(This is Part 2 of my series on acrylic pour painting. Click here if you want to read Part 1.)
Many people are exploring the art of acrylic pour painting as a hobby and a fun experiment to try. As an artist who sells work, my goal is to create a piece that stands the test of time and doesn’t degrade. The drawback of this archival approach is that it requires different additives that are more costly and probably not ideal if you’re just wanting to play with paint and color.
So for this post, I’ll walk you through the basic process of acrylic pour painting using the standard technique and materials. If you want to take it to the next level and create an artwork that lasts for ages, my next post will shed light on my variation on the the acrylic pour process.
What Materials You Need – and Why
As with all art techniques, there is no standard recipe for the acrylic pour, or fluid art. Everyone is experimenting with different amounts, trying new ratios, and innovative additives to see which will work even better than the one before. The more diligent artists keep some sort of log or journal to keep track of their results and how they got there, but we all have very unique methods. Luckily, in the age of the internet, we’ve gotten a lot better at sharing. Most of the acrylic pour artists are using a variation of the following recipe:
- acrylic paint (anything from craft paint to professional-artist quality)
- pouring medium (usually Liquitex Pouring Medium, Floetrol, water or even PVA or Elmer’s glue)
- silicone (to get the cell formation)
The Basic Technique:
- Mix up each color in a separate cup, thinning the paint with water or PVA or Medium or Floetrol and then add a drop or spritz of the silicone.
Basic ratio is: 1x paint + 2-3x medium + drop or spritz of silicone
- The consistency to shoot for is this: when you lift the stir stick, the paint should flow off in a stringy, clingy sort of way. Many compare it to coffee creamer but since that is not something I use, I’d compare it to warmed maple syrup.
- Prepare the substrate, whether it’s a gessoed canvas or wooden panel. Stretched canvas will cause puddling because of the weight and viscosity of the paint. I have come to prefer wooden panels. I use GAC 100 as a barrier for the impurities in the wood that could yellow the painting over time.
- There are different pouring techniques: “flip cup,” “flip and drag,” “dirty pour,” “hammering,” and so on. We’ll just focus on “flip cup” as an example. Layer all the colors of paint into one cup, being careful not to mix them too much. Then lay the panel on top of the cup and, carefully and quickly, flip both the cup and panel at the same time. Now the cup with paint sealed inside is upside down on the panel. Then, remove the cup and allow the paint to flow out and over the panel.
- You can then tilt the canvas, add more paint, and use heat to draw out the cell formation and pop air bubbles. This is where the artistry happens or where you can really fuss it up, depending on what you do.
- Finally, lay the painting on a level surface that allows for run off, like a cooling rack. Depending on the thickness of the paint, these paintings can appear dry within 24 hours but not truly cure out for an entire week!
That’s it in a nutshell! It’s a fun and oddly satisfying process to watch.
So what’s different about my approach? What do I do to create an artwork that lasts? The secret is that I don’t use silicone, PVA, water, or Liquitex Pouring Medium for thinning paint.
What do I use instead? I’ll answer that question and more in my post next week!