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“But how MUCH paint do I need to mix up for an Acrylic Pour painting?”


Today I painted my first large scale acrylic pour. It got me thinking. There are plenty of people out there explaining their recipe, their brands, their procedure, but nobody really breaks down the sheer volume of paint you need for a given size painting.


I thought it’d be helpful if I did that here. This isn’t guaranteed to work for you. It’ll certainly depend on how messy you are, how much paint you waste in run off.


Today I painted a tree ring pour on a 36” x 48” canvas. For research purposes, I had looked up a video by an acrylic pour artist who titled her video with the exact dimensions I had planned to work with. I knew I’d be able to get a better gauge of how much paint to mix up based on how much they used. They did one large tree ring pour using three, what looked like, eight ounce cups. It covered the canvas pretty well except they didn’t coat the canvas with wet paint well enough to begin with. The pour didn’t flow well, developing snags and divots.


If you’re reading this nitty gritty information, you most likely know that for a tree-ring pour or flip-cup, or even a swipe, you coat the canvas with some color of wet paint, and paint into that surface. It relieves the surface tension and allows your color combination to flow and spread evenly and predictably. So, when I was all set up and ready to paint, I took the time to mix up double the amount of white, I thought I could possibly need. Well, I used every drop!!! I used 1.5 quarts of white!


So, it is a good idea, especially if you are doing a bigger piece, to have a good idea of how much paint you are going to need.


Substrate Size                    White                     Cup

8”x10” or 12”x12”                    8 oz                    1 oz (little medicine cup)

18”x24” or 24”x24”                 16 oz                  4-8 oz

24”x48” or 36”x48”                1.5 Qt                 16 oz


Again, these are just suggestions. I am not a painter who produces a lot of run off, so if you do, you probably want to make even more.


As far as my recipe and brands, the details are in another post. But for quick review, I use GOLDEN Artist Colors exclusively and do not use silicone. I use GAC 800, another GOLDEN product, one of their mediums. I also add Flood brand Floetrol, an additive that adds flow and leveling to house paints. My proportions are 3x GAC 800 – 2x Floetrol – 1x Golden Acrylic Paint.


I hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have further questions or to request more info on a specific topic.

Check out another post I wrote about adding a resin coating to your finished pieces!

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19 thoughts on ““But how MUCH paint do I need to mix up for an Acrylic Pour painting?”

  1. I know some artists on YouTube use house paint for their white. What is your opinion on that? Thank you for sharing so much info on mixing etc.

    1. Some artists in history, like Jackson Pollock used household paints instead of artists’ paints. My question to you would be whether you are experimenting or intending to make art to sell and last the test of time. Quality artists’ paints like Golden Artist Colors have been tested to be archival. Household paints, not so much. Jackson Pollock used a type of enamel (alkyd) which holds up much better than today’s latex paint but should not be mixed with acrylic as it is oil based. You should never use oil based paint under acrylic as it takes much longer to dry. If you are just experimenting, go ahead and save some money by coating your canvas with house paint. If you intend to sell, I would work towards using the highest quality products and pass those costs onto your patrons. They will appreciate the difference in the end.

  2. I am going to work on two 30×48 pieces with 8 colors of flip cups. No cells. Should I flood it with white first and then use 8 cups layered with all 8 colors of paint? I am making two of them almost side by side paintings with a friend for her dining room. Any specific suggestions?

    1. Yes. First, I apologize for not seeing your question sooner.
      You said, “No cells.” If you don’t want cells and are using my recipe, I would change the recipe to be 1x paint, 5x GAC 800 and ZERO Floetrol. The floetrol is what gives you the cells when not using silicone. Paint with just GAC 800 is lovely; smooth and glossy. I would still coat the canvas with white first to avoid the snag ripples that occur from the surface tension. I would love to see how they turn out!

  3. Hi . Please tell me how much paint I need to make 24×36 I want to tree rings how many OZ I need in each cup & also how to get big cells.
    Thank you!

    1. For a 24″ x 36″ canvas, I would coat the canvas in 16 oz of wet paint in your choice of color. Your cup of tree ring paint should have 10-12 oz.

      As far as the cells go, that is not my specialty, as I don’t use silicone in my paintings. I am afraid mixing silicone with the paint will compromise the quality over time. I get cells, but they usually occur more with the swipe technique. If you aren’t worried about producing archival quality work to sell, but just for fun, you might get big cells with the addition of silicone and then tilting the canvas generously to spread the pour out as much as possible.

      Thanks for the question. I hope this helps!

  4. Are you saying you put 8 oz. of background color on a 8”x10” or 12”x12” and only 1 oz of the colors? I’ve been using 4-7 ounces of color on 12”x12” and 11″x14″ depending on if I add background color and I’ve had run off. Is the pint left on the canvas too thin? I’m not creating cells and that may be the reason why?

    1. Yes. That is a possibility. The cells are created by the dense paint falling THROUGH the thinner paint pigments underneath. So, if your paint is spread too thin, that might be an issue.

  5. Hi!

    I am planning on doing acrylic pouring on a 48 by 60 canvas. Most likely the entire surface of the canvas will be covered. I’m thinking of using 3 colors. How much paint of each color would I need? Thank you so much for your help – this is great!

    1. Wow! That is going to be huge!!! That is practically twice as big as the painting I describe in this post.

      I’ve not done anything this large but would venture to estimate that you will need at least 2.5 Q of your white mixture to coat the canvas, maybe even 3 full quarts to be on the safe side.

      As for the colors, I would go with 1 quart total, if you plan to have white space remain as I have done. You can divide that amongst your 3 colors in any ratio you desire. For instance, if you want equal parts of each color, I would mix up 10-11 oz of each.

      This is exciting. I hope you’ll come back and share your experience and some pictures!

      1. Thank you so much for your quick response!!

        Do you suggest always having the white base? Or do you think I could do without and just do with the 3 colors? Thanks again!

        1. I have always coated the substrate with a wet paint (not necessarily white, could be black, or blue) to assist the paint to flow a across the surface. I know some people do it differently. If you choose not to coat the canvas in paint ahead of time, I can’t really predict how much paint you’ll need. The surface will be muck more “grabby”. I would worry about experiencing dips and snags.

          1. Understood! Thank you so much – really appreciate it!! 🙂

  6. Call me stupid, but I don’t understand your measurements. “18”x24” or 24”x24” 16 oz 4-8 oz” – what does this mean? 16 oz or 4 to 8 oz, or 16 oz + 4 to 8 oz, or 16 oz + 4 x 8 oz? Sorry, I just don’t get it.

    1. Thank you for that. Looking closely, I realize that DID look confusing and I’ve tried to fix. That text was supposed to appear as columns with the size of canvas, then the amount of white paint to mix for the initial coating, then the size of the cup to be used for the flip cup or tree ring pour.
      So, specifically, an 18″ x 24″ OR 24″ x 24″ painting surface will need 16 oz. of white to coat and a 4 OR 8 oz. cup of paint for the flip cup / tree ring pour.
      I hope that helps. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. Great information!
    How much paint do I need for a 40×60? I’m calculating 80oz. Would this be correct?

    1. You go! Go big or go home, right? 60 ounces seems about right. I use the transparent mixing cups with measurements on the side, found in the paint department at the hardware store. For simplicity, I would go ahead and bump it up to two quarts (64oz.). Thanks for reaching out, Julie! Let me know how it goes.

  8. Help

    How much paint needed for 36 x 25 canvas

    1. I would go with 12 ounces. That is not quite 1 quart of paint total. You can divide that between colors in any ratio that works for the end results you desire. Let me know if that helps. Thanks for the question.

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