Creativity often happens when we are trying to solve some other problem. Looking for another substrate for alcohol inks (other than Yupo), I came across an artist who used black tiles. (Sadly, I didn’t write down her name.) She said she had used black chalkboard paper as well. That didn’t work for me, but here is what did work.
1. Black, shiny-surface tiles work. I don’t want to store tiles, so I went on the search for black, glossy paper. Not as easy as it sounds. But I did find Stardream in Onyx, 105-lb cover stock. It is lightly coated with a mildly sparkle-finish. I found it at a local Phoenix outlet of Kelly Paper.
2. Use both Pearl (translucent) and Snow Cap (opaque) ink by Ranger. Put both on the paper. Add one drop of Eggplant (Ranger.)
3. Immediately put a piece of plastic wrap over the ink and rub to blend lightly. Make sure there are strong wrinkles in the plastic wrap.
4. Leave the plastic wrap in place until the ink dries. This takes about 15 minutes in Phoenix, but at 5 percent humidity, it’s not a good measure for other locations.
5. Peel off the plastic wrap. I added the stem and flower base with a paintbrush and Snow Cap.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, a creativity coach, a writing trainer, and an abstract artist who combines writing with images.
Alcohol inks are the best color application tool since crayons. They are bright and crisp. Unlike crayons, they are not easy to control. In fact, when I teach a class in alcohol inks, the class hears about control, letting go, happy accidents, and going with the flow long before we start the technique section of the class.
While I’ve loved making landscapes, florals have always eluded me. This weekend, with enough time and Yupo, I experimented with florals. (You can read more about Yupo and acrylic inks in this blog post. Some landscapes are here.)
First, I selected three coordinating colors for each flower. One drop of the darkest color goes down first. I blow on it carefully with a big-bore straw. That pushes the color out without causing “legs” to form. The second drop goes on next, blown into place with a small cocktail-stirring straw. I use a small, inexpensive, brush to keep the colors in the same area.
For the leaves, I use the tip of the bottle to shape the leaf, while applying the ink in a slow, even motion. Brushwork keeps the leaves from spreading. Careful brushwork shapes the stem on the far-left flower. It makes the leaf look translucent and adds depth.
The writing on the images? I created the letterforms, but the meaning is left for the viewer to decide. It’s not a code, it’s a graphic addition to the floral.
—Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and writer.
Combining words and images is the idea I’ve been chasing for about two years. I didn’t want to be middling-good with calligraphy. Hand-lettering is a better idea for me. Quotes from others are wonderful, but many other artists have done that, and done it better.
While scrolling through the images on my phone, I came across the photos I take of graffiti and marks put on the street by utility workers. Those interesting hieroglyphics make me think of alien alphabets. Alphabets that can be written, but not read. Suddenly, it came together. How we struggle to say what we mean and be understood. How we long to be heard and understood.
Here are the first three works in progress.
The abstract landscape is easy enough to understand, but what do the three lines at the top mean? It’s not a code; it is deliberately not explained. Just like much of what we say and write.
This night landscape can be calm or eerie, depending on what you interpret the letters to be. Meaning-making, the purpose of creativity, is always up to the viewer.
Is this an explanation for the abstract? Is that a waterfall? Is the sun rising over the left part of the landscape, or is it burning? All up to the viewer. All left to your imagination. Because I believe we all are imaginative beings.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing. She is also a creativity coach.
Yes, the old site is being put back into service. It makes sense to post my poetry and artwork here. I wanted to have one site, but I cover a lot of ground, from art to poetry, to business writing and development. It’s a lot to expect people to understand. I needed a home for poetry, and as I move toward becoming a practitioner of poetic medicine, a place to talk about the power of poetry.
I’m also making my alcohol ink artwork available for sale, on the Art Gallery page.
For today, a poem about love and the importance of laughing at yourself instead of focusing on your love’s shortcomings.
It’s easier to fall in love than stay in love.
Much like skating requires learning to fall
Before you master gliding steadily ahead;
Easily, without windmilling arms
And grasping fingers.
Fall-in-love behaviors, (labeled dreamily, “exotic,”)
Slowly morph to “just annoying.”
The trick, just like in skating,
Is adjusting my Center of Gravity.
Squinting to find a polished patch of long-term love
under all those randomly-strewn shortcomings,
heading for that, jumping over unstable, glistening failures,
finding the direction by listening for
The really rich, full-throated laughing at myself.
© Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved. Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach.