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The TOP TEN Most Frequently Asked Questions About Acrylic Pouring

AP39 CosmicWave Detail1

I collected the most common questions from my YouTube channel in one place. Hopefully this will help answer some questions about acrylic pour painting you were also wondering about, or hadn’t thought to ask.

1. You don’t use silicone?! Then how do you get cells? Do you use a torch?

The short answer is I use Flood Floetrol and a solid recipe with good quality ingredients. This is all you need for cell formation. I don’t use silicone and therefore do not need the torch either. I will occasionally use a heat gun on the lowest setting to pop some air bubbles if I shook my pigments up but didn’t allow them time to settle before painting. The reason I don’t use silicone is that it doesn’t mix with the paint, can get trapped between layers of paint causing pockets, and can possibly yellow your paintings over time. I have a previous blog post that digs deeper into why I don’t use silicone.
I also have a couple videos on my website that explain how I prepare my paint pigments and preferred brands and tools.

2. Do you seal your paintings with something? Do you coat with varnish or resin when completely dry? How do you get the smooth finish?

I have coated a few of my paintings with resin for a high gloss effect and also for the layered look, adding some illustration between layers, but you will see resin listed in the credit and title of the work. Mostly, however, my paintings dry with a satin semi-gloss finish that is as smooth as a baby’s bottom because of the GAC 800 pouring medium that I use. I have noticed I am one of the few Acrylic Pour artists online who shares the final shots of my fully cured painting. I take them outside and try to get a shot from all angles because I am proud that they don’t dry lumpy, cracked, or with an unpleasant texture. The GAC 800 is an expensive medium, but with it in my recipe, I do not have to coat my paintings afterward with any additional varnish or resin.

3. How do you avoid wasting paint that flows down? What are you using for a drip tray?

First, fluid art is a bit wasteful. You are going to lose some paint. Also, some techniques are more wasteful than others. In my opinion, the flip cup and tree ring pour technique is much more wasteful than the swipe technique. I use a washing machine pan with two yard sticks spanning the edges for my substrates to rest on. I have to give credit to Ann Osbourne for that idea. You can buy them at most hardware stores for about $20-$30. For my larger paintings (24”x 36” and bigger) I use salvaged bulletin board paper from my school and fold up the edges to create a trough to catch the paint. I prop the substrates up on the corners with plastic cups.

4. How much paint should I mix up for a specific size painting?

I haven’t created a foolproof mathematical formula because I am an ARTIST! But I did write a blog post regarding how much paint to mix as well.

The gist of the idea is this:
Substrate Size Coat the canvas Flip Cup/Tree Ring Pour
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

5. Can I use tempera paint/oil paint/house paint for this technique?

These paints all have very different properties. The Acrylic Pour technique is unique to the properties of acrylic paint. Oil, tempera, watercolor, and gouache will not work for this painting technique. Some artists have used latex house paint to initially flood the canvas before adding the pigments. Though latex house paint IS the closest of all these to acrylic paint, it is not archival quality and might compromise your painting over time.

6. Where did you buy your float frames? And how are they sized?

I buy my float frames and most of my art supplies from Jerry’s Artarama, an online art supply store based here in NC. The float frames are sized based on the canvas size they accommodate so you don’t have to overthink it. For example, if you were to want a float frame to fit your 16” x 20” canvas, you simply buy the floater frame for ¾” canvas, 16” x 20” or 1.5”canvas 16”x 20”, taking into account the depth as well.

7. Have you done this same color pour with resin?

No. I have a few paintings with clear resin layers and resin coating on top, but I have not experimented with the colored resins. I probably will stick to the acrylic, though I might revisit layering the acrylic with clear resin.

8. And regarding a couple specific paintings like this one below where I DID use resin layers:AP39 CosmicWaveHow did you get the floating/layered effect? Are you drawing on wet or dry resin? What did you use to draw with?

Speaking specifically to the painting above, these were the steps and layers.
1. White paint allowed to dry completely
2. Resin allowed to dry completely
3. Acrylic pour using blue and white allowed to dry completely
4. Resin allowed to dry completely
5. Illustration using gel pen and enamel paint pen
6. Resin allowed to dry completely
As you can see, this was a time-consuming process that took weeks to complete, but the result was worth it. I need to do more of these! I loved the results so much!

