Alcohol inks — solid dyes suspended in alcohol, usable only on non-porous surfaces — are more typically used by crafters and makers than gallery artists. It’s only been used in fine arts pieces for around a decade, Homick says. A lifelong arts dabbler, she only started working with alcohol ink in November 2016, though she’s spent the last year taking online classes with artist Alexis Bonavitacola, developing her skills with the medium.
“The cool thing about the inks is that you don’t have control and you can’t tell them what to be, because they’re going to be whatever they want to be,” Homick says. That suits her — she prefers to produce more abstract pieces.
Alcohol ink is often manipulated by blowing on it or by tilting the canvas, so Homick says it’s easier to do smaller pieces, usually postcard-sized. For a gallery show, that’s far too small, so exhibit curator/Modbo owner Lauren Ciborowski asked Homick to produce works that are, for alcohol ink, enormous.
“I’ve never painted big,” Homick says of the five 20-by-26-inch works she produced. “Even my teacher had never painted big, and she’s [worked with alcohol inks] for seven years... I filed all my small stuff away and started over... which was terrifying.”
Bigger pieces are more challenging because it’s more difficult to control how the ink moves across the bigger canvas, to say nothing of issues with how fast it dries. Homick guesses she went through two or three gallons of isopropyl alcohol producing work for the show.
To cope, she innovated. In “Before Us” and “Creed #14,” she re-dampened the ink with isopropyl alcohol and covered it with torn pieces of plastic wrap. As a consequence, she had to leave the two to dry overnight — no direct contact with air means the alcohol doesn’t dry fast.
“The night before, I was convinced it wasn’t making it in the show,” she says. “I practically started crying because I was so happy with it.”