I have been exploring. Creating. Playing.
Some time ago, I bought alcohol inks — a woman in a course I was taking had used the inks in one of the mandala’s she had created during the course and I was curious. I loved the vibrancy of the colours and the watercolour effect they evoked. The first time I tried using them, I didn’t like how they worked. They soaked into canvas without spreading and I didn’t want to work on the special surface they needed.
I put them aside.
A few weeks ago, I was experimenting and decided to give the inks another go. I was working on cards for my Choices trainees and needed something that would give me the kind of look and colours I needed for flowers.
I fell in love.
It wasn’t that the inks had changed. It was that I had changed the surface I was working on. Rather than applying the inks to straight water colour paper or a canvas, I had painted an undercoat with acrylic paint and then applied a thick coat of gloss medium.
On a whim, I decided to try the inks just to see what would happen — my motto being…. what’s the worst that could happen?
Suddenly, a happy surprise ensued. The coat of medium created a non-porous surface against which the inks can flow and bond. Rather than getting stuck on the surface and creating a blog of muddy, dead colour, they edged up against each other and glided across the surface — and, because they are alcohol based, they dried quickly so their colours remain vibrant the their flow isn’t too unpredictable.
Art mirrors life. We go searching for the new, don’t like what we find, put it away, throw it out, or because we don’t understand it, or are afraid of it, don’t dare pick it up before moving on. Then, one day, we encounter something that reminds us of ‘that old thing’ we didn’t like before, and we decide to give it another try. Or, that old thing appears on our path again and we are forced to give it another go.
And suddenly, a happy surprise ensues.
The thing is, neither is a mistake. Not using it or doing it, or using it and doing it. They are both the right path taken at different times.
What counts is the willingness to be open to experimenting, to be conscious of the possible.
I didn’t like how the inks worked when first I tried them — it wasn’t the inks — it was me using a surface they weren’t designed to be used upon.
In being open to experimenting, I accidentally discovered a surface they do work on — even though non of the literature about using the inks suggest doing it my way, that’s okay. It works for me.
Some things work for everyone. Some things work for some. This worked for me.
It is something I often forget. I think I need to do it ‘the right way’, the right way being the way I’ve been taught, or how I’ve read or heard it should be.
But it doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes, I have to be willing to go out on a limb and simply risk. In the risk, I discover my truth. My path. My experience.
And sometimes, I really like what happens.
Sometimes, I don’t and get to choose all over again.
I’ve been experimenting with happy surprises.
I’m kinda’ likin’ the exploration! 🙂