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Alcohol Textures Watercolor Technique

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Dropping alcohol for texture on watercolor paintings

Materials And Set Up For This Watercolor Technique

First I drew a square and found some Q-tips and 91% Isopropol Alcohol.

MATERIALS USED: Arches CP #140 watercolor paper, a 1½” wash brush, the above mentioned items.

COLORS USED: Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue.

4 Watercolor Techniques For Painting With A Fan Brush


Laying the field of attack

I mixed a large amount of Dioxazine Purple and started blocking in a large wash on the paper.


The “before” picture

I continued painting in the rest of the loose wash with a Cobalt Blue and layed in some Ultramarine Blue in the upper left corner.

Prepare to Drip.


The first wave not as effective…

Here’s where the magic of this watercolor technique begins. Dipping a Q-tip into the alcohol I proceed to tap and drip alcohol directly into the washes.

As the alcohol hit the wash it repeled the paint, pushing it away while leaving a lighter tint of the wash exposed.

Because the wash was so wet, I had to repeatedly drop alcohol onto the open areas to keep the flowing paint at bay.


Getting interesting now

As the watercolor washes continue to dry I try some smaller splatters of alcohol throughout the area.

During evaporation there passed a peak time for the effect to work best…although everything look interesting so far.

You will notice a “fish eye” effect in the middle of most the lighter areas where the color slightly darkens.


Finished example: alcohol and watercolor

I finished playing around and set the painting aside to dry.

Click photo to enlarge.

Alcohol and watercolor don’t mix well. The results of their fight on the paper is strangely organic in nature and not achievable using any other technique.

The “fish eyes” are a signature of this technique, so it’s obvious to other painters what you are up to.

Use it judiciously or with total abandon, it’s your nickel.