DIY: How Fluid Art and Alcohol Ink Painting Helps My CPTSD

Posted by Sabrina Shelby | Sep 11, 2017 | DIY | 0 |

What is “fluid art”? It’s basically art that uses very thin, or low viscosity- to get technical, paint, or another medium to paint with. It usually involves pouring, squirting, dumping, or spraying ink or paint onto a canvas or paper and letting the medium do its thing.

In this article, I’m going to talk about my current obsession with alcohol ink as a medium for fluid art painting and how it helps my mental health.

Alcohol inks are exactly what they sound like- ink with an alcohol base. These inks are waterproof and can be used on almost any surface, but are most often used on nonporous surfaces.

What you need to get started:

You can find all of these supplies on Amazon by clicking on their names.

First, I make sure to work on a surface that I don’t mind messing up because things get messy. I also like to have a layer of paper towels underneath my yupo paper.

Some people also like to wear disposable gloves because, again, it gets messy and it isn’t great to get on your skin. I do not wear gloves. Getting messy is part of the process I enjoy, so getting ink and whatnot on my hands doesn’t bother me. On the topic of health and safety, be sure to paint in a well-ventilated space because of the fumes from the alcohol.

Now that all the safety nonsense has been mentioned, it’s time to get to the fun part!

How To Get Started

I usually start by using the eyedropper to drop (about 4-5 drops on a 5×7” paper) some rubbing alcohol onto the yupo paper, then add 3-4 drops of ink to start with. To get the ink and alcohol to blend together, you can pick up the paper and tilt it around, use the straw to blow it around, or just use a paint brush.

When I work with alcohol inks, I don’t usually use a brush. I try to let the fluid-ness of the medium take the lead, and I just try to keep an open mind to what happens.

As you’ll see, the ink and the alcohol seem like a living creature. It moves and reacts without you having to do very much.

How Alcohol Ink Painting Helps My Mental Health

I’m a total control freak. I live with complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), so I’m constantly trying to do whatever I can to feel safe in my environment. Working with fluid mediums gives me an opportunity to let things happen without having to be fearful of the outcome. I’ve also found that I’m happier with the finished product when I leave most of the decision making up to the inks.

Moving the ink and alcohol around with my breathe becomes a meditative experience. The fumes may or may not have anything to do with the calming feeling I experience when painting, either way, I just go with it. Seriously though, do this in a large room, and with a window open if possible.

Another reason I really like working with alcohol inks is because it’s a “fast” medium, which means it dries quickly. I can finish a little ‘5×7’ painting in 30 minutes or less if I really let go. Since I tend to lose interest or get frustrated easily, alcohol ink painting is great.

If you have a hard time letting go and need help mellowing out, give alcohol ink painting a try.


You can find more of Sabrina Shelby’s DIY projects at The Active Koala.


This post was created with the help of Grammarly.


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