What is it about ink blotting that has made you such a fan for over 30 years? I think inkblots are magical—an inkblot is composed only of dried ink on a piece of paper, applied in various ways, and yet the swirls and washes, the positive and negative space, gives our brains a little jolt.
When I teach inkblot making, it is always amazing to me, despite the seemingly random mark making process—drip, fold, unfold—that the blotters’ blots all look so different, and yet so akin to the makers. The oncology nurse’s blots look like MRIs, the quiet, contemplative writer’s blots look like serene calligraphic forests, the artist who likes creatures (me) makes blots that all seem to be creatures, the child who loves robots makes one robot blot after the other.
And this is one of my favorites, altered (meaning drawn in to with colored pencils):
I am curious, have you ever tried to ink blot on a piece of fabric for one of your other projects? Would it even be possible to do? I haven’t quite worked out how to do it. I know Andy Warhol made inkblots on canvas, which he then stretched. It would depend on the stiffness of the fabric, I think. If you were able not only to stiffen the fabric, say by backing it with paper, but also affix it within the fold line to ensure that the print at the fold was crisp, I think it would be possible. I will have to experiment with this more.
With the amount of different images, thoughts, variations, will there be an ink blot album next to be published as a work of art?
That would be a wonderfully fun book to make! I could include blots that people sent me as well—an extended version of the Gallery section in the back of Inkblot. But, I am always on a mission to help non artists—and artists, too—make interesting marks, loosen up, generate new ideas. I am currently working on two books with North Light, one on Alternative Sketchbooks and another on making a living as an artist: The Successful Artist’s Career Guide: Finding Your Way in the Business of Art.
You talk about inspiration being a huge factor in doing ink blots, what is so inspiring about them to you? I think that inkblots sidestep our inner critic in a wonderful way. You can’t really control the outcome—it is a tiny act of faith to blob the ink and water on the paper and then mash the other half of the paper down on it. And what you see is made by you and yet not made by you—so part of you, the kid part, is purely delighted at the making of something, and the critical part—the part that sometimes doesn’t let you make anything at all because it might not be “good enough,” sort of fades away—because it wasn’t really responsible for the mark, right?
When I am stuck—sad or tired, a little overdrawn at the creativity bank, or at the start of a project when blank paper makes me feel jumpy—I make inkblots. They never fail to delight and inspire me, and take me to the next surprising step.
I made this one yesterday:
What amazing talent !! What do you think everyone ?
Thank you to Margaret once again for being able to share her insights and creativity, the book gives you endless possibilities when doing these. My son actually said right after coming home from Camp in the United States that he wanted to start on them right away!
Inkblot Book on YouTube ( where she has created many videos for you to get started on your own projects!
These are just so incredibly easy to do, with some india ink and water, paper, you are on your way !