Today, I want to share some of the most important tips that I've learned during my acrylic pour painting experiments, trials, and fails!
Pouring art is so much fun! It's very intuitive, and you can get some amazing results right away! And we all make mistakes time after time and learn from them. But it's definitely nice to avoid some by learning from someone else's experience! I wish I could go back in time and share all these tips with myself at the beginning of pouring journey, it would save me so much time, paint, and effort.
So I really hope that you are going to learn something helpful and it will make your practice even more rewarding!
Also, I highly recommend you to review this post - Acrylic Paint Pouring Supplies – Essentials and Fancy Add-ons. In this post, I go over all the must-haves and optional supplies and explain how and what to choose.
NOTE: In this article, when I say Paint I mean Paint+Medium.
Can I add water?
Well, there is no single opinion or strict rule about it. Just like there is no single opinion about how dense your mixture should be. And honestly, I would recommend you to experiment with/without to see what works for you. Here I'm just sharing my personal opinion based on my experience.
So my answer would be: "Yes, but only when you actually need it and only distilled water". Pouring mediums are already fluid enough, and most of the time you would get a perfect consistency just by mixing the paint and medium together.
And what would be the case when I need to add water?
a) the paint I have is not fluid enough and I need to decrease the viscosity. I add a little bit of water and pouring medium at the time and stir gently, and only then add the rest of the medium.
b) I need more fluid mixture for a certain effect or fast surface coverage.
c) my premixed paint was sitting for too long and thicken a bit.
That's it! I don't add water in any other case. And you should be careful with adding too much water because water breaks the binder in the paint, and it would not adhere properly. If you don't know what paint to use, I'm covering it in this article.
Make sure to have enough paint to cover the canvas
When I just began my experiments with acrylic pour painting, I would always mix either too much or not enough paint. Generally, it's nice to have a little extra, and even too much is ok because you can preserve it for the next pour (well, not if you poured it all in one cup for a flip), but having not enough sucks!
So I did some research about it, and of course, recommendations vary. Afterall, I like the following formula the most: area of a canvas (in square inches) divided by 25 equals the amount you need in ounces.
length" x width" / 25 = oz -it might sound confusing, but it's actually very convenient.
For example canvas 12 by 12: 12x12/25=5.7oz (round to 6oz); 24 by 20 canvas: 24x20/25 = 19 oz.
You don't have to be precise, just a rough number that helps you estimate your needs.
Prevent the crazing
Professional mediums for acrylic pour painting are designed to remain flexible when dry and prevent crazing. Unfortunately, even they fail time after time, not to mention Floetrol, that is technically not even a pouring medium.
So what can you do to prevent crazing? Crazing happens when the top layer of the paint dries faster than the bottom layers. So first of all, you should try to keep the temperature in the room where you leave your pour overnight down (70F and under). No direct sunlight. Secondly, keep it away from the draft.
Lastly, and this is especially relevant in the hot summer days, don't make your pours too thick (which brings us back to the previous tip about knowing how much paint you actually need).
It's all about ratios
In acrylic pour painting art, it's all about ratios! Of course, technique matters, but the ratio is the key to success or the reason for failure. This is a very big topic, so I will dedicate a whole separate article to it, where I'm going to do few experiments to show you the difference, so stay tuned for the updates.
But overall, it's better to have a more liquid mixture than more viscous one - warm honey consistency is roughly your goal. The liquid mixture is easier to work with. It's better to add too much medium that not enough. I usually do 1 part of paint to 3 or 4 parts of medium for student grade paint and 1 to 5-7 for artist grade paint. If you add not enough medium your paint will not flow.
Most importantly, you have to experiment a lot with different proportions and figure out what works the best for you! And this is very important. There is no perfect recipe or ratio, and each artist has its own preferences.
Keep your phone safe
How many of you have dropped the phone in a paint? I did once, likely it felt on the back and I have a decent case, so nobody got hurt.
Here is the best solution ever! I've ordered this phone holder to record myself pouring (here is my Youtube channel by the way 😉 ), and it turned out to be the most convenient thing ever! It's super 360 adjustable and easy to move around!
I use it to film and to keep the reference picture or video from my phone in front of me while painting. It keeps the phone nice, safe, and still.
You can read more about it here - UGREEN Phone & Tablets Holder.
Generally, you can use it however you want, not only for pouring and painting: it keeps your hands free when you are face-timing, or you can use it when you are cooking and need a recipe or Netflix in front of you. Seriously, I'm super in love with this holder, the best $28 I've ever spent.
Floetrol - getting rid of lumps in your acrylic pour painting!
Floetrol has a tendency to create small white lumps that are pretty annoying and noticeable on a dry pour.
