Here's how to get started with acrylic pouring

acrylic pouring
Beginner's guide to acrylic pouringHirurg - Getty Images

Crafting should be fun – and if there’s one craft that ticks all the boxes for being enjoyable, satisfying, creative and lots of fun, it’s acrylic pouring.

Not only are the results incredible, acrylic pouring is an ideal beginner’s craft; you don’t need any prior experience of doing other crafts and even though is uses paints, you don’t need to have tried acrylic painting before.

Best of all, there are no mistakes in acrylic paint pouring – whatever design you make, it will be a unique piece of art for your home. Fancy giving it a go? Keep reading for our acrylic pouring guide where we explain what is it, what you need to do it, acrylic pouring techniques and the best acrylic paint pouring kits to get you started.

What is acrylic pouring?

acrylic pouring
Every pour is a unique piece of artwork oxygen/Getty

Acrylic pouring is also known as fluid art and liquid art. It’s a form of art that involves mixing different acrylic paint colours with a pouring medium and then pouring the paint directly on to a canvas without a brush. You then gently move the paint around by tilting the canvas in different directions to change the direction of where the paint flows.

This creates an abstract, one-of-a-kind, psychedelic, marbled painting where the colours merge and blend – it’s extremely satisfying and looks beautiful. Your artwork will dry with a high-gloss finish creating canvas art that will look extraordinary hung on your walls and makes an impressive handmade gift.

What you need for acrylic pouring

The main consideration for acrylic pouring is having enough space to do it – as when it come swirling the colours around on your canvas you’ll need to be able to move your arms, and of course all surfaces should be covered in case of falling paint drops.

When it comes to acrylic pouring tools and materials, you’ll need:

Acrylic paint and medium or pre-mixed pouring paints
You can use any acrylic paint you already have at home that comes in a bottle or tube but you’ll need to mix it with a medium like Liquitex Professional Pouring Medium this will make your paints more fluid so they pour smoothly. Some artists use PVA glue instead of a professional medium and this is something you could try. Or, you can purchase pre-mixed paints ready made for pouring to make the process quicker and easier.

This will become your finished artwork – you don’t need to stick to an ordinary rectangle canvas, there are many options of shapes available but aim for a deep edge canvas as these are easier to hold when you tilt and pour.

Plastic cups
This is for pouring the paints. You’ll transfer the paint into the cups and then pour the paints directly into the canvas. You could also try a split cup.

Plastic sheeting
Cover your floor, table and any other surfaces that you don’t want paint to drip on.

Palette knife or spatula
This is required for when you’re mixing your paint and medium together to ensure you get a smooth blend.

Latex gloves
Paint and pouring is a messy combination! Wearing gloves also allow you to touch your artwork so you can physically move paint with your fingers for an interesting effect.

Silicone Oil (optional)
Adding a few drops of silicone oil into your acrylic paint mixture will give your finished art work a high-shone gloss making the colours pop. Purchase from an art store not a hardware store, as those brands can be too strong and sometimes toxic.

How to make acrylic pouring paints

When you’re making paint for acrylic pouring, use bottled acrylic paints or those that come in large tubes, not the heavy acrylics that come in small tubes, as these are too thick. The average ratio for mixing fluid paint with medium is 1:1 where it’s one part paint, one part medium plus two to three drops of silicone oil for every colour that you’re mixing. However the ratio may change depending on the brand of paint you use so be flexible with measurements. As long as it pours smoothly and quickly you’ll have the right consistency you need.

To prepare your paint mixes, first pour your chosen paint into a cup. Then gently add your medium, mix it with the palette knife to form a smooth pourable mixture a bit like a runny honey. Add your drops of silicone oil if you’re using it.

acrylic paint pouring technique
Acrylic painting is a mindful craft where you can play and design with colourImage by Marie LaFauci - Getty Images

How to do acrylic paint pouring techniques

Cover your surfaces, lay your canvas down on the table and have your pouring paints ready in cups next to you. Don’t forget to wear your gloves. It’s then time to get pouring on the canvas surface. There are different ways to pour paint and over time with more experience you’ll know exactly when to lift the cup to limit colours and control designs and patterns. We’ve highlighted some of the most common techniques in these step-by-step videos:

Puddle pour

A puddle pour, also called a straight pour, is when you add individual colours to the centre of your canvas and then build up layers as you go. Manipulate the paints by tilting the canvas to different angles, and create different effects by swiping the paint with a palette knife. You can also do a wash pour with this technique, which means using quite thin paint to create a feathery effect.

Dirty pour

With the dirty pour technique, all your colours are placed into a plastic cup before pouring. The consistency of your paint here is key, because if it's too runny the colours will blend together in the cup and appear muddy on the canvas.

Once you've poured the cup of paint onto the canvas, tilt it at different angles until the surface is covered.

Dirty pours are great for experimenting with colour and finishes as you never really know how they will come out.

Flip cup

This technique starts off identical to dirty pouring, but the container with the paint in it is put on the painting surface vertically and then lifted up (as opposed to 'pouring' from a height.)

The video below shows a mixture of the dirty pour and the flip cup pouring techniques but, of course, you do not have to do them both at the same if you are just starting out.

Bottle bottom puddle pour

The bottle bottom pour is where the base of a plastic bottle is placed in the centre of the canvas and you pour individual colours on top.

The raised shape of the bottle base will create a flower pattern effect once enough paint is applied to cover the entire surface.

At the end, you can take a fine artist brush and add accents where desired to highlight the flower effect further. And, if you're feeling really arty, you can use more than one bottle bottom for multiple floral patterns.

Funnel pour

This is great if you're just starting out with acrylic pouring. Simply pour three or four colours into a funnel while keeping your finger over the opening. When you are ready to go, remove your finger and let the paint pour through the funnel onto the canvas. You may see people using heat products but you can skip this step if you want to keep it simple.

Leaving your artwork to dry

It can take anything from 24 to 72 hours for acrylic pouring to dry so you’ll need to have a space ready where you can transfer your canvas and leave it there to dry without being disturbed. This needs to be a flat surface otherwise paint may gather and pool in particular areas that you may not want. To avoid dust falling on your creation you could place a large cardboard box over it.

Allow it to dry naturally. Avoid artificial dryers, such as hairdryers, as these may only set the top surface and not the paint underneath.

Acrylic paint pouring is a satisfying, mindful craft where you can really explore the benefits of colour therapy, seeing how colours are created and merge together is magical. If the craft sounds like one you’d like to test out without buying all the materials, then why not buy a paint pouring kit? They are a wonderful to try the craft and see if you like it, though we think once you’ve got started acrylic pouring, you won’t want to stop!

Have you tried acrylic painting? Share your artwork with us by tagging us @primamag on Instagram.

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