CONCORD, N.H. — When it comes to acrylic pour painting, there’s more than one way to go with the flow.
As the name suggest, pour painting involves pouring rather than brushing paint onto a canvas to create swirling, abstract designs. Not only are there many techniques for applying the paint — puddle pour, dirty pour, flip cup, swipe — but also many recipes for producing a fluid mixture that will glide smoothly across the canvas.
For my first attempt at this type of artwork, I decided to stick with just one pouring technique and a consistent color palette, while experimenting with different mediums to achieve the proper pouring consistency. I chose what appeared to be the quickest, simplest technique — layering different colors of paint in a cup and flipping it over onto the canvas all at once — and used the same shades of blue, green, silver and white for all three paintings. Based on many of the online tutorials I read, I also added a few drops of silicone oil to each mixture to facilitate the formation of cells — areas where the paint spreads into rounded shapes so the colors underneath show through.
Overall, there was not a huge difference between the three mediums, and I think it would take some more experimenting to truly develop a preference. Here’s what I found, with each method rated from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least expensive, easiest and best results:
The first method I tried was based on a video tutorial by Rick Cheadle, and was the only one I could attempt with supplies I already had on hand. White glue is mixed in equal parts with paint, and then thinned with water. If I had purchased the glue, this method would have fallen in the middle of the three in terms of cost, at just under $6 for 8 ounces of glue.
Though my resulting painting ended up with a large area of white and gray, I liked how the other colors mixed together. And if I was trying this project with kids, going with glue would be the safest choice, though glue is not considered “archival” quality and likely would yellow over time.
The second technique I tried was from a blog called MomDot, which describes how to create poured paintings with kids using Floetrol, which can be found at hardware stores and is meant to be used to improve the consistency of wall paint. I found I had to add more Floetrol than indicated to get a pourable consistency, but I may have been starting with thicker paint.
At roughly $7 per quart, Floetrol was the least expensive medium per ounce, though if you aren’t going to make large or multiple paintings, you might have a lot leftover. The glue was more expensive per ounce, but is more versatile in terms of using it for other projects.
The resulting painting had some good-size cells, but also a lot of small air bubbles that led to a somewhat bumpy final product.
The final technique was the most expensive, at nearly $17 for 8 ounces of Liquitex pouring medium. The medium is mixed in a 5:1 ratio with paint and produced a slightly smoother, glossier painting than the other mediums. It also produced more cells. And because this product is developed for use in artwork, it won’t crack, hold bubbles or turn yellow as it dries.