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Published May 7th 2019
When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
I love to learn new things and often do this via a workshop, especially when something creative is involved. There are many classes across Sydney where you can learn everything from cake decorating to candle making and calligraphy.
If you haven't heard of acrylic pouring before, then you're going to want to know the answers to the following questions so that you may decide whether or not this is something you want to try.
So What is Acrylic Pouring?
Acrylic pouring is painting that requires no skill. It uses acrylic paints, is fun and messy, and allows you to unleash the creative being in you. Every work of art created is unique and the results make for fantastic gifts or items to hang on your bragging wall.
Purposely used in decorative painting, acrylic paints can be applied on surfaces that include canvas, ceramics, wood, metal and fabrics.
The 'pouring' here is literally the art of pouring paint onto a surface, although there is preparation involved and techniques for getting different effects.
Acrylic pouring is also known as 'fluid art' and has become quite a trend of late.
First of all, what resources are needed?
Everything is provided when doing a workshop, however, ensure you take an apron and wear old clothes in case you get paint on yourself.
If you're doing it at home, you will need the following
Acrylic paints, of course
Surface to apply paint to my workshop used canvas boards
Gesso to coat your surface (prevents moisture absorption over time)
Silicone oil Helmar brand is a good one to use (creates cells for interesting effects)
Pouring medium Floetrol is one example (added to paint to make it flow evenly)
Paint brush or palette knife
PVA glue for gloss varnish on finished work
Household items Paddlepop sticks or similar, plastic beverage cups, plastic tray, push pins or tins, an apron, disposable gloves, paper towel
Small kitchen blow torch (optional) to release cells
Supplies can be found at art & craft stores, Officeworks, Bunnings and supermarkets. Some you may already have around the house.
Paint colours vary in the strength of their pigments, whilst pouring mediums vary in consistency, thus affecting the results produced. Experiment with different brands of paints and pouring mediums to see what you prefer.
What preparation is involved?
When painting at home, you will need to set up a space where you can work, perhaps use an old table in the garage or a work bench. Don't use your best dining table as it is likely to get messy with paint spills, etc.
Preparation then comes in the surface used and the paint.
Let's say we're going to use a canvas board. Gather your plastic tray and 4 cans (tins of soup are good as they are steady). Set your canvas on top of the cans, placed like a square on the tray. If you're using a framed canvas then insert push pins firmly on the frame underside, set in from each corner, and place on the tray.
Now you need to coat your surface. You can use white or black Gesso, depending on what background colour you want. Pre-coated canvases can be bought to avoid this step.
Next up, decide what paint colours you want to pour. Try to keep colours to three or four to start with and think about what colours will mix together in harmony. In my piece below I used red, white, yellow and dark green. The order you pour your colours is important too. I was happy with my result but it could easily have become a horrible muddy colour if I had placed the red and dark green together.
With your colours in mind, grab three or four plastic cups and your Floetrol or other pouring medium. Place one colour in each cup, mix in an equal part of Floetrol and a small amount of water. As to how much you fill the cup, depends on how big your canvas board is. The boards I used were 12x12inch and thus the cups were filled with paint to one-third of their holding capacity. Using too much paint leads to waste.
Use your Paddlepop sticks for stirring the mixture. If you're not accurately measuring your Floetrol, then add it bit by bit and test it with your stirring stick. The result you want is a consistency that allows the paint to drip off the stick and flow evenly when you do your pouring.
One more step and the preparation is done. Add one or two drops of your silicone oil to each of your colours. Stir once across in each direction. Too much stirring may result in lots of tiny cells in your finished work. Note this step is optional. I suggest doing one canvas with no silicone oil in the paints and one with it included. See the different effects you get and what you prefer.
What techniques are there?
Different techniques and methods provide different results. These involve pouring multiple colours combined together in one cup or pouring directly from individual cups, amongst others.
Grab an empty plastic cup and into it pour small amounts of each of the colours in your prepared cups. This is where it is important to place colours in an order where they will blend together well, for example, red then white to make pink and yellow then dark green to make lime green as I did. Using white with strong colours will give you a pastel look whilst using black with colours gives you a darker look. Alternatively use all strong colours that form a secondary colour, such as, red and yellow to make orange. You can also repeat colours in layers.
Once you have all your colours in one cup, invert the canvas onto the top of the cup. Hold in place and tip over and place back on your plastic tray. Leave for a minute for paint to settle at the bottom, then lift the cup off. Experiment will swirling the cup as you lift it off.
You can choose to cover the whole canvas with your pouring or just a section of it. If covering the whole canvas, tilt it in each direction so the colours flow over it and interact together. Let the drips cover the sides of a framed canvas and use a brush or palette knife to touch up any missed edges. Covering the middle of the canvas alone looks good if you have a background colour.
If you're using the silicone oil to create cells, then move your paint slowly when tilting. The slower you move it, the more likely your cells will form as it is less disturbed. Afterwards, use a kitchen blow torch to heat the surface as you would when colouring a crθme brulee. This brings out the cells more.
Pour separate puddles on your canvas from individual cups or build up layers on top of puddles. Once you have sufficient puddles, leave for a minute to settle then tilt your canvas in different directions and swirl the puddles so that they combine.
This method is a little more complicated than the first two methods but provides pleasing results with a different effect. There's no tilting here. Instead, there's swiping.
Along one edge of your canvas, pour a base colour (without silicone oil) to make a 3cm wide strip. On the rest of the canvas pour multiple colours (use 5-9 colours with silicone oil) in puddles or random patterns, crossing over if desired, adding spots here or there (but not onto the base strip).
Next cut some paper towel to the same width as your base strip and dampen it with water. Place 1cm only of the paper edge onto the base colour and, holding it vertical, gently drag the paper across to the opposite side of the canvas.
This method will release more cells as you have disturbed the surface colours a little more. It may take a while for the end result to clearly show. As before, finish off your edges and torch if you wish.
What other ways can I get creative with pouring paint?
Really, it is up to your imagination. The above techniques are the most common ways of acrylic pouring but you can experiment with other items in your home, for example, pouring paint through a colander or over a flat cheese grater.
You can also try blowing through a straw to move the colours on your canvas and increase the size of your cells.
Other options include using the tip of a palette knife or a feather through the colours to make a deliberate effect. Play around and have fun.
If you consider your output a failure, then wash it off and start again.
How long does it take for my painting to dry?
The paint will dry in 2-3days but it is best to leave it for at least a week for the paint to cure.
You can then complete your project with a coat of varnish from an art store. If you want to save some money, then make your own varnish easily by mixing 2 parts PVA glue with 1 part water and letting it stand to release any bubbles. Use a foam brush to spread the varnish evenly. It will dry to a gloss finish fairly quickly.
Can I just do this at home or do I need to do a workshop?
You can do this at home but I recommend doing a workshop first as you'll learn the best products to use, along with gaining important tips.
You'll also see what other students produce and what colours work well. Our teacher also had a number of her pieces to show us where she has experimented with different techniques. They were inspiring and gave me many ideas.
Where can I do a workshop?
The workshop I did was at Concord's Gallery 57, through the Drummoyne Art Society. It cost $100 and I made three pieces to take home.
There's no acrylic pouring classes on the current schedule but I have found some for you at Macquarie Community College. They have 3hr classes running on select Saturdays at the moment (May & June 2019) at a cost of $130. They're suitable for beginners, with no experience required. You may find other community centres in your local area or art schools/stores running similar classes as this type of 'painting' has become quite popular.
In Summary this was one of the best new things I've done, a great introductory workshop that allows you to easily continue on your own at home.