Alcohol inks have ‘their own language’

Emily Carr grad discovers a new medium while searching online

Francis Friesen never knows quite what to expect when she paints with alcohol inks.

The highly pigmented inks became a fixation for the Coquitlam artist about two years ago after she got bored with representational images in her usual acrylics and watercolours.

article continues below

She had searched online for inspiration and, soon, was exploring the medium and contacting other artists using alcohol inks, asking for tips via private Instagram messages.

But once she started, Friesen learned how to work fast and let the inks work their magic on the canvas — be it Yupo paper, glass, tin or plastic.

“It’s hard to know where it’s going to go,” Friesen said. “You have to be intuitive… because if you fight it, it doesn’t often work. It has its own language.”

Her ink flows have created stunning results and, this month, about 40 of them will be hung at Coquitlam’s Place des Arts for a new show titled A Celebration of Colour and Abstraction.

The exhibit, in the Leonore Peyton Salon, opens Jan. 11 with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. (Friesen will also demonstrate her technique, but with non-toxic inks, during Family Day at PdA on Jan. 20.)

It’s believed her exhibit is the first time an alcohol inks series has been shown in a Place des Arts gallery.

While Friesen goes into each artwork blind, she does prepare for the unexpected.

In her studio at 100 Braid St., in New Westminster, she has tools and brushes to manipulate the shape.

As well, she uses a mask or respirating device to ensure she doesn’t breath in the fumes.

And she often blocks the bright light entering her work space to ensure ultraviolet protection. A glossy resin coating also provides protection and added vibrancy to the painting.

Since discovering alcohol inks in 2016 through Opus in Coquitlam, the Emily Carr University of Art + Design graduate said she’s been experimenting with their unpredictability and fluidity as well as the canvas area.

For her new Coquitlam show, she’ll have a piece measuring 24 by 36 inches but most will be a quarter of that size, she said.

For the last two years, she has entered paintings in the Place des Arts' annual Positively Petite show. 

Meanwhile, also opening next Friday is FLOW: Nature, Art and Mind (paintings by Janet Strayer) in the Atrium Gallery and And then there were none (photos by Fiona Howarth) in the Mezzanine Gallery.

Admission is free to the opening reception.

• Call Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam) at 604-664-1636 or visit

the wave

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Tri-City News

Tri-City News POLL

Is your child doing door-to-door trick or treating on Halloween?

or  view results