Mission Statement

My name is Nick Stewart and I’m currently involved with a personal project – an experimental journey into the creative possibilities of fountain pen inks and bleach. With hundreds of inks to test, I have no end date in mind, just a compulsion to experiment, create art and share my findings, as time allows, on this blog site.

Fountain pen inks are made up of dyes. When the inks are applied to blotting paper the dyes are released and the colours spread outwards – imagine a drop of petrol on wet tarmac. I have found a way of achieving and utilising this effect on watercolour paper. The chromatic process is very much serendipity led and the beauty of the final outcomes are invariably dictated by this. Because they are natural and non contrived, the viewer is naturally drawn to them, like watching clouds or a sunset. I’m also a firm believer in the concept of ‘less is more’ and through these processes you can get so much from so little. I also love the idea of alchemy or in this case, creating a gold effect through subjecting fountain pen inks to bleach.

Each fountain pen ink is supposedly unique and there are lots of them! With a plethora of fountain pen inks yet to source and 900+ samples tested so far, the results have been diverse and fascinating. Some inks don’t react while others reveal a whole range of unexpected behaviours, colours, reactions and creative possibilities.

The techniques, processes and reactions are all unique to fountain pen inks and have all been realised through this project. You really do have to take a leap of faith, surrender to the process and let the art happen. It can be unstable, frustrating and unforgiving. To get the best out of your fountain pen inks: practice the techniques, take advantage of chance outcomes, make mistakes, be patient and keep at it.

Looking to the future, handwriting is not going to be a growth area. Smart technologies are the now the communication tools of choice. Fountain pens are increasingly becoming collectable items and fashion accessories. And what might become of fountain pen inks? Well, I believe that there is a huge opportunity for FP inks as a creative medium within the art sector, and I hope that what I’m doing here is proof of that. This would in no way upset their history as a writing medium – in fact it would positively enhance them. If we look to the far eastern traditions, art and handwriting have been created from the same medium and seen, in harmony, for centuries. So, in the spirit of the current recycling era, I’m on a mission to re-invent, up-cycle and promote the use of fountain pen inks as something a little different. AND, if you like what I’m saying… please, SHARE THE LOVE!

If you’re into social media you can follow this project on any of the links below:

•  Facebook: facebook.com/quinkandbleach/
•  Twitter: @NickiStew
•  Instagram: @quinkandbleach

And if you’re into lettering:
•  www.nickstewartlettering.co.uk

ALL feedback – positive or negative – is most welcome.


47 thoughts on “Mission Statement

  1. “It is also a process that is very much serendipity led and the beauty of the final outcomes are often dictated by this. You really do have to take a leap of faith, surrender to the process and let the art happen.” I think this is also true of the writing process – maybe of any artistic endeavour.

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  5. I have to say… it’s times like these I’d wish I’d be a better painter. (Or any good at it at all, really 🙂 ). But it’d take time to practice I simply do not have with all my other hobbies, and it’s a shame.
    But your project is amazing. I love browsing through it and I didn’t find it sooner. I love the idea, and what you’re doing with it. Thank you for sharing this, and please – do continue. 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind comments. The day job is a little busy right now but will hopefully have some new posts up sometime next week. The project has a way to go yet! N

      • Don’t worry, the best work is done when one has the time and the inclination for it. I will watch for future work, and it’ll take some time to get through the archives anyways. 🙂 Just know that it’s appreciated, all that work, and it looks gorgeous.

  6. Hi Nick, your artwork is absolutely breathtaking! Your passion for experimentation really shows through. A quick technical question please – do you apply the bleach calligraphy using a fountain pen? If so, I’m wondering if the bleach might react badly to the metal eg. corrode the nib? Thank you and please keep up the amazing work!!

    • Thanks for your kind words Vivien
      ‘The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work’ ― Emile Zola. And I won’t lie you, I am currently experimenting with bleach and fountain pens, it is dangerous and I can’t recommend it – for health and safety reasons. However, I also use dip pens with zebra g nibs, which I buy in bulk, and these are relatively inexpensive. They do corrode when exposed to bleach but will last longer if cleaned thoroughly after use. Please stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come yet! Nx

  7. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I’ve been showing your site to my friends today and they all wrote back saying your stuff is beautiful! It has inspired me to play around with inks more, too. I like the quote you replied with, and I would like to comment that your hard work is very evident, as well as how systematic & scientific your approach is. Being an academic, I really appreciate and can relate to it. I will definitely be staying tune… looking forward to your next post!

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