How to paint with alcohol ink

How to paint with alcohol ink

So far in our alcohol ink substrate series, we have covered painting alcohol ink on glass, and what kind of paper to use with alcohol ink. Both of these substrates work fantastically with the medium.

Glass is a blast to paint on, but you are often limited in size to what you can reasonably get out of a picture frame. Yupo paper is by far the nicest surface to paint alcohol ink on. However, it is thin and needs to be mounted to something stiff for display purposes, or attached in a picture frame with a matte board, etc.

If you are running into these issues, you may appreciate painting your alcohol inks on a canvas! Not only can you get canvases in many different sizes, but you can also get them in different depths too! Additionally, they are easily hung on walls for displaying your beautiful works of art.

Painting alcohol ink on canvas has many advantages, but a little more prep is needed than other surfaces. Read on for some tips, techniques, and advice for creating alcohol ink art on canvas.

How Do You Paint Alcohol Ink On Canvas?

How to paint with alcohol ink

Step 1: Apply Killz2 Latex Primer. Before you can begin your masterpiece you need to prime the canvas to make it non-porous or else the ink will just bleed through which most of us don’t like. The internet is a big fan of Kilz2 Latex Primer for canvas prepping. It is fast-drying, water-based, multi-purpose, readily found, relatively inexpensive, and it seals the surface of most canvases beautifully so that they will not absorb the ink or allow it to seep through.

Step 2: Wait. Apply a good single coat to the top and sides of the canvas, making sure you don’t see any of the little holes or cotton weave texture any longer. Then allow around 45 minutes for it to fully dry before you begin applying inks. Usually, only one coat is needed, but do use your good judgment here. You want to ensure it is completely dry before applying any alcohol inks or you could end up bleeding through the canvas.

Step 3: Paint! Painting on canvas with alcohol inks is a different experience than painting on other surfaces. Canvas allows for more control and finer details in your artworks since the inks flow around a bit less, and you can create some absolutely beautiful artworks on this classic substrate!

Tips for Painting Alcohol Ink On Canvas

How to paint with alcohol ink

Foam Brushes > Paintbrushes: When applying the primer, your goal is to coat the top and sides with as smooth a layer as you can. To avoid the appearance of brush strokes many like to use a large foam brush instead of a paintbrush. These disposable foam brushes are readily available at most art supply and hardware stores as well as online in bulk and are surprisingly handy to have around!

Sand It: Sometimes even foam brushes leave ridges and brush strokes which may or may not be desirable as most of us prefer a perfectly smooth surface. For an even smoother surface you can always lightly sand the primer with a very fine grit sand paper. However, be sure you clean off all the dust or it will muddy your inks, and don’t sand too hard or you will take the primer right off the canvas and be back to square one!

Black & White: Killz2 Primer comes in white AND clear. Clear primer is perfect for priming black canvases which are a lot of fun to work on and make your ink art REALLY pop!

Keep It Elevated: Placing the canvas on risers while priming and painting is very helpful. It allows any excess alcohol ink to drip off the canvas rather than pooling underneath and staining the backside, potentially bleeding back up into your painting.

Level The Surface: Leveling your canvas is also very beneficial for maintaining control of the inks, or else they will just flow to one side and drip off. You can always use a few paper towels or other thin material to prop up the side that is low.

Double Up: Even though Killz2 and other primers seal the surface of the canvas, it still absorbs more ink than say glass or Yupo paper. So plan on working quickly and doubling up the amount of ink and fluids you plan on using. You will appreciate having them readily on hand rather than having to hunt them down when the crunch is on.

What If I Don’t Have Killz2. : If you don’t have Kill2 latex primer available where you live, there are other options. Many have had good success with other latex-based house paint primers. Gel mediums or gesso may also work as they too coat the surface to make it non-porous. But be sure to test test test before beginning a serious piece as every brand is different and some might react or lift when you apply the ink.

Do you have any other tips for painting alcohol ink on canvas? What do you use to seal your canvases? Let us know in the comments!

A lcohol Ink is an absolute trend among creative people. In the following article we explain what this hip technique is all about. We explain the most important terms and basics, show you which materials you need for a successful painting made with alcohol ink and where you can get them. Furthermore we will accompany you with a step by step tutorial to your first Alcohol Ink Painting.

