Student Gallery Video

It is my pleasure to present this Student Gallery Video of Alcohol Ink Artwork from all four classes. Please enjoy.


My First Time Lapse – Green Tree Frog

I’ve seen some wonderful time-lapse videos of other artists working and thought I’d try my hand at it.  This is a Green Tree Frog with Alcohol Ink and a few markers based on a photo by Carla Whelan at Paint My Photo (  It’s fun to see the inks spread out as I paint.  The original painting including the masking fluid was about 3 hours. You can watch it in five minutes.

A Cool Computer Tool To Help You Pick Colors

Selecting the correct colors for you painting is easy for some but not for others.  Steph Sweeting recommended a wonderful video by Unmask Art on Youtube that showed how to use a free website to select a color palette.  I created my own video on just this portion with an example from the upcoming Green Iguana painting class (June).

I hope this is helpful. The Unmask Art video is referenced in my video. Enjoy and try it!

Using Better Quality Brushes With Alcohol Ink

I’ve been avoiding using some of my better watercolor brushes with alcohol ink because I think they’ll get wrecked as the alcohol damages the hairs in the ferule. But, since I’m not painting watercolor but exclusively using the inks, I thought I’d do an experiment using better quality brushes for a large smooth face of a wave for the Water class.

Advanced – Adding India Ink Pens To Your Alcohol Ink Paintings

Why Use The Faber-Castell India Inks

It would be wonderful if we had alcohol ink markers and pens that we could layer without fear of the ink moving.  It would also be nice to have very fine-tipped alcohol ink pens but I haven’t seen them yet. So I’ve found India Ink markers from Faber-Castell to add layers and really fine lines.

Here’s my experience with the Faber Castell (FC) Brush Pens

  1. The amount of time it takes to dry varies by region, humidity, etc.  Do a test first so you know how long it takes yours to dry. In the arid west it’s a matter of a couple of minutes. In humid Florida it can be 1/2 hour.
  2. You can blend the FC before they dry.
  3. You can use the Chameleon Blender pen to lift their color.
  4. The Signo Gel pen won’t write on top until the FC is dry.
  5. They are pigment based with a felt tip.
  6. They do come with a bigger tip. Here is a picture showing a comparison of the Faber Castell PITT, The Faber Castell Big Brush, Copic and Spectrum Noir bullet nib.  The Big Brush holds four (4) times as much ink and only costs one dollar moreTips compare 2

Here are the barrels side by side from top to bottom: Big Brush, PITT, Copic & Spectrum Noir

tips compare

The Faber Castell PITT pens have been used for half of the Golden Sunset painting. I love their intense colors and they way they layer with the alcohol inks.

So why do the India ink markers work for us?  The India ink markers once dried don’t move when alcohol is applied on top of them. The reason they don’t move is that they are pigment based. Pigment based means that the particles sit on top of the paper and don’t merge with the alcohol.

Let’s look at bit more into the difference between dyes and pigments.

More About The Difference Between Dyes And Pigments

So what’s the difference between alcohol ink markers and India ink markers? The alcohol ink colorant is a dye that completely dissolves into solution and in our case it is alcohol.  When you add more alcohol the dissolved dye merges into the new solution. When you let the alcohol evaporate off the dye is more concentrated because there is less solution.

So what difference does it make if we are using dye rather than pigment? Dyes are designed for maximum brightness and color saturation.  That’s what we like about our inks.

What about light-fastness? “Light fastness is the resistance of colours to fading, changing shade or darkening under the influence of light”1 Dyes are less light-fast than pigments because the quantity of the colorant exposed to light is more. Think of the dye completely dissolved in alcohol like sugar water spread out in a pan.  Most of the dye is exposed to the light. Think of the pigment as little rocks.  Only part of the little rocks are exposed to the light.

All of the Faber-Castell India ink markers are rated for light-fastness on the barrel of the marker. Mine are all *** Maximum light-fastness.

In conclusion, I am glad to have found the Faber-Castell India ink markers as a good tool to add layers and details to my alcohol ink paintings.


