Clément Beauvais, Water ink - BDDP Unlimited and Solidarités International, 2011

                       Clément Beauvais, Water ink - BDDP Unlimited and Solidarités International, 2011

Water Ink: A New Stroke in Watercolor

Monday, December 9, 2013

While link hopping on YouTube I stumbled upon a fresh new take on watercolor painting.  Referred to as Water Ink or Water and Ink Painting, this technique uses only water and dark ink to create fascinating and nuanced images. The artist begins using clear water brushes to paint his chosen design on the paper with plain, un-pigmented water.  This creates a blue print that is almost entirely invisible.  The artist then applies drops of ink to strategic points on this invisible design. The ink spreads through the water pathways along the brush strokes.  Swirling and feathering into capillaries, the ink creates depth, shading, and intricate patterns within the design.  It is only when the ink is added that the full artwork is revealed.  The final images are rich and complex. However, it is the process that is truly amazing.  The image blossoms from a seemingly blank page as the ink mixes with the water.  It is stunning and visually arresting to behold.

This process is different and intriguing.  It has clear ties to watercolor work, making use of water, brush strokes, and pigment.  However, the arrangement and integrated application of these materials is distinctly different.  It also breaks from the traditional way in which most Western painting is typically done. The artist cannot see his progress and build upon it.  He lays an invisible groundwork with water and allows the artwork to complete itself with his strategic application of one additional medium- the ink.  There is no opportunity for correction, addition, manipulation, or adaptation once the process is begun.  The artist trusts in his original brush strokes and the natural properties of the media, enhanced with elements of chance and the unknown, to complete his vision.

The particular video in which I discovered this technique is actually a campaign video for World Water Day 2011 produced by BDDP Unlimited.  The goal of the campaign was to raise awareness about the dangers of unclean and polluted drinking water as a silent and sometimes invisible threat.  Artist and director Clement Beauvais capitalizes on the symbolism of the process as the ink pollutes the pure and invisible water on the page.  Likewise, the ink reveals that the paper is not blank, it carries hidden imagery.

You can find the video at: It is definitely worth checking out. Personally I was very taken with this technique. Intrigued, I attempted to learn more about it. Unfortunately, few details surfaced.

Rebecca Bateson-Brown


Rebecca Bateson-Brown is a graduate student in Creative Studies at Buffalo State College. She attended Buffalo State College for her undergraduate work as well, graduating magna cum laude in 2007 with a B.A. in Anthropology specializing in dance anthropology, a B.A. in Art History, and minors in Geography and Dance.  She is currently employed as the Ballet Instructor at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.  She is also teaches and performs with Buffalo City Ballet.