Abstract Does Not Equal Easy

Long ago – when I was younger, and more foolish, I thought that abstract art was ‘easy’. I’m still sometimes foolish, but I’m much more aware of what goes into any kind of art! Personal experience has taught me that abstract does not equal easy. The definition of abstract art, from the Tate UK (in which I’ve seen many amazing pieces of art) is this: Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect.  The key, of course, in creating abstract art is that the final result be pleasing – at least to some eyes!


If you’ve been reading my posts within the past year, you’ll probably already know that I’ve been playing with and learning to create with alcohol inks. Some have been traditional representational art. This piece is one of my recent attempts at abstract art! Trust me – there are others that came before this, but they weren’t pleasing to my eye. So, I won’t share those.

Abstract Does Not Equal Easy

To achieve this result took 3 tries, lots of ink, and breath!


First, cut down a panel of Yupo to 6″ x 9″, and lay it horizontally on a flat surface. Next, add 3 ink colours in sort of a curved line, one after the other. I used Ranger Stonewashed, Amethyst and Wild Plum.  Allow the ink to dry on the paper – don’t panic when it spreads a bit. Use a fine tip applicator or dropper to drop isopropyl alcohol (I use 99%, but use at least 91%) in one area at a time. Allow the alcohol to spread a tiny bit, and then blow through a straw (paper – be environment conscious!) blowing the ink & alcohol outwards. Repeat this step over & over, changing directions of the blown air, and adding more ink and alcohol as needed. Keep doing this, until you’re happy with how it looks.

To add some fine circles, lightly wet a small brush with alcohol, and tap in with  your finger over the panel. This creates the fine drops & circles, and adds more interest & texture to your piece.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Bwahahahaaaa…..And when you watch someone do it, you also think ‘that looks easy enough’!  Don’t be fooled, my friend! On the other hand, you may just have the ‘knack’ for it, and surprise yourself on your first try!


Over and over, I watched this video done by a very accomplished alcohol artist in the Netherlands.  Have a look – there’s no voice over, just a few basic instructions over the video.


The biggest struggle for anyone, I think, in using alcohol inks for abstract art is that the ink will do what it wants. It’s fluid, after all! With practice, you can achieve some control over the direction – I’m still practicing! But the important part is to have fun, and enjoy the process.


I’ve included affiliate links below where available, for supplies I use. The 99% alcohol I found in the pharmacy section of my grocery store. You can also find it in drugstores or some Walmarts.  You can also use Ranger Alcohol Ink Blending Solution. It reacts with the inks similarly to the alcohol, but a bit different. It lightens the intensity of the colours a bit, and allows them to blend a bit more.  I like to use Yupo for my substrate, which is a synthetic paper. It is specifically designed so that it doesn’t absorb the inks, or warp when used. With regular weight Yupo, it will warp if you heat it with a heat tool too closely.  If you’re thinking of heat embossing over your work, then you should purchase the heavy weight Yupo.

Have fun giving this a try! Abstract does not equal easy, but I’d love to hear how you enjoy it, and what you think of my piece.

Abstract Does Not Equal Easy

Written by 

I've always liked to create things, but I'm not a great artist, or sculptor, or any type of 'traditional' artist - but I love to create! I love the satisfaction of a completed project. Whether a card, painting or other project - as long as it can create a smile, evoke a feeling, or some type of reaction in the recipient. I hope you will enjoy sharing my creations, and occasional ramblings; I'd enjoy having you create with me! :)

9 thoughts on “Abstract Does Not Equal Easy

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments, Susan! I’m glad that you like my abstract art 🙂 I’ve also learned that I need to know my colour wheel much better! (to avoid that ‘mud’ problem)

  1. Great job, Deborah! “Have fun, and enjoy the process” is my favorite saying now. I find that if I just relax and enjoy what I’m doing, it may still look horrible, but at least I’m having fun!

    1. So true, Buffy! If we don’t enjoy it, why are we even doing it? (okay – for practice, but you know what I mean 😉 )

    1. I really appreciate your kind comment, Kia! Thanks for the encouragement – I’m glad that you like my abstract piece 🙂

  2. Jeepers Deb, this is absolutely stunning! You’re obviously good with a straw because I would not have guessed that was the technique used!

    1. Thanks so much, Jackie – you’re so kind! The biggest drawback to using the straw is getting light-headed! LOL 😛

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