Acrylic Pouring Overview

When it comes to acrylic pouring/fluid art/flow art, I think possibly one of the areas that caused the most confusion for me (and perhaps for others judging by some of the questions I see people ask in acrylic pouring groups) is that in order to have success with this art form, it’s almost like you need to understand two components. 

The first component is what I call ‘acrylic pouring fundamentals’ or the overarching rules that apply to all acrylic pouring. 

The second is to then understand that each pouring technique i.e. flip cup, dirty pour, tree ring pour requires you to tweak these ‘acrylic pouring fundamentals’ to achieve success with that individual pouring technique.

You can’t simply take the ‘acrylic pouring fundamentals’ and almost copy and paste them across each different pouring technique because each pouring technique has it’s own set of ‘rule’s’ within the overarching rules, if that make sense.

Why this created confusion for me, particularly in the beginning is because the foundation of my art knowledge has been built around mixed media work.  Which meant that once I understood mixed media fundamentals, I would take these fundamentals and apply them to my paintings/work without too much variance.

It took me time to figure out that acrylic pouring is completely opposite! 

Even though I understood the fundamentals required for acrylic pouring it took time for me to understand that these fundamentals needed to be tweaked according to each different pouring technique i.e. a flip cup pour has a different set of ‘rules’ to follow compared to a tree ring pour. 

So, in summary I quickly discovered that whilst acrylic pouring/fluid art/flow art appears an easy art form, in reality it’s actually quite complicated! 

Therefore, when people ask me which techniques to try, I always recommend that they only start with one technique.  I do this because there are so many variances between each technique.  When starting out, if you try to attempt a couple of different techniques at a time, not only you will end up becoming confused, you will also waste a considerable amount of paint/money in the process.

Picking one technique enables you to learn the ‘acrylic pouring fundamentals’.  Once you understand these, you can then transfer this knowledge across to another technique but make the tweaks that are necessary so you can achieve success with this different technique.

What are the ‘Acrylic Pouring Fundamentals’?  In my workshops I describe this as the overarching information you will need to know with regards to acrylic pouring/fluid art.  These fundamentals include things like:

What paints to use and not to use. 

Different pouring mediums to use which include creating your own mediums from different products such as Elmers Glue All.

Pouring ratio’s to use. As well as understanding how to vary these according to the different type of technique you are attempting.

Understanding paint density.  Pigments used in paints cause the paint to vary in density. These variances can influence the success of your pour, particularly if you wish to create cells without using silicone. 

Paint consistencies.  Understanding paint consistencies helps you to both vary your consistencies depending on the pour you are attempting, as well as use different consistencies depending on the outcome you want to achieve, particularly if you wish to create cells within your pours without using silicone.

Paint density as well as consistency is quite an in-depth topic and too much to cover in this blog.  If you are interested in knowing more, I do have an Acrylic Pouring/Fluid Art for Beginner’s Ecourse which goes into this in more depth.  It also includes different pour examples to help you understand how consistency/density influences different pour techniques and your overall success with acrylic pouring.  If you are interested in more in-depth learning that reduces your need to experiment and waste time and money at the same time then I definitely recommend that you consider this course!

Silicone – firstly, to use silicone or not to use silicone in your pours as well as understanding the different kinds of products you can use instead of silicone.  Different products create different results so it’s also understanding which ‘silicone’ to select depending on the different result you wish to achieve within your pours.

Once you understand acrylic pouring fundamentals or the overarching rules, you are then able to take these and apply them to each different technique with an understanding that each technique requires the ‘overarching rules’ to be tweaked slightly as per each different technique’s requirement. 

For example, when attempting a flip cup pour the main requirement for this pour is to achieve cells.  The best way to create cells (if you don’t plan to use silicone) is to work with thinner consistency paint and either layer denser and lighter pigments/paint on top of each other.  Likewise, if you do not know the density of the paint you are using, you can varying the consistency of each individual paint using your pouring medium ratios which I explain in detail in my blog Paint (Pigment) density and Why it’s so Important for Cell Formation

However, if you wish to create a tree ring pour.  This type of technique does not require cells but more of a tight ring formation to occur.  Also, instead of your paints combining to make other colours, ideally you want to try and keep the colours separate within the rings.  To achieve this you would use a thicker consistencies as this creates more paint stability which means the paints have less likelihood of combining once they are layered into your cup and they will hold together better to create the tight ring formation when being poured onto your canvas.

So, I hope this has helped clear up some of the confusion that is often created around acrylic pouring. In summary, I have learnt that to be successful with acrylic pouring/fluid art it is important to understand that it is almost a two-step process. 

The first step is to learn the ‘overarching principles’ and then to take these and tweaking then according to each different pouring technique. It’s also important to understand that just because you have mastered the flip cup technique, this does not mean you will automatically understand and achieve success with all other different pour techniques.  Once you master one technique, you will then have a foundation of knowledge to pull from, to help you master the next technique.

If you are interested in learning this in more depth then as I mentioned above, please consider grabbing my Acrylic Pouring for Beginners E-Course.  Otherwise, I hope this blog has helped 😊

Happy pouring!