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In this article we are going to explore how to start paint pouring for beginners. I know from experience when I have wanted to start a new craft how overwhelming it can be because there can be so much conflicting information, in so many different places that it can prevent us from even taking the first step into actually getting started.

paint pouring for beginners

My aim is to have all the information you need to start paint pouring right here so you can actually get started creating some beautiful paintings.

I absolutely love paint pouring, and as you have shown an interest in starting out in this fun art, I wanted to get you off to a great start by giving you some tips on what you may need, and a run through of some of the different techniques of paint pouring that you can do.

Have You Tried Paint Pouring Yet?

Well, if you have, you will know how completely addictive it is! And if you haven’t tried it yet, then I need to put a warning here… It is completely and utterly addictive! It’s also frustrating and very messy… But sooo much fun!
In the early days and weeks of starting, it’s like any new craft, it takes time and patience to learn all the new techniques, there will be fails and scraped canvases, but that happens to all of us, even the best paint pouring artists had to start from knowing nothing about it, having failure after failure.
If you can cope with that and work through it then you will be able to get some fantastic results that you will be proud to put out for the world to see.
sheleeartstyle bloom technique

This is the Bloom technique I did using irridescent medium.

In this article, you will learn;

  • What Do You Need To Get Started With Paint Pouring?
  • What Type Of Paints To Use For Pours
  • What is Pouring Medium?
  • Which Pouring Medium To Use?
  • What Is The Best DIY Pouring Medium Recipe?
  • Using Floetrol As A Pouring Medium
  • Can You Mix Paints With Just Water?
  • Can Craft Paints Be Used For Paint Pouring?
  • How To Mix Paints For Paint Pouring
  • What To Use To Paint Pour On?
  • What is Gesso used for?
  • What Paint Pouring Techniques Are There?
  • why a Level Surface is so important
  • Do You Need To Use Silicone Oil In Paint Pours?
  • Why I Don’t Like To Use Silicone Oil
  • Other Things You Will Find Useful For Paint Pouring

So let’s get started!

What Do You Need To Get Started With Paint Pouring for beginners?

I’m sure it will be no surprise that you need some paints 🙂
But there are many different types of paints, and if this is your first venture into art of any kind, then you might well find it confusing as to what sort of paint you will need.

What Type Of Paints To Use For Pours

For paint pouring we generally use acrylic paints, and because paint pouring has become such a popular art form, there are new paints coming on the market all the time that are ready to use for paint pours straight out of the bottle, so you don’t have to worry about what to mix them with or if they are the right consistency.
If you are just testing paint pouring out to see if it is something you will enjoy doing, then this is often a great way to start… You really don’t want to be spending a small fortune on different paints if you then decide that actually it’s not for you.
The pros of ready to pour paints are;

  •  They are ready mixed for you
  • It’s a much cleaner way to do pour paintings (paint pouring can/does get very messy)
  • You don’t have to buy anything extra to mix into your paints
  • It is less likely that your painting will crack whilst drying.
  • Easy to use with no fuss
  • Less waste, as you don’t have to experiment getting your paint consistency right.
  • They just take the ‘guess work’ out for you.
The cons of ready to pour paints are;

  •  They can be a bit pricey
  • They are somewhat ‘diluted’ so work out more expensive in the long run

Some ready to pour paints you might want to try are;

If you want to move on to other paints, or even start with other paints, then here is some information that might help you decide which type.

There are 2 main types… Soft Bodied and Heavy Bodied

What is the difference between soft and heavy bodied paints?
As you might already have worked out by the name, soft bodied paints are a lot thinner than heavy bodied paints… and a lot of people wrongly assume that soft bodied paints are just watered down heavy bodied paint, but that is untrue.

Heavy bodied paints have a thick butter like consistency, whereas soft bodied paints are thinner and more like a heavy cream consistency, but they both have the same amount of pigment in them. For instance, one of the best brands of paint on the market (in my humble opinion) is Golden fluid paints, a soft bodied paint.

They may seem expensive for such a small bottle, but you only need a very small amount mixed with a pouring medium and they retain their colour beautifully, so a small bottle goes a very long way.

paint to use for paint pouring for beginners

 

 

This is just a very small example of some of the paints I use for paint pouring.

Heavy bodied paints are usually (but not always) in a tube, there is no reason you should or should not use one over the other, if you have good quality paints then it is just down to personal choice.
There will always be some people that say you should use a particular type or brand of paint, but I truly believe that it is your art, so you decide what you want to use while creating it.
Personally, I use both soft and heavy bodied paints, and a variety of different brands. I think sticking to one type or brand puts a limit on testing out different colours and textures.

Some of my favourite brands of paint that I use regularly are;

I’m not saying I don’t use any other brands, but these are my most used.

