Acrylic Pouring: the Basics

23 May 2019

 

Hi everyone, today I would like to show you guys the basics for acrylic pouring. With this technique I created multiple canvasses for our living room wall. I do must say that this is not a hobby that I will be doing long term because you waste a lot of plastic and paint and that’s not good for the environment.

 

Let’s start with what acrylic pouring really is:  

It is a form of painting where you mix your paints with a medium that thins them and allows them to flow, then you pour the paint mixture onto your canvas. You never know what result you’ll get!

 

And that’s the other thing, I like to be able to control the outcome of my projects and I really can’t with this form of art. I enjoyed doing this nonetheless for a while: I will create some gifts during the year, finish the supplies I have and that will be it! I enjoyed it, but not as much as other hobbies!

 

Before I will start giving you some tips for when you would like to try this form of painting let me say that the recipe for your mixture is very important, mine isn’t holy, every painter seems to have a different one and each paint brand and/or medium can mean a different mixture (or even the humidity where you live, the season of the year and so on)!

 

That being said, these are the tips that I gathered, after many hours of research, you can use them as your basic guidelines and adjust them with your own experiences:  

 

 

1. I started with some 20x20 cm and 30x30 cm canvasses. Spray the back of the canvas with water, let it sit for a short while and then dry with a heat tool or hair dryer (this will tighten the canvas fabric). Cover your work surface in plastic because pouring is a messy business and wear old clothes;

 

2. Tape the edges of the canvas on the back of the canvas with painters tape. Put push-pins on the back (on all four corners, so the canvas itself is not resting on the table) and make sure the canvas is level. If you don’t tape the edges of the canvas on the back the paint will make the canvas hang and when the paint dries afterwards it’s really hard to correct this;

 

3. Gesso the canvas and if you like paint the edges of the canvas (when you are using a dark contrasting colour (this way you don’t have any bare patches on the sides);

 

 

4. Mix the pouring medium (there are a few different ones) with the paint (I did this by weight): I used 2 parts Floetrol (50 grams) to one part paint (Amsterdam Acrylic Paint : 25 grams)), stir well in a plastic cup, avoid creating more bubbles then necessarily (don’t mix like you’re clutching eggs). You can use a pop-sickle stick for stirring.

These Amsterdam paints come in tubes, which means that they are thicker. I always like to add one metallic paint to my project. If you use, for example, DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paints (which are thinner) then you can probably better use a 1:1 recipe (you might not even need to add water to this recipe, depending on the consistency, if it’s like warm honey then it’s good)! I haven’t tried acrylic pouring with a different brand then Amsterdam at this moment, when I have I will let you know. Most important is to keep in mind that the consistency you are after is like warm honey! I would stick to one brand paint on a canvas, when you have more experience you can mix brands more easily.

 

Add a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol (couple of drops) to the mixture (this may help prevent bubbles) and stir.

 

Then add (boiled and cooled down) water, in little bits at a time, until you have reached the consistency of warm honey (you can check this by letting the mixture pour of your stick into the cup). Let it sit for about a half hour / an hour (so that the pouring medium and the paint can get to know each other). For this I choose to use plastic cups with a lid.

 

Just before you’re pouring add a couple of drops of 100% silicone oil (I used treadmill oil) to the recipe and stir a couple of times, not too much (if it’s winter time make sure that you warm the oil up a bit in the pocket of your fleece vest, for example, before adding to the mixture, so that the oil is not too cold when you add it to the mixture)! The silicone oil will create the so called “cells” (the circular shapes that you see in many acrylic pours).

 

For this project for my living room I choose colours that match the rest of the room: turquoise, white, dark brown and metallic copper.

 

 

5. Time to put on your gloves! Check if your canvas is still level. Do the pouring! I love to do a dirty cup flip pour: use a size plastic cup according to the amount of paint, the cup should be almost full, pour different colours of paint in a cup, one after another (don’t stir!), until you think you have enough paint for the canvas you’re working on. This is tricky, you need way much more paint then you think! Lift the canvas with one hand and put it on top of the cup with the paint. Hold it firm (canvas in your left, cup in your right hand)! Turn the canvas with the cup on top and put on your table. Let the cup sit for about a minute.

 

Then lift the cup and the paint will flow. Now, the paint will not reach the edges of the canvas by itself, so you will have to tilt the canvas back and fort (the corners are hardest to cover, unless you have a circular canvas), you can use a circular motion if you like. If you are going after “cells” then don’t tilt the canvas too much, it will break the cells. When you are happy with how the paint covers the entire canvas as well as the edges, make sure that you always tip the paint back to the middle as your last step, without loosing your design, this will abort the ongoing flow towards one edge of the canvas (the one you tipped to lastly);

 

6. Check if all your edges/sides of the canvas are completely covered with paint, if not, you can use your finger or a pop-sickle stick to pick up the paint from your work surface and add to the sides of the canvas where you need it, in a dabbing motion (don’t rub, it will create muddy colours);

 

7. You can use a torch (like the ones you can buy for crème-brulle purposes, to pop the air bubbles and make the silicone rise to the top (don't touch the flame to the canvas, hoover above it). You can use your torch after the pouring and before the tipping, or only at the end, whatever you like, but make sure that you always have done this at the end so that as many bubbles as possible have popped!

 

8. Now you can use a toothpick of a pop-sickle stick to clean the underside edges of your canvas (while the canvas is standing on the table). Scrape of the paint that is hanging under the canvas so that it doesn’t dry this way. Be careful to not ruin your wonderful project!

 

9. The best thing you can do is to walk away and only check every now and then if you have any more overflowing paint that needs to be scraped on the underside of the canvas. Don’t touch the canvas on top, you will ruin it!

 

 

10. Let the canvas dry! Some say that two days is enough (but after two days the top is only dry enough to transport the canvas to a save place to dry further). I would advise to let it dry for at least a couple of weeks (on the save side, in winter, at least four weeks, in summer about three weeks, but not in the sun, the paints needs to dry slow and evenly to prevent cracks in the paint surface);

 

11. After drying, and when you have used silicone oil, you will first have to remove this as best as you can (it will sit on top of the canvas). Some will add baby-powder or corn starch to the canvas and/or wash the canvas with soap and water. I felt that gently cleaning the canvas surface with tissue paper (like Kleenex) did the job but it’s not a guarantee. I’m no expert at this (it tried alcohol and that didn’t work, so I decided that when I don’t see it any more it should be gone). You can do whatever you like. Do some research on this! If you resin your piece then left behind silicone oil can create ugly bubbles on your canvas.

 

12. Now you can varnish/seal the canvas: you can choose between many options such as resin, epoxy, regular varnish, whatever you prefer. Most will choose a gloss option though, but if you like matt, go for matt. I choose a regular gloss acrylic varnish, added two coats with a brush and my project is finally finished!

 

Let me know your tips if you have tried this technique already!

 

Some detail pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish you a creative day!

 

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