For the last month, I haven’t been in the studio. It was a mix of other work, the inner critic’s yammering and a creative exhaustion. Tired of the work I’ve done for the last four years, and unable to come up with something new or engaging, I stayed out of the studio. Laundry got done, the bathrooms sparkled, the bushes got trimmed and fertilized. Art did not get done.
Today I went into the studio to begin cleaning and weeding out materials I no longer am working with. A box of alcohol inks sat, unused on a shelf. Alcohol inks don’t work on watercolor or mixed media paper, the papers I use, so I was about to put them into the discard box. A pad of Yupo (a propylene substrate) showed up.
Hmmm, something new. Just the thing to play with. No expectations. No goal. Just color. I had an unbelievable amount of fun with no intended outcome. No art talent needed. What you need is a variety of alcohol inks (mine were Adirondack) and a few sheets of Yupo.
The photos were taken on my desktop. I apologize for the bottle shadows and occasional glare. I was excited by interesting results with absolutely no skill needed.
First drop about four drops of a variety of alcohol inks on the Yupo. Leave enough room for them to spread.
Add more dots between the spaces of the others. Use two or three drops to create smaller circles.
When the first drops are dry, add a different color into the center of the first series. They can coordinate or not.
Add another drop into the center of ink you just put down. You can compare wet-into-wet with wet-into-dry drops. Here is a close up of drops that are dried between applications.
Here is one that I allowed to dry, then dipped a Q-Tip into rubbing alcohol and rubbed it over the entire image. Interesting effect, I thought.
There is a bigger difference between colors than whether they are wet or dry.
Yellow and orange make even circles, current red makes jagged edges. Fingerprints are also a factor in how the shape develops. Green and yellow keep concentric circles even, too.
Here’s the final piece, with a big mix of colors and circles.
Some of them look like eclipses, some of them look subtly shaded. It was a relaxing time with interesting results.
Have a creative weekend!
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who plays with ink.