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Fluid Painting // Acrylic Pouring

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

A fun, easy and kinda messy way to create abstract art! This is something you could totally do for fun with the kids or to fill your walls with some new original art. You don't have to be Picasso to come away with a piece that you really love.


Fluid Painting or Acrylic Pouring is exactly what it sounds like - paint is applied to the canvas by pouring it on! There are a few materials you will need to gather and different techniques you can use. I tried acrylic pouring for the first time recently. I'll give you a run down of what I learned and would do differently the next time so you don't have to make the same mistakes I did or go it alone!

  • Canvas

I tried panels and stretched canvas. While both work, I would recommend stretched canvas over panels. They are much easier to hold than the panels while you work, also easier in the drying process.

  • Cups or Resealable Jars for paint

I used some extra solo cups and random plastic cups we had around the house - I'm going to be honest, the rounded square bottom to the solo cup was problematic when it came to mixing. I wasn't able to get everything out of the corners.. definitely opt for a cup with a round bottom. If you are going to mix up a lot of paint or varying colors, you might consider using air tight container, resealable jars or bottles of some kind. This will allow you to waste less and use them another day.

  • Popsicle sticks or chop sticks to mix paint

I did also use a couple of plastic utensils we had but I really liked mixing with Popsicle sticks and chopsticks more. The plastic spoon held on to too much paint after mixing.

  • Acrylic Paint (soft body or fluid acrylics are ideal)

I used what I had on hand which was not soft body or fluid- a mix of really old and new tubes of Liquitex Basics and old craft paints. It still worked for me. Though some of my paints were SUPER old... like 10 plus years, that I had left over from old projects - that was problematic due to some separation which occurred within the paint tubes. Just be mindful if you are doing the same, otherwise you could end up with some chunks or weird consistencies. The newer paints I used were way better and mixed down to the needed consistency right away.

  • Pouring Medium

There are a bunch of brands out there you can try. I used Liquitex Pouring Medium which was great and will be trying Artist Loft brand next for the sake of my budget. GOLDEN also makes a pouring medium which seems to be popular - GAC800. I have read a little bit about a different additive available that is made for latex paints but used in pouring called Floetrol. The ratio of how to use it will likely be different and will require some research if you wish to go that route.

  • Water

  • Gloves

Unless you want your hands to be covered in a layer of paint and potentially get it all over yourself or your house, wear gloves!

  • Silicone Oil

I did not use this due to not having it on hand at the time and I question how archival the final piece will be when using. I have to do more research on this but if you have it, want to try it or don't care about how long the final painting will last - feel free to use it! I'll fill you in on what its for and how I was still able to achieve a similar effect in the techniques section.

  • Drop cloth or plastic sheet

I used a plastic covering from a bulk toilet paper pack! Old bed sheets are great to use as drop cloths too. You could also probably get away with using newspaper if you have that instead. Definitely use something to cover your table (and floors if needed) though, it gets messy! Oh and maybe wear some clothes you don't mind getting paint on!

  • Plastic tub to catch your paint spill over.

I held the canvas over a plastic tub I normally use when varnishing my wood slice portraits. It catches the extra paint so you don't have a puddle on your table top. Just make sure your tub is larger than your canvas! A box would also work for this purpose.

  • Cups, blocks or something similar to prop your canvas up and away from the table while drying.

Don't lay your canvas down on a table, the paint on the edges will dry and stick to your surface! I dried mine sitting on cups and also using 2 bamboo sticks above a card board box. The cups were better for keeping the canvas flat and not at an angle while drying.

The general ratio to remember for this process - 1 part paint to 1 part medium. You may need to play around with this, depending upon what paints and medium you're using. Start with 1:1, and slowly add more medium if its still too thick. Add water slowly and sparingly to help thin out the paint consistency. Be careful how much you add! You want the paint to be thin enough to move freely but not so thin where it disrupts the binding process of the paint!

Using heavy body paint is not recommended ! It will require too much mixing down with medium to reach the right consistency for pouring. Heavy body paint is thick. Its meant to show texture and brush strokes, not be fluid.

A Few Techniques

Dirty Cup Pour. Combine all of your paint into one cup! This is the method I mostly used. Pour layers of your premixed colors, one on top of the other. Make sure your paint is all the same consistency before layering. You can also add a couple drops of silicone oil in between each color layer. The silicone oil will create cells or openings in the paint as it moves and interacts with the other paint layers/canvas, a heat gun can be used to open them up and create patterns. I achieved the same effect by using different types of acrylics together - varying craft paints and Liquitex basics. It may take some trail and error but if the density of the paints are different enough, you'll see it happen. I also did not have to use a heat gun for it to occur. Once your paint is layered, you can either dump the cup directly onto the canvas or place your canvas face down on the cup opening, holding both the cup and canvas surface tightly together, flip them over. Remove your cup, start tipping and tilting your canvas to move the paint over the surface. Don't forget to cover your canvas sides and edges!

Here's a closer look at what cells look like!

Puddle Pour. Mix all of your colors in separate containers/cup. Again make sure everything is the same consistency. Pour small puddles of paint onto the canvas, one on top of the other. Tip and tilt to spread. You can drag something like string or a chopstick over and through the paint to distort it as well. I've even seen people press inflated balloons against the paint to spread it. Have fun with it!

Blown. Get yourself a straw! Mix all of your colors, place them into 1 cup or pour them separately. Your first step is to add a base layer of paint to the canvas, covering it from edge to edge. Then take your layered cup or single colors and pour a puddle of paint (add multiple layers if doing single colors at a time) Blow it around using the straw or blow dryer (on the cold setting) ..even an air compressor if you have one handy. You will need to work quickly to avoid drying. Play around and see what you can create!


Here are the results of my first time fluid painting! My absolute favorite is the circular canvas. The panels were harder to work with and hold so they didn't exactly come out as I'd hoped but still a great and fun learning experience!

Get messy! Give it a try! You might be surprised at what you come away with. I'd love to see what you create!! Use the hashtag #getcreativewithjen on instagram and tag me so I can see what you're up to!

If you have any questions regarding materials or anything else, drop a comment below or feel free to contact me directly either through here or my instagram! I'd love to hear from you!

**I have no association or affiliation with the companies/products listed above and receive no monetary gain from their mention here. Just throwing in my two cents on what has worked for me! There are plenty of options in the world to choose from, find the right fit for you and your budget!



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