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Meet Julie Bullock, she’s a talented alcohol ink artist from Redding, California. When I first started experimenting with alcohol ink art, I wanted to learn more about the different techniques of using alcohol inks. That’s when I came across Julie’s stunning painted rocks on a few rock painting Facebook groups. Since then I have been following her creative journey on her Facebook page, DB Designs and Instagram.
In this interview, Julie will explain her creative process for creating beautifully painted rocks with alcohol ink art.
First of all, tell me a little about yourself, and how you got started doing alcohol ink art?
Julie: “I have been painting for the last 10 years. I am completely self-taught. I started with acrylics on canvas and progressed to alcohol inks about 5 years ago. I found the inks, one day while shopping for Acrylic Inks on Amazon. Amazon told me that if I liked Acrylic Inks, then I should try Alcohol Inks. I had not heard of them, so I ordered some. Once they arrived in my home, I started playing with them and instantly fell in love. I started using them on rocks 2.5 years ago. I was sitting on the bank of my favorite fishing hole and thought..hmm. I wonder if I could paint the rocks with the inks. I took a few rocks home, and tried it, and lord and behold, it worked! “
What are some of your favorite art substrates to create alcohol ink art on?
Julie: “When I started painting with Alcohol Inks, I started on glass. It was something I had readily available and knew that the inks work best on non-porous surfaces, so I tried it on glass. When I first got the inks in the mail, I noticed that the label said “Warning; Flammable”. Being a pyro, I read “Welcome Flame”. So, I started burning the inks on the glass. I also paint vases, candle holders, tiles, and metal.”
How is using alcohol inks on rocks different from let’s say tiles or yupo paper? Do you get different outcomes on each?
Julie: “I feel like alcohol inks behave differently on all substrates. The rocks are fun because you have a bit more control and can manipulate the inks in a way that is hard on yupo.
The inks absorb a bit into the rocks, but yet still can be moved around, and changed. The rocks are also very forgiving, if you mess up, you can use a bit more rubbing alcohol and do a ‘wash’ over the rock, and start over. “
Walk me through your rock painting process?
Julie: “I apply 2 to 3 coats of Acrylic Gesso on the front of the rocks.
Then I paint the bottoms of the rocks with black acrylic paint.
Once that dries, I paint with the inks.
I usually don’t paint with intention, so I will grab a couple of colors and just start painting.
For sealing them, I apply 3 coats of Krylon Kamar spray – 3 coats Krylon UV Resistant spray – 3 coats of Rustoleum 2x spray – 1 coat of Modge Podge sealant spray.
Once the sealing has finished (takes 3 days total). I write fun sayings/quotes on the backs of the rocks. “
What’s your workspace setup like?
Julie: “I am fortunate to have a studio space inside my house. I have two tables that I primarily work on. One is my rock prep area, and the other is my painting session. It is also not unusual for my kitchen table to have rocks covering it. In my garage, I have a couple of tables set up for my sealing station. I have a few shelves on my wall that house my ink collection. And of course, lots of art on my walls for inspiration. “
Can you share any tips for beginners on how to use alcohol inks on rocks?
Julie: “My tips for beginners would be to be patient, and just start playing. The first technique I teach people is to drop a few different colors randomly on the rock, then add drops of rubbing alcohol to different areas of the rock, and then blow the inks and alcohol around. It creates an amazing tye-dye effect. To take it to the next level, you can paint your favorite inspirational word on top. If you use white paint, the paint will turn the colors of the inks that are underneath. “
What art tools and supplies do you use for alcohol ink art?
- Gesso for rock prep
- Alcohol Inks
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Various types and sizes of watercolor brushes
- Welled pallet. If you put a few drops of the inks in the wells, then let them dry, you will find that you can re-activate the dried in with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, and have more control of the inks.
What do you use to seal your painted rocks with?
Julie’s Sealing Process:
- 3 coats of Krylon Kamar
- 3 coats of Krylon UV Resistant
- 3 coats of Rustoleum 2x
- 1 coat of Modge Podge Sealant spray
Do you have any favorite color combinations that blend well together?
Julie: “Right now, my favorite go-to, is Tim Holtz Mermaid, Wild Plum, and Valencia (orange). “
What inspires your creativity?
Julie: “I consider myself an intuitive artist. I am inspired by almost everything. When I am out and about, I tend to look around and wonder if I could paint what I see. I love painting trees and sunset over ocean scenes. The thing I love about painting rocks is that I know that I am painting each one for someone. I may not know who that someone is, but when I sell them at a show, I get to meet who that rock was for and that inspires me to keep painting. “
What advice would you give to my beginner rock painting readers?
Julie: “I would say, don’t give up and to break the rules! Don’t beat yourself up if your rock doesn’t turn out how you expected it to. I tell my students, to go into each rock, in the beginning, with no expectations. Just go with the flow, pick some colors that you like, and see what happens. Just remember to have fun! “
Where can people find your artwork?
My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/DbDesigns17/
I also have a wonderful Facebook group, where I share techniques, new art, and do giveaways, it is www.facebookgroups.com/DBDesigns/
My Instagram is www.instagram.com/DbDesigns17/
I also travel throughout the year to different Art shows in California. I have a permanent spot in the monthly market called Treasure Fest in San Francisco.
Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing your creative process with our readers. To learn more about how to use alcohol inks on rocks for beginners, read more here, Everything you need to know about using alcohol inks for beginners.
Shop our Alcohol Inks on Rocks Starter Kit, everything you need to get started this weekend.
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