 So, once you have decided on which paint to use, you’ll need to mix them with something to get them to the right consistency for pouring, so I will explain a little bit about pouring mediums. This is about paint pouring for beginners

paint pouring for beginners

What is Pouring Medium?

A Pouring Medium is added to the acrylic paints to make them thinner and able to flow easily, which is essential when doing paint pours. They also help to prevent your painting from cracking as it dries, prevents paint fading, lowers the viscosity of the paint, slows down the drying time which helps prevent shrinkage, gives a nice sheen when dried and prevents colours from blending into one muddy mess.

So as you can see, Pouring Mediums are an essential ingredient for paint pours!

Which Pouring Medium To Use?

Just like with the paints, there are many different types and brands of pouring medium you can use… Yes, I know, it all gets very confusing when there are so many different options for everything, but hopefully this paint pouring guide will help and you will be able to refer back to it when needed.
The best known, and most widely used brand of Pouring Medium is Liquitex. There is no doubt that Liquitex Pouring Medium does work well, and a lot of people do use it for paint pouring, but most people that do paint pours get through a heck of a lot of pouring medium and it can get quite expensive… But don’t worry, I have lots of other options for you.
which pouring medium to use for paint pouring

Another popular and well known pouring medium is GAC 800 by Golden. This is also used to mix with the paints to help prevent cracking as the paint dries… Although it is quite expensive. It’s not needed as paint pouring for beginners

I make my own pouring medium, and I get some amazing results with it!

What Is The Best DIY Pouring Medium Recipe?

Well, the one I have had the best overall results with is really simple, inexpensive, and easy to make…

 

 

  • 70% Gloss Mod Podge
  • 30% water

 Well that was easy wasn’t it! lol

 

I actually buy the Gloss Mod Podge by the gallon because it works out better value. I use it all the time, but it is such good value for money that I don’t need to worry about using so much.

Here are some of the Paint Pours I’ve done using Mod Podge + water as a pouring medium.

pva pouring medium
paint pouring for beginners
paint pouring guide for beginners

You can watch how I created all 3 of these paintings on Youtube

You can also use PVA glue and water, but my best results have been with Mod Podge.

Using Floetrol As A Pouring Medium

Floetrol is more widely used in the US and Australia as a pouring medium as it is quite inexpensive… Here in the UK, it is much more expensive so not as widely used.

It’s a latex based paint conditioner that decorators use, it helps the paint flow easier and in doing so helps prevent brush strokes in the paint, which is why it works so well for fluid art. Using floetrol as a pouring medium will give a matt finish to your dried painting.

In the US and Australia it is ‘Flood Floetrol’ … The European one is ‘Owatrol Floetrol’… They all work really well as a Pouring Medium, so that is another great option you could use.

Can You Mix Paints With Just Water?

Yes you can, but! Using just water to dilute your acrylic paints can work well in some cases, but thinning with water only will also change the density of the pigment and the adhesion of the paint on the surface you are painting on.
Having said that, there are some great artists that use only water with their paint… but I advise caution if you are tempted to go down this route. Only use high quality paints, and get to know how paints and pigments work first.

Can Craft Paints Be Used For Paint Pouring?

The short answer is yes, but again, use with caution. Craft paints are not artist’s paints, and are lot less pigmented, so getting the right consistency for pouring and getting a lovely dried result is much harder.
However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting out with craft paints, as they are a lot cheaper to buy and you won’t feel so bad about having to scrape some canvases off that you are not entirely happy with.

How To Mix Paints For Paint Pouring

How to mix your paints to the right consistency for paint pouring is a difficult subject to cover in the written form, purely because, different paint consistencies are used for different paint pouring techniques, and not only do different brands differ in consistency, but even colours of the same brand can differ too. So mixing your paints is what comes with experience and  you get a feel for how the paints need to be.
But as a general idea, the most common way of describing the right consistency is that of warm honey. So think of warm honey running off the end of a knife and that is about right for most paint pours.
The pouring medium recipe above, of 70% Gloss Mod Podge to 30% water is just a starting point. I will use approximately 2 parts of that Pouring Medium to 1 part paint, but then I will often need to add a little more water if the consistency is still a little thicker that I would like, but only a little drop at a time until I have the desired thickness.
what consistency should paint be for paint pouring

I’ve tried to show the consistency for the paint as best I can here, but it’s very difficult to show it on a photo.

It is important to make sure all your paints are mixed to the same consistency as each other. If they are not all the same you may get problems when you are tilting your painting as the thinner paints will flow easier than the thicker ones and roll over the top of the thicker colours.
Another reason for making sure they are all the same consistency is because you will want all the paints to dry at the same rate as each other. If they dry at different rates, then it could well cause your painting to crack as it dries.
A really great way to see if you have mixed them all the same is to put a little blob of each of your colours onto a piece of card, then turn the card on its side and let the paint run down… They should all run at about the same speed.
how to check paint is the right thickness for paint pours
paint pouring for beginners

In the images above it would suggest that the orange paint is a little thicker than the other colours, but I think perhaps I didn’t put quite as much orange paint on the cardboard, so make sure all the blobs of paint are as close as possible the same size.

