“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” –Bob Ross
I recently discovered alcohol inks. I’ve seen some beautiful art made with this medium, too. I don’t think it’s easy to work with, although in the abstract, I’ve gotten some really pretty pieces.
For those of you not familiar with alcohol inks, they’re basically alcohol based inks — they respond to alcohol in somewhat the same manner water colors respond to water. It IS different from watercolors. For instance, if you drop alcohol into a painting, the color on the surface will bloom — as in the picture below. The spots on the tree are created by dabbing alcohol on the inked surface. You can also use alcohol pens, like Copic pens or even Sharpies. In fact, you can use Copic ink refills as the ink. What I use are Jacquard Piñata inks and Tim Holtz Ranger inks, a painting tool filled with alcohol, a Copic colorless blender, and paintbrushes. These inks work best on non-porous surfaces, like tiles, acetate (Dura-Lar), or Yupo. I have also used photographic paper. I’ve seen tutorials where foil was used that gave the art a stained-glass type appearance.
This is my latest and it’s one I think I will frame, eventually. This is Tim Holtz Ranger inks on Yupo, using a paintbrush to spread the ink, a smaller paintbrush to dab alcohol on the tree for leaves, and the Copic colorless blender pen for the trunk and branches and the vegetation at the bottom.
I went to a class at Seasons to Follow in Downtown Grand Junction, where I was shown how to use canned air to make a flower on a 4 x 4 tile. I though those turned out kind of interesting, but they don’t look a lot like what I was being shown. I have trouble controlling the air. I compensated for my ineptitude by making details in the middle of the white flower/black tile, and putting dots and lines all around the one on the white tile.
Another tile I did was based on a YouTube tutorial by Myriam’s Nature (Miriam with a y). She is a lot of fun and really creative. I followed along as best I could. I am not unhappy with the result. I wiped that tile clean several times until I finally ended up with something I liked. That’s another cool thing about these inks—you can thin and wipe and pour until you have something you like.
I tried a couple other of Myriam’s tutorials, but I have a hard time emulating what she does. I guess it’s all in the interpretation and I end up liking all of them.
The following are my effort to make something I like. I have also followed another artist, predominantly on Instagram, who mixes and mixes and mixes until she finally has something that I think is so beautiful. They’re more like the pink and gold one below, but the color mixes are so interesting, and she uses alcohol spots to add interest. Her Instagram name is manifest.jess. Check out her art; it’s beautiful!
For the one below, I may eventually use a black marker to make flower details. This reminds me of fabric my grandmother might have had.
As difficult as this medium is to wrangle for traditional and representative art, it can be done and I have seen some beautiful pieces on Pinterest. If all I ever do is these hodge-podge pieces, I’ll be happy. They’re very colorful. I would also like to do some landscape art with this, but it will take a lot more practice.
If I ever want to add or subtract to any of these pieces, I can always use more ink, or I can use 91% Isopropyl alcohol to remove ink, and I can do that weeks after—probably even years.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this. I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?