Liking the Possibilities

Playing with colors is always a pleasant thing to do. Having fun with art is definitely a good way to spend a little time. That’s especially true, I think, when life throws the occasional curve ball at us.

Having spent a few days in the hospital — I’m fine now, and thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, and good wishes — I was away from the studio for a while. Even after returning home, I spent some time resting rather than scurrying off to make art. I did a little graphite drawing, read more about art and artists, and thought about projects I’d like to work on once I returned to the studio.

Yet while I was excited about the prospect of getting back to creating art, I found it a little difficult to pick up where I left off, so to speak. My oil palette needed to be cleaned. I had bits and pieces of mixed media projects scattered about. I felt disorganized, disoriented, and just a little bit out-of-touch with my creative self.

So, what better way to get back to art than by working on a few fun, anything-goes fluid art projects? I did an acrylic pour as you saw recently, and then I played with alcohol inks.  Although I made a few missteps along the way, in the end I liked the possibilities I saw in this Pink Poppies ink painting.

This was a project that almost didn’t happen. Let me tell you the story behind it.

It begins with a book titled Alcohol Ink Art: How to Create Stunning Colorful Artwork and Projects with Alcohol Ink. The author is Monique Valove.

So far, so good. But stay with me here.

I have long been fascinated by alcohol inks and finally purchased a set last summer in anticipation of possibly using them for Inktober. I later reconsidered, bowed out of Inktober, and set my inks aside.

I’m ready now to learn more about these beautiful, brilliantly-colored inks, so I went browsing at Amazon and came across Valove’s book. Just what I needed! I should have read the reviews. Had I done so, I probably would not have downloaded the book. Fortunately it’s available through the Kindle Unlimited program, so I was able to borrow it rather than buy it.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the opening chapters of the book are informative. I learned a lot about alcohol inks from reading them. Enough that I was excited about trying some of the “Colorful Artwork and Projects” touted.

But then I turned the page, found the first project, and … and … what? Wait a minute! No illustrations. No real instructions. No helpful information at all! Yes, the author gives a “step by step” breakdown for the project, but no illustrations are provided. Following along would be little more than a crazy guessing game.

All I knew was that the project involved poppies.

My first inclination was to delete the book from my Kindle and move on to something more practical, but then I shrugged, told myself the whole point of what I was doing was just to play around and have fun, so why not try following Valove’s directions just to see what I might come up with?

I did browse around a bit, looked at a few images of poppies, got a basic design lay-out in my head, and then gathered up my supplies. My first ink set didn’t include a bright red. Only magenta. Oh, well, why not? Do pink poppies exist? Well, they do now, at least in my world.

NOTE: For what it’s worth, yes, there really are pink poppies.

Things went well at the start. As I dropped ink onto my Yupo paper and began brushing it into fanciful poppy shapes, I started to see possibilities. I dabbled with alcohol to create different effects, and I was feeling very pleased.

Trying to add bits of black to form the centers of the blossoms didn’t work so well, but I played around with more alcohol, different brushes, and additional colors of ink. Again, I saw possibilities, and I think this is what we most need to learn — sometimes it’s not the final artwork that matters but the process by which it’s created. While the finished artwork isn’t what I’d hoped it would be, it was an exciting piece to create. It showed me different ways to apply alcohol inks, ways to manipulate the ink on the paper, ways to create different effects.

Adding the green — which was supposed to be more like a background than anything — didn’t go as planned, but at that point it hardly mattered. I was having fun. I was experimenting. I was taking chances, doing different things, and discovering new techniques I’ll be able to use on future ink projects.

So when you look at this work of art — if that’s what you want to call it — don’t look at what it is. Look instead at the possibilities it presents. That’s how I choose to see it, and I’m more excited than ever to try more alcohol ink projects.

I guess, all things considered, Valove’s book wasn’t quite as worthless as it appeared. The lack of illustrations and real instruction simply made it possible for me to approach the project from a “who knows what will happen” state of mind. While I don’t recommend the book for new alcohol ink artists, I do recommend a playful, experimental attitude.

Always look to the possibilities. You might be surprised at what you see.



    1. Thanks. I tried one more “project” from the book — which is today’s post — but beyond that the book is really useless. So, I’m setting my alcohol inks aside for a little while. I’ll keep looking for a good book. If you come across something, let me know!

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