Women Artists Collective

Artists supporting, creating and sharing.

Carol Courtney


The use of non-traditional tools to investigate and experiment with the properties of alcohol ink, itself an alternative material, brought a new focus to painting. Colors are bold and vibrant. The ink creates its own hard lines and boundaries. The addition of extra alcohol elicits unpredictable, emergent patterns which create their own challenges for the artist.

One cannot predict how the moisture in the air, the temperature, or the ink’s flow on different working surfaces (such as synthetic propylene paper, clay board, or ceramic tile) will influence the flow of alcohol ink. The intensity of the mark and its layering of color develops from the interaction of alcohol ink with the material surface, unlike the use of oil or acrylic paint. Further, I experiment with unconventional tools to guide the alcohol inks, including sponges, q-tips, credit card edges, and air forced through various diameter straws.

That which inspires my subject matter is no less than what surrounds me — the living environment and my interactions with it. Morris Graves, the Pacific Northwest painter once said, and I paraphrase, that we are the stuff we’re walking through. The subject matter is what I smell, see, hear, and breathe in from an ever-changing and unpredictable natural world. The painting is what I breathe out.

I deconstruct a subject into its simplest form and create sensations. Experiments with bold and vibrant hues, organic mark-making with an unconventional use of alternative tools on different surfaces, and the use of additive and subtractive techniques generate different levels of abstraction that, in turn, lead to the essence of how I experience and associate sensations of nature. The paintings are a phenomenology of the experiences. I invite the viewer to experience their own primal sensations, perceptions, and musings in the natural world as they enter the paintings.

The vibrant colors and dissolution of concrete forms in my nature paintings build on and expand on the tradition of the German expressionist group “The Bridge” (“Die Brücke”), founded in 1905. This group of artists, including Emil Nolde, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, wanted to bridge the divide between traditional academic art and a new form of art that was led by infusing authentic feelings in an expressive style which included intense colors and simplified and abstracted forms.