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Acrylic Pouring Mania

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Acrylic pouring seems to be the in thing on YouTube at the moment and after having a go, I can see why.

If you don’t know what acrylic pouring is, have a look at my video over on YouTube

Or visit someone who knows a lot more than me ๐Ÿ™‚ Joe Bauer – but please was until you’ve finished my post!

Once you watch my video, YouTube will come up with lots more suggestions for acrylic pouring videos as there are hundreds to choose from.

As you will see, I am no expert yet but my video is worth a look if only to make you feel that anyone can do this!

What a ‘dirty cup’ looks like after a dirty pour.

What is acrylic pouring?

It is a process whereby acrylic paints are thinned with some kind of medium, such as PVA glue or better, a pouring medium, to the point where they will pour, in a fluid stream, from a cup onto a canvas, tile or whatever the artist is using.

There are various methods of doing acrylic pouring – I know this from hours spent transfixed watching people on YouTube.

I have learned terms such as ‘dirty cup’ and ‘dirty pour’ which appear to be the same thing – layering various colour paints in a large plastic cup with additives like silicone or pure alcohol and then pouring the ‘dirty cup’ onto a canvas or tile etc.

Then there is the ‘flip cup’ method which is what I used in my video.

Many of the acrylic pouring artists that I watch on YouTube talk about creating ‘cells’ in their paintings.

The creation of these cells seems to be quite random and possibly caused by the addition of either silicone or alcohol to the paints.

Some of the artists have a more scientific approach and talk about the different densities of various colours which cause some to sink beneath others.

Therefore some artists have a method in their layering because they seem to know how various colours will react according to their position in the layering order.

This was my very first ‘flip cup’ acrylic painting. I added spray silicone lubricant from a can to the paint and got quite a lot of the cells that artists talk about – as you can see above.

Fancy a go at acrylic pouring? Here is what you will need.

  • A space where you can make a big mess!
  • Some inexpensive acrylic paints, say three or four colours – (I don’t recommend you go for top brand names until you get the hang of this).
  • Some PVA glue or proper pouring medium
  • Some water to thin the glue but not too much.
  • Some silicone – such as tread mill lubricating silicone liquid. And/or…
  • Some 90% Alcohol.
  • A small canvas ( again, I don’t recommend going big or expensive at this stage).
  • Plenty of medium size plastic cups for mixing paints and PVA.
  • A larger plastic cup for layering the paint in.
  • A large aluminium tray or roasting pan (not to be used for food ever again!)
  • Wooden lolly/popsicle sticks for mixing.
  • A small plastic bottle to spray the silicone into if you use the spray can kind.
  • A face mask to protect lungs from sprayed silicone.
  • Rubber gloves because this gets VERY messy!

Acrylic Pouring – the Method.

I highly recommend watching a YouTube video for absolute beginners first. By all means, watch mine (the link is above at the start) but be aware that although I did get a reasonable painting, I screwed up big time by forgetting to thin the PVA glue before adding it to the paints. The PVA should be thinned in a 2:1 ratio (two parts glue, one part water). A couple of other things went wrong too and I am surprised I got any kind of result!

Instead of thinned PVA glue, you can use an acrylic medium especially made for thinning acrylics. However, if you are just starting out, try the thinned PVA first or you may have some very expensive failures to contemplate.

Some people really seem to know how to manipulate acrylic pouring to get the most amazing abstract images with recognizable shapes in them.

But for many people, acrylic pouring seems to be quite a random affair which has the power to excite as abstract images form during the process.

So once you have thinned the PVA, you need to put about an inch of paint in the bottom of a plastic cup and gradually thin it with the PVA until it flows off the lolly stick in a fluid stream.

Repeat this for all your colours.

Then add a few drops of silicone to each colour. I used a spray silicone lubricant in a pressurised can but I took it outside (I also wore a mask over my nose and mouth because you MUST NOT breathe this stuff in) and sprayed it directly into a small plastic bottle.

I then used a dropper to drip some into my paints.

Then you need to use the wooden sticks to mix the silicone in, but not too much or the cells (some people say) will be very tiny. According to some artists, the less you mix the silicone, the bigger the cells – I don’t know how true that is. It is a case of try it and see.

Once all your colours are mixed, it is time to pour them in layers in the bigger cup.

Then you take your canvas and either pour the contents of the ‘dirty cup’ over the canvas, or, do a ‘flip cup’.

This is where you place your canvas over the cup and flip it over so the cup is upside down with all the paint running down onto the canvas.

The cup is left in position for a few minutes and then you lift the cup up and away, leaving the paint to run over the canvas and do whatever it will.

Done with a flip cup and partial pour – quite muddy – a lot to learn!
Another try – still muddy – but I will soldier on and learn more.

Acrylic pouring – to cover the whole canvas or not?

Once the cup is flipped, it seems best to let the paint spread on its own. However, quite often, there is not enough paint to flow right to the edges and drip down to perfectly cover the canvas sides.

When you watch the videos on YouTube, you will see people tilting the canvases to get the paint to run and cover the entire canvas. I have see beautiful sections of many painting disappear over the edge in this quest to cover the entire  canvas and sides.

When one of mine didn’t have enough paint to cover the whole canvas, I resorted to doing a bit of pouring as well, as you will see in the video.

Some people are doing this ‘negative space’ thing too – search that term (acrylic pouring negative space) on YouTube and you will see what is involved with that.

I hope this has given you the desire to go off and watch some videos and then give acrylic pouring a go.

It is really good fun and quite addictive! If you do an pour and it comes out well, you want to do more. If you do a pour and it comes out badly, you want to have another go straight away to conquer this beast!

Acrylic pouring is definitely an exciting way of painting that I will be exploring further.

Have you tried acrylic pouring and did it work for you?