Monday, 18 April 2011

Sepia ink

Sepia a la plancha. A favourite dish in Spain

Sepia, also know as squid or cuttlefish is a favourite dish, eaten by the Spanish. The common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, has been found in the Mediterranean, North and Baltic Seas, although populations have been proposed to occur as far south as the South Africa.
The name Sepia refers to the type of ink it houses within its body. This ink is used to deceive large predators when they try to attack the cuttlefish. When a predator is near, the ink is shot out into the water to confuse the predator, while the cuttlefish swims (jets) to safety. Sepia is obtained from the ink sacs of these invertebrates.

Historically, artists used sepia for their pen and ink drawings. Sepia was prized for writing and for drawing during the classical era. Many of the great histories and literary masterpieces of Greco-Roman thought were first penned in sepia ink.This means that many of the masterpieces of draftsmanship were also created with sepia ink. A particularly effective and pleasing style was to sketch something in watered down sepia washes and finish the details with black india ink.
Although other inks took the place of sepia for writing, it maintained its place in the artist’s studio up until the late nineteenth century when it was supplanted by synthetic pigments.

Today, however, the term sepia is used to describe the brownish tint of old photographs. Rather than being true black and white photos, they have a warmer wash of brown over them.

Below is a selection of my pen and ink illustrations using sepia ink