9. What brand of paint do you use and why?

GOLDEN Artist Colors are in my opinion the best brand out there for quality, customer service, and available resources for their artists. Just check out their website and go to the resources tab. You’ll be sold. They are the ONLY company that provides their specific gravity chart for all their pigments, so you can use density to assist in cell formation rather than adding silicone, which can compromise your painting. I use their GAC 800 pouring medium exclusively. As I explained above in a previous question, it saves me the trouble of coating or varnishing later to touch up the finish AND it prevents crazing!

10. Do you have to flood the canvas first and is there a cheaper alternative to flood the canvas?

Yes, you have to flood the canvas or you get unsightly snags, ripples, wrinkles etc. Flooding the canvas is when an artist coats the whole canvas with wet paint before the pour, usually white. Acrylic pouring works best as a wet into wet technique. This adds to the costly nature and wastefulness of this technique, but it is what it is. Some artists try to offset the cost with cheaper paint, even using craft paints and latex house paint. This will only diminish the final quality of the work, however. Latex house paint is not archival and can crack over time.
Think about how often you repaint, or SHOULD repaint the walls of your house; ten years max. Don’t you want your paintings to last longer than that? We are still admiring the Mona Lisa that was painted over 500 years ago (which admittedly has gone through a bit of restoration but mostly for cleaning, as the varnish yellows over time).

I hope you found these answers to my most commonly asked questions helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have any unique questions you’d like me to address or to further explain any of the answers from this post. As always thanks for reading!!

Don’t forget I have a holiday sale going on right now, until the end of the year; 50% off all my paintings. Visit my online store!

55 thoughts on “The TOP TEN Most Frequently Asked Questions About Acrylic Pouring

  1. Wondering what your recipe for the base paint is since you say house paint isn’t archival. I’d like to make quality paintings that last.

  2. White should I mix with the paint?
    White to cover canvas
    Colours that go on top

    Should I use floetrex or a pouring medium or both?

  3. You could probably give us all some tips lol just lovely. Your story inspires me. And boy am I new. Seems I just keep being new, lol I can not seem to get it. And im a profection ist. Delmas!!!! 😳😟🥴

  4. I have done a couple of pours using a Floetrol, Glue-All, pouring medium. The drying time carries per pour. Is that normal? What is the typical time for the paint to fully cure?

    1. It varies depending on how big your canvas is….I use the same floetrol, glue all. 2 sometimes 3 day dry time for me, just to play it safe

  5. Thank u for your information. I’m just starting on painting and having so much fun. Stay safe

  6. Hi Courtney. I just started pouring acrylics and on my first and second works, the paint dried too fast on the surface. That is, the paint below the surface was still fluid, but the surface developed a ‘skin’ which flowed as a large blob. I did use a heat gun. Could this have dried the surface too quickly? It was only 5 minutes or so before this happened. Do you have any suggestions to keep the paint fluid longer? Thank you!!

    1. Sounds like you cooked it

  7. Hi.. I recently discovered this style of painting on youtube. I’ve tried over and over, I’ve followed the directions exactly, but although initially the painting comes out beautifully, with wonderful cells, the next day it has no cells and has all run together… I cannot figure out how to fix this…. lol.. I’ve adjusted the ratio of paint and pouring medium excetra. Any ideas? Ty

  8. I’m a beginner and learning slowly so I greatly appreciate your advice I’ve seen swipe pours where they put the colours straight onto the canvas without a base flood. Is it necessary to flood the canvas for a swipe before putting on the colours. For example, if I were to flood the canvas with white and then do a red, orange and yellow swipe, would the white take away from the vividness of the colours?

    1. The flood coat allows for the paint to flow across much more smoothly. It has to do with surface tension. Maybe you could flood with red, not white.

