Acrylic Paint Pouring for Beginners

Acrylic paint pouring of blue hues with text overlay that says "how to: acrylic paint pouring"

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?

Different types of pouring mediums including liquitex pouring medium, floetrol, golden acrylics gac800 and elmer's glue all multipurpose glue.

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! 

Which Type of Acrylic Paints Should You Use?

Acrylic paints include apple barrel acrylic paint set, sargent acrylic paints, blick studio acrylics, liquitex basic acrylic paint tubes, golden high flow acrylics, golden fluid acrylics.

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? Acrylic pour paintings by Sammy Gorin Art

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! 

Standard Acrylic Pouring. The most basic form of pour painting consists of colors being added to the canvas one-by-one. "Puddling," which consists of pouring a color onto the canvas, and continuing to add colors to that "puddle," is probably the easiest technique to start with. Once you've added your colors to the canvas, it's time to let gravity take control! Start moving your canvas so that the paint eventually covers the entire surface. You can continue moving the canvas around until you reach the desired look you're going for. 

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! 

        Acrylic pour painting shopping list created by Sammy Gorin Art at

          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! 


          • Ofek

            I saw Tha silicon you use, but it’s a small bottle, how to use it wisely?? Only to put it on area that I want to? Thanks

          • Sammy Gorin Art

            Hi Michelle! I’m so glad to hear that :)

          • Michelle

            Thank you so much this all was very helpful and is going to help me lots in the process of getting started on paint pouring of my own!

          • Sammy Gorin Art

            Thank you so much for the kind words, Ellenoritz!

          • Sammy Gorin Art

            Happy to hear that, Kate!

          Leave a comment

          Please note, comments must be approved before they are published