She can’t draw a stick person, but she sure is adept at moving alcohol inks across a canvas to create all sorts of abstract and colorful images.
Eagle River’s Andrea Carroll took up the art of alcohol inks simply because she can’t draw, she said. But she loves to create.
“If somebody asks me to draw a representation of myself I end up drawing a circle with dots for the eyes and a smiley face,” she said. “But you don’t have to be able to draw to do alcohol inks.”
In fact, creating with alcohol inks is really more about controlling the direction of the ink versus trying to create a painted scene.
Alcohol inks are a fast-drying, highly pigmented, alcohol-based ink that is used on a variety of surfaces that are hard and non-porous, such as ceramic, glass, leather, plastic, polymer clay and stone. As the ink dries, the alcohol evaporates, leaving behind only the dye. The transparent and vibrant qualities associated with alcohol inks has made the art medium popular with amateur and professional artists who often layer the colors to create various effects as the ink moves across the surface.
That is a bit part of what drew Carroll to alcohol inks.
She said alcohol inks have a mind of their own.
“You have to play with it,” she said. “You can control it a little bit, but it does do what it wants to do. You have to play with it until you feel like you have got what you want on the canvas.”
She’s learning to use an air gun to move the alcohol ink in an effort to create wispy images and flowers.
The cool thing about doing alcohol inks, she said, is that if you don’t like how it initially turns out, you can simply add more ink and move it around some more.
She began her art journey taking photographs of Alaska’s animals, flowers and mountains.
“I just wanted to put all of the beauty into pictures,” she said.
This was the birth of Mystic Reflections Photography.
Along the way she yearned to do something more with her art.
She put a pencil toward sketching abstract pictures thinking she could mimic her photography. Soon she was painting abstract images. The walls of her home displayed her efforts, but they were filling up.
She thought it was just a hobby.
Her husband made a career-oriented intervention.
“He said to me, ‘what are you going to do with all of this. You are running out of wall space. How about you figure out a way to do something with this?”
Enter Carroll’s friend and yoga instructor, Mary McCormick, owner of All Life Is Yoga studio in Eagle River.
Carroll, a massage therapist, attends yoga classes there.
A year ago, McCormick invited Carroll to display some of her art at the studio. At the time, she was focused on creating trivets.
Carroll received positive feedback and so she pursued creating larger pieces.
All the while, she kept attending yoga classes as part of her self-care.
“The neat thing about yoga is that it helps to keep the mind quiet,” Carroll said. “That is a very important aspect in art. You have to quiet the craziness in your head so you can concentrate on what you are doing artistically.”
Now she has added the word “art” to her business name: Mystic Reflections Art and Photography.
She’s dabbling with teaching.
Last week, she taught a class for a mother/daughter duo giving them her tips for “controlling” alcohol inks as much as possible.
She enjoyed being in the teaching mode and is thinking more on how to include that aspect in her work.
She understands the frustration beginning artists can feel when their initial efforts don’t look like what they had in mind. She still experiences that.
“You just don’t give up,” she said. “That is one obstacle I had to overcome. My tendency in things is that if I cannot make it perfect the first time, I give up. Some days I can go in to my studio and crank out two or three pieces and I am like, ‘yah, it is flowing today.’ Other days, I am painting and looking at a blank canvas and nothing comes to me. So I put it aside and come back another day.”
Carroll currently has 15 pieces ranging from 10 by 10 to 18 by 24 priced from $50 to $150 on display at All Life Is Yoga at 11723 Old Glenn Highway in Eagle River until June 1.
Reach Amy Armstrong via email at: email@example.com.