Table of Contents

What is Alcohol Ink?

The term Alcohol Ink has several meanings. On the one hand, it stands for the painting material used, i.e. the alcohol ink itself. On the other hand, it is also a term for the fluid painting technique used. Like so many other trends, this one originated in America. While this method is still relatively unknown, Alcohol Ink is already experiencing a real hype in America. As the name suggests, Alcohol Ink inks consist of a very large part of alcohol mixed with color pigments.

Alcohol has the property to evaporate very quickly, which has some advantages with this painting technique. The colors dry very quickly due to the evaporation of the alcohol. However, even dried ink can be “revived”, so to speak, if pure alcohol or fresh ink is added. In this way, the painting can be changed at a later date, for example by adding new colors. This possibility is not available with acrylic paints, for example.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Required Materials for Alcohol Ink Technique

Alcohol Inks and Markers

First of all, of course, you need the alcohol paint itself. The best way to get them is via the Internet. The colors of the company Tim Holtz Ranger are the most well-known and probably most frequently used. Besides 60 different colors, this manufacturer offers additionally some metallic tones. Other great brands would be Let’s Resin and Piñata from Jacquard. For the first time of testing and experimenting, there are also very cheap sets available from this brand.

As an economical alternative, practical refill bottles for Copic Marker are also available. You can use this refill ink in the same way as the special Alcohol Inks. For later decorations and ornaments on the dried painting, the so-called Sharpie markers are super suitable.

Isopropyl Alcohol / Blending Solution

When working with Alcohol Ink it is always advisable to work with a so-called blending solution. On the one hand, you can save a lot of ink. On the other hand, using this solution opens up many more technical possibilities. Blending Solution consists of isopropyl alcohol and glycerine which ensure that the colors are brightened and can be mixed. As a much cheaper alternative, you can get pure isopropyl alcohol online, which has an alcohol content of 99.99%, in 1 l bottles.

The alcohol is practically the Alcohol Ink – the counterpart to water in watercolor painting. Together with the substrate, it forms the basis on which the alcohol ink can be used. Therefore these large quantities are necessary. The quality of the isopropyl has a clear effect on the quality of the later Alcohol Ink painting. Very negative effects on the final result can be caused by too much oil or water, for example. Therefore you should take care to use isopropyl alcohol with an alcohol content of at least 90% if possible.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Optimal Painting Surface for Alcohol Ink Painting

When choosing the perfect substrate for the Alcohol Ink technique some basic things should be considered. Normal paper, as used for example for painting with acrylic, oil, or watercolors, is not suitable for working with Alcohol Ink. Because of its porous structure the ink would immediately draw into the sheet. The optimal surface should be as smooth as possible. This is the only way the colors can be mixed in alcohol, swiveled, and applied in different ways.

Metal, glass, or ceramic tiles as well as special Yupo Paper and Stone Paper are particularly suitable. This is manufactured synthetically from polypropylene and has an extremely waterproof and tear-resistant structure. However, working with this paper is not easy. As it has a very repellent effect on oil, it is recommended to wear rubber gloves. This way you touch the paper with your fingers as little as possible, which would involuntarily leave skin grease on the paper. Yupo paper is available from Frisk, among others, which produces it in sheets of 85 g/m² (absolutely sufficient for a start) and 110 g/m². We also recommend the Lanavanguard universal painting ground from Hahnemühle.

Using alcohol inks can be a fun way to use colors and create backgrounds for stamping or card making. You can also use alcohol inks in painting and to add color to different surfaces such as glass and metals. The brightness of the color means that a small bottle will go a long way. Alcohol inks are an acid-free, highly-pigmented, and fast drying medium to be used on non-porous surfaces. Mixing colors can create a vibrant marbled effect and the possibilities can only be limited by what you are willing to try. Read below to learn what supplies you will need for crafting with alcohol inks and other useful hints regarding these vibrant colors and mediums.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Alcohol Ink Supplies

