Acrylic Pouring Techniques!

Acrylic Pouring Techniques

Acrylic Pours are the popular new trend in acrylic painting, creating random marbled patterns through a combination of colour, fluid binder, and method of pouring.

Both Golden GAC-800 and Schmincke Pouring Medium are high quality mediums that can be used with acrylic colours to create poured effects. They work well with Golden Fluid and High Flow Acrylic Colours, Schmincke Akademie Acrylic and Aerocolor, and well as our other popular brands – for best results use soft bodied, fluid, or liquid acrylic.

Schmincke Pouring Medium and Golden GAC-800 perform in their own ways. The Pouring Medium has higher clarity and flow; however GAC-800 is more cost-effective, and its heavier viscosity reacts with colour and additives to give different results, which are also appealing.

Acrylic Pours can be made with or without other additives. Both examples above have used Schmincke Pouring Medium combined with Schmincke Akademie Acrylics, then poured onto wooden ProPanels. The example on the left is a “pure” pour, while on the right, “cell” effects have occurred through adding liquid silicone (a lubricant available from hardware stores) to make a “dirty” pour.

Let’s take a look at some of the methods used for the pouring technique using both Golden GAC-800 and Schmincke Pouring Medium!

Pre-mix either Golden GAC-800 or Schmincke Pouring Medium with colour at a ratio 3:1 medium to paint, using more medium if the colour is pasty, one cup per colour. Ensure you’re using enough Medium by measuring, as too little will cause problems. First pour in the medium then add the colour and stir until thoroughly combined. This can then sit lidded until any bubbles have disappeared and you’re ready to use. Make up as many Medium + Colour mixtures as you want to use for your picture.

Free Pour

Make sure your work surface is level – the pour will move until dry and could end up on the floor! It’s a good idea to tightly tape the edge of your support, with the tape standing proud to stop the liquid from flowing over the sides.

Your chosen colours are then poured in layers into a cup you can pour from. Do not stir, or the colours will mix. The height you pour each layer into the container will affect the outcome: pouring gently down the side with keep the colour more separated, while pouring from a height increases the mix. If bubbles form in the dispensing cup, cover and rest until they disappear. Then you can pour onto your substrate in as controlled or gestural manner as you please!

Flip Cup Pour

Hold the cup in one hand, and your support (canvas or panel) upside-down in the other, position the support to cover the mouth of the container. Flip them around, so the container is firmly up-ended on the support. Wait so the contents can settle, then whip the container away with a flourish! 

Puddle Pour

This technique is very simple: either layer colours in one container as above and “free pour”, varying your gesture and the angle of your support; or pour separate colours into each other, which can then be dragged through using a palette knife, comb or other implement, and manipulated through titling the support.

Dirty Pour

A Dirty Pour has a very small amount of liquid silicone is added to the mixture. This creates dramatic “cells”, especially after the wet surface of the pour is lightly and quickly heated using a blow-torch. Only a couple of drops are necessary – too much silicone and your pour may peel away from its support (see further in this instruction).

Pour your first Medium + Colour into the dispensing cup and add only one or two drops of liquid silicon to the colour, mixing it thoroughly through.

Then add the other Medium + Colour mixtures to the cup – do not mix. Pour the contents of the cup onto your support and tip to achieve an even layer. Fire up your blow torch and pass quickly over the surface a couple of times. The heat will almost instantly activate the “cells” in the paint pour, and will also pop any bubbles.

The cells are random and varied, creating fantastic decorative effects. Too much silicon in the mixture however, and the pour can crack right through to the support, and peel completely away. After all, silicon is intended to stop things from sticking! Paintings containing silicon should be cleaned before varnishing.

Problem Solving

Like any art technique, pouring involves learning how a variety of materials, processes, environments, and timing interact, and mastering this takes time. Acrylic Pours can have the following problems:

Bubbles. To minimize bubbles let your Medium + Colour rest after mixing, so bubbles can escape. Bubbles in the pour can be pricked with a pin. A quick pass with a blowtorch will also pop bubbles.

The pour escaping your support. Use a spirit level to check your table is level; otherwise the pour will pour off as it dries. Tape the edges leaving a couple of millimetres of tape standing proud to prevent the pour running off the sides.

Fissuring. Fissures will develop if areas of paint dry before others, i.e. if there is a differing paint thickness in your pour. This often happens when pouring on stretched canvas, as the liquid colour tends to pool in the centre, when the canvas stretches under the weight, or if your support is on an angle, so the paint is thin on one side but pools against the tape on the other edge. Fissuring can also occur if there is water added to the mixture (some water may be okay – best to trial).

Fissures are not regarded as a “failure” by most pouring artists – they see them as part of the random formation of patterns in the pouring process.

Liquid Acrylic Colour

Liquid acrylics work well in pours and with slightly different results. The intense pigmentation of Schmincke Aerocolor means less of the colour needs to be added while still achieving brilliant hues. The heavier pigments in Aerocolor and Golden High Flow, such as Titanium White and Cobalt Blue, tend to granulate, creating separate visual textures and interactions.

Schmincke Pouring Medium + Schmincke Aerocolor (left) creates a pour that is more wispy, with granulation and superior transparency adding a greater sense of depth to the paint layer. A “dirty” pour using Golden GAC-800 + Golden Fluid Acrylic + liquid silicon (right) shows a different “cell” formation that is bold and distinctive.

We hope you enjoy creating crazy and exciting effects with Acrylic Pours!

  • Date: 12-09-2018
    Gordon Harris Gordon Harris

    @ LEA These “cells” are creating using the dirty pour technique which has the addition of silicone to the paint. There are many of You Tube videos demonstrating this if you do a Google search for Dirty Pour or Acrylic Pour with Silicone.
  • Date: 12-09-2018

    This is really useful! I've seen a few pours on Pinterest where there are neat rows of cells that looks almost like a chubby caterpillar, or bacteria growing in a Petri dish, in the middle of the canvas. I don't really know how to explain it, but it looks so cool and I was wondering if you have some idea how this effect is achieved? Thank you!
  • Date: 28-08-2018
    Gordon Harris Gordon Harris

    @ MATT Both Poring Medium and GAC800 dry clear, so if the colour is not mixed thoroughly through it’s possible these clear areas are medium. Silicone does not dry (one of the reasons it should be used very sparingly) so if the pools remain wet this could be it, but really you should not be using so much silicone to do this. A couple of drops to every 100ml of medium & paint is sufficient, otherwise there can be big problems.
  • Date: 26-08-2018

    I seem to be getting tiny pools of clear liquid, possibly the silicone when it is drying. Are these normal and will they dry or go? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
  • Date: 12-04-2018
    Glenda Paul

    Brilliant, thanks for the information. I have been doing this a few weeks but didn't know why I had cracking, now I see it was too much silicone. going to try the Schmincke Pouring medium. :)
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