Using Alcohol Inks to Create Art!

What are alcohol inks?

Alcohol inks are highly concentrated acid-free and permanent medium inks that can create vibrant effects when mixed and blended together. Alcohol inks have a process of their very own; when you mix them together, they react and blend in different ways! Because it takes a while for the piece to dry, and the due to unpredictable nature of the medium itself, using alcohol inks are pretty exciting because you never know how your work is going to turn out!

How can you use alcohol inks?

Alcohol inks are often used in scrapbooking or book altering applications or on plastic, tile, glass or metal surfaces because they adhere well and are bright and clear. Applying them to surfaces like yupo paper (a smooth waterproof synthetic tree-free paper) and canvas also are used. You can apply the paint with droppers, by using pouring methods, using straws, and other hand-held tools to spread the ink. Rotating your surface offers even more ways to enhance your piece and creates interesting shapes and mixtures. The alcohol paint itself comes in all sorts of different brands. The most common ones that you can find are Adirondack Alcohol Inks.

Making your own alcohol inks

Since alcohol inks are a little pricy, you may want to make your own! There are several ways to do so; mixing alcohol with fabric dye, acrylic paint, or liquid watercolour. As you experiment with each medium, you will learn that each have their own advantages, react differently and produce fascinating outcomes!

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Alcohol inks, beginning stages of experimenting on glossy paper

Artists who use alcohol inks

Louise Christian experiments with alcohol inks on yupo paper as seen in her piece, entitled Abstract Caverns (2014):

louise christian

Louise Christian Abstract Caverns (2014)

and in her other work in “ Alcohol ink and Quickie Tree Sketch in Pen” (2013):

louise christian

Louise Christian Alcohol ink and Quickie Tree Sketch in Pen (2013)

June Rollins is another artist that has mastered the art of using alcohol inks and creates pieces she calls “Dreamscapes.” In her piece, Dreamscape No. 167 (3×5), she uses multiple colours in layers then uses specks of alcohol over top to create a star-scape scene.

June Rollins

June Rollins Dreamscape No. 167 (3×5)

See more of her work by clicking here.

Using alcohol inks also has some familiarity with aerial landscape art

So many artists have depicted views of the world from above. Australian Aboriginal artists use visual representations to reflect culturally relevant topographic features in the landscape, like watering holes, ancestral paths, and sacred sites.

Estelle Hogan, an aboriginal artist from the Spinifex People in Western Australia shows rock holes and the seven sisters (from The Dreaming) coming to take a drink. For a more detailed description of the painting, click here.

estelle hogan

Estelle Hogan (2002)

Scottish landscape artist, Alison McGill, mixes oil paint and was to create visions of the land and sea that reflects geographical and aerial images, very much like the finishes that you get with alcohol ink.

In her pieces “Coastal Aerial View,” “Aqual Aerial View,” and she uses a blend oil and wax colours to create movement and flow, much like reactions in alcohol ink painting.

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Alison McGill Coastal Aerial View

alison mcgill

Alison McGill Aqua Aerial View


My work in the studio

In my recent piece, “Coastal Waters,” I have used a mixture of Rite Dye and Isopropanol alcohol and also thinned acrylic paint and isopropanol alcohol (99%) to create a “view from above” much like geographical images.

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Meg Neufeld Coastal Waters (2016)

alcohol ink

Whether you want to create a few new journal pages using alcohol back splashes or create a cosmic/landscape inspired canvas, exploring with alcohol ink is a mesmerizing medium that is relaxing and fun! As you wait and watch its natural movement and reaction, it has a calming effect and is good for the soul! *Bring your own canvas or purchase one in our studio.