Why fountain pen ink is ideal for monotone painting

For painters and illustrators, practicing monotone art is relevant for understanding light, as it allows us to perceive shape and form. How that tonal range, from light to dark, is utilised will be key to the success of an illustration or painting. It is also the logical area to perfect before attempting to do the same thing with a full colour palette!

Most artists will choose a black medium, typically a black India Ink, as the tonal range and contrast difference is more pronounced and dramatic but also because it’s probably the only medium that they know about. And for most monotone art the results are exactly that – just the one colour used, demonstrating the subtle yet diverse tonal range of that one colour.

So why not take this a stage further? Same principle, still using one colour but in this case using a fountain pen ink with good tonal possibilities but with inherent chromatic qualities too? It’s still exactly the same process with the same tonal qualities but with the extra added magic of those hidden colours coming out of solution plus sheen and shimmer effects:

A walk on the beach – Troublemaker Abalone (gorgeous chromo).

Snowscape – Robert Oster Barossa Grape (great chromo)

Close reach – Robert Oster Marrone Mustard

John Lennon – Cult Pens Diamine Robert (check out that green metallic sheen)

Close hauled – Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve (beautiful subtle chromo).

The front image of Harold Budd, (who has been a huge influence for most of my adult life and sadly succumbed to the Coronavirus in December last year), was created using Diamine Purple Pazzaz. So here we’re getting chromo, sheening and shimmer effects – also worth checking out Diamine Winter Miracle. For more monotone fountain pen ink possibilities check out my 30 mini portraits project.

AND HEY! If you’re interested to know more about how to use fountain pen inks in more creative ways – whether it’s simply to observe their chromatic behaviours, or, to recreate one of my swatch cards, or, to learn how to use them in watercolour painting, illustration and calligraphy, why not check out my online course ?

If you like what I’m up to, you can sign up to my newsletter by clicking here