Alcohol inks come in a wide range of colors and pigments. Sold in .5 oz bottles, a little bit of ink is able to go a long way. Adirondack Alcohol Inks by Tim Holtz , also called Ranger ink, is the main supplier of alcohol inks. Many Tim Holtz inks come in packs of three different colors that look good when used together. The three inks pictured below are in the ” Ranger Miner’s Lantern ” kit and has different earth tones to work with. If it is your first time using alcohol inks, the kits are a good option for colors that work well when blended together.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Tim Holtz Adirondack Alcohol Ink Metallic Mixative can be used to add luminous highlights and polished effects. These inks need to be shaken well before use and should be used sparingly as they can overwhelm a project.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Alcohol Blending Solution

The Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution is used to dilute and lighten the alcohol inks’ vibrant tones. This solution can be used to both enhance your project as well as clean up when you’re done. Using this product will clean alcohol ink off of slick surfaces, hands, and tools.


The type of project you are making is going to make a difference in what application you are using. One of the best ways to apply alcohol inks is to use the Ranger Tim Holtz Tools Alcohol Ink Applicator Handle & Felt . This tool allows the user to mix different colors of inks and apply them to the surface without the mess. There is also a Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool to use with more detailed projects. Though there are refillable Tim Holtz felt pads and mini pads , because of the hook and loop tape on the applicator, you can use most felt as a cheaper alternative. You can also use gloves and use your fingers to apply a specific color to your project.

Here’s an example of a makeshift felt applicator that was made out of felt, binder clips, and tape.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Another mode of application is using the Crafter’s Companion Spectrum Noir Pens . These alcohol ink markers are double-ended providing a broad chisel nib for larger areas and a fine bullet tip for detail work. The pens are refillable and the nibs replaceable.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Color Blending

The refillable, ergonomic Spectrum Noir Color Blending Pen enables the blending of alcohol ink colors. The Ranger Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink Palette provides a surface for blending several colors.

To apply alcohol ink you can also use gloves and use your fingers to apply a specific color to your project. The type of project you are making is going to make a difference in what application you are using.


The Ranger Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink Storage Tin holds up to 30 bottles of alcohol ink – or fewer bottles and supplies. The Crafter’s Companion Spectrum Noir Pens store easily in the Crafter’s Companion Ultimate Pen Storage .


When using alcohol inks the surface you are using should be non-porous. Some options could be a glossy cardstock , shrink film , dominos, gloss paper, glass, metal, and ceramic. The reason alcohol inks do not do well with porous materials is that they will soak in and begin to fade. When using alcohol ink on glass, make sure to use a clear sealer such as resin or the Ranger’s Gloss Multi-Medium so the colors do not fade or wipe off. Use 2-3 thin coats of the sealer to make sure your project is coated, but make sure the layers are thin so that the sealer does not drip or run.

Different Techniques

There are many techniques to experiment with when using alcohol inks. Techniques range from directly applying the alcohol ink to your project to using a marker to get a more precise application. If you are just starting with alcohol inks here are a couple of techniques we recommend trying:

Use your felt applicator to get a marbled effect on your pattern and create a background. This can later be made more precise and specific by applying alcohol blending solution and adding alcohol ink directly to your project. At any point, to blend colors together, you can use your applicator tool.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Or, start with applying your dye directly onto the surface you are using. This gives you more control of where colors are going and how much of each color will be shown. Use your applicator tip to blend the colors and cover the surface you are using.

How to paint with alcohol ink

These are just two of the many techniques you can use when applying alcohol ink. Some other methods could include putting alcohol ink on your slick surface and pressing your paper or surface into the ink to create a pattern. Another technique could be putting the alcohol ink in water and putting your surface through the water to create a different look.

25 Ways to use Alcohol Inks

How to paint with alcohol ink

Alcohol Inks are highly-pigmented, acid-free, and fast drying inks that work on non-porous surfaces. They mix well and create vivid marble-like effects on many unique mediums. The ways you can use alcohol inks are pretty endless, but we have narrowed it down to 25 ideas for you today. Before we get into that, let’s breakdown some of the supplies you’ll need for your project.

Alcohol Ink

We like the Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink by Ranger and the Jacquard Pinata Alcohol Ink. Both are available at our stores and come in a large array of colors.

