Alcohol Drops in Watercolor

It’s that time of year when the leaves are changing color and various spots and patterning appear on them.  I wanted to replicate the look of Fall leaves by experimenting with drops of rubbing alcohol sprinkled into puddles of watercolors.  Alcohol reacts in a similar way to kosher salt.  Both leave white spots on the surface; but the salt tends to attach tendrils to the white areas to create more of a starburst effect.  Consequently, I decided to implement both methods to compare the two after they were applied to the surface of the watercolor paper.

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I first wet the watercolor paper and applied two different Fall colors (orange and yellow) in a random pattern.  Earlier, I had poured a small amount of rubbing alcohol into the cap on the bottle.  I simply dipped my fingers into it and gently flicked it over the colors on the paper.  At this point, I also sprinkled just a few grains of kosher salt over the surface.  I sat the watercolor paper aside to dry thoroughly.  Because I wanted the white spots to resemble the ones found on leaves this time of year,  I applied both substances with a gentle touch.  Using an eye dropper with the alcohol, would have created dime-size white spots and wouldn’t have looked very realistic.

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After the drying process was complete, I brushed off the remaining grains of salt left on the surface.  The experiment proved that the spots created from the rubbing alcohol were more successful in producing the effect that I was going for.  Although the salt created some interesting patterns, it seemed to eliminate too much color from the surface.  I decided to make a greeting card with my surface experiment.  A leaf template off the internet was traced onto a folded piece of cardstock.  I opened the card to lay it flat and cut out the design with a small, sharp pair of scissors.  This left a die-cut window for me to sandwich my scrap piece of watercolor paper with another yellow piece of cardstock in-behind it.  I stamped the card with a message and finished the veining on the leaf with a .05 micron pen.  You can make some wonderful art journal backgrounds and other decorative papers for mixed-media projects with this simple and inexpensive technique!

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