I first heard about the Acrylic Pouring technique from a student. She asked if I’d heard of it and if I knew how to do it as she wanted to try it out for her next “Choice” Project.
She showed me some images on her phone. The images were breathtaking — they were otherworldly nebulae, abstract flowing melodies of color. They had tiny little microcosms or “cells” as most artists call them, where concentric circles or holes were formed to reveal the individual layers of color underneath. She explained that the artists had mixed their paints in a certain way, and then simply poured them onto the canvas and let them do their thing.
But she didn’t know how. She had messaged this artist through her Instagram account but had received no response. Though the images were beautiful, I sort of blew her off. It seemed sort of gimmicky. And most importantly, I didn’t want her trying to use our acrylic paint, bought on a public school budget, for this. It obviously used a LOT of paint, with a lot of run-off wasted!
Then, on a whim, and out of curious boredom, over Winter Break, I decided to look up some videos on YouTube. I was instantly hooked. It really was almost as simple as my student had described. The artist just layered paint colors in a cup and poured it onto a canvas. But what the paint did was absolutely MAGICAL.
There was some sort of reaction happening. The top layers separated in a cellular pattern, to reveal the layers underneath. Why was this happening? What had they added to the paint to make it do this? How did they get their paint to the right consistency? What would they look like after they dried, and why weren’t they showing them at that stage?
I spent the next few weeks, and all my free time, watching these videos. I especially appreciated those that shared their recipes, their ratios of one product to the next, and their philosophies behind which products they used and why. Here is a list of the artists I most prefer to watch.
Their videos are mesmerizing to watch. Some, like Ann Osbourne, I especially appreciate, because she doesn’t edit out her mistakes. I learned so much, saving me time and money. She made the mistakes and was brave enough to share them so I didn’t have to! I came. I saw. I copied. It’s never that simple, but I give these four a lot of credit for where I am in the process now.
So how is my art different or better? How am I not just copying them? The answer is in the quality of the materials, the archival quality of the end result. When artists say “archival“, usually they really mean “durable to the standards of permanent art.” I will address this issue further in my third blog post. But up next, what is Acrylic Pour Painting? How do you do it? What materials do you need and why? Part 2