Art Term

Ink

Ink is an ancient writing and drawing medium in liquid or paste form, traditionally black or brown in colour – though it can also contain coloured dyes or pigments

Marlene Dumas, ‘Magdalena 1’ 1996
Marlene Dumas
Magdalena 1 1996
Tate
© Marlene Dumas

Ink is still most commonly made of carbon and binders, but historically was also made from plant or animal sources such as iron gall and sepia.

It is traditionally used with sable brushes or varieties of quill, reed or pen.

Historically, drawings have been made by applying ink with a quill pen made by cutting the hollow stem of a large feather, from a bird such as a goose or a swan, to create a nib. Hollow reeds were also cut in the same way and used for writing and drawing. Metal pens succeeded the quill during the nineteenth century.

Pen and ink is often used in conjunction with other techniques such as washes.

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