How to paint with alcohol ink


A felt applicator is great to use when you are using the Blot or Dab Method. The Tim Holtz Applicator is a great size and comes with extra pads so you can keep them with like colors.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Blending Solution

The Blending Solution from Ranger is used to lighten the colors and to enhance the movement of the colors. It also works great at removing color from hands, slick surfaces, and tools.

How to paint with alcohol ink

There are so many ways you can use Alcohol Inks. We are showing you just a handful of ideas. Each of our locations has this Alcohol Ink board to showcase different ideas for using alcohol inks. One of the things that makes these inks really useful is that you can have something in a basic white or clear color (for example sequins or glitter) and then make it whatever color you want with the alcohol inks – no need to buy the item in every color.

Here are 25 Ways to Use Alcohol Inks

  1. Crystal Fiber
  2. Acrylic Gems
  3. Large Pearls (real or fake)
  4. Geodes
  5. Marbles
  6. Wood (wood is aporous material, as is fabric, but Alcohol Inks still work on it as you can see. You would want to use it for small projects as it takes more ink. )
  7. Sequins
  8. Acrylic or Glass Knobs
  9. Adhesive Pearls
  10. Metal
  11. Glass – see framed glass project >
  12. Mirror
  13. Glitter
  14. Sand – see a video here >
  15. Adhesive Gems
  16. Plastic
  17. Fabric
  18. Plastic Letters
  19. Glitter Paper
  20. Glossy Paper
  21. Yupo Paper
  22. Foil
  23. Acetate
  24. Shrinky Dink Film
  25. Ceramic – see ceramic tile project >

Check out the gallery below of projects we’ve done at the stores using alcohol ink

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Starts 3:00 pm

Ends 5:00 pm


In this workshop, you’ll learn several different methods of applying alcohol inks to your surface. You’ll use these skills to make several artworks throughout the course as well as unique abstract pieces.Join us for an inspiring experience learning how to create your own art pieces with Alcohol inks. Each participant will take home 2 pieces of a framed A4 size Painting (on premium Yupo paper) along with a datasheet of how to start your own Art Inspiration from Alcohol inks. This workshop is suitable for beginners with zero to some alcohol ink knowledge.

What are alcohol inks?

Alcohol Inks are like no other medium. Their mesmerizing flow is so addictive and therapeutic to use and watch.

Alcohol Ink Art is a form of abstract art painting with alcohol-based ink, which are special inks often used over scientific surfaces to create a smooth blend of pigments and colors.

About the instructor

Bwader Basheer is an Artist & designer living in Dubai. Since 2016 she has started her Art & Design Studio: Bwader Art Studio, Based in Dubai.

She is creating original artwork pieces along with uniquely designed furniture and accessories. Her artwork experiences are based on mixing and using different kinds of materials and medias. As she is using: Acrylic – alcoholic Ink and Resin to create her unique Art pieces with different shapes and sizes. Her work is inspired by nature and architecture as most of her pieces are inspired by the movement of the ocean and the depth layers of the earth.

How to paint with alcohol ink

This post will cover the basics such as what alcohol inks are and what makes them unique, and will give you an idea of how to get started using this exciting medium. I’ve also included some product recommendations, links to where you can purchase supplies, ideas of surfaces you could try painting on, and how to seal your beautiful art for a lifetime of vibrant colour.

I hope you find it helpful!

Products I use on Amazon:

Many of the supplies I use for alcohol ink, resin, and abstract art can be found on my Amazon Affiliates Shop Page. I would be grateful if you decide to try alcohol inks after reading my blog that you consider ordering using my link. Many Thanks!

How to paint with alcohol ink

1. So firstly, I’m often simply asked; “what is alcohol ink?”

Alcohol inks are an exciting medium which is quickly becoming popular worldwide – although has only fairly recently become more accessible in the UK. They are fast-drying, highly pigmented, alcohol-based inks. Alcohol inks come in many colours and can be diluted to create a vast range of colour tones, textures, and effects. There are various methods of applying alcohol ink, for example they can be poured and dropped onto the painting surface – so they fall into the category of fluid art.

Learning ways of using inks can be such a fascinating process. I’ve enjoyed exploring ways to control and ‘tame’ them, as well as accepting when to just ‘go with the flow’. Applying the inks creates mesmerising effects, meaning painting using alcohol inks can be relaxing and therapeutic, as well as providing gorgeous and wide-ranging results!

