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How to Cure an Alcohol Ink Painting

And some top tips from my experience!

Alcohol ink painting has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its vibrant colours and unpredictable nature. Working with alcohol inks allows artists to create stunning abstract designs with a range of techniques and effects. However, once the artwork is complete, it's crucial to properly cure the painting to ensure its longevity and preservation.

In this blog post, we will explore the process of curing an alcohol ink painting, ensuring your masterpiece lasts for years to come.

  1. Allow Sufficient Drying Time: Once you finish creating your alcohol ink masterpiece, it's essential to give it ample time to dry completely. Depending on the thickness of the layers and the environmental conditions, it may take anywhere from a few hours to several days for the painting to dry. I know for me I usually leave my paintings out for two days minimum. Alcohol inks are highly reactive to the surrounding atmosphere, so it's crucial to provide a well-ventilated space to speed up the drying process. - This is something I struggle with in the winter as I don't want to leave windows open due to the cold, however dust and particles settle on the painting, so you need to be wary of that.

  2. Apply a Fixative: To protect the alcohol ink painting from smudging or fading, it is recommended to apply a fixative. A fixative is a type of spray designed to create a protective layer over the artwork. Before applying the fixative, ensure that the painting is completely dry to prevent any unwanted reactions. I often gently brush over the artwork with a super soft brush very lightly, to try to brush off any cat hairs or dust that may be lurking around! Hold the fixative can at a distance, following the manufacturer's instructions, and apply a light, even coat over the entire painting. Allow it to dry thoroughly before proceeding to the next step. Do not spray over a dusty painting - you can't remove it after.

  3. Seal with a UV-Resistant Varnish: After the fixative has dried, it's time to add another layer of protection by sealing the painting with a UV-resistant varnish. This step is crucial to safeguard the artwork from the harmful effects of sunlight, moisture, and other environmental factors. (You can always choose your framing to protect against this too.) Choose a varnish specifically designed for alcohol ink paintings, as it will provide optimal protection without altering the vibrant colours. Now I personally use a spray varnish, Krylon or Rust-oleum works for me. Two to three coats are sufficient, but you can add more if desired. Whenever you're spraying it goes without saying, but make sure you're in a well ventilated area and you have something protective underneath your artwork as this stuff gets sticky. (Yes I have sprayed art on my bathroom and subsequently ruined the bath - don't ask...)

  4. Frame Your Artwork: To provide additional protection and enhance the presentation of your alcohol ink painting, consider framing it. Choose a frame that complements the colours and style of your artwork. Make sure the frame has UV-resistant glass or acrylic to provide maximum protection against fading and discolouration. Frame your artwork carefully, ensuring it is securely held in place and protected from dust and moisture.

  5. Display and Care for Your Artwork: Once your alcohol ink painting is properly cured and framed, it's time to display and care for it to ensure its longevity. Find a suitable location in your home or studio, away from direct sunlight, humidity, and extreme temperature changes.

My Top Tips:

  • Beware of dust - If possible, keep a fan on your artwork or have a breeze in the room.

  • Do not wipe to test for dryness - lightly dab a corner but not with your fingertip as fingerprints may be left. (It's happened to me, I ruined it...)

  • Ventilate when spraying.

  • Keep out of sunlight.


Curing an alcohol ink painting is a crucial step in preserving the beauty and vibrancy of your artwork. By allowing sufficient drying time, applying a fixative, sealing with a UV-resistant varnish, and framing the artwork, you ensure its longevity and protect it for many years of viewing pleasure!

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