I hope that makes sense for you, I did say it was difficult to explain in the written form. I have made quite a few videos that you can find here on YouTube that will show it better.

So we now have our paints sorted, our pouring medium, and how they are mixed… Now what are we going to paint on?

What can you Paint Pour On?

When you’re first starting out with paint pouring I would recommend that you use tiles to practice on, because they are cheap to buy and are easy to scrape off and start again if you’re not happy with the way it turned out.

 

You can also peel the paint off and use it as skins.

(but I’ll talk more about skins in another article)

 

You could also use canvas boards which are also quite inexpensive. Once you’re getting more consistent results then try using the cheaper canvases… You really don’t want to go straight in to using expensive canvases and be unhappy with the results.

I love to do paint pours on wood panels, I like the professional look it gives, and also wood can hold the weight of the paint easier. Some paint pouring techniques have a heavy paint load, if that is on a larger canvas it can tend to sag in the middle.  

These are some of the things I have in my studio to do paint pours on

what can I paint pour on?

There are lots of different shapes and sizes to choose from and you can choose MDF board, or a cradled wood panel. If it is not already primed, I do prefer to prime them with gesso before I start my paint pour as the wood can soak up a lot of paint.

What is Gesso used for?

 

Gesso is an acrylic primer, it has a couple of uses, to seal your canvas or board, and to give the paint something to adhere to.

using gesso as a primer

Most canvases will already be primed with gesso, but if yours isn’t (it will say on the packet if it is) then I would recommend that you give it at least one coat, but preferably 2 coats of gesso, letting it fully dry in between coats, and do the same with the wood boards.

 

You can also pour on lots of things that you may already have around the house, such as;

  •  Vinyl records 
  • CDs
  • Trays
  • Table Tops
  • Vases
  • Chopping Boards
  • picture frames
  • pebbles
sheleeartyle blooms on tiles
bloom paint pours

Both of these sets of coasters were painted on 4 x 4 inch ceramic tiles – They were created using the Bloom technique

But the best piece of advice I will give you is to learn from others that are doing it! YouTube has got loads of videos with some really excellent paint pouring artists, I certainly learnt a lot from them… and still do!
I have lots of videos on YouTube that I recorded right from my early days up until now, and it’s so lovely to be able to look back over them and see how I’ve progressed.

Feel free to go and check some of my videos out on YouTube HERE.

What Paint Pouring Techniques Are There?

Some of the different types of paint pouring techniques you can do are;

  • Ring Pours
  • Flip Cups
  • String/Chain Pulls
  • Messy Cup
  • Blooms
  • Swipes
  • Colander Pours
  • Bottle Bottom Pour
  • Straight Pour
  • Funnel Pour
  • Galaxy Pour
  • Dutch Pour

There are new techniques and ideas coming out all the time, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. You might not want to have a go at them all, so just choose the ones that appeal most.

dutch pour using mont marte paint
ghost swipe using metallic paints

This one of my Dutch Pours using Mont Marte paints

A Ghost Swipe I created using metallic paints

why a Level Surface is so important for paint pouring

It is really important to do your paint pours on a level surface, but even more important to make sure they are level when drying, otherwise you might find that when you come back after a few hours to check on how your painting is drying, all the paint has run off the edge and onto your table.

Or the paint has moved so much that it doesn’t resemble the beautiful painting that you thought you’d nailed!

make sure your canvas is level

It’s a good idea to use a little spirit level to make sure.

Do You Need To Use Silicone Oil In Paint Pours?

 

The fact that you’re looking into how to do your own paint pouring, probably means that you’ve seen lots of videos on YouTube where the main aim is to get cells.

 A lot of people do seem to get transfixed on getting cells, but for me it’s not so much of a big deal. You can create some awesome painting without cells, and you can also get great cells without using silicone.

Personally, I’m not a fan of using silicone, but you can certainly get some stunning results if you do use it. Adding just a couple of drops to your paint colours will help create cells. A good silicone to use is Spot On Treadmill Belt Lubricant, (see if Amazon have it available here)  it is proven to work extremely well with these techniques.

It is most often mixed in with some (or all if you prefer) of the coloured paints once you have mixed them with your pouring medium, but before you pour the colours all into one cup for pouring.

If you want larger cells when you add your silicone, you only stir it about 3 times, but if you want lots of smaller cells, then you give the paint a good mix after adding the silicone.

If you are using silicone oil to create your cells in a paint pour, then you will need some sort of heat to make the cells pop up, like a butane torch.

