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.
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.
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!