“Ascension in Violet” by Lennard Taylor

Our Favorite Weird Art Mediums

María Escalona, India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner, and Anastasia Koutsogiannis November 24 2021


Beyond acrylic, pencil, and watercolor there’s a whole fascinating world of materials, techniques, and mediums that you may not know. We personally love them and want to tell you more about it!

Alcohol, fabric, and chunks of stickers may not sound like ingredients for art, but you’d be wrong! We present to you five Bidgala artists who, believe it or not, use these materials to create amazing artworks!

From fluid painting, to upcycling, to chunky painting, this article features 3 techniques or mediums that you may consider “weird” if you haven’t heard of them. However, these methods are actually fun, eco-friendly, and fascinating; and we love them!

Alcohol ink

“The Grand Falls” by Mandy Marie

More fascinating than weird, alcohol inks have been gaining popularity in the last few years. Using them is a visually-pleasing process, and the finished product is nothing less than dreamy.

Made up of mainly alcohol, alcohol ink is simply a fluid painting method.1 Since it’s a fairly new medium, there isn’t much documentation on its history. Nonetheless, it has truly taken the internet by storm. Artists everywhere have begun experimenting in countless ways and the results are stunning. With the rise of social media apps like TikTok, sharing videos of the alcohol ink process has also become a big part of experiencing the medium.

Mandy Marie, featured Bidgala artist, exhibits the technique perfectly (see photo above). As the ink is very thin and liquidy, it’s easy to play with movement within the piece. The nature of the medium often calls for an abstracted look. But with some precision, creatives can achieve a realistic style.

If you want to explore with alcoholic ink, be ready for an interactive experience. Grab some yupo paper (water and tear-resistant), your inks, a blending solution2, and have fun! An interesting method you can experiment with is using straws to control the ink. Simply blow through the straw to guide the ink in multiple directions. A hairdryer on its coldest setting will also do.2 Watch the colors spread and blend across the sheet and see what happens!

If you only have basic supplies on hand, don’t worry! Simply dropping the ink from its tube onto the sheet will create satisfying circles. In this case, it would be especially fun to test out the colors without worrying about technique. When you’re ready for more, almost any drawing tool will work; cotton pads, brushes, markers; grab whatever catches your eye! You may find yourself developing an unexplored technique!

Upcycled Materials

“Longing for NYC” by Orna Adoram

As a reflection of climate change and over-consumption, artists have increasingly been turning towards using recycled materials, or upcycling materials, to create their art. Artists continue to find ever more creative ways to reuse their materials, repurpose found objects, and create something new with what was intended to be discarded into landfill.

Featured Bidgala artist Orna Adoram incorporated paper scraps intended for recycling in their painting “Love Letters”. Adoram uses recycled materials in their paintings to combine “the practical world of industrial architecture and recycled materials, with symbols and concepts from the spiritual world.”

There are no strict rules when it comes to incorporating upcycled materials into your practice; feel free to get creative with it! Youtube and TikTok feature countless videos showcasing people who have repurposed everything from old clothing scraps, to coffee filters, to tires, and more! Try searching for what you want to upcycle on one of these social media apps. You will undoubtedly discover that many others have already created things that you can take inspiration from.

“Ascension in Green” by Lennard Taylor

Lennard Taylor, an artist featured on Bidgala, used old clothing items in their painting “Ascension in Green/” (see above). He manipulated the fabric into a swirl on his canvas, alluding to “the loop of waste produced by the fashion industry”.

It's not always necessary to search at the art store for inspiration; Check your recycling bin or donation pile next time you want to be inspired!

Chunks of paint

“Lackgeschichten” by Tim Fammels

Some people may think that dripping paint over the side of your palette or canvas is a waste of material or a mistake that needs to be wiped off. Many artists believe that chunky brushstrokes are a bad technique.

Others see it as an ideal medium to create masterpieces!

For example, Bidgala artist Tim Fammels takes inspiration from street art techniques like graffiti to create artworks that don’t quite fit into the categories of painting or sculpture. Using chunks of spray paint, “Graffiti Murals, Stickers, Paste-Ups, Writings and Tags which were made by hundreds of anonymous Graffiti artists'', Fammels produces dynamic works with wonderful textures, complex layers, and an unique style that no other material could achieve.

“Lackgeschichten” by Tim Fammels

Even though this method may seem completely new and out there, “chunky paint” techniques have existed for a long time. The most well known example is called “impasto”. A painting that uses impasto has big brushstrokes and textured thick paint, usually achieved with oil painting or acrylic. This produces a work of art that is gestural, expressive, tridimensional, and dynamic. It can be traced back to Renaissance artists like Titian or Tintoretto, or in the work of Baroque artist Rubens. [3]

A good example of impasto use in painting is another Bidgala artist: Lina Cooke. Cooke uses this technique to effectively bring out to the spectator the trees, flowers, waters, and textures of nature in her paintings. Like in “Abstract landscape palette knife painting”.

“Abstract landscape palette knife painting” by Lina Cooke

Imagine transforming a messy workspace or a paint disaster into art! Try experimenting with the accumulation of liquid or paper materials in different sizes and colors, and putting them on another surface in different configurations. Create dimension and depth to your paintings with this “weird medium” and have fun without worrying about the mess!

References :

1. https://www.arttutor.com/blog/201804/introduction-alcohol-inks

2. https://acrylgiessen.com/en/alcohol-ink-art-how-to-use-alcohol-ink/#How_to_Use_Alcohol_Ink_8211_Our_Easy_Painting_Tutorial

3. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/i/impasto

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