“Leave white space.”
“Move ink with water, not the brush.”
“Don’t outline with a flat line, break it up.”
I attend the Saturday workshop in October and learn about working with different ink pens, painting with India ink and contrasting texture and line direction. I also spend a lovely day with interesting artists – all for $30.
About Our Instructor
The newly renovated Crafts Center is a treasure trove. I know this from taking Mary Ann Scherr’s fabulous jewelry class this summer. The instructors are excellent and Azzi is no exception.
An ink painter/illustrator and watercolorist for 20 years, Azzi creates everything from stark landscapes in India ink to intricate drawings of deer. Her landscapes are displayed at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and sell across the U.S. and France. Her art is so gorgeous it’s daunting.
But Azzi makes everything look doable, even for novices like me. Azzi believes everyone is an artist and she offers this interesting anecdote:
Her first career was in scientific research. However, after a serious head injury and subsequent surgery she went from being right-handed to left-handed and throughout the recovery she learned she could suddenly paint and draw.
“We all have creative ability,” she says. “We simply must unleash it.”
What We Learned
Azzi first teaches us drawing techniques with ink pens including stippling, continuous lines, scribbling, criss-crossing and cross-hatching. Each technique has its own feeling and style, she says, sketching away.
Criss-crossing and scribbling, for instance, nicely illustrate animals because the looser lines resemble fur. Continual lines offer an abstract way to draw daisies, grass or weeds. Azzi advises outlining objects with broken lines and stippling, not a continual line, to make drawings more vibrant and fresh.
Azzi also teaches different ways to apply ink. She paints a woodsy scene in India ink on Arches paper, a thick French paper – pricey, but excellent for inks. She liberally dabs ink in the puddles, letting it run over the page. You think all is lost, the painting is ruined – but sure enough a lip forms to contain a beautiful wash, fading from dark to light, like the twilight.
“Don’t interfere,” she warns. “Let the ink do its thing.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Learning new tips was fun and so was the guided practice. That afternoon I painted a gnarly tree trunk and an orchard in Indian ink and sepia, carefully leaving white space for contrast and applying ink washes. The new tricks worked. I used a pointy sculpture tool to pull the wet ink down for the trunks and liked the abstract result.
“Roots and branches are more delicate than any paintbrush can duplicate,” she says.
Weeks after the workshop, I’m applying the ink techniques to watercolor and feeling more inspired to illustrate my children’s books. It’s all thanks to Azzi’s guidance. Fall Crafts Center classes sold out months ago. But with the new spring schedule out this week, I’m considering Azzi’s “Painting Cats and Dogs in Watercolor” workshop next. Spring can’t come soon enough.