Adventures in Pour Painting

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Recently, I decided to try my hand at pour painting. If you are interested in this new-ish trend among crafters and artists, then keeping reading - you're about to receive a crash course in fluid art! Don't have time to read this blog post - then skip to the bottom and check out my video! 

You can get started without spending a lot of money on supplies. The list of supplies below will run you about $50 or less if you choose student grade supplies over professional grades(especially if you hit some good sales and have a few big coupons). 

  • Something to paint on - pick up a few canvases. Start small - I'd recommend 8x8 or 10x10 squares. Of course you can go smaller or bigger and use different shapes other than a square. You can also use wood panels but I'd start with something rather simple like a 10x10 stretched canvas. 
  • Gesso - white is nice. Go cheap or go expensive, whatever your budget will allow. You'll need a brush too or an old used gift card to spread the gesso on the canvas. 
  • Soft Body Paint - just get the basics; red, yellow, blue, white, black (craft paint, student grade soft body paint or pro paint - whatever your budget will allow). Just don't get heavy body paint - it's too hard to get the right consistency and you'll end up with lumps in your paint. By the way, you could also use acrylic inks instead of soft bodied paint (also try Golden's fluid paints if you have them).  
  • Pouring medium - the Liquitex brand is expensive and I think it's too thick and needs to be further thinned with a flow aid or water. The cheaper option is Floetrol. You can pick up a big bottle of it from Home Depot or Lowes for about $8 - I really like the consistency of it. I thin it a little further with plain water - in the video below, I mix 2 parts floetrol with 1 part water.
  • Dollar Store haul or try your grocery - cheapish plastic gloves (I found a pack of 10 for $2), small (4oz) and medium (9oz) paper cups, wood craft or popsicle sticks, a pack of push pins and a couple of big aluminum baking sheet pans. Also, pick the greener option whenever you can and reuse as much as you can. 
  • Controversial supplies - 100% silicon (a lot of folks use treadmill lubricant because it's clear and doesn't smell). I couldn't find it locally so I bought a small bottle of 3 in 1 Silicone from Home Depot for about $4. OR pick up a small bottle of hair oil (this is the one that I use) in which the first ingredient is dimethicone. OR you can use both. And lastly, grab your brulee torch from the kitchen - if you don't have one, this is going to be your priciest supply and you don't necessarily need it - though some people swear it's how to get the most "cells". 

The Set-up or Mis en Place
Cover a table with a tarp or newspaper and then place an aluminum pan in front of you. Push one of the push pins into each corner of the back of each stretched canvas. Then place the canvas in the aluminum pan, brush on a coat of gesso and let dry. The gesso will help to prepare the canvas so that the paint doesn't bleed through and will give you a nice white base for the colors you plan to pour. 

Place your paints, floetrol, bottle of water, one smallish cup for each of the paint colors (with a wooden craft stick in each cup), your gloves and one bigger cup to create the "dirty pour" in front of you. You may want some other canvases ready in case you have a lot of left over paint and need to use it up.  

The Technique
Now about a tablespoon of soft bodied paint into a small cup - one cup gets one color. So if you have red, yellow, blue and white - each cup gets about 1 tablespoon of paint. To each cup add about the same amount of the floetrol (shake it well before pouring). Next add a teaspoon of water or a little more to each cup. Use the wooden craft stick to mix well - you do not want any lumps and you want the paint mixture to run off your craft stick with the consistency of skim milk. 

Once you have your colors mixed you can begin to assemble your "dirty pour". In a medium sized cup (9oz) start pouring in your colors. In the video below, here's the order I use for each color:  a base of white paint, then red, then yellow, then a little white, then blue, then yellow, then a little white, then red, then blue, then white, then red, then a little yellow, then white...and so on. For an 8x8 or 10x10 canvas you want to have a fairly full 9oz cup of paint. 

Put on your gloves - when you're ready, with one hand pick up the full cup of paint in one hand - pick up the canvas with the other and place the canvas face down on top of the cup, hold the two together and in one swift motion, flip it so that the cup is upside down on top of the canvas. Hold the cup down and carefully place the canvas and cup in the aluminum pan. When you're ready lift the cup. Let the paint spread, then carefully pick up the canvas and slowly tilt to let the paint run over the entire canvas. When you like what you see, set it down and walk away. It'll take at least 24 hours to dry so no touching until then.  

Using the Controversial Supplies
If you're going to use the silicone and/or the dimethicone, then you can add a few drops of each into each cup of color and stir ONCE - then pour into your big "dirty pour" cup. OR wait until you've added all the colors to the "dirty pour" cup and then add a few drops of one or both of the silicone and dimethicone.  Some folks swear by a quick torching of the paint after it's poured onto the canvas. Caution! Proceed at your own risk. I don't think these acrylic paints, plus silicone and dimethicone are meant to be bruleed! But I do it - not sure the torch really makes that big a difference though. 

TLDR - Video
There are tons of pouring videos on youtube - I'd recommend watching at least a few. In the mean time, here's a little video I made showing the process from start to finish. Hope you enjoy it!

Kim DavisComment