Inspired by Stained Glass

By Bob Bahr

“I’ve been doing stained glass as a hobby since age 12, off and on throughout my life,” says Hilary Slater. “When I ink around the shapes in watercolor with a heavier line weight, it really does remind me of stained glass.”

“Yukon River Trail,” by Hilary Slater, watercolor and ink, 24 x 20 in.
“View From Cliffs on the 17th Concession,” by Hilary Slater, watercolor and ink, 24 x 20 in.

Slater often paints on location in watercolor, then inks at home in the evening. “It’s almost a meditation in the evening for me. The shape of watercolor, when painted wet-in-wet, has always intrigued me. Watercolor takes control in that stage. I enjoy following the paint and the way the paint behaves. When I ink the outlines, it creates a secondary layer of design. The tricky part is deciding which areas to outline. I sit with it for a day or two if I’m not sure. I use four different line weights for inking, from very fine to almost the thickness of a Sharpie. In a clear sky with one cloud, I might do a fine outline. A tree in the foreground gets a thicker line. This creates depth and perspective.”

“Sunset Over Killarney,” by Hilary Slater, watercolor and ink, 20 x 24 in.

She uses a variety of pens that produce different line weights, with some inks being permanent and others water-soluble. Sometimes she uses a rigger brush, especially for calligraphic lines like those depicting twigs. “Mostly I use waterproof ink because sometimes I’ll go back and add a wash or make changes,” says Slater. “Sometimes I do use water-soluble if it want it to blend a bit with the watercolor.”

“The Potato Fields,” by Hilary Slater, watercolor and ink, 20 x 24 in.

Slater says, “The outlining is a quiet activity; I go off into the zone. So it is more appropriate for my evening time. Anyway, I can’t do the outlining until the painting is dry, so I have to wait at least four hours. At first, it almost became an OCD obsession, and I had to ink the whole piece. People really responded to it. I started with figures, giving outlines to the hair, like a Rasta, and on skin, like tattoos. That got the young crowd interested in it.”

“Forest Hike,” by Hilary Slater, watercolor and ink, 20 x 24 in.

Indeed, Slater has applied this process to a variety of subjects, but landscapes are the most common, given the beauty of her surroundings in Canada. Slater says that in addition to her stained-glass background, she also moved toward the inking of outlines through a painting approach — the artist has applied watercolor paint in lines using the head of the paint tube.”


  1. I also use ink with my watercolours so I enjoyed Bob Bahr’s work. I thought I was alone. I love the tranquility of this process.
    Unable to send a sample – but if you go to my webpage @ you will see samples of some of my paintings with ink. Look especially for “Wild Flowers”.
    I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and really enjoy your publication.
    Thank You.
    Jane Scott Barsanti


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