Tips for Beginners – Starting To Get Control

What makes alcohol ink so different that other media is…. the alcohol.  I like to classify the different inks based on how much alcohol is in the bottle.  Some are very “alcoholy” and other are very condensed, even thick.  In this video you can see a couple of different things 1. how the inks act with different alcohol contents 2. how to start to control painting with inks with a brush and 3. layering your ink.

Preparing For A New Class – Water

Right now I’m working on a new class for January 30th – Water 1.  It’s ending up being two classes because there is just too much to cover in one class.  The first class will be Oceans, Rivers & Streams, and Reflections.  The second one will be Waterfalls, Dew Drops, Snow & Ice.

So as I prepare a class I try to break down the components of the subject so that we can paint little studies in Alcohol Ink getting ready for a full painting.  For oceans I’ve been studying waves, big waves, foam, crashing waves, swells and shorelines.

Here’s a couple of the studies: Big Wave, Foam, Crashing Waves and Sunset Shoreline.  All are alcohol ink on Yupo.  I’ve really learned a lot and can’t wait to have the students work on them too.

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Please note: As this is a Level 3 class, Level 2 is a prerequisite.

My Kingdom For A Good White

One of the questions I get all of the time is “what do you use for a good white?”  Because Yupo stains and the inks are transluscent it’s hard to get a good answer.

I decided it was time for an experiment.  I took 15 different “whites” and tested them in the harshest environment possible – on black.  I used 4 different blacks to see if that made a difference too.  The inks were:

  1. Adirondack Pitch Black
  2. Spectrum Noir True Black Refill
  3. Copic Black 100 Refill
  4. Prismacolor Black Marker

The whites I used were:

  1. Bic White Out (why not?)

    Whites Tested
    Right click – View image to enlarge
  2. Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen – White
  3. Derwent Graphik Line Painter – Snow
  4. Sakura Gelly Roll
  5. Molotow Acrylic
  6. Pen Touch – White
  7. Ranger White Opaque
  8. Sharpie Waterbased Paint
  9. Signo Uniball Gel Pen – 153
  10. Signo Uniball Gel Pen – Angelic
  11. White Titanium Watercolor
  12. Adirondack Snow Cap Mixative
  13. Pinatat Blanco Blanco
  14. Clorox Bleach Pen (why not?)
  15. Masking Fluid

Here’s the results:

White Test Results
Right click – View image to enlarge

Fascinating right?  Everything looked bright white when first placed on the ink.  The ink you put the white on definately makes a difference.

The Adirondack Pitch Black has lots of colors in it. I often see green, but I’ve heard about the pink.  Look how pink the whites turned! Best was #1 Bic White Out and #11 White Titanium Watercolor.  The Bic White Out Pen is really hard to control.  The other contender #8 Sharpie Waterbased is really pink in real life.

Spectrum Noir True Black Refill is a great black. #1, #8 #11 best bet. (Bic, Watercolor, Sharpie)

Copic Black Refill ate everything up. The best one was the bleach on the bottom. #1 and #11 are passing.

Prismacolor Black Marker is not as intense a black but the whites did better here. #1, #5 (Molotow) #8 and #11 were okay here.

What’s the bottom line? Test out what color and make of ink you are going to put white on. Of course the best was masking fluid.  The Bic Pen is hard to use, perhaps pour it into a palette. The Sharpie Waterbased is pretty reliable and the Titanium Watercolor works pretty well.

I guess I spend money and test stuff so you don’t have to.  Let me know if you’ve got any other contenders. I’d love to know.

16 New Paintings Added To The Level 1 Student Gallery

As the October Level 1 class ends I would like to share their paintings in the Level 1 Student Gallery.

New paintings by: Joining paintings by:
Cathy Brillhart
Lisa Crosby
Erin DePino
Anya Getter
Emily Holmes
Maria Mason
Janet Mayfield
Pat Bell
Debra Boulay
Debbie Brown
Margaret Coleman Hoffman
Di Faria
Ginny McCartha Smith
Sherri Patterson

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