Down and Dirty

Acrylic paints and I have never gotten along too well. We’ve managed to establish a polite, working relationship when it comes to toning canvases for oil painting, and I’ve come to a point where I don’t fuss too much at using acrylic markers as part of my mixed media art journaling. So, maybe we’re getting along a little better these days.

Yesterday morning, for the first time in several months, I got out a square canvas, gathered up my pouring supplies, and created an acrylic pour project. For once, I ended up with a pour that I actually like.

This photo was taken soon after I completed the pour — a “dirty pour” using three colors:

  • Pink Parfait
  • Admiral Blue
  • Pavement

So, what is a “dirty pour”? Basically it means adding all colors to a single cup, along with enough “flow medium” to create the right consistency. There’s a lot that can be said about the proper methods of putting the paint in the cup — do you pour from a high distance or a low one, which colors have a high density and which have low density, do you layer the colors first in individual cups and then add them to the pouring cup, do you add them one at a time, does any of this really matter?

To answer the last question first, yes, these different factors can have a huge bearing on how your pouring turns out, so if you’re really interested in learning all the in’s and out’s of acrylic pouring, you’ll want to download a density chart, and you’ll want to try out various methods to get your paints ready to pour.

I am choosing not to do too much of all that, however. For me, acrylic pouring is just something that should be fun, something that requires no serious thought, and something that can be easily tossed out if I don’t like the results. Approaching it with that attitude is making it all much more fun for me than it’s been in the past. With previous efforts, I really wanted to learn about acrylic pouring, make good decisions, and create beautiful art. I struggled and was disappointed with my results.

Now, I just want to put a bit of paint in a cup, pour it out, see where it goes, and that’s it.

I did use a “flow medium” and I added a bit of silicone oil in hopes of getting a few cells in the design. For what it’s worth, I mixed my three paint colors into a single cup, stirred only a little, and proceeded to do a “flip cup” pour.

This technique involves placing the canvas face down over the cup, then, as its name suggests, flipping it over and placing it on the painting rack. My pouring area is nothing more than a wire baking rack placed over a large aluminum baking pan. The paint drips off the sides, falls into the pan, and there’s no real mess to clean up. I do wear nitrile gloves so that I can handle the canvas as the paint spreads.

One helpful trick I have learned is that once I flip the cup and canvas over, it’s good to allow it to set untouched for a moment before I pull the cup away. That helps ensure that all the paint spills out easily once the cup is removed.

Now, my acrylic pour painting will sit here for quite some time. I’ll allow it to dry thoroughly for several weeks. I can then apply a light coat of varnish. I’m thinking that I’ll do a series of three pours using these same colors. I have a spot all picked out where I can hang them.

So, I’m feeling happy today as I look at my acrylic pour. I actually like it. That’s a nice feeling.



    1. I’ve always had problems with acrylics. 😦 I do like acrylic pouring though, even though they rarely turn out the way I expect. It’s still fun to play with the different colors and see what happens!


      1. I’ve played with pastels before — both oil and soft. I’m not good with either. 😦 With the chalk-like pastels, I seem to get more on myself than on the paper! I’ve seen a lot of beautiful pastel paintings. So much is possible with the medium. I just don’t have the talent for it.


      2. It’s always fun to try different media. I think we learn a lot, even if we decide we don’t like something in particular. We still gain new skills plus the ability to see art in new ways.


      3. Oh, that would be fun! I don’t remember the first pastel I ever tried. I worked with oil pastels first, and got very frustrated because there aren’t any good demos (at least done that I could find at the time) that really showed how to use them.


  1. I love the unpredictability of acrylic pouring, it can produce some really lovely results. I’ve wanted to give it a try for ages, I have the supplies, the only thing I’m short of is space to let them dry…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have yet to come up with a pouring that I really, really love, but even so, it’s always fun just because it is so unpredictable. I ordered a few more 10 x 10 square canvases, and over the next few weeks I’m going to have fun playing with different techniques. Maybe I’ll end up with a few pourings that I like.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It makes a change to have something that you’re not completely in control of…that extra bit of freedom… I find alcohol inks can be like that too (and they dry really quickly!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! I’m playing with alcohol inks again, too — you’ll be seeing a couple posts about them soon — and the ink does dry very quickly! I’m learning to manipulate them a bit with brushes and blending, and as with acrylics, while I’m not coming up with beautiful works of art, I’m having fun and I’m figuring out how to do a lot of different things.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m happy to spend time having fun and learning things… especially this year… and then I just let it all percolate in my mind and at some point an idea emerges and the basic skills are already there to have a good attempt at creating something interesting – it may still not be great art, but I’m just looking for progress and maybe a bit of direction right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s how I feel… progress, a bit of direction, and an opportunity to have fun without thinking about “creating art”. The alcohol inks are really tricky, but I do love the beautiful colors.


    1. I’ve been doing more acrylic pourings lately. There’s really a lot to learn. I’m having fun now using acrylic pourings as a way to study color theory and work with different color schemes.


I'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s