So… Now What?

I’ve got my alcohol inks out again, I’ve downloaded another book from the Kindle Unlimited program, and I’m ready to learn! You might remember that I talked about alcohol inks for quite some time before I finally gave in and purchased a set. Playing with inks looked like so much fun!

As it turns out, yes, the inks are fun… but beyond that, I haven’t got a clue as to what to do with these inks. I’ve tried a number of different projects, and here are links to a few previous posts.

The Ink Adventure

More Fun with Ink

Exploding Colors

Liking the Possibilities

You’ll see a few common themes running through these ink-related posts. I talk about setting off on an adventure and having fun. I write about colors and possibilities. But that’s as far as I’m able to go with alcohol inks.

I have to say that playing with inks really is tremendous fun. With a little practice, you can easily create bright, brilliant, bold colors, and yes, they can seem to explode all over the page. So far, so good, and if all you want to do is have fun playing with colors, you’ll love alcohol inks.

For me, though, creativity for the sake of creativity isn’t enough. I want to use my creativity in constructive ways. I want what I create to be fun, exciting, beautiful… and practical. At least in one sense or another.

That’s not to say that every painting I make is hanging upon some wall. Not every drawing I do is framed and displayed. Far from it. Most of my drawings and paintings are casually sitting around the art studio. Some will eventually be framed and some might go on display. Some might even become part of an art show. Others will be sent to the re-cycle bin. Paint will be scraped off. Old landscape scenes will be covered with a layer of paint, and those canvases will be re-used. They have, you see, served their purpose.

So far in my explorations of alcohol ink, however, I have yet to discover any practical purpose for anything I’ve created.

Consider today’s “work of art” — I term I use facetiously.

I suppose I could pass this off as a piece of abstract art, and maybe that’s exactly what I would do had I set out to create such a thing. Of course, I had no such intention. This is merely a beginner’s practice piece, an exercise for mastering the “basic puddle drop” technique.

The book I’m using as a guide is Alcohol Ink Mastery: Mixed Media Techniques and Projects by Richard Cheadle. At this point, I’ll stop short of recommending the book, simply because it is mostly a book of pictures and not words. For most artists, that might be fine. I’m not a visual learner, though. I need written instructions as well as illustrations to follow.

Here is how Cheadle shows the “basic puddle drop” technique:

You’ll probably have to enlarge it to read it, but here are the steps involved:

  1. Mix 6 drops of alcohol with 1 drop of ink. Use a blending tool to cover the tile.
  2. Add drops of ink.
  3. Immediately add more ink to the center of the circles and let it spread/bleed.

Simple enough, but my question is…now what?

Before I attempt to answer that question though, let’s talk a little more about the project itself. For starters, you’ll probably notice that my results look a bit different from Cheadle’s. Here’s why. You’ll note his instructions say to “cover the tile.” Tile? You mean like a ceramic tile? I’m sure that would be a good support for alcohol ink, but I don’t have any spare ceramic tiles around my art studio, and even if I did, I’d probably not be too keen on using them to practice ink techniques with.

Out of curiosity, I visited Amazon and found that they do sell packs of glazed ceramic tiles for alcohol ink craft projects. They’re great for making coasters, apparently. I know that tiles are also used with acrylic pours, but, again, with either medium, what then? And do I really want to spend money on tiles while I’m playing with different techniques? Nope.

In the past, I’ve done a “puddle pour” technique before using Yupo paper. That did work fairly well. If you followed the first link listed — The Ink Adventure — you’ve seen the results. I should have used my Yupo paper again, but this time I tried using a sheet of 4 x 6 glossy photo paper. As I began applying the ink, the paper did curl a bit. Instead of circles, the ink spread out into those odd-shaped elongated ovals that vaguely resemble some sort of weird microbes or something. So, my fault entirely for not following the instructions more closely and/or using the proper materials.

I did mix a drop of red ink with alcohol for the base layer. I then used drops of green, orange, and white, and finished it all off by dropping in a bit of metallic gold.

All in all, even with my miscues, doing this project was quick, easy, and lots of fun. I will probably repeat it using Yupo paper. Maybe I’ll even plan out my colors in advance. And now, we return to that nagging question… so, now what?

I now have a small alcohol ink abstract. I could use this technique on ceramic tiles to create coasters. But is that all there is? I may not be good at it yet, but I at least understand the fundamentals of a basic puddle drop pour, but when and why would I use this technique… other than for the aforementioned coasters?

Bookmarks would be a possibility, I guess. I had lots of fun last summer making watercolor bookmarks. Indeed, I can always use bookmarks. They make great little gifts, too. So do coasters.

Am I being silly here? Am I being too negative about my alcohol inks? I think they’re wondrous fun, and maybe someday I’ll be able to do wondrous, imaginative, creative things with them. Maybe someday I’ll be able to actually make art with alcohol inks. Until then, though, they seem to be nothing more than fun little playthings for me.





  1. Glad to know that there is someone else who looks at those alcohol inks the same way I do! I did have some ceramic tiles to play with and some of those abstract designs were beautiful…but then what? I work with fabric, so even MORE then what? I gave mine away and I’m just fine without them!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It might be fun to save your practice runs and then use them to create collages? Still not “practical,” but it would have more going on than color and might feel different than just fun. Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with color and fun!😄

    Liked by 2 people

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