A few weeks back I did a post on the watercolor and salt technique so this week I thought it might be fun to do some more experimenting with the alcohol and watercolor technique. I do not know the scientific explanation for this reaction but alcohol pushes the the pigment in watercolor away, creating some pretty cool special effects. I have never tried this before so I thought it would be fun to learn and experiment together!
Let's start by gathering up our supplies:
At a minimum, here are the supplies you will need: 1. Watercolor paints 2. Watercolor paper (I started with the standard 140lb watercolor paper then I tried another kind. (This is a great opportunity to be loose and experimental! If you have different papers lying around, give them a try.) 3. Rubbing alcohol (Just the kind you get at the pharmacy section of the grocery store.) 4. Some implements to apply the alcohol. I used Q-tips, a spray bottle, and a dropper. (This is another way to experiment and get creative!) 5.*Optional: Some reference material to get you inspired. I used this microscope book full of different types of petri dishes. I thought this might be a fun application for this technique. I've always had a little fascination with microbiology. What is cool about this technique is that is can be purely abstract so have fun and let yourself be loose!
Let's get started! I began by making a bunch of circles to resemble petri dishes. I just grabbed my micron pen and traced around the circles a few times each.
For my first experiment, I went with a nice dark blue and green. I was thinking the dark color would have a dramatic effect. The brush was really loaded with water and pigment.
Next, I grabbed my dropper and pulled in some alcohol. I started dropping it on my circle. It was mesmerizing to watch and the results were stunning! I love that bull's eye/tie dye effect. This really lends itself well the the petri dish theme. I could also visualize some type of underwater theme but it's just cool as an abstract pattern by itself. *Note how wet the paper is. You can see the water and paint pooling around the edges.
For the next circle, I tried a nice vibrant pink. Time is of the essence. Once the paint starts drying the alcohol effect stops working.
This time I tried the q-tip. I dunked the tip in the alcohol and the touched it directly on the paper. This was pretty cool because you could draw with it.
Really looks like a swab in a petri dish. You could also try dripping the alcohol off the q-tip for a different effect.
For the next one I tried a lighter color and used a dropper to add the alcohol.
The effect is more subtle but still cool. Cells with a nucleus and mitochondria.
For my next experiment, I was referencing a picture that had a dot of color outlined by a white circle. A light bulb went off and I decided to add some pigment to the alcohol to see what would happen.
I remembered I had this. THIS IS WHY I CANNOT THROW ART SUPPLIES OUT (I foolishly blog about purging here. This is a concentrated liquid watercolor pigment that I dropped into the alcohol.
I added a drop of color and it sunk straight to the bottom. I used my clear dropper to squeeze up some of that pigment with the alcohol.
I dropped the alcohol and pigment mixture onto a wet, light pink, wash. Look what happened! Blob of color in the middle with a nice white ring around it!
So much fun! This has such a meditative effect, in the same way adult coloring does. I really got transfixed watching the colors swirling around.
Next up, some plant-like cell shapes.
For my next experiment I tried something really different. I remembered I had this paper:
Yupo Paper! I acquired this on a birthday trip to the art store. I had read about it and HAD to try it. It is a smooth synthetic paper which is actually waterproof. Because it is non-absorbent it does not tear or buckle and creates some really interesting effects. When I originally tried it, I was not impressed. It was like trying to paint on wax paper. I remembered somewhere in the recesses of my brain that this paper was fantastic with alcohol inks so I gave it a try.
I drew another circle and added some paint.
I added the alcohol and pigment mixture to the paint and it was gorgeous!
So mesmerizing! It's like watching a lava lamp.
Minutes later it looked like this. I decided to dry it with a hairdryer.
It was fun to blow all the paint around. It looks nothing like the original but I still love the outcome. The process is really fun to watch and the results are always surprise endings!
One last thing I tried was using a fine mist spray bottle to apply the alcohol.
I applied a light paint wash to the paper then sprayed the alcohol while the paper was still wet.
Here is a close up. Similar to the salt effect here.
Well I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and that it really sparks your creative fires!!