Acrylic Paint Pouring for Beginners
Acrylic paint pouring is a fun and easy way to express your creativity! While you don't need technical art skills, you will need to learn a few basic terms and techniques before getting started.
What is Pouring Medium and Why Do You Need It?
A pouring medium is added to paint to help it move and flow across your canvas. It also acts as a binder, preventing your paints from separating as your artwork dries. There are dozens of pouring mediums to choose from and tons of homemade recipes to try! If you're a beginner, I'd try working with a store-bought medium, but do encourage you to try the different brands and recipes available as you get more comfortable. Giving each medium a try is the perfect way to develop your pouring skills and a great way to learn which medium works best for you!
- Store-Bought Pouring Mediums
- DIY Pouring Medium Recipe
- 1 part distilled water
- 2 parts Elmer's Glue-All (This is not the same as Elmer's School Glue)
Which Type of Acrylic Paints Should You Use?
For beginners, I recommend starting with cost-efficient products like Apple Barrel acrylic paints or Sargent Art, and eventually working your way up to the more expensive soft body or fluid acrylic paints. I personally use a mix of the following:
What Can You Pour Paint On?
The most common surface for pour painting is canvas. I suggest starting with stretched cotton canvases that are no bigger than 12x12 in. The bigger the canvas gets, the more paint you'll need, which can get tricky to manage when you're first starting out! I also recommend purchasing your canvases in bulk. I prefer the Blick Super Value Pack.
Other common surfaces include wood panels and gessobord. Unlike gessobord, cradled wood panels will likely need a few coats of gesso (and potential sanding!) before you start pouring.
What Are Cells and How Do You Make Them?
A common word you'll hear amongst paint pourers is "cells." So, what are they? Cells are typically round shapes that form when paint begins to separate, allowing for the colors underneath to rise to the surface. The best way to guarantee cells in your work, is to add one drop of a silicone additive to each of your paint colors. Examples of popular silicon additives include treadmill belt lubricant, which is my personal favorite, and coconut milk hair serum.
How To Pour Acrylic Paint
There are a number of acrylic paint pouring techniques to try, but I recommend sticking to one of the following when you're first learning to pour paint!
The Dirty Pour. A dirty pour is when colors are added to one cup and poured onto the canvas at once. You can either simply pour the paint in the center, use the flip cup method (video below), or pour the paint into stripes or swirls; there's no wrong way to do it!
How Do You Seal Your Paintings?Once you've finished your masterpiece, let it dry for 24-48 hours, depending on its size. Once dry, seal it with a gloss or varnish of your choice! Some common varnishes include Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish and Minwax Polycrylic.
What Other Supplies Will You Need?
In addition to the supplies mentioned above, you'll need some gloves to keep your hands clean, wooden sticks for mixing, and some cups for pouring your paints. Check out the image below for a full list of supplies!
Now that you know the basics, give paint pouring a try! Comment below with what worked for you and what you'd recommend to other beginners.
Disclosure: Links to Blick Art Materials and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please note, I only promote products that I personally use and love!
Hi Nazneen, I have read and watched videos where people used hair products that contain dimethicone to create cells in their painting. I’ve also read that olive oil can be used but I recommend researching that before trying it.
What do you mean 1-1 ratio could you explain? Is it like 1 oz paint to 1 oz pouring medium- I’m so confused. This my first time doing this. Thanking you ahead of time‼️
Hi. Love your work. I am just a beginner. I just want to know what other things can be added instead of silicone oil (which i cant find here in Pakistan) for creating cells.would appreciate your reply. Thx.
Very useful information thank you I’m giving it ago !
Thank you so much for sharing your paint pouring technique. I’ve tried paint pouring before, but didn’t know about the additives that you recommend 🙂
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