What is ‘alcohol obsessed painting?’ As a creative, do you sometimes find yourself obsessed with some technique or skill that you would like to learn? My latest obsession is alcohol. No, not the kind that comes in a whiskey bottle, but the rubbing or isopropyl alcohol that you can purchase in any grocery or pharmacy for about $0.79.
Below you can see the under painting for 3 different paintings where I used alcohol to create amebae-like shapes. You can probably surmise that I am, in fact, obsessed with this alcohol technique! LOL! Many would say that I have gone overboard.
How Do I Create These Alcohol Obsessed Paintings?
Please let me start out with a qualifier: I have only been experimenting with this obsession for a couple of months, so I know I have more to learn. Your suggestions and experiences are welcomed.
These are my basic materials:
- Fluid or high flow acrylic paints – Holbein or Golden (I do not know if alcohol interacts with watercolors or oils in a similar way or not – someone can let me know!);
- 91% rubbing alcohol (I don’t know if the 70% is effective or not);
- A white gessoed board or canvas;
- A small 1.5-2″ bottle cap to hold some alcohol;
- Eye dropper filled with alcohol (Example is the bottle on the left);
- Small spray bottle filled with alcohol (Example is the middle bottle below);
- Clean water and a 1-2″ flat brush.
With my canvas or board on a flat surface, I apply a thin layer of clean water on the surface. The water extends beyond where I want the paint to go. [My apologies: I should be videotaping this, but I have a head cold and that just doesn’t work well on video….if you catch my drift. Thanks for your patience.] I also don’t want a puddle of water….just a thin layer. This will vary according to how dry the air is where you are working.
Then I drop in some paint. It may just sit there and need you to move it around or it may scoot on its own. You will have to experiment. I have discovered that the more transparent the paint, the more responsive it is in creating these amebae-like shapes. Sometimes I use an eye dropper and sometimes I dip my finger into a small bottle cap and flick the alcohol. The spray also creates its own textures and patterns.
Then just watch what happens. There seems to be a chemical reaction that happens between the alcohol and the wet paint. Often just a few drops is all that is needed in a painting. My examples are on the excessive end of the spectrum. I did warn you that I was a bit alcohol obsessed! 🙂
To prove that I am really nuts, you can see in the image below where I applied this technique on top of a previous layer of amebae shapes. It can get kind of messy looking.
After many layers of paint, here is the final painting “Roots,” 16×8 acrylic on canvas. The above image is the under painting. It shows how I am wanting the organic shapes to serve as the foundation of the painting. Why do I do this? Do you see the geometric shapes overlaying the organic ones?
Throughout my 25+ years of painting, one of the concepts that has often shown up in my work is the idea that contrasts are essential to life.
No matter my subject matter or style of painting, I frequently juxtapose opposites or the unexpected. I use these visual elements to convey that our differences bring forth our vitality and creativity. At the same time, I am a firm believer that we can live and work together despite different perspectives, beliefs and opinions.
Are you willing to give an alcohol obsessed painting a try or attempt the technique? Let me know what you discover.
Please share this post to other painters who love to explore.