Paint pours. I love ’em! Here’s how I make mine. You need:
- Floetrol or pouring medium.
- Distilled water
- Cardboard box lined with plastic
- Hand torch
- Plastic cups
- Popsicle stir sticks
I set up my pouring area first. Mine is in the back storage room. I lay painters plastic down on the floor and over my table. I normally pour over a plastic lined cardboard box. It’s large, but shallow. I use plastic cups, turned upside down, to hold my canvases up, off the box. You want the paint to flow off the edges and it needs someplace to drip from the canvas. I put my gloves, popsicle stir sticks, and the hand torch there too.
When I’m pouring paint, I usually make several at a time. It takes a bit of time to set everything up and mix the paints, so I make it count. If you’re pouring several canvases at one time, make sure you have room to let them dry undisturbed. Since I pour mine in the same pouring box, I have to lift the canvas out and put them on plastic cups to dry. So I set up those areas too. If you can keep pets and kids away from your work, lay plastic down on the floor and transfer your pours onto that. I can’t do that, so I tuck my canvases into every nook and cranny available.
Here’s the recipe I use: 2 parts floetrol or pouring medium, 1 part paint, 1 part distilled water. You can measure your amounts, but I just divide my cup into the amounts I’m adding. I haven’t found exact measurements to be necessary. Close is good enough for me.
Color combinations are up to you. Using metallic paint is a fun addition. A little goes a long way, so I recommend only one metallic per pour. The inexpensive craft paints from the dollar store or Walmart work too. Because I mix a lot at one time, I prefer the larger tubes of student grade paints. I can get a lot from one tube. You can also get larger jugs of fluid paints from big box stores and on line. If your going to be making a lot of pours, this will be your most cost effective paint option.
Let’s get messy:
- I begin by adding my acrylic pouring medium or floetrol to my cup.
- Next comes my color. I like student grade acrylic tube paints for this, as they are already pretty thin.
- Mix well with with a popsicle stick.
- Add distilled water and stir well. You want the consistency of fluid acrylic paints.
- Leave stick in the cup and set aside.
- Repeat the above steps for each color you want to use.
- Now I add 3 to five drops of silicone to the paint, except the white and black. (These are the heaviest weight paints, so they will flow through the other colors in the pour cup, grabbing silicone from each.)
- Use you stir stick to give one or two stirs. Sometimes I skip this step and just leave the silicone floating on top.
- Now we fill our pour cups. I use the large, red beverage cups for this.
- Begin with the heaviest weight paint first-either your white or black.
- Add your color to the cup, one layer at a time. Just dump it right in there. No need to worry about this.
- The higher you hold the paint cups to pour the color in, the deeper the color will go in the layers.
- Lay your canvas over top of the filled pour cup, hold firmly and flip. Your cup is now upside down on your canvas, holding the paint.
- Make sure the canvas is sitting securely in the box, elevated on something stable.
- Lift cup straight up, letting the paint out. Scrape out excess with your stick and add to the far corners of the canvas.
- I always make an abundance of paint so it will cover my entire canvas with minimal tilting. While this might seem like a waste of paint, you can use the excess to dip paper, to add to the edges of the canvas where the paint didn’t cover, to press smaller canvases into, you can let the excess dry and use as paint skins, to make jewelry, etc. There really is no waste when I pour. I use every bit of the paint.
- Use your torch and quickly go over the poured paint to bring out more cells and to pop air bubbles. (If you’re using floetrol, wear a filtering mask. I am not overly concerned about using floetrol, but use your own judgement. If you have health concerns about the floetrol, purchase pouring medium made for this purpose.) Move quickly so you don’t burn the paint. Until you’re used to this, you’ll probably scorch some of the paint. That’s okay, as that can look cool too. It’s not a mistake, it’s a design element!
- Tip and carefully move the paint where you need it to go. I’ve never had a pour cover the sides completely, so I use a popsicle stick to scoop up the excess that dripped off, and fill in where needed.
- Go over a second time with your torch. Pop air bubbles this way, and bring out more cells. As the paint dries, more bubbles may work their way up. I like to pop these with a pin. Some artists leave them alone.
If your pouring a large canvas you’ll need several filled pour cups. Simple flip them upside down quickly onto your canvas. Place as many as necessary on the canvas, then pull the cups after they are all in place. Don’t flip and lift one at a time.
Once dry, some artist pour resin over the canvas. This is a really interesting option and one I like for small canvases or wood pieces. You can make coasters which are really delightful.
You can also use a solid surface and make table tops. This is my next major project. You can place your substrate on a lazy susan. This spins, so after you lift your pour cup you spin the substrate and the paint flows that way. Really cool look!
While this sounds complicated, it really isn’t. It’s a very forgiving project. The end results are alway exciting to see. Each pour is unique and spectacular. There are several how-to videos on you tube which I recommend you check out before you purchase your materials. I’ve made several beautiful pours, and I hope you’ll give it a try. This has become one of my favorite art techniques and I think you’ll fall in love with it too.