  9. Hi Courtney
    Do you prepare your canvas with gesso before you paint?

    1. No. I buy my canvases pre-gesso-ed.

  10. Hello there, I am also just starting out like many here and wonder if you use the same 3:2:1 GAC/Floe/Paint for your base layer (black/white) as with your mixing colors? I also know this ratio would be different if going with a soft body paint (which complicates things a bit) so I guess trial and error will be my next growing pain. I’ve seen so many recipes and videos I can’t even keep them all straight so I figured since I like your work the best I’d ask you. I don’t like the matte finish using just Floetrol but I’m trying to not go broke using GAC for a base layer for something that may/may not be necessary for non-archival pours. Since I’m just starting out I’d like to still have a semi or glossy finish but trying to not break the bank if I can avoid it. I’ve gone through many value-pak canvases thus far with varying degrees of success and that’s okay, that’s how we learn but why not work smarter and ask someone who’s already been there/done that. Any wisdom is greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi, Daryl. Yes. My base color is the same as all my other colors, which s very convenient when it comes to picking colors! I can use any color as my base coat. I appreciate your vote of confidence. I am aware of the plethora of recipes out there and agree it is overwhelming. I can’t help you with how to alter the recipe for soft bodied, though I’d suggest sticking with the same and just seeing if it is good or too thick. Might be fine. The GAC is exactly what is needed to move away from the matte finish. It dries glossy, so you get a happy medium between the two. Some skip it and then varnish, but then you have the added cost of the varnish, not to mention another step. It sounds like you are on the right track. Just make sure you are keeping detailed notes about each painting experiment; what works and what doesn’t, what was the cost, what was the recipe and ratio.

  11. How can I make gold cells in an acrylic pour? Usually other colors pop more than my gold.

    1. That might be due to a density issue. The gold might be too dense, due to the metallics, therefore it is sinking.

  12. Hi! I love pouring but sometimes wonder if I’m doing the base coat right. Can you tell me your recipe for the base? Sometimes mine seems too thick and when I did it out it can get thin spots.

    1. My recipe is the same for my base coat and my top pour paints. I DO also fight thin spots, but the consistency is uniform, very thin.

  13. I have just found this technique, totally new to me, and i love it. I am 81 years old an a retired RN. Learned to paint in my 60’s. Loved it and at some point it helped to keep my sanity, so I considered that it save my life. Have not painted for the last 12 years. But i now feel i have to try it. Gathering material and getting ready to give it a try. Love your videos and the good info, you provide. Thanks

    1. So glad you are still at it, Susan!

    2. You could probably give us all some tips lol just lovely. Your story inspires me. And boy am I new. Seems I just keep being new, lol I can not seem to get it. And im a profection is that. Delmas!!!! 😳😟🥴

  14. Such beautiful work! I am exploring surfboard art and I think this might be a really awesome look on a board. Much to learn. Thank you for your generosity!

  15. Hi from New Zealand, I have an acrylic pour on canvas that has come up beautifully but sadly a few cracks, if I coat it with resin will it come out smooth? I don’t want to risk wrecking my work. Thanks for your advice

    1. Resin will eventually mask the texture of the cracks as it is self leveling. It might take a couple coats.

  16. I’m 87 and just poured my first piece. (beautiful). Thanks for your info, it is quite helpful. Just call me Grandpa Moses.

    1. So great to hear! Keep on keeping on!!!

  17. Great resin art!

    Recommend fixing your section 4 because the measurements/columns got a bit jumbled. I looked up your post on measurements and then understood it was taken from there (the first column of oz.s being the amount of white around the pour cup).

    Have a good one

    1. You too! Thanks!

  18. Hi from Australia. Just wondering if you use wooden panels mostly rather than canvas and why? Love your work, it’s very inspiring. Tq

    1. I started with mostly wooden panels but realized it was compromising the drying from underneath. I feel like I have much better luck with my work drying quickly and evenly on stretched canvas. Great question!

  19. I am a fluid artist as well and I absolutely agree with everything you have said! I am a bit confused though, as you use Golden GAC800 for pouring medium but you also referred to Flood Floetrol. I have a poring medium I have perfected that is Floetrol and Liquitex combination. I like the liquitex just a bit more than the GAC because I use a lot of medium bodied paints (for knife painting) and it seems to liquify them better than the GAC800 in my opinion. I use Golden and Liquitex exclusively, so I never seem to have any issues with cracking either.

    1. SOunds great. I get that. Maybe our preference difference between GAC800 and Liquitex is due to the paint. You use medium bodied (like their Heavy Body line) and I use their Fluid line.

  20. I love this stuff. Wish I could do art. I can only draw stick figures whereas my grandmother was a highly proficient and skilled artist. Thank you.

    1. Well, thanks for visiting anyway. You should try it though. This is a very accessible process.

    2. I love the opportunity to do an art work that that looks pretty even though it is a random pour

    3. Even an un experienced non artist layman can do a pour! I never painted before and had to get over my fear of failure, and soon was hooked! Maybe not a good as some of the artists, but so much fun!

