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Investigating drawing - Pen and ink

Detail from Self-portrait by Jonathan Richardson

Detail from Self-portrait by Jonathan Richardson

Inks derived from carbon suspended in water, have been used since the Renaissance. Iron gall ink was made from ground gall nuts or oak apples and iron sulphate, light washes were made from very diluted inks. Natural ink occurs in squid (the 'ink sac' - used in the sea to scare off attackers) and was used in the 19th century. Reeds or bird quills (goose, turkey or crow) were used as pens before their manufacture in metal. An excellent method of achieving gentle tones swiftly, but skill and care is needed as marks produced are indelible.

A selection of examples from the Gallery's collections


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