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An Experiment with Pouring Mediums: Part 4 of My Acrylic Pour Painting Series

acrylic pour experiment

Flood Floetrol, GAC 800, Rubbing Alcohol

How did I come to my current acrylic pour recipe without too much trial and error (and a lot of wasted paint)? I designed a scientific experiment of my own. Based on my research, I knew I wanted to use either Flood Floetrol or GAC 800 as my pouring medium. I also wanted to try using rubbing alcohol as a replacement for the silicone. Some artists claim that it rose to the surface much as silicone does, but unlike silicone, it evaporates and leaves no residue. Worth a try, right?

What Is Flood Floetrol?

Floetrol is a latex paint additive, made by Flood, a wood finish company, to improve the flow and leveling of water-based paints. It makes latex paints, primers, stains, and textured coatings flow more smoothly. It also improves flow to reduce brush and roller marks.

What Is GAC 800?

GAC 800, made by Golden Artist Colors, is a low crazing extender for pouring acrylic colors. Crazing is the formation of crevices in the surface that develops as acrylic paints and mediums dry. Golden developed this product specifically to assist fluid acrylic artists with this crazing problem that plagues the drying process. Most YouTube videos demonstrating acrylic pours don’t show you the finished product after it has dried. It could be because they all end up with giant fault lines across the surface. Acrylic paint dries from the surface down. It forms a film, like pudding skin, and the thickness underneath dries later. As the layers underneath dry, surface tension and shrinkage can cause the film on the surface to pull apart. This is crazing and it will ruin your painting! GAC 800 was developed to eliminate this problem. I’ve tried it with and without. I can testify that it works, but it ain’t cheap!!

Acrylic Pour Crazing
This is an example of crazing. There are jagged fissures in the paint that developed during drying.

The Pouring Medium Experiment

I bought six canvas panels, one for each combination that I wished to try. I kept all measurements and techniques consistent and only changed the medium for each panel. To be clear, each panel had the same exact amount of paint and medium, and I applied and spread the paint on the panel in the exact same way. (See the image at the top of this post for reference.)

  • Top left = Floetrol without alcohol
  • Bottom left = Floetrol with alcohol
  • Top middle = GAC 800/Floetrol (50/50) without alcohol
  • Bottom middle = GAC 800/Floetrol (50/50) with alcohol
  • Top right = GAC 800 without alcohol
  • Bottom right = GAC 800 with alcohol

Observations

  1. The samples with the rubbing alcohol (bottom row) didn’t seem to exhibit any variation, except in the “Floetrol with alcohol” sample. The “Floetrol with alcohol” combination had slightly more cells that were more defined than the “Floetrol without alcohol” test. However, it was not a dramatic difference. Therefore, I decided against including alcohol in any future recipes.

    Floetrol pouring medium
    Floetrol as the pouring medium (with or without alcohol)
  2. The samples that had only Floetrol as the pouring medium (with or without alcohol), top and bottom left, had nice cell formation. Also, the paint flowed well and seemed to retain separation between the colors where it was not agitated, but I didn’t care for the final texture and sheen that resulted. After it cured completely, the painting had an overall bumpy texture with a matte finish. The matte finish in itself isn’t a problem for me as I am considering resin as a final coat for all my paintings. I can’t tolerate the bumpiness that resulted, though. Floetrol doesn’t level as well as GAC 800.

    50/50 Floetrol and GAC 800 as the pouring medium (with alcohol)
    50/50 Floetrol and GAC 800 as the pouring medium (with alcohol)
  3. The samples with 50/50 Floetrol and GAC 800 (with or without alcohol), top and bottom middle, dried super smooth. No lumps or bumps, no thick or thin spots as I encountered with the Floetrol alone. It still dried with a matte sheen, but like I said, I plan to put a gloss coating on it. Here’s the unexpected result; there were TOO MANY CELLS! It was overwhelming. They took over. It was a mess. (I’ll take this moment to point out that this is my opinion as an artist, trying out materials to see what achieves the look that I want for MY artwork. Other artists might be trying to get a completely different outcome, and therefore, might come up with a completely different recipe from this experiment. I just don’t want that many cells.) Let’s also remind ourselves that this ridiculousness was achieved WITHOUT silicone!!!

    GAC 800 pouring medium
    GAC 800 as the pouring medium (with alcohol)
  4. The samples with only GAC 800 as the pouring medium (with or without alcohol), top and bottom right, were super smooth and super glossy, but no cells. This was a very attractive result and I would recommend this for people who are looking for clean lines between colors and a better preservation of the transparency. They are gorgeous! I do want some cells though.

So, based on my experiment, I concluded that both Floetrol and GAC 800 are necessary for the acrylic pour results I want. I need the Floetrol for the cells, but I need the GAC 800 for the leveling and the preservation of the paint’s fluid-like appearance.

The recipe I’ve created that’s working for me is as follows;

  • 1 part paint
  • 2 parts Floetrol
  • 4 parts GAC 800

I am very happy with my results so far!

Update (July 2018):

I’ve found that this original ratio was a bit thin and have backed off on the GAC 800 by one part. Now the Official recipe and ratio are;

  • 1 part GOLDEN fluid acrylic paint
  • 2 parts Floetrol (strained)
  • 3 parts GAC 800

Check out my next post featuring my tutorial with a student trying out her first acrylic pour using the flip cup technique.

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