How to paint with alcohol ink

‘Crash of the Sea’ alcohol ink painting. I’ve had this painting turned into a luxury silk scarf – click on the image to see the scarf in my shop

2. How do you create the effects in alcohol inks?

There are lots of ways of creating interesting effects in alcohol inks, but I’d say the two main ways are:

1. Mixing isopropyl alcohol with the inks.

There are many different ways of doing this. You can dilute the inks with isopropyl and put this into a pipette, then squeeze the pipette onto the paper and add different colours. This will allow the colours to blend and interact and will create fascinating results.

Another way of creating beautiful detailing to your alcohol ink work is to drop, brush or spray isopropyl alcohol onto your alcohol ink base layer. You’ll get different results depending on whether your base layer is still wet or has dried. Applying isopropyl to a dried ink background will usually create more pronounced markings than adding alcohol to a still wet background – but both techniques are fun to try and add interest to your painting! Make sure your isopropyl alcohol is a high percentage – I use 99% alcohol from Amazon – there is a link to the products I use at the end of this blog.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Isopropyl alcohol bottle

2. Using different methods of drying alcohol inks.

There are various ways of drying alcohol ink and each create their own unique range of marks and textures. My personal favourite is simply to use my breath! My most commonly used way of drying the inks is to use a straw (or a pipette with the end cut off). I enjoy being up close with my work and watching the effects emerge as I blow the inks across the surface. It adds to my experience of mindfulness while creating to be so immersed in the process, and the added aspect of focusing on my breathing also contributes to this. Using a straw can create detailed but sometimes unpredictable marks, and I love the element of surprise and variety this allows.

Using an air compressor would be another way to do this if you didn’t want to use your breath. (Inhaling alcohol ink fumes can be damaging to health; using an air compressor would allow you to wear a respirator mask while working. Personally I keep my work space well-ventilated and try to stick to short painting periods).

A hairdryer or heat gun is another way of drying inks and creating beautiful effects. The dryer or heat gun can be used to dry the inks quickly, while creating billowing effects or gorgeous ripples in the inks. This isn’t a technique I’ve explored often as yet but definitely plan to do more of in the future!

Click the image to see this video on my Instagram page showing alcohol being added to a wet alcohol ink background, to create a flowing effect

With Mary Wojciechowski: Friday, April 3, 10:10 AM – 3:00 PM.

  • Description
  • Additional information


The Art of Painting with Alcohol Inks
with Mary Wojciechowski

Friday, April 3, 10:10 AM – 3:00 PM, $95

Class size is limited to 12 people.

Alcohol inks, highly pigmented and quick drying, differ from any other fluid medium as they flow, intermingle and create unique textures. This workshop is designed for all levels of experience and offers opportunities to explore characteristics of these inks as well as learning the accessories and tools needed in the process.

One of the benefits of painting with alcohol inks is the opportunity to begin with an abstract composition and then, as the alcohol evaporates and the ink pools, to see the possibility of adding realistic elements. During this workshop, both abstraction as an objective and working abstractly toward a representational image will be investigated. Class time will be divided between demonstrations and creating many small paintings for personal exploration of this exciting and unpredictable medium. The workshop will end with a critique allowing participants to share their paintings and to discuss what they have discovered.

All materials will be included although it would be advisable to bring a paint shirt or apron to protect clothing.

Additional information

Dates April 3, 2020

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The Art Complex Museum is located at 189 Alden Street in Duxbury, Massachusetts, 33 miles south of Boston.

The museum reopens to the public on May 18, 2022.
Wednesday – Sunday: 1:00 – 4:00 PM
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How to paint with alcohol ink

Spring is a great time to explore the outdoors and discover nature’s many wonders, like woodland paths and shallow creeks. ??

