heart’.  He killed the God-mocking giant Goliath when he was a kid and showed great character and integrity.  David also made a massive mess of things and was heartbroken.  At one point he worshipped God by dancing in his pants.  You can read about him in 1 & 2 Samuel (and other bits).  He also wrote loads of Psalms, ancient songs and poems.

Moses is a bit of a tank really!  He had a properly extraordinary life.  He began his life as a slave who escaped genocide by joining the palace household.  He killed a man and ran into the wilderness.  It wasn’t until he was 80 years old that he opposed Pharaoh and led the Israelite nation out of slavery.  He had a unique one-to-one relationship with God and his face scared people because it glowed.  Find him in Exodus (and other books)!

Esther chose the difficult and risky path over the comfortable and safe one.  She risked her life on a hope that she could save her nation.  Esther was a woman who was in the right place at the right time  –  but had a choice.  Her bravery has her stand out amongst other characters of the Bible.  Interestingly, the book of Esther doesn’t mention God by name.

Joseph was a man of great integrity.  I love the lyric from Technicolour Dreamcoat, “I am handsome, I am smart; I am a walking work of art”.  Joseph started off a little ignorantly arrogant.  How he grew was fantastic though  –  a man of true principle under duress and slander.  Not only that, he kicked butt at administration!  He wraps up the book of Genesis.

The last legend in ink is John.  He was famous for baptising people, speaking out against corruption in people’s hearts, religious leaders and rulers, and for being generally a bit… alternative.  He was a bit of a wild man who lived in the wilderness and ate bugs and honey.  John laid the road for the main event, Jesus.  Check out John, Matthew, Mark and Luke to find out more.

Perhaps I should ink more Bible characters.  They bring so much in the ways of character and inspiration!  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of my older work.

Let me know if there are any other characters I need to ink and why!

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