Hi Folks and welcome back to my blog. Today, I am going to show you some of the results that I have had from the acrylic pouring craze that seems to be sweeping the world at the moment. This post is aimed at those who, like me, are relatively new to acrylic pouring. I will apologise in advance if my spellcheck refers to it as “pouting” at any point, hopefully I have picked up on all of those 😊
I, however, make no apologies for the fact that this is a long blog post today. I thought about splitting it into 2 or even 3 posts, but it didn’t seem to work out properly. So, before reading any further, I advocate a cup of tea/glass of chilled white, putting your feet up and having a read through.
Disclaimer: I am an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to acrylic pouring and am still on a learning curve. What I am sharing with you today are the results that I have had so far (including the not s successful) and any useful tips I have picked up along the way.
Why Acrylic Pouring?
I love the unpredictability of this type of painting and the uniqueness of each canvas – you can use the same colours and the same paint mix and you will not get the same results twice.
Like a lot of crafters, I have a stash of quite a few acrylic paints and I usually have a couple of blank canvases hidden away. Given that all that I needed to buy was some silicone and some paint conditioner, I thought I would give it a whirl.
Canvas / Canvas board / MDF panel / Ceramic tile – basically something heavy duty that you can pour paint onto. Cardstock doesn’t work, as the sheer volume of paint going onto it makes the card buckle and sag. I would recommend coating MDF with some gesso +/- matt medium, in order to seal the wood and prevent the colour of wood showing through the paint, as well as a lot of the paint soaking into the MDF
Paints – somewhat critical for this type of project. You can mix and match the paint brands, and adjust the amount of paint conditioner and water that you use accordingly
Paint Conditioner/Flow Improver/Floetrol – this will ‘stretch’ the paint to go a bit further and thins it without breaking up the paint molecules. Throughout this post, I will refer to this as Flow Improver, as that is what I personally use. If you go without this and just use water to thin your paint, you will notice a lot of deep cracks will form after the paint has dried. A lot of the artists that you watch on YouTube use Floetrol to thin down the paint. Where I live that is not available in my local arts and crafts store; but, I did get my hands on some Flow Improver by Winsor and Newton, which works really well for me
Silicone – not an essential bit of kit, unless you want to create the cellular effect that artists are getting. By not using the silicone, you may still get a few cells popping up; but more usually just a more “wispy” or striated/linear effect. I bought a treadmill silicone lubricant on eBay relatively cheaply and it seems to do the trick just fine for me
Gloves – Latex gloves are something I would recommend, as this technique can get a bit messy.
A covered surface or drip tray – I use a large plastic storage box as I do not have a lot of desk space at home
Cups/beakers – These are essential for mixing your paints in and also for pouring paint onto the canvas. It might not sound eco-friendly using plastic cups; but, as acrylic paints are water-based, you can wash the cups after each pour and re-use them; so, not so bad as it sounds
Stirrers – I use lollipop sticks, I clean them off at the end of each session and they can be reused
Mark makers – I will have some bamboo skewers that I can move thin strands of the paint from certain areas. I also have some straws that I use to blow the paint around the canvas as well
Heat gun/blow torch – something that will warm the paint to bring the silicone to the surface, causing the cell structures to appear, also to push the colour around the canvas. I have tried this with a hairdryer – not recommended as the clean-up job afterwards took forever!
Patience – you can control what colour paint you use, how much paint you use, how much silicone you use, what size canvas you use; however, you cannot control what the paint will do once you have let it loose on the canvas. It also takes a while for the paint to dry completely, so you might not see the full effects for 24-36 hours.
Flip cup technique
This is where you need a steady pair of hands!!! I am right handed and so I hold the cup in my right hand and place the canvas face down onto of the cup. Holding the cup tightly to the surface of the canvas, you then “flip” the canvas (gently) the right way up, so the cup should look like this:
This is the bit that I found the trickiest when I started out. A lot of tutorials will say mix one-part paint to two-parts of paint conditioner. This is what I tried first and when it hit the canvas it was beautiful. However, as the paint spread and then dried, I had stretched-out cells, the thinnest amount of paint on the canvas and a huge mess in the bottom of my drip tray. My conclusion…the paint mix was way too thin for the cells to hold their shape and possibly not enough silicone in there either.
So, my belief is that, on the YouTube videos, the demonstrators may be using artist quality acrylic paints; I, however, have a large amount of Docrafts Artiste acrylic paints (which are aimed at crafters more than artists) and are a little thinner than your standard acrylic paints, so this was probably where my problem was.
Not to be deterred, I took another canvas and decided to make up my own paint recipe. I have garnered from various artists that the ideal consistency for pouring paint is somewhere between single cream and honey. Now, I had something to aim for.
The first real success
And at this point you are hooked on acrylic pouring – the moment where all the boxes get ticked and the painting looks good! So, I thought I would use this one as my demo piece for this tutorial:
Mix the paint with Flow Improver to get the idea consistency. Add 2-3 drops of silicone into each of the colours. I used Sea Spray, Lagoon and Bahama Blue from Docrafts Artiste.
Rest your canvas on top of 4 upturned plastic cups in your drop tray; or, alternatively, press some thumb tacks into the back, ensuring that the canvas is entirely level.
Layer the paints into a 200ml (standard sized plastic cup). I add a little a time of each colour and build up from there until all the paint is used and the cup is near enough full.
I apply a thin layer of white paint mixed with Flow Improver and spread this over the canvas to create a slick surface for the paint to move over – this is not essential.
Put the canvas on top of the cup of paint and then gently flip it over and set the canvas back down. Now, congratulate yourself on not covering yourself with paint and do the Dance of Joy for about 40-60 seconds, this allows time for the paint to roll down the inside of the cup.
Once you have danced and pronounced yourself to be a genius, you can then pick the cup off and allow the paint to flow out. It will look something like this and not particularly inspiring. Do not fear though.
Run your heat tool or blowtorch over the surface and you will start to see little cells appear. Do not leave the heat source for too long over the same part of the paint, or you might over-cook it! (Forgot to take a photo of this bit – was just a little impressed that it looked good!!)
Pick up the canvas (gloves on hands unless you like it messy) and slowly tilt the canvas to allow the paint to drip over the edges. You can touch up any white areas on the sides of the canvas using the runoff that has collected on your work surface/drip tray.
Leave the painting to dry. This is where patience comes in as it can take up to 3 days to be completely dried, due to the thickness of the paint on the surface. Once dry, if it didn’t work out as you had imagined, then it is a bummer; but, not a total loss. You can always create another pour and cover the canvas again.
It is recommended that you leave your painting to cure (completely dry) for about 2 weeks before wiping off the excess silicone oil and applying your sealer/resin coat. As of now, I want to try a few techniques out and see which one I find works the best; so, as this blog post in rivalling War and Peace in the “number of words” stakes, I will end here for today and the touch on cleaning and varnishing the paintings in a separate blog post.
I hope to be posting more of these pieces further down the line, so if you liked this brief introduction to acrylic pouring, please do like this post and follow my blog for more ideas and inspiration.
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Happy crafting, Gem x