What is Paint Pouring?
Paint pouring is when you mix acrylic paints with pouring mediums and then pour the mixture onto a surface. There are a huge variety of mediums and techniques to try, and I will go over several of them in this Paint Pouring 101 guide. Your first question might be, “why do I need a pouring medium?” The main reason we use a pouring medium is that it helps keep the colors separate. If we just dumped a bunch of paint colors on a surface at once, they would likely combine into a muddy, unattractive color. The pouring medium not only helps keep the colors separate, it also makes the paints flow more easily and keeps the paint from cracking when it dries.
The three basic supplies you need for paint pouring are acrylic paints, a pouring medium, and a surface to pour onto. You’ll also need a few basic tools for mixing and pouring the paints, as well as an adequate work surface.
Acrylic Paint: acrylic paints work well because they are already very fluid and liquid. You do not have to add water or anything else to thin them out for paint pouring. The Darice acrylic paint set is a great option because it has a huge variety of colors that work very nicely together.
Pouring Medium: there are multiple pouring mediums to choose from. One popular option is Liquitex Pouring Medium. Another great option is DecoArt Pouring Medium. GAC800 is another popular option for paint pouring. Each of these products will help keep your paint colors separate and prevent cracking when the paint dries.
Painting Surfaces: canvas surfaces are very popular, but you do not have to limit yourself to this. Wood surfaces like frames and trays are great for paint pouring. You can even pour on rocks, 3-D figures, and almost any solid surface you might want to experiment on.
Technique: Pour Colors Individually
One way to paint pour is to start with a base color and then add the other colors one at a time. That is how I created this galaxy-inspired tray project.
First, mix the paint colors with the pouring medium. I used Liquitex Pouring Medium with a ratio of one part paint to two parts medium. Mix each color well, then let the mixed paints sit for about 5 minutes so the air bubbles can dissipate.
You can leave the paints alone, move the tray around to make the colors “move”, or what I did was take a toothpick and swirl the colors around. My goal was to create a piece that looked like a galaxy in space. I also mixed some white paint with pouring medium and splattered it on the wet paint, to create stars in the galaxy. After the paint had dried completely overnight I painted the edges of the tray.
Technique: Pour All the Colors at Once
Instead of pouring each color one at a time, you can combine them all into one cup and then “dump” all of the colors at once onto your canvas. That is how I created this piece of wall art.
As before, I chose my colors and mixed each individual color with the pouring medium. I used Liquitex for this paint pour. Set the colors aside for a few minutes to let the bubbles disappear. Pour each color one at a time into a cup.
Technique: Minimal Movement
If you want to create a lot of “cells” in your poured paint art you will need to minimize how much you move the paint around. In the first two techniques, I moved the paints around quite a bit. With this one, I used a medium that is designed just for paint pouring and I didn’t move the paint around much so that I could get more of the cells, the circular paint parts that you see in the bottom half of this frame.
As before, I mixed each color with the medium in separate cups. For this project I used DecoArt’s Paint Pouring Medium so I could achieve more cells in my finished piece. I also used one metallic acrylic paint to give the finished piece a little more shine.
Pour all of the paints into one cup, and dump most of the paint on the lower, larger half of the frame. Let the paint flow freely off the wood frame. For the smaller, top part of the frame I poured the paint in lines and used a plastic spatula to help move the paint over the surface. This is why the top has few cells and the bottom of the frame has many.
After the paint had dried completely overnight I painted the edges of the frame brown.
Once you give paint pouring a try you will be eager to experiment on different surfaces and with different mediums! One fun idea is to pour the paint onto a silicone mat and use the dried paint to create various shapes, like DecoArt did to make planets. You can also pour the paint through items like colanders to create a variety of effects. See our blog posts for more fun paint pouring inspiration! What type of paint pouring tutorial would you like to see next?
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Morena from MorenasCorner.com is the kind of girl who would rather have paint on her fingers than get a manicure. Morena’s passion is using thrifted and inexpensive finds to craft designer inspired creations, and she enjoys creating colorful, bold pieces of home decor. The Italian-American daughter of two DIYers, she and her husband strive to pass the tradition and value of handmade to their four children.