Silk Painting How to

How to Use Alcohol When Painting on Silk

Alcohol is a great tool to have on hand.  It lightens certain areas after your piece is dry, enabling you to add highlight areas.  While it is wet, it allows you to soften certain areas.  You can even add raindrops by having an eyedropper or other small tipped instrument filled with alcohol with a hair dryer in your other hand; you must be fast … touch and leave, touch and leave, followed by the hair dryer.  After you get the size raindrop you want, very carefully add a slight black underline to your drop and a speck of white paint with a needle (we’re talking very small speck here!!).

Remember to work in a well-ventilated area when using alcohol and most other silk painting products.


Alcohol technique at Beatriz Castro's workshop.


Some of the lines are made by gutta and some parallel applications of alcohol diluted 50/50 with water. The gutta is all clear gutta. The lines are dark because of underpainting before the gutta lines go down. The alcohol and water mixture pushes the underpainted dye towards the gutta lines, often leaving little trace of the original underpainting dye, by Suzanne Punch.
Alcohol technique
Alcohol technique w/salt by Connie Simonsen