Which Came First, the Chicken or the Ink?

Ink is a fun medium to play with. There’s India ink, an opaque medium that comes in several colors. (Koh-i-Noor is a popular brand). There is transparent ink (Higgins and Dr. Ph. Martin are popular). But my favorite ink of the moment are stamp-pad re-inkers. The ink comes in small squeeze bottles with a dropper tip and the ink is incredibly saturated–one drop can be diluted with a Tablespoon of water for writing ink, or with a teaspoon for a good ink spray. Re-inkers come in a huge variety of colors and brands. The big difference is between alcohol and dye. I prefer the dye, it’s made for papers.

First, I used re-inkers to dye two rectangles of watercolor paper, each about 4 x 6 inches. I attached one of them on the left side of a journal spread, and the other on the right. The one on the left (show above) was left uncoated.

The one on the right was coated with three coats of gel mediums, creating a faux-encaustic look.

In each layer, a different color was added to the gel medium–either gold, or yellow or red. The intense colors created a vivid glossy effect. The piece of paper embedded into the middle layer says, “Losing–and finding–his voice.”

On the left side, I drew a rooster, making the most of the red portion of the paper. I love the effect of the chicken-behind-a-screen. This tied in to the “loosing–and finding–his voice” on the opposite page.

The glossy encaustic look also gives a hint of the rooster’s thoughts of what his future may hold. While many people are using bird images in their work, it is easier to make a raven, crow, or silhouette bird look sinister, and slightly harder to cast a chicken as a noir image. I liked the contrast here, as well as the contradiction and tension between the pages.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and art journaler who is experimenting with slightly darker ideas.

9 thoughts on “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Ink?

  1. I would love you rooster more if I didn’t have one across the street from me who can’t tell time. He is pretty though – black and white speckled.

    • We have several peacocks and pea-hens in the area and they do set up a racket morning and night. They alarm the geese, chickens and guinea fowls. Oh, yeah, and the dogs, the many, many dogs. What’s odd about this is that I do not live in the country. I live smack in the middle of a city. But as the city grew, working farms simply were included in the map, so we have horses, goats and birds three blocks from the house.

    • I had some old leftover transparencies from the overhead projector days, and i found it to be a fun substrate with some dyes. I bought the dyes largely because i like to work in ink, using it like watercolor.

  2. For inspiration about noir chickens I can recommend some stories from the 1930s that feature an iconic detective who’s hard boiled but basically a good egg; a real cock of the walk with the chicks whose known as the ruler of the roost. Something like The Maltese Capon or The Big Cheep.

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