Ink and Wash 3: An Architectural Feature

August 15, 2020

Norden Farmhouse 1991: waterproof ink and watercolour

I have included two little drawings made in 1991and 1993, mainly because they are local illustrations and because ink and wash has long afforded a means to record buildings and other architectural features. I remember Norden Farmhouse as seen here, when the barns, though in bad repair were still used for poultry farming.

70 Altwood Road 1993: waterproof ink and watercolour

70 Altwood road must be one of the prettiest buildings in Maidenhead. It too has developed over time with a thatched Victorian extension to the rear of the more ancient thatch.

70 Altwood Road: detail

This week I would like you to make one drawing of a building, wall, bridge, or tower set in a rural or town setting. It may be a street scene and you may like to include some candle wax, wax crayon or oil pastel as a resist. This may be just to texture a small area or used in several places as in the demonstration sketch below. Resist techniques were often used by John Piper and the sketch detail below was scanned at each stage to show how oil pastel as a resist may be used to add both colour and texture to an ink and watercolour drawing.

For this sketch of a street in Caorle near Venice, waterproof India ink was applied to watercolour paper using a hollow stick which had been cut at an angle.  Any pen of metal, bamboo or reed or suitable twig or stick could be used.  I like the variation of marks that can be made with a stick and also the ink can be scumbled on the paper as here on the road. 
Then oil pastel in white, very pale orange, brown, green and red was applied.  The white cannot be seen till revealed by the wash.  Some marks are quite linear where others are areas of colour.  In places the touch was light and in others a much heavier application of pastel was made. 
Finally washes of watercolour were applied, pale washes first, then stronger washes where appropriate.  Where colours are close in hue and tone a richness of glowing texture can be seen as where the red pastel breaks through the red/brown wash. Effects are more dramatic  when the differences in tone and colour between pastel and wash are greater.  The waterproof ink forms a framework of drawing for the colour.
The completed rather rapid colour sketch of Caorle using ink, oil pastel and watercolour

Waterproof ink has been used in all the illustrations to this post and I suggest that it would be good to try using only waterproof ink for this week’s drawing. Remember that while still wet you can produce tone with a brush charged with plain water or watercolour, but if you wish to work in this way you should have your wash made up so it is ready to use before the ink dries. You can also mix up a couple of dilute mixes of ink and store in small glass jars with lids. Individual glass jam pots are ideal. The sketch below was made with full strength and diluted ink.

Winchester Walk, Southwark: India ink, wash and white gouache

So before you start, look at your reference and decide whether you wish to work in colour, monochrome, with or without wax resist. You may like to invent or exaggerate colours, or to work much more closely to the colours of the reference.

Think also about the main structure of the building, drawing the main large forms first. Look carefully at the size of windows and doors in relation to the whole, then the surface patterns and details will fall into place much more easily.

Finally look at how the building is lit. Is it from strong sunlight creating huge tonal contrasts and shadows or is the light more subdued and the tonal differences more subtle? Is it night time and some of the light is coming from windows and street lights?

John Piper was an excellent draftsman so could choose to play with perspective. He also played hugely with decoration and colour and light but the proportions of windows, ornaments, balustrades etc. to the whole structure were always shewn accurately and it is these proportions that often give a building it’s character.

Reference Artists and Link

As usual the reference artists are an eclectic mix from Rembrandt to Emma Fitzpatrick so I hope you enjoy the variety on the Ink and Wash Board of my Pinterest account at

There must be a washboard joke there somewhere!

Here are brief notes on each artist but best just to look!

Rembrandt van Rijn: 1669 to 1669:

Cottage among Trees 1650: pen and brown ink, brown wash on paper

Dutch Farmhouse in Sunlight: look at how the light falls

Giovanni Battista Piranesi: 1720 to 1778: drawing and printmaking

Visionary architectural drawings; Roman Prison ca 1750 wash drawing

Tomb of the Metelli: pastiche of ancient temples with a piazza

Francis Towne: look at works from 1781 when he visited Italy, washed drawings and watercolours, very calm and cool

Roman Ruins 1781

In the park of the Villa Mondragone, Frascati 1781

John Piper: just look

David Gentleman: just look

Getrude Hermes: 1901 to 1983 sculptor and wood engraver

Stonehenge; 1959 Have included this one as the markings on the stones are wonderful. Do look up this reference

Emma Fitzpatrick: contemporary; just love her freedom of line and colour!

Lastly, not so much for his work but because he does have some useful line and wash demonstrations on U-tube, Peter Sheeler. Easy to Google and find.

I didn’t feel the need to say anything about John Piper or David Gentleman. You will come across scores of others using ink and wash but hope this handful will provide food for thought and creativity. You are quite at liberty to design your own shack, castle or fantastical bridge!

Enjoy drawing!

Your works:

The Crooked House Windsor: line and wash by Heather
Temple at Edfu after David Roberts by Ann
A Village in Umbria by Ann
Bellapais Abbey by Sarah
Recess Arch, Mottisfont Abbey by Sarah
A View of Norwich Cathedral by Sarah
Gate to Artimino, Tuscany by John
Sainte Maria de Naranco near Orviedo by Vivienne

The line and wash sketch of the chapel outside Orviedo started as a line and wash sketch using a fine nibbed dip pen and ink to which dilute washes of ink were added. Vivienne then built up layers of oil pastel, watercolour and more ink, scratching out some of the oil pastel.  

Inside Laugharne Castle by Vivienne: ink and oil pastel
Line and wash by Maricarmen
Windsor Castle by Maricarmen
Cannon Yard Eton College by Maricarmen
A Temple Entrance, Angkor by Roger
Almshouse North Yorkshire by Jane
Cyclist after Bresson 1932 by Jane
Welsh Cottage: ink and oil pastel by Shirley
St. Goyens Chapel Pembrokeshire: line and wash by Shirley
Stonehenge by Ruth
Ink, oil pastel, watercolour by Ruth
All Saints Wokingham: by Angela

Angela used Unipin Fine Line 0.1mm black, acrylic ink, watercolour, candle wax and charcoal pencil for her view of All saints Church.

Lytchgate at St. John the Baptist Church, Cookham Dean: line and wash by Jan
Eastbourne Pier: line and wash with some wax resist by Jan
The St. Mary Magdalene Chapel at Boveney and a Castle by Elizabeth
Sketches by Liz
Victorian Arcade Cardiff by Liz
Caversham Bridge at Sunset by Malcolm

Malcolm made use of numerous nibs and a twig to draw the bridge in India ink and a Chinese brush for washes of dilute ink. A little white gouache was added on the water in places.

Gatehouse at Cison in the Veneto by Sandra

Sandra’s painting is a mix of sepia acrylic ink using dip pen, oil pastel as resist, watercolour, Indian ink line and wash, gigonda red chalk plus light and dark sepia 

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