Tuesday 4 August 2015

August with Ink - Ecoline Guideline

Let's start the new month with a medium that we all love and that is very versatile - inks! I think we could easily find about 100 different techniques to use with different kinds of them and we would never get bored.

Today we would like to familiarize you with inks that not everybody knows yet - Ecolines. These are definitely one of my favourite mediums and for a few years teaching classes with them I noticed that almost everyone who tried them on my workshop immediately fells in love. So why not give it a go? Here is guideline I prepared some time ago and now I want to share with you:

First, some basics:
- Ecolines are liquid watercolours - inks
- They are available in a very wide range of colors (almost 50!)
- Can be diluted in water
- All colors are transparent except for white and gold (opaque white is perfect for marking light)
- If you use heating tool to dry them, please be aware that colors may fade

What I love most about Ecolines is that they give you absolute freedom.
The final result is not so predictable but thanks to that you can get some really amazing effects that are impossible to achieve with any other medium.
Ecolines are watercolours so you should use a soft paintbrush. Sable or squirrel would be perfect, but synthetic fibers work just as well.

For me, the best brushes are the big ones, they are perfect for making splatters and blobs. You don't even have to touch the paper, only soak your brush in the water, then in Ecoline and hold above the paper. A big drop will fall on it, and after drying, you will get a beautiful blot. :)

When choosing paper for your watercolours, keep in mind that the best would be the thickest and acid free paper (acid free paper doesn't contain any chemicals so it will never turn yellow and won't waste away). You can work on watercolor paper without any preparations. But this kind of paper is only an option. Try to experiment with different kinds of paper to find the best for your techniques. Try also some recycled papers – especially for your art journal. You only need to remember about priming it first with gesso.
Would you like to know some of my tricks?

Wet on wet technique: 
This one is the most spectacular and expressive technique. You can get amazing effects, especially if you'd like to paint water or sky. Simply damp the paper with a brush dipped in water. Paper must be completely wet. Now dip a brush in water, then in paint and apply it on your wet paper.

{Wet on wet example}

Wet on dry technique:
Apply ink on dry paper, let it dry and then apply another layer of ink. If you use good quality paper, the first layer will not dissolve after adding the next one. To keep it clean and clear make sure the previous layer is dry and try to limit yourself to only few coatings.

{Wet on dry example}
Dry brush technique:
This technique is the opposite to wet on wet and it's perfect to emphasize some details on your painting. Use a smaller brush, dip in colour, blot on a paper towel a couple of times. Skim over the texture of the paper. Repeat the steps.

{Dry brush example}

Perfect stains:
You can get beautiful stains when you apply a layer of paint on one that is not completely dry. The first layer's pigment is replaced by the pigment of next coating and it creates a beautiful effect of stains darker on their edges. You need some practice to get the best results. The first layer can be neither too dry nor too wet.

{Perfect Stains}
My work below was painted with wet on dry technique. 
I covered the whole paper with a thin layer of gesso and when it was dry, I started with pink Ecoline. Then I let it dry and added more stains but with orange this time. Next was grass green and finally prussian blue. When my paint was dry, I dipped a clean brush in water and made some small stains. Then, I also added some Silks with my palette knife and started masking and sketching.

But Ecolines can be used not only to paint with brushes, but also to make your own mists. If you want to know how to do it, watch my one minute video:

To end up, I'd like to share some ideas for you to try out:

  • Paint a layer of Ecoline on watercolor paper and when it's still wet sprinkle a bit of sea salt on it. Salt will absorb the pigment around and when everything dries, just blow it away and enjoy the beautiful result.
  • Draw with white candle and apply Ecoline on it. Your drawing will appear because the paint won't cover the wax. When your painting is dry, you can easly remove the wax by ironing through tissue paper. This technique works best on watercolor paper that has a nice texture.
  • Paint with a sponge! Why not!? This way you can get many different effects that will surely surprise you. Just dip a sponge in Ecoline and have fun.
  • Paint on watercolor paper. Dry some of the layers of paint with a heating tool and leave some other spots wet. Then dip the whole page (yes, you heard me right!) in a bowl of water for a second, bring it out and see what happens. The spots that you previously dried should stay as they were, but those that you left wet will get blurred.

So why don't you start experimenting with your Ecolines? Remember that practice is very important. If you are not very happy with the effect, please try not to judge it too much, just continue your work and have fun with it.
I learned that I don't always get the best painting and I'm fine with it.
It's a good thing because each work we create (good or bad!) makes us better artists.


  1. Very informative. I have never used Ecolines before. Faber Castell Watercolour pencils are my current favourite from watercolours, you got me interested in Ecolines now too!!!;) Thanks.

  2. The colors are luscious! I am putting these on my wish list. The video showing how to make sprays out of them made me itch to go out and make some. I know I have some spray bottles around here somewhere.....

  3. Really interesting, thanks for all the info, more things to add to my wish list x

  4. Really interesting, thanks for all the info, more things to add to my wish list x

  5. Thanks so much for sharing the details with us Kasia, definitely something to try out!

    Congratulations on the wonderful interview you have in Art Journal this month, it is great to learn more about you and your creations they show throughout the interview are just fabulous! Anne x

  6. What a great post, Kasia... full of inspiration and brilliant ideas and tips. Thank you.
    Alison x

  7. What an enjoyable and informative post! I've been wanting to purchase some of these and give them a try, and you have sealed the deal! I love the glimpses of your work I've seen throughout this post. Beautiful!

  8. Very interesting to come across this article.

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