But don't worry, because an ordinary pantyhose can help you eliminate this problem! Simply stretch it over the bottleneck of Floetrol. I usually cut a square piece like 4" x 4" and secure it on the bottleneck with a hair elastic.
If you don't like the pantyhose, you can also use a regular strainer or anything that can filter the liquid.
Say "No!" to messy backsides!
Dirty Pouring can literally be super dirty, and the backsides of your canvas can turn into a mess, especially the back of the canvas and stretcher (wooden frame). Usually, it's no big deal, but if you are planning to sell/gift your artwork, or maybe if it annoys you as much as it annoys me... you might wanna do something about it.
The solution is pretty simple! All you need is a masking tape, few sheets of paper, and a good memory to remember to use those before each pour!
Maybe it's not perfect, but it's definitely much better! The stretcher is clean, and no fingerprints on the canvas. Optional: you can paint over the back part of the canvas before removing the masking tape.
Varnishing done easy!
Varnishing is a very important step to ensure painting's longevity. On top of that, it adds an amazing aesthetic appeal by evening out the painting’s final appearance, making it all equally glossy or matt. If you want to read more about varnish, check out this post - Varnish for Painting – Types and Differences.
However, varnishing is always a bit of a challenge for painting beginners. And you can't cheat with the pour art, because the surface is so smooth, that all the brushstrokes and imperfections are super noticeable!
Which is why I highly recommend you to try spray varnish! It's super easy to use, no brush needed! I use Windsor&Newton Professional or Krylon UV Archival spray varnishes. I prefer Gloss. You can read my review about the Krylon here - Krylon Spray Varnish.
Note: let your pour dry for 3 weeks before varnishing.
Re-pouring over unfortunate pour
First of all, don't be afraid to scrape off the pour that you don't like. It's totally fine, nobody creates a masterpiece every single time! Once you did, go over the canvas and sides with a paper towel to remove the rest of the paint. Let it dry, and it's ready for a new acrylic pour painting!
In case if you let the pour dry first and then realized that you hate it, it's also fine! You can make your canvas like a brand new! In this case, you would need a sandpaper or a block. It's especially necessary if you are using Liquitex pouring medium. Go over the whole surface, you need to make scratches because your future pour will need a surface to adhere to.
Once you sanded it you need gesso! If you are not sure what it is, check out my post about it - Acrylic Gesso and Why You Need to Use It. Apply few layers of gesso to make sure it's covered evenly. That's it! Ready to pour!
Second breath for a saggy canvas
Simple and brilliant way to make loose and saggy canvas nice and drum-taut!
Spray the back of the canvas with water using a regular water spray bottle (by the way, this spray is a must-have for all the acrylic painters ). The only tricky thing about it is that you need to get into the corners to make sure canvas is evenly wet. You can use anything like tissue paper or cotton pads for this purpose. Don't go crazy, you only need it wet, not soaked.
Let it air dry before using. Enjoy.
Preserve your paints for future pours
It's pretty easy to preserve the extra paint you've mix by keeping it in a container with an airtight lid. You can also utilize a sauce squeeze bottles or even regular beverage bottles, just make sure to wash them thoroughly. If the lids are tight, your paint will remain fresh for a few months.
Make sure to write the recipe on the bottle, because it's easy to forget.
And in case if you are planning to get back to your acrylic pour painting in a couple hours and don't need to preserve you paint for a long period of time - just use a regular plastic wrap. Wrap it tightly around the cup and go have your break.
Level the surface
You all know how important it is to level the surface where you are doing your pour. But I find that it's even more important to level the surface where you dry your artworks.
If your worktable isn't perfectly leveled, it's no big deal, it wouldn't affect the process of pouring at all. The completely different story with the drying! I've ruined few amazing pours by leaving them on the floor which apparently isn't leveled. Next day all the beauty sank towards one side, and it was heartbreaking.
So please make sure that the surface is leveled before leaving your acrylic pour painting overnight.
Finally, few personal recommendations:
• Learn to stop! You like it - walk away! Don't keep tilting and moving paint around, because you can ruin all the beauty and break some nice cells.
• Experiment! Don't be afraid to do something different! Or add something different! Or pour differently. Experiment becomes an experience!
• Make sure to cover the sides - don't hesitate to dip your finger in drips and cover whatever needs to be covered.
• Don't use too many additives, especially at once.
• Don't be upset if something is not working out. Practice is a key to success, there are no failures, only learning curves. Pick a technique and master it!
• Share your art in the dedicated art groups and with your friends and family, and you'll be amazed by how many people adore it!
Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my acrylic pour painting tips and recommendations! I hope you've learned a lot of new and useful today! I would love to hear from you - what are your personal tips? Please, feel free to share! Also, here is a great idea of how to make an easy yet super effective DIY container for pouring - Acrylic Pouring Drip Container DIY Project.
Stay tuned for new exciting posts coming soon!