Oil paints came during the renaissance after the oil tempera period. We appreciate and cherish the oil paintings of Leonardo da Vinci but art has since evolved, and so has the art form. Once more, it is time to change the medium and approach art with a clean slate. Alcohol ink is the recent color medium used to create shapes and abstract color unions on a synthetic sheet of paper. The natural blend of colors achieved through minimum interference and tools creates a dream-like color combination and artwork on paper.
What is alcohol ink?
Alcohol ink creativity is a relatively new art form on the timeline but is the one that is here to stay. With pigments and alcohol, the abstract art is turned into reality with the help of blowing and flowing actions on the canvas. It is quick to dry owing to the significant alcohol content that has a low evaporation point. At the same time, it can be revived with a few drops of blending solution and can be used to correct, blend or mix with other colors on the canvas, which is not possible with acrylic or oil paints.
The alcohol ink artwork is also called a fluid painting. Alcohol inks are highly pigmented solutions mixed with isopropyl alcohol solutions that can spread on the surface to form abstract art forms. The blending solution is made up of isopropyl solution and glycerine that ensures colors are brightened and blended.
The spreading and flowing art is rarely controlled but can be nudged in the right direction by blowings or a sharpie or marker. If not fluid enough, the alcohol ink may leave harsh lines, blotches, or even dry off without spreading. But a too viscous fluid will be challenging to manage and control.
You cannot use a standard sheet of paper as the fluid alcohol ink may sink directly into the paper and be completely absorbed in no time, and the alcohol ink will not flow. Yupo sheets are synthetic sheets that are entirely non-porous, and the ink stays on the surface of the paper without absorption until it dries on the surface.
You can also use Petri dishes and metal surfaces for your art to flow on.
Techniques to utilize while painting with alcohol ink
1. Drop and pour technique
- It’s as simple as it sounds. First, you take your favorite color and drop a small amount of paint on the surface you choose as your canvas. Then, you spread the ink around by tilting the surface in each direction equally.
- You can create color variation and gradient by using different colors to overlap and mix. However, be careful that the edges of the drop dry faster than that middle and while overlapping, leave a mark and create dark edges.
- Varying temperature and humidity values can vary the drying time and color shade after some time.
2. Brush and alcohol ink
- The best part about being an artist is the very few rules and regulations. It is nowhere specified that you can’t use a brush to help you give special effects to your alcohol ink color painting. Use coarse brushes for imparting texture to the painting and fine brushes to blend and mix the edges and create gradients.
- While working with a brush, remember that the alcohol evaporates quickly and can make your work look patchy if you don’t move it fast. In addition, unruly brushwork, brush strokes, and patchy wash can leave your painting with visible strokes.
3. Cotton bud or sponge
- Dip your cotton bud in the alcohol to absorb some of the pigmented colors and then transfer on the canvas and spread evenly to get smooth blending and pattern. Do not pour the alcohol ink on the cotton bud or cotton pad as it may cause a blotchy effect and dark shapes or leave the imprint of the cotton pad on the surface.
4. Flood technique
- You cover the desired site/surface with a large amount of alcohol or blending solution. You then have the tubes/droppers of the desired colors ready and pour drop by drop on the coated surface.
- It gives the colors to blend and mix before you spread it around without drying due to copious amounts of alcohol that prevent it from drying out.
5. Air manipulation
- Once you master the flood technique, you can use air manipulation to create a feather/wisp effect by blowing over the ink to blend and mix it with other colors on the surface. The finished piece must look like a dreamy ink blended and united with the color coordination of the color wheel.
- You can use a straw or blow dryer, compressed air, or heat gun to master this technique. Also, as this technique takes time and patience, you can add glycerine to slow down the evaporation and get you more time.
Tips and tricks
- Use hand gloves and a mask while working with the alcohol ink and blending solutions. The colors are challenging to get off, and the gloves will protect your hands. The mask will prevent the pigments from entering your body when the alcohol ink dries and evaporates in the air.
- You can convert a canvas with a porous surface into a nonporous surface by priming or sealing the surface with a primer solution. A foam brush is used to avoid visible brushstrokes and marks.
- When you finish your work, a coat of varnish to prevent the UV light from harming the colors is a minor step that will go a long way.
- Prep and clean your instruments and the surface on which you will create fluid paintings. It will enhance the flowing of the ink and blending solution on a clean surface.
- Start with more miniature paintings and sheets before you begin using huge canvases.
A guide to the beginner techniques for you to try, practice, and gain experience on how the colors flow on the sheet will help you create beautiful imagery and pictures. Different techniques will help you manage the flow of color, color blending, and mix to create unique colors on your canvas.