      1. Awesome! Art should be a fun way to express yourself, not some elitist mystery. Glad you are one of us now!!!

    4. I disagree Timothy, as a stage 3 cancer survivor with a torn rotator cuff and I can do acrylic paint pouring well it actually saved my life…literally anyone can do it…just look up utube videos for acrylic paint pouring and get to it! Happy creating!

    5. I’ve never done art in my life before…. can’t even draw a straight line. I started trying different arts a couple years ago…btw I’ll be 69 in February. Alcohol ink, polymer clay now paint pouring. Just go for…. can’t hurt. Except maybe your pocket book

  21. Thank you for this super open, informative post!

    I have a question about the specific gravity. Have you written anything about how to use it to figure out which order to layer colors in, to give the best cells? You mention their chart helps, but how do you use the gravity numbers?

    I found your post looking for how to choose the order for color layering. Not sure why your post came up for that? But I’m super glad it did! Now I’m going to find your YouTube channel.

    1. You would layer the denser pigment on top and allow it to fall through the less dense pigment. That creates the cells. For instance, since whate is very dense and yellow is not, you could swipe white over the yellow and get LOTS of cells. I hope that clarifies things a bit. Thank you for reaching out. I hope you find my YouTube channel. I would appreciate it if you supported my by subscribing also. Thanks!

  22. I spent a lot of time to locate something similar to

  23. I love your work and thank you for your recipe. Once you have mixed the paint with the gac and flotrol and poured it into storage bottles, how low is the mixture stable?

    1. Aww! Thank you! I have had some paint mixed for over a year and it is still fine. Just make sure the container is clean. Like, don’t put your paints in a soda bottle that has even a drop of soda or bacteria will take over.

  24. Hello from Germany, I have watched your videos on youtube. Question: is the paper that you paint over the colors, is it wet? How do you prepare the paper Greetings from Germany

    1. The brown paper I use to swipe over my painting is a cheap type of paper towel. I spray it with water to give it a little weight. Thanks for watching my videos!

  25. Harikasınız….. bilgi paylaşımlarınızdan dolayı teşekkürler

    1. Hoşgeldiniz. Yardımcı bulduğuna sevindim!

  26. Thank you for your thorough explanations. I haven’t started pouring yet, just gathering supplies and information. These posts were very helpful. Your work is beautiful.

    1. You are welcome. I am glad you like my work. Thank you.

  27. I am so delighted to have found you gorgeous work and you are very generous in sharing your knowledge and experimentation. So glad you do not use silicone and happy you use Golden paints.
    I have not yet started my exploration of Acrylic pouring s I have been involved in other projects. My question is about Flood Floetrol. How archival is that product considering it is created for latex paints. I have good experience with Liquitex pouring medium using it more as a final layer over photo montage. However I will try GAC 800 for acrylic pours (soon). I wonder if you have seen the Poured Paintings of Bette Ridgeway? I was blown away by her work. By the way Golden now recommend using Gloss Medium as a first layer instead of GAC 100 before gesso for SID discolouration.

    1. Thank you.
      I am glad you are finding the info useful and enjoy my art!
      Whether or not Floetrol is archival is not easily answered. I’ve searched for any authoritative info on the subject and can’t find it. I have found nothing confirming that it is or isn’t archival. However, it IS a medium specifically formulated to mix with latex AND acrylic paint. I tried experiments using only GAC 800 and no Floetrol, which resulted in beautifully fluid glossy abstract paintings, but absolutely zero cells. You have to have the Floetrol to get any cells. Floetrol is a slightly questionable ingredient but nothing like using silicone products like belt lubricants, hair glossers or “personal” lubricants. These are not paint mediums and not formulated with any standards regarding how they will or will not work with acrylic paint during mixing or over time. Floetrol is at least marketed with the claim that it is made to be used with acrylic paint.
      I had not heard Golden had changed their recommendations regarding GAC 100 vs. Gloss medium for SID. Can you please point me in the direction of more info regarding that? Thanks so much!

      1. Re: Golden’s recommendation about SID: – this gives the recommendation.

        For a longer explanation, they wrote a Just Paint article:

        Thank you for your website and your video channel. I am learning a lot and am very inspired.

        1. Thanks for the link. Glad my info is helpful. Thanks for your contribution, and thanks for watching my videos and supporting my channel.

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