Alcohol Inks - Creative Catalyst Productions

Alcohol Inks

February 27, 2015 3 min read 5 Comments

Some comments on creating art with alcohol inks by Carol LaGrow

I am a watercolor artist along with graphite and some pen.  But, recently I heard about Alcohol Inks and I found I love working with inks.  They are free flowing and fun. 

Image 1
Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrowThis is a 4" black ceramic tile, painted with the alcohol inks and letting analgous colors blend and move. 

Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrow

Image 2
Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrowAlcohol Inks on YUPO paper.  I used a sponge and gently moved the inks to get the sky to have cloud formations.  The "ground" area:  I painted and tilted the paper much as I do for watercolor painting.




Image 3

Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrow6" ceramic tile  (needs to be rotated also so that the buildings are upright) I painted the pinks/purples and just let them wander around the tile.  Then I used masking tape to cover this area to mask it and to make buildings as I painted the sky. When dry, I removed the tape and voila buildings appeared.





Image 4

Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrow4" black ceramic tile using only gold and silver alcohol inks.  The frame is made to fit this tile and then I used a larger frame to attach that.

Image 5

Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrow6" ceramic tiles.  These happen to have a little texture in the tile.  #5 I used canned air to move the inks to form flora.


Image 6

Alcohol Ink on Tile by Carol LaGrowI used an old credit card to sweep across the tile to imitate a sky, and just a little brush work to also help move the inks.




To help the inks move more rubbing alcohol can be used and/or a purchased blending solution (Adirondack Ink product)  This also will completely remove ink if you mess up and want to start over.  I always wear rubber gloves as the inks love to stain hands and nails.  I tend to think I am done painting, remove and wash the gloves and then decide to just do a little more...............I end up with colorful fingers!

It is a fun, stressfree, loose medium to work in.   I have seen other artists do some realistic painting with these alcohol inks, but I prefer a looser style.


Some of the tools I like to use are:

  • Ceramic tiles  ( I use all sizes, from the 2" that come in a "sheet", to 10x10.)
  • I like the pure white tiles as then I can leave whites in my paintings.  And the ink colors are bright and clear on them.
  • The beige/sandy color ones are fun too as are the tiles with a little texture and give more subtle colors. 
  • And black tiles are especially dramatic.  I add white inks to make the other colors stand out 
  • Yupo paper is great as you can then frame it as you would any other painting. 
  •  The ink can have a mind of its' own and flow as you add the blending solution and/or rubbing alcohol.
  • Salt adds great texture and as it dries you can gently rub off the granules.
  • Inexpensive brushes can also add textures and linear marks and shapes. 
  • Combs, credit cards, razor blade, paper towel and tissue and a brayer are great for moving the paint. 

If you want to mask an area to protect the original surface or an area you have painted, automotive tape and masking tape work well.  You may get some uneven lines, but that is okay too. Also you can use hot glue on the tiles for a resist.  Peel off any of these when the ink is dry. 

I usually use gloves when inking, but a bare finger is too fun to resist to move the inks around and dabbing for texture.

One more thing I have found is to frame the tiles for hanging or place on a table.  I use E6000 to glue the tiles to frames. 

Image 7

I like using different sizes, shapes & texure of tiles.  And, I also have broken a larger tile and then painted it for a sculptural style.  Hmmm...  I found these tiles are not meant to break...........which is a good thing unless you want one to break.  I hammer and hammer and never know what the shapes  will be.  Again, fun to do.


Image 8

Using Alcohol inks on Tile by Carol LaGrow





Image 9

This is a landscape which I painted and then really hammered another tile into tiny bits and painted those and glued them into the painted 6" tile to be a rocky area. Fun to get some texture involved.  The tile is shiny and the rocks are a mat finish for more interest.

5 Responses

Sharon Tillinghast
Sharon Tillinghast

July 06, 2015

I have used alcohol inks extensively with Yupo and NEVER had an issue until ATG tape was added to the back of the heavy Yupo to adhere to a piece of mat. The Yupo buckled causing my painting to look like a wash board. I am totally stumped by this experience. I have notified the Yupo manufacturers and hope to have an answer soon.

Susan Mackey
Susan Mackey

March 19, 2015

Answer to Jo Bain’s comment: From Carol LaGrow – The Alcohol Inks are to be used on non absorbent surfaces (ceramic tile, glass, plastic etc) and usually need to be sealed to protect them. I do use YUPO paper which is a plastic surface.
(The Ph Martin ink is more controllable and I have only used that on WC paper.)

The Alcohol Iink likes to spread a lot and either rubbing alcohol or the Ranger blending solution works great. That is part of the joy and fun of using the A inks.

I just now experimented with the Ph Martin ink and it behaves totally different……….it does not spread or move as the Alcohol Inks do. It seemed to lose its color vibrancy too. (tried this on a ceramic tile)

Hope that helps. If not, let me know and maybe I can explain more. Also, you can just go to Joanns or Michaels and use a coupon and get a set of three colors for about $6.The bottles are really little, but they do go a very long way as you use such a small amount.

Mary German
Mary German

March 10, 2015

The inks are in Cheap Joe’s new Spring catalog, just received, along with Cathy Taylor’s book “Pigments of Your Imagination”. Looks like fun to try.

Jo Bain
Jo Bain

March 07, 2015

I’d like to know how alcohol inks work differently than Ph Martin inks…..or do they?
The paintings are very exciting. Wanna know more.
Thanks, Jo

Anita Johnson
Anita Johnson

March 06, 2015

I’ll keep this so if I ever want to do something different I’ll know how to start. Just finished a protraite in oil. These are great.

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