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About Alcohol Inks

About Alcohol Inks

Alcohol Ink can refer to the painting material (the ink itself) or to the fluid painting technique.  This latest trend in creative painting originated in America but has common threads with Oriental ink wash brush painting and watercolors. 

The inks are made with color pigments and a very large part of alcohol.  Many people have not yet heard of alcohol ink painting, but it is starting to garner a lot of attention.

The alcohol evaporates very quickly, leaving a dried picture.  Unlike other painting mediums, with the exception of watercolors, the ink can be revived by adding alcohol or more paint.  This allows the artist to change the painting later if desired.

The inks come in a wide range of colors and quality depending on the brand.  Shading, tone and hue are infinite depending on the blending of the inks and the amount of alcohol used.  For the best effects and blends 99% Isopropyl Alcohol is used as a blending solution.    Some artists use a blending solution of isopropyl alcohol and glycerin.  This artist prefers just alcohol. 

Painting Surfaces

A painting surface is called a substrate.  In the case of alcohol inks, this must be a non-porous surface like glass, tile or the papers that have been designed for this art.  They are made of polyproline and are tear resistant, waterproof and non-porous.  The ink sits on the top of the paper and is not absorbed, as it is in watercolor painting.  This allows for all types of blending and movement.  The most widely available and most popular of these papers is called Yupo.

Techniques

There are many techniques employed by artists.  The ones mainly used here consist of flowing colors into each other, puffing/blowing to move the colors into and away from each other, blowing with a hairdryer (cold setting only), spattering, spraying and even tipping the paper.

Difficulties

It takes practice to be able to almost control the inks when painting.  Since they are floating on the surface of the paper, they move on their own and continue to expand. 

Protection

After a painting has completely dried, it must be protected.  UV light can eventually fade the colors.  The painting is first lightly sprayed 3-5 times with an acrylic varnish, then sprayed 3 times with UV protectant and lastly 3 coats of clear acrylic are applied.

What I Love about Alcohol Ink

The colors, hues, tones, gradients and movement that you can create while working with the inks and alcohol.  The way some colors will break down into unexpected colors when you keep adding alcohol.  The way the metallic inks make a picture POP is fun.  And lastly, trying to create new ways to use the inks.

 

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