Everything you need to do acrylic pouring (and then some) is here on this page. For writers, editors, and others who live in a world full of words, sometimes we need nonverbal activities. We all need to participate in self-care, and some days, we just need a break from words. Visual art such as painting is great for that. For those who don’t consider themselves artists, or who just want something simple and fun to do, there is acrylic pouring.
What is acrylic pouring?
Acrylic pouring is a type of painting technique, also called fluid art. It has its critics and cheerleaders. It involves thinned acrylic (water-based) paints that the user pours, dumps, or otherwise applies to a canvas or other surface, and tilts the object to spread the paint evenly. Here are just a few examples of acrylic pours.
This one looks like a beach. Beach scenes are one of my favorite techniques.
This one resembles a Jackson Pollock style painting.
This one has pastel colors and some cells.
This one has many cells.
Why do acrylic pouring?
There are several reasons to do this type of art.
- Acrylic pouring helps overcome perfectionism and the belief that we can’t do art.
- It is so simple and easy to do. If you can stir liquid and turn a cup upside down, you can do this.
- Fluid art can be done in a matter of minutes, or it can take as long as you want it to.
- It fits any budget.
I struggled for years when it came to art of any kind, hating the fact that when it comes to visual art, I can never make the piece look like what’s in my head. So I didn’t create. Instead, I wilted and suffered with the urge to create stifled by my desire to make things look like I wanted them to look (some call this perfectionism).
When I heard about acrylic pouring, the friend who told me about it said, “There’s no way to control the paint. It does what it wants to do.” That’s when I realized it would be fabulous for me. If there’s no way to control it, then I don’t have to have any expectations about it—can’t, really!;I can just see what it does, and have fun with it!
I have since learned that there actually are ways to influence the paint, and many people do in fact make it look the way they want to, but hearing what I heard about it at first granted me the freedom I needed to get started and have a blast.
Acrylic pouring supplies
You will need some things to get started. You can always add more later. But for now, I recommend this kit. It has most of what you need to get started. Just click the image. It will take you to Amazon, where you can order it and anything else you’d like.
You may of course order things separately or add to this kid.
You’ll want different colors of paint
plastic cups in at least two sizes (2 ounces and 9 ounces are below)
something to paint such as a canvas or vase
and something to contain the paint, such as a disposable baking pan for each person or painting. Save and reuse the pans.
Pouring medium helps the paint flow more smoothly and to spread out and self-level. This is beneficial because you want your paint to dry and cure evenly and not to crack.
Some people prefer Liquitex, but I prefer this more affordable pouring medium.
How to make an acrylic pour
First, gather your supplies.
Then protect your work surface. Plastic sheeting or garbage bags work well.
Protect your hands: wear latex or vinyl gloves.
Select a few paint colors to use, keeping in mind that opposites (aka complementary colors such as yellow and purple, red and green) may mix and look “muddy.” You might want
to start with red, yellow, and blue, with a white base. Or for a subtle marbled piece, try three shades of the same color that goes with your decor. Here’s one with just blues.
At all costs, avoid Apple Barrel white paint. It cracks! Other Apple Barrel colors are good, though, and quite afordable.
Try this as your white base. You could also use latex house paint for your base or any of your colors. Just watch the consistency. Add pouring medium and a small amount of water if needed.
How much paint do you need?
You’ll need about one ounce of paint for each square inch of canvas or other painting surface. An 8-inch canvas would take 8 ounces of paint. Let’s assume you’re painting on an 8×10. You’ll want to have about 6 ounces of white and an ounce of each of a few other colors. If you mix more than you need, that’s okay. See the section on what to do with leftover paint (below).
Mixing acrylic paints
Mix each color separately in a small cup, adding a pouring medium and a few drops of water until it’s the consistency of syrup. Add a drop of silicone to some or all of your cups, if you’d like. Silicone is one way to get “cells” in your finished pour.
Allow the paint to sit for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour (longer if your schedule needs it). Mixing the paint can be done ahead of time.
Find a way to elevate your object to be painted, such as a gessoed canvas. I use push pins on the back, one in each corner. You can also use tuna cans. Whatever you pick, use four items of the same height. You’ll be setting it into your aluminum baking pan.
Different types of pours
Here is where the wide variety comes in. You can do puddle pours, dirty pours, balloon smashes, and hundreds of other techniques. To make it simple, I’ll start you off with a dirty pour and a flip cup technique.
Take a large plastic cup, and pour in about 6 ounces of white paint. Pour in about half of each color gently into the center of the cup, layering them however you’d like. If you want, use a stick to cut through the colors once or twice. Do not stir or mix completely.
Turn the canvas upside down onto the cup. Holding both together tightly, flip them upside down and set the canvas down onto your work surface.
Now, slowly and gently, move the cup around a bit, “driving” it to each of the four corners. When it’s back to the center, lift it so the paint may flow out from under the cup. Remove the cup. Tilt the canvas so that every bit gets covered. Paint will run off the edges. You want this to happen. Use your gloved finger to rub some white paint around the edges to draw the poured paint into it and over the edges.
You can tilt it back and forth to influence what the paint does. When the paint is all spread out evenly and you’re satisfied with how it looks, put the canvas back into the aluminum baking pan and set it aside to dry for about a week.
Finishing a pour
Then let it cure for at least a month before you seal it with clear Minwax acrylic coating.
After that has set or a week, it’s ready for framing. Temperature and humidity will affect the drying and curing time.
What to do with leftover acrylic paint
Sooner or later, we all mix too much paint. The leftovers and the runoff make what we call acrylic pour skins. Pour any leftovers onto a flat surface such as a cookie sheet, and let it dry. Then peel off the “skins.”
You can turn those skins into works of art of their own. Here are some necklace pendants I made from skins.
Most importantly, have fun with this! It’s a great nonverbal activity, and it doesn’t have to take much time to do.