Using Rubbing Alcohol in Your Paintings

Painting with Good Ole’ Fashioned Rubbing Alcohol
I love using household products to create interesting effects in my paintings. One of my favorites is using rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), which can be used as a subtractive method to remove paint layers.  It can also remove dried paint from just about anything (besides clothes, sorry!).  Below I show you how to use alcohol to create beautiful, pointillist-like effects in your paintings, and an example of another piece in progress. Sign up for one of my abstraction workshops, and I can show you even more ways to explore this inexpensive and easily available household product in your artwork.

STEP 1: Paint a base layer and let it dry completely.
IMG_1528 (1)

Step 2: Make sure painting is lying flat.  Paint a thin,wet layer of paint (preferably contrasting color or value), and then immediately spray first with water, then with alcohol.






Step 3: In seconds the alcohol droplets will eat away the fresh layer of paint and expose the base layer.  When dry, paint on an interference layer, such as Golden’s Acrylic Glazing medium, to protect the layer.

Step 4: As you repeat these steps with contrasting paint layers, you will create fascinating effects.

Below is a finished painting using the alcohol method. On the top of the piece I used a spray bottle with alcohol, and on the bottom I used a squeeze bottle that made larger droplets of alcohol. I also used thin layers of metallic paint on the bottom to give the piece a subtle shimmer.

Primordial Waters WS                       Primordial Waters, 36″ x 36″, Acrylic on Canvas, Andrea Cermanski

Go to my website to view more finished paintings.  And if you try my method and like it, please comment or send me images of your pieces!

Happy Painting!

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