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

Howmuchpaint

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!

36x48acrylicpour

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

  1. On your 8 x 10 do you need 8oz of white to cover the canvas and oz of each color you are using or just one ounce of all the colors you are using?

    1. Great question. Yes, 8 oz are needed to coat the canvas, but only 1 oz. total for all the other colors. This is mostly for flip cup or tree ring pour approach. You would fill a little 1 oz. medicine cup with any color combination you want and that would be plenty for that size canvas.

  2. I did my first pour yesterday, and overall I was happy with the results. Although I didn’t get the cells I wanted. I flooded the canvas first, and added my paint. I did a drag pour, in a wave. I did 2-12×16 canvases to the side of a 20×20 canvas. For my first one I was pretty happy. I did use silicon but like I said I didn’t get the cells that I wanted. Is that because I had my paint to thick? Because even after flooding my canvas I’m going to have to touch the top up because you can see lines. Any suggestions on getting bigger cells? And on canvases that big how do you come up with the price to charge?

    1. Congratulations on your first pour. This is a fun technique. Glad you are giving it a try! Art is fun!!
      I would have to know more information regarding your recipe to offer suggestions on how to get bigger cells. Silicone is not my area of expertise though, as I do not use it. My paint is very thin, like milk, I guess. My recipe is 3x Floetrol, 2x GAC 800 and 1x GOLDEN Fluid Acrylic pigments. Without know your ingredients or ratios, I don’t know where to begin offering you advise. As far as pricing, that is a very personal choice, but you should certainly begin by taking into account the cost of your materials and your time, including the time it took you to research and perfect your craft. Thanks for reaching out!

  3. Do you recommend to prime the canvas with gesso for any kind of pouring technique? If yes, does this affects the flow across the canvas or you’d still applying a wet coat of painting on top of the primer? Wouldn’t it be too heavy?

    1. I do not prime my canvases. I buy pre-stretched, primed canvases. They already have a layer of gesso on them. Some artists add more layers of gesso and even sand the gesso down between layers to get rid of the canvas texture or any unevenness from the brush application. I find this unnecessary however, with the acrylic pouring technique. With my current recipe and application techniques, I end up with a beautifully smooth surface without all the additional prep work. As for the weight of the additional paint, there is definitely some sagging, especially with larger pieces; like anything over 16″ x 20″. I actually worked on wood panels for a long while for this reason. They proved to be too expensive for me though, and did require some priming. Support Induced Discoloration (SID) occurs when the moisture from the paint is absorbed into the substrate and releases impurities from the wood into the paint. Gesso alone will not prevent this, but GOLDEN’s GAC 100 will create a thorough barrier. I compromised and began experimenting with canvas despite, like you, being nervous about the weight of the paint. I have found, fortunately, that no matter whether I am doing a small or extra large canvas, swipe or flip-cup technique, my paint dries in a nice even layer, without any crazing. Just be sure to spread your initial flood coat thinly. I use card stock scraps from junk mail. Also, if doing a flip cup technique, make sure you tip your canvas round and spread the pour out or it will pool in the middle. Thanks for the question. Sorry for the lengthy response. I am thinking this needs to be an additional blog post.

  4. I was looking for a cheaper way to flood the canvas with white, so I went to Home Depot. Glidden white latex base is $19 a gallon, but when I explained what I was doing they told me it wouldn’t work with acrylic. I asked if I could use it with the $3 Glidden sample cups they tint and sell, but they said the latex would peel off when it dried. They understood what my technique was but suggested I stick with acrylic paint to be successful.

    1. Thanks for that. There are artists on YouTube that use white latex as their base for economical reasons. I don’t mix my mediums because I am trying to create a high quality, archival product for my patrons. If you are experimenting, not selling, it will work just fine. I don’t see any reason why it would peel off a canvas though. Odd. I wouldn’t recommend it for an archival medium, however. Think of it this way, you repaint your house every 5-10 years. Artists paintings should only require minimal restoration after centuries, and that is usually just careful cleaning. Also, Titanium White is a considerably cheaper pigment than others, even in the professional quality acrylic lines. Also, it becomes cheaper if you buy it in larger volume containers. I buy my Titanium White and Carbon Black from GOLDEN Artist Colors in the 16-32 oz. bottles, whereas I buy my other pigments in 4-8 oz. bottles.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!! 🙂

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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