Images of waterways figure prominently in the art of Thomas Hart Benton. His depictions of rivers, streams, and creeks formed a sub-genre of American landscape painting. This lithograph, Shallow Creek, is based on a painting of the same name completed in 1938 (Private Collection) that depicts the artist’s son, Thomas Piacenzia Benton (T.P.), crossing a stream in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. The twisting lines are characteristic of Benton’s work: the curving forms of the trees and the round boulder that mirrors the billowing clouds above. These works shed light on the artist’s river imagery based on numerous “float trips” on the Buffalo and White Rivers in northern Arkansas. A large dead tree trunk, almost in caricature, dominates the left side of the print as it hangs over Ozark Creek. Benton noted “this picture is very characteristic of the small clearwater creeks of the Ozarks.”

Thomas Hart Benton, American, 1889–1975
Shallow Creek, 1939, Lithograph, 92.020

How to paint with alcohol ink

Alcohol ink is a fast-drying, free-flowing, highly pigmented medium that requires a special painting surface. Alcohol ink paper is a synthetic, water-resistant paper made to respond especially well to dyes. Its nonporous composition keeps ink paintings crisp and bright, making it suitable for a range of projects such as greeting cards, pen and ink drawings, paintings, and craft work. Alcohol ink paper is also ideal for mixed-media projects: create a background using alcohol ink, and once it’s dry, stamp, color, or paint over the ink wash. Browse our selection of the best alcohol ink papers below.

1. Yupo Paper Translucent Sheets

This product is a classic choice. Yupo Paper’s alcohol ink paper pad measures 11 by 14 inches and includes 15 sheets. Acid-free and supersmooth, this paper holds ink and watercolor with sharp precision. It’s durable, stain resistant, and nonabsorbent, a perfect painting surface.

How to paint with alcohol ink

2. Ranger Yupo Paper

Ranger’s alcohol ink paper pad measures 8 by 10 inches and includes 10 sheets of heavy, card-stock-like synthetic white paper. A great surface for alcohol inks and mixed media, this nonporous, water-resistant paper keeps ink wash edges vibrant and clean.

How to paint with alcohol ink

3. Pixiss Alcohol Ink Paper

If you’re looking to stock up on supplies, choose this pack of alcohol ink paper. Another heavyweight option, this paper pack includes 25 loose sheets of acid-free paper with a very smooth surface. It is made of extra-thick polypropylene and is great for holding watercolor, alcohol ink, acrylic paint, and more.

How to paint with alcohol ink

4. Nara Synthetic Paper

Nara’s synthetic paper pack features 10 sheets measuring 12 by 9 inches. This premium synthetic paper is non-tearable and water resistant, so it’s sure to last. The smooth texture takes both watercolor and alcohol ink well and keeps both edges and colors sharp.

How to paint with alcohol ink

5. TerraSlate Paper

Completely tree free and recyclable in any mixed bin as a #7 recyclable, TerraSlate’s pad is an environmentally friendly choice. Measuring 8.5 by 11 inches, this pad includes 25 sheets of quality paper. This synthetic, waterproof paper is nonporous and bright white. And thanks to this paper’s ultra-smooth surface, you can wipe the sheet clean if you make a mistake.

How to paint with alcohol ink

KILZ 2® LATEX is a fast drying, ​water-based, multi-purpose primer, sealer, and stain-blocker. Because it seals porous surfaces, it’s a great way to transform a porous canvas into a non-porous one.

How to paint with alcohol ink

Want to know which alcohol ink products I use?How to paint with alcohol ink

Where Can I Buy KILZ 2® LATEX?

How Do I Clean Up and Dispose of KILZ 2® LATEX?

Want to Learn More About Alcohol Inks?

How to paint with alcohol ink

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How to paint with alcohol ink

Disclosure: Links to Blick Art Materials and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please note, I only promote products that I personally use and love!


Can I re apply kilz2 to my canvas if I don’t like my alcohol ink painting and do another painting ….I would try and remove the alcohol in before re applying ?

I sprayed Kilz on some canvases and some have an uneven surface. I think it dried too fast. Can they be saved with paint on kilz or gesso?

Very informative. Can paper for water colors be used for ink art?

Any idea why the KILZ isn’t effected by the alcohol or blending solution? If it’s water based you think it would run into your ink as you manipulate them but it clearly doesn’t happen to you.

I tried doing plain gesso and it was not successful at all. Spray gesso is a bit better but takes a few coats. I found spray gesso at Walmart