magic of the painting pouring technique

As we briefly discussed methods of thinning acrylics, I thought I’d introduce you to the pouring painting technique. I used this technique to create paintings “Alive”, “Wonderland”, and “Amarantine”.  All can be found in my Facebook gallery that you can access from the home page.  I find the pouring technique fun and most unpredictable. It has major potential and it will take your creativity to the next level.  It might even discover something new in you.  Either way, I guarantee, it will be one of your most favorite techniques.

What is pouring painting technique? Pouring painting technique requires you to pour paint on the canvas. You can use containers, cups, bottles…etc.  You can also dip a stick or large brush in to the paint and let paint drip on canvas, but this would be called drip painting technique or Jackson Pollock technique.

Let’s get back to pouring. In order to be able to pour acrylics, you will have to thin them first.  In my previous post I mentioned that you can use water (30/70 ratio – water/ acrylic), airbrush medium or flow aid. Comparing to water I would go with airbrush medium, you can use any ratio with it to control consistency of paint; where with water 30 % may not be enough to make your thick acrylics flow. All depends on what kind of acrylic you are using.  Thinning will only apply to thick acrylics like student grade, artist, and professional acrylics. You can also use craft acrylics that are already thinned. However, I do not recommend it, as there is way too much water in craft acrylics; overuse of paint will cause cracking of paint when fully dried.

Before starting this fun process I suggest watching couple of YouTube videos to get an idea of the technique and inspiration.

Get started.  You will need: old clothes or apron to cover clothes, gloves, plastic cups, newspaper, paint, water or airbrush medium/ flow aid, and TIME.  Time is extremely important ingredient in this pouring technique recipe.  Availability of time in this case would be directly proportional to the level of success of your art’s final result. You have to dedicate 2-3 hours to this piece. Acrylic is a water based paint, it dries fast. As time passes, paint will be harder to move or to merge. With this technique you’ll have to concentrate and think progressively. With all that said, ironically, it will take good 2 days for this painting to dry, because some layers will be thicker or thinker then others.

Let’s go for it. Get a bunch of newspaper and cover you working space. It will get messy!  You will also need couple of wooden boards. Place canvas on them to hold it above  newspaper (make sure canvas securely sits on its frame only).  Otherwise, newspaper will stick to the canvas, and it will be extremely hard to peal it off. You can use any other non-sticking objects to hold the canvas.  For the start, get a smaller sized canvas like 12’ x ’16.  This size will provide enough of working area for you to experiment with pouring technique.   Always prime your canvas.  Primer will make surface thicker protecting it from paint getting through and leaving marks on the other side of canvas. Make sure canvas is dry before use.  It’s time to prepare the paint. Take a few colours, not too many, for example you can get a few in the same shade, like cerulean blue, prime blue, purple, lighter shade of purple. You can pick any colour palette you want, whatever talks to you at the moment. Thin your acrylics in cups using separate cup for each colour.  Make sure you have enough paint; that it is mixed well with no lumps, and that it is thin enough to flow.  Acrylic will start drying immediately; you will not have time to mix more.  You can use paper like water cups or plastic cups.  I use little plastic containers from baby food.  Once paint is ready, you can start pouring it on the canvas. Try to visualize first how you want to arrange your colours, and then pour them bit by bit in different areas of the canvas. Then, gently move your canvas to allow colours to travel, to merge. Add more paint, let it cover empty spots, go over edge covering sides. Paint will intermix and create design.   You can somewhat control where and how you want paint to run. Once canvas is covered you can add more colour to it. Make sure canvas surface is fully covered. Missed spots will be hard to fill after. You can leave your art alone to dry now, or you can use chopstick or other side of brush to add design by swirling paint, creating objects, and theme (make sure the paint is still flowing).  It’s all on you how you want to see your story unfold. 

With more practice you will discover more methods and ideas how to work paint using the pouring method. Welcome mistakes as opportunities, and, most importantly, have fun!

11 thoughts on “magic of the painting pouring technique

    1. ryolah Post author

      Hi Verda, welcome to my blog!:). It is a pleasure to meet you. 🙂 To get rid of bubbles, I use the other side of a brush and gently try to air pop them; then I add a drop of paint where the bubble burst. Sometimes, I add more paint on a spot and swirl it to incorporate an interest design into existent painting theme.
      I hope this helps 🙂
      Happy painting to you!Most importantly – have fun!:)
      Olga

      Reply
  1. roy

    Hi i have been painting pop art for years and have started to take up paint pouring and have had some very good results but have seen so many you tube vids about creating cells using different methods from adding 100% silicon and mixing it it with the acrylics and adding 50% water and using a blow torch all of which i have tried and failed ,are these guys hiding a major piece of the puzzle,can you throw any light on making cells as i am now baffled.
    Kind regards
    Roy

    Reply
    1. ryolah Post author

      Hi Roy,

      Thank you for visiting ryolahArt and taking time to read my articles. I don’t not have a lot of experience in cells making; however, I can share another technique which uses a rubbing alcohol (70%). Get your canvas ready, choose your acrylics, water them down with 30/70 ratio (water/ acrylic respectively) and start applying paint to the moist canvas (sprinkle a bit with water using a spray bottle). You will have to work quickly as acrylic is a fast drying paint. Once your canvas is covered with paint, wet a clean brash in the alcohol (not to extend of dripping), using a small plastic cup, and sprinkle alcohol all over your painting to create cells. For best result hold the brash with alcohol in one hand and gently tap with the other hand. The end result will be slightly different from the torch technique, but no less fun! I hope this helps! Keep me posted! Cheers, Olga

      Reply
  2. SK

    Hi there,

    Seems you don’t use any pouring medium so in that case, does your painting dries glossy or dry? Yet to see any video on the internet that shows the texture of the painting after it’s dried. Please help! 😀

    Reply
    1. ryolah Post author

      Hi there,

      I only work with acrylic paint which doesn’t have a shiny compound in it comparing to oil paint. Regular acrylics dry into matte finish. My 30/70 water ratio seems to work best; acrylics flow easily and do not crack after drying. I always seal my paintings (to prevent a color fade and to protect paint from moist) and prefer a gloss finish or semi-gloss finish. There is a way to make your acrylic shine while still working on painting. In this case you would use an undiluted acrylic medium and apply a thin layer of it on top of dried paint color layer. Repeat after adding a new color layer. I really hope this works. Keep me posted! Thank you for visiting ryolah art.:)

      Reply
  3. Anna D

    Hi there! I’ve tried to pour paint recently, it’s been a learning process… I was curious if you have any trouble with paint combining too much? I’ve tried in my canvases to have white be predominant in the paintings and the other colors tend to overtake it… is this because I’ve thinned the white too much in comparison to the other colors? Also do you not use pouring medium in any of your colors?Also do you use any acrylic paints, or do certain brands work well? THANK YOU!

    Reply
    1. ryolah Post author

      Hi! Thank you for stopping by.:) I love pouring technique, it is so much fun and completely unpredictable process. I would agree with you in saying that over-thinned paint is causing colours to over mix. If the paint is to runny it tends to overpower canvas, and white pigment being so easily manipulated can completely lose it’s purity. I use water when thinning my acrylics with a ratio of 30% to 70% (water and paint respectively). You can use airbrush mediums as well at any ratio you want, just be consistent with all pigments. It is also important to use a higher quality acrylics. I like artist’s loft grade 1 acrylics. They are thick, vibrant and great quality, but way easier on a wallet. I would also suggest making white colour slightly thicker, so it wouldn’t be overtaken by colours so easily. 🙂 Have fun!

      Reply

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