Pen and Wash

July 2010

This was a one-day course at the St. Ives School of Painting. The tutor was Margaret Eccleston.


  1. Make marks on paper with a pen.
  2. Mix up a “ladder” of different tones by diluting ink.
  3. Draw a sea-shell.
  4. Using pen, draw a picture of the building opposite the studio.
  5. Copy a drawing, using coloured inks. Coloured wash can be applied either before or after a line drawing. For this exercize, apply the coloured wash first, and then allow it to dry.
  6. Apply tone wash to your drawing from (4).
  7. Draw lines into your drawing from (5).

All exercizes are to be done on 300g/m2 rough surface watercolour paper.

Cartoons (etc.) are often drawn in pencil first and then inked. For these exercizes, don't pencil in first: draw directly in ink.


If you try to make an ink wash by starting with ink and adding water, you may find that you need to add an unreasonably large amount of water to dilute it down to the required shade. Instead, start with water and add small amounts of ink.

Beginner students can't be trusted to use bottles of ink outdoors; they are likely to spill it. For this reason, exercize (4) is done using a fine-liner rather than a dip pen.

If you're going to apply wash to an ink drawing, the drawing must be in an ink that isn't water soluble. It is very annoying to spend a long time on a drawing, only to have it smudge when you apply wash because the ink was water soluble. For this reason, it is recommened that you test it first when you use a new brand of ink for the first time.

If you draw with a transparent wax crayon, and then apply wash, the wash will only colour the parts of the paper that aren't protected with wax. In this way, you can draw white lines.