Saturday, January 2, 2010

Alcohol and acrylics don't mix (a background tutorial)

I'm welcoming in the new year with a background technique I accidentally discovered one day when I spilled some alcohol on a book spread while cleaning a stamp. Since everyone should be recovering from their New Year's bash by now, I will show you a safe way to use alcohol. I call this technique "Alcohol and acrylics don't mix." I have no idea if this technique has been "invented" or demonstrated before, but I learned it the hard way, when I spilled my alcohol on some painted book pages. That's why I decided to write a tutorial on it. It is so cool and easy, you will love the stunning results you get.

Materials from left:
Craft sheet or other protection for your work surface
Your favorite substrate (I used cardstock and vintage sheet music)
91% rubbing alcohol (don't use 70%, it simply doesn't work)
Mister bottle
Acrylic paints, cheap, your choice of colors
Foam brush (although I ended up using a credit card)
Clear acrylic sealer (optional)

Spread your first color over the entire page. Allow to dry.

This is what my sheets looked like after this first stage. Note that the craft sheet did nothing to protect my sloppy painting. Expect the heavier pages to curl. It's just the nature of the beast. I give some tips later, if the curls bother you.

Before you go any further, put some alcohol (found in any pharmacy department of mega and grocery stores) in the mister and have it ready to go. Time is crucial in this next step, so don't dally, run off to answer the phone, feed your pooch, sit down to watch a soap, or decide to eat lunch.

Using a credit card (did I mention TIME is crucial here?) quickly spread your second color on top of the first. I didn't put enough paint on the page in places, so be sure you get good coverage. The credit card made spreading the paint a lot faster than the foam brush I originally started with, but removed a lot of the paint in the process.

Spritz 91% alcohol on the wet paint.

Watch the action! Within a minute or two, the alcohol has a definite effect on the still wet paint. The parts in the turquoise that look white in the photo are actually wet paint reflections. This is where the most action is taking place. If you can't see those bubbles in the above photo, click to enlarge and they will be obvious.

This is the page I demoed above, scanned so you could see the bubbles, then used in the Hamsa Hands spread.

If you feel the need, you can spray your finished backgrounds with acrylic sealer. I didn't seal mine, but that doesn't mean you can't seal yours.

Use more paint than I used for the second color. I suspect I would have gotten better bubble action had I not used the credit card to spread the paint. It almost always tends to act like a squeegee.

Make sure your mister is actually working properly. Mine dribbled more than it misted, thus causing the larger bubbles. This is a nice effect, too. Misting would produce smaller bubbles, dribbling produced larger bubbles, and splashing on with my hand produced anywhere from medium to large sized bubbles. It all depends on the look you are going for, or be serendipitous and roll with the flow.

I used metallic paint for both colors, and metallics are very hard to scan.

To straighten your cardstock (the sheet music didn't curl), place it under a heavy book overnight, or iron it, or simply glue it to another substrate, such as a book page. Once you put something wet (even glue stick is wet) on the back side of the cardstock, it will straighten itself.

And finally:
Yesterday's new blog:
Brian K at A man who crafts. Brian makes fantastic and very colorful art journals. Please check out his blog. You won't be disappointed.

7 thoughtful remarks:

Marilyn J. Rock said...

Thank you for sharing your technique with us here. Fabulous results. I'm finding, more and more, I'm not using brushes to apply paint any more. Nothin' like the ole' credit card or sponges! xxoo Marilyn

Brian K said...

What a wonderful technique! Thank you for sharing AND thank you for the wonderful shout out! Your a wonderful and generous artist! I am going to be posting later this week and I will be sure to do the same! I whole heartedly agree we need to have more men blogging there art!

Brenda said...

Cool technique, thanks for sharing. Happy 2010!

Carol Anne's Boutique said...

Hi Elizabeth! Oh this is such a fabulous technique and I love the beautiful results...thanks for sharing!!
I am just so happy I met you Elizabeth, I love visiting your blog and seeing your gorgeous art, learning new things and I always feel so good after reading your posts. You are such a dear & sweet person!
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today, your comment meant so much to me.
Thinking of you and wishing you a New Year filled with much love, happiness and many, many Blessings always!
Love & Hugs to you sweet friend~
Carol Anne

Nina and/or Ruthie66 said...

Thanks for sharing this technique. Very cool effect.

Nina in San Diego

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

oh silly me, you don't have a new blog, you're sharing "new" blogs with us ... I knew that DOH!!! :)

Great demo and tutorial, it's helpful that you give so many tips, sharing what you've learned ... you are a natural teacher E!

日月神教-向左使 said...