Process Piece: Desiree Cornell Part 3

Hello Readers! Hopefully you’re still with me here and I didn’t lose you since our last meeting. Previously, we covered how I begin laying down my artistic foundation, and now, it’s time to build. Let me start this off by saying how much I LOVE using ink! It helps instill patience and a firm hand, and it’s a medium that can stand all on it’s own. I can lose myself for hours filling in details and adding new ideas as I go. I use a variety of methods when it comes to inking, from standard pens, microns, or even brushes.

For this segment though, I decided to go old school and whip out my Speedball series pens. I settled on two specific nibs. For most of the inking I used Speedball’s #107 Hawk quill. This quill has a superfine point but has durability to hold ink for long lines and cross-hatching; meaning that I didn’t need to dip my pen into the ink as often between etchings, and I had the ability to manipulate my lines as fine as need be. For my second nib, I chose the #513EF Globe. This nib is rather large but has a bowl tip, so it can draw a both bold and relatively fine lines. I relied on this nib for lines which required depth, however each long stroke must be planned as you’ll find this nib does not hold much ink at a time. Should you stop drawing midway through a line, you’ll want to be able to pick up where you left off; this can be difficult with such a nib as pressure has everything to do with how your lines will lay down with this particular little guy. Tread carefully! You may be wondering, “Why go with such a fancy and time consuming method anyway?” Well, I was specifically planning to use watercolor when it came down to painting this piece. If you decide to use any medium that has the propensity to be wild yet (sometimes) forgiving as watercolor, you’ll need to balance it out with something that can take whatever you throw at it. India ink, as you may or may not know, is one of the most pigmented (and permanent) inks you can use. I didn’t want my ink to fade after multiple erasings and surely did not want any bleeding to occur either.

With all that in mind, I am using Higgin’s Black Magic: Waterproof/Fadeproof drawing ink. The bottle has a dropper which helps me dispense small ink portions that I may water down for shading. (We will get to that shortly.) Before I start inking anything, I size up the canvas and notate where the best starting point is. Due to the shape of this piece being triangular, I worked my way down from the spider, then left to right on the flowers; and the Ouija board webbing last. I do this to avoid any potential smearing or spotting. I also keep scratch paper close by to test my lines if I’m unsure that the nib picked up enough ink, or how much pressure I’ll need to make bold lines. I use another piece to anchor my arm so I don’t smear the lead linework as well.

The first lines to apply ink are the outlines of my figures and filling in all key lines as I move. Once all those lines are laid down and dry, I’ll go back in and connect anything that I might have missed between dips, or lines I may have simply overlooked. If all is well, it’s time for shading. You can dilute ink to paint a nice washed out shade, which once dried is just as permanent as your regular line work. This takes A LOT of practice as one drop of India ink goes a long way. I like to use a 1:4 drop ink to water ratio, and even then, I will dip my brush and streak a line on scratch paper just to check the intensity. I’ll even just use the residual from said scratch paper to paint with if wet enough!

I used a Royal Taklon #5 brush to paint my shades. These brushes are very versatile and can be used for multiple mediums, they are also very pretty! I also want to add that no matter how long you’ve worked with a specific medium, mistakes can STILL happen. This happened to me when I was trying to add a ghostly mist to my spider. It came out looking more like flames, and instead of walking away to collect myself, I fueled the fire and made it worse, in my opinion. (My husband will say otherwise.) I managed to leave it alone and come back to fix it, and while I’m not in love with it, it’s workable. Tune in next time for the final part in this series: COLOR!


Desiree Cornell is an autodidact (self taught) artist from Ellwood City, PA; who is currently residing in Tucson AZ with her fellow artist/husband, Shawn Cornell. Desiree has been honing her skills since she discovered her interest for drawing at the tender age of 7. Her work exemplifies a specialty of traditional methodology, and the contextual usage in a variety of mediums, particularly watercolor and india ink. Despite formal training, Desiree’s natural ability is manifest through her skills that coalesce an evoked sensory response. Her works are regarded as a contemporary staple of esoteric fusion, often blending genres such as gothic noir with the avant garde. When not creating art, Desiree works for international logistics company and specializes in Customs Brokerage.