Several years ago my mom gifted me a set of Chinese ink sticks. They had embossed dragons on them and they were truly lovely. And I truly had no idea what to do with them. For years they sat on a shelf in a Chinese dish, looking fraudulently like I knew what I was doing. And then my husband went to a garage sale last weekend and came home with a stone dish, two Chinese brushes and another one of these ink sticks.
What would we do without google and You Tube, I ask you? Within minutes I had downloaded and watched multiple videos on how to use the ink sticks. The first step was to "grind" the art stick into a spot of water on the stone. Although the term "grinding" is used, I came to learn from watching experts that very little pressure is used, merely the weight of the stick itself. The act of making ink should take 15 minutes and is meant to be a period of meditation (during which I was watching a movie on Netflix- guilty as charged!) Personally I meditate when I walk.
I also watched a series of art action videos, where ink was swirled in circles across both wet and dry paper. It was fascinating to watch the ink spread into the wet areas. I tried pages and pages of this while I was getting used to using Chinese brushes. Beautiful in their simplicity, the swirls and circles finally got me meditating, the movie on the computer now paused.
Eventually the swirls were reminding me of hair. I reached for one of my figure drawing resources, selected a model and quickly rendered a sketch. The immediacy of ink is so permanent. Any mistakes are meant to be and the drawing is fluid...active, long after the paint brush has been laid to rest.
Don't be shy if you come across an art medium you are not sure of. You-tube videos can be an indispensable learning tool. Set aside some time and just go for it!