Alcohol Ink Beginnings

I’d like you to meet the instructor that introduced me to alcohol inks, Karen Walker. Here we are on August 24, 2009 during that initial workshop at Artists League of the Sandhills in Aberdeen, NC, an hour from where I live. I remember feeling like a kid in a candy store:)

The morning session of our class was devoted to becoming familiar with the many ink colors and how they responded on Yupo, a 100% recyclable, tree-free synthetic paper.

I loved getting to know this highly unpredictable, extremely responsive, unconventional medium. It was just amazing how a variety of interesting shapes, textures and edges seemed to appear on their own with very little effort on my part.

During the afternoon portion of our class Karen introduced and demonstrated methods for creating more representational paintings. Out came tiny brushes and a variety of products, purchased from the cosmetic aisle, to lift paint.

All around me, my fellow class members were creating lovely representational works, from sunflowers to butterflies and even a drummer marching in a parade.

But, I was in awe with what the medium wanted to do on it’s own. Other than a simple generic flower shape I lifted out with a cotton ball,

(can you believe it?). I just couldn’t go into these almost effortless creations and begin to manipulate. To me, it felt like, I would be ruining them.

Maybe, I was just hyper-skittish because of the disasters I’ve experienced from overworking watercolors. Or maybe because I’ve been so intentional in my other paintings, I just wanted to play. Needed to play.

Whatever the reason, my inner child relished being an uninhibited, abstract artist, at least for the day. And our instructor was sensitive enough to affirm my explorations. After all, I was not doing what the teacher said. Shame on me.

Afterwards, I continued to explore alcohol inks. Gradually, out of a spirit of play and experimentation, a Dreamscape theme emerged and I began getting requests to teach.

Out of respect to my instructor, I contacted Karen, to see if she would like to teach outside her immediate area. She gave me her blessing, encouraging me to go ahead, saying my method of using the inks was different from hers.

Dreamscaping is a drop and guide approach without the use of brushes. But it is possible to achieve fascinating, representational alcohol inks with brushes, as Karen teaches in her workshops.

To see how Karen uses alcohol inks and find out about her online classes, visit: Karen’s Ink Painting Blog

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