How to Ink Splatter

Updated April 17, 2017

Ink splatter painting is a way to express yourself creatively in a traditional fine art medium. Ink painting is an ancient painting medium, associated with Eastern scholarly landscape painting and calligraphy. The potential of ink calligraphy is occasionally expressed by allowing the ink to splatter onto the page--a quality that has become familiar in Western abstract art. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a calligraphy scholar or an abstract painter to make your own ink splatter paintings.

Lay several layers of newspaper down to protect your working surface. Since the whole point of ink splatter painting is to express yourself while making a mess, you don’t want to be concerned about damaging your table or workbench while painting.

Cut or tear your paper into small pieces, about 12 inches per side. If you begin with a large piece of expensive paper, you may be inhibited to splatter freely, and the resulting painting will lack spontaneity.

Pour a small amount of black India ink onto two different parts of your enamelled mixing tray. Add an equal amount of water to one of the ink puddles, and mix well with the tip of your bamboo brush.

Pour a small amount of water onto a third section of your enamelled mixing tray, and add just a drop or two of ink to the water using the tip of your bamboo brush. You now have three distinctly different tones of ink. Wash your brush well with water.

Lay a piece of practice paper flat on the work surface.

Hold the brush vertically with the bristles downward. In a fluid motion, dab the brush into one of the ink puddles and quickly flick the brush over the paper, snapping your wrist as the tip of the brush approaches the surface of the paper.

Clean the brush and repeat the splattering procedure on the same piece of paper, using each tone of ink once.

Continue to practice your ink splattering technique in this fashion, experimenting with different tempos, brush angles, and wrist movements. When you feel comfortable with the technique, attempt to make a splatter painting on a large piece of paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo brush
  • Enamelled mixing tray
  • Black India ink
  • Water
  • Watercolour or printmaking paper
  • Newspaper
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Fred Samsa has been writing articles related to the arts, entertainment and home improvement since 2003. His work has appeared in numerous museum publications, including program content for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in art from Temple University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Brown University.