This torch is the same one I use personally, but mine doesn’t look as clean as this anymore! laughing

You have two options here… You can torch before you start tilting your painting, then when you start to tilt, your cells will stretch with the paint. Doing it this way may mean that your cells could lose their nice round shape and become more elongated, but you could get bigger cells.

Your second option is to tilt your painting first and get it to a place where you’re happy with it, and then torch. If you do it this way, your cells are more likely to keep their nice round shape. There is no right or wrong way here, just whatever you prefer for your art.

 

 

    Pro Tip

If you hold your flame higher and further away from your painting, just giving short bursts of heat, you will get bigger cells. If you bring the flame closer to your painting, and longer bursts of heat, you will get lots of smaller cells.

Always keep your torch moving, and never leave it in one place as it may well scorch your paint or cause a skin to form on the top.

 

Why I Don’t Like To Use Silicone Oil in paint pouring

When Silicone oil is used, there is a potential problem of the paint peeling away from the surface that it has been poured onto. The oil acts like a barrier so the paint can’t adhere so well to the surface.
Also most silicone oils don’t evaporate out of the paint, which means they will still be sitting on the surface when you come to resin or varnish your dried painting, and you may well find that your nice glossy surface has got lots of pit marks in it like little craters where the oil and varnish have repelled.
 the swipe technique + cells with no silicone oil

I did this paint pour using the Swipe technique. All those lovely cells

and I didn’t use silicone oil.

There is a way to prevent this pitting, and that is to clean the surface of the painting extremely well, several times, until you can no longer see any shiny spots where the silicone oil is sitting.
Of course you may not want to finish your art with a resin or varnish finish of any sort, it is your art, so you choose what you do with it.

These are just my opinions, and as I said previously, there are a huge number of people that love to use silicone, I’m just a bit lazy and don’t want to have to do all that cleaning.  laughing

I have lots of videos on YouTube showing how I get lots of beautiful cells without using any silicone at all. 

Other Things You Will Find Useful For Paint Pouring

supplies you need for paint pouring
Plastic cups… These are used for lots of things (at least in my studio they are) They come in different sizes and are very inexpensive.

I use them to;

  •  Mix paints
  • Use as a pour cup
  • Stand my canvas on when I’m doing a pour and for the drying process.
  • Holding my wooden craft sticks 

Wooden craft sticks… are ideal for stirring paints when mixing with the pouring medium.

Plastic sauce bottles… hhmmm well I might have a bit of an addiction to these as I have got sooo many with different paint colours in. These are really handy when you don’t want to have to mix a new lot of paint up every time you decide to do a paint pour. Most of mine are the 8oz size and I have my paints ready mixed in them. As long as they are kept sealed they will last weeks and not dry out.

Butane torch… You will need a butane torch if you are going to be using silicone, because it’s the heat from the torch that brings all those cells popping through. Also, they are a really handy tool to have for popping those pesky air bubbles in the paint. If you don’t pop the bubbles, then you could get little dots of colour come through from the paints underneath that you don’t neccersarily want.

Disposable gloves… As I have already mentioned, paint pouring does get very messy, so disposable gloves help a lot. Although I call them disposable, I actually wash them and reuse them lots of times. I buy the nitrile gloves and although they are a bit more expensive in the short term, they are much stronger than the cheaper gloves on the market and they don’t tear easily, which is why they can be washed and used lots of times… and that means lots of money saved and friendlier for the environment.

Palette knife or spatula… either of these work just as well. They are used to spread paint over the sides of your canvas or board when putting a base colour down. They can also be used as a swipe tool when you need something to move the paint around.

paint pouring for beginners

If you want to take this list when you go shopping, just click on the button below to get the printable version.

Baking paper… This is the sort of paper that you put on a baking tray to stop the cookies sticking to the tray. I get through a lot of this stuff as I cut lengths of it off and put itover my work surface, then when the top layer gets covered in paint, I fold it up and put it in the bin… Then I have a nice clean surface to work on ready to go again.

Painter’s tape… I put tape on the back edges of all my canvases before I start pouring on them to make sure the backs stay nice and clean. If I’m painting on a board, then I will cover the whole of the back… Like I said, paint pouring is a very messy pastime and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to keep the backs clean unless you tape them off. I like to do this because it gives a much more professional finish to your painting.

Extra large push pins… These are really great for pushing into the corners on the back of a canvas to keep the canvas off the surface and allowing you to get your fingers under the edges when you need to tilt or move the painting. They also mean the painting won’t get stuck to the surface it’s drying on. You can also use little plastic cups or empty yogurt pots for this, but I do find it easier to use the push pins as you don’t need to worry about it tipping off the cups.

paint pouring for beginners

Apron or an oversized shirt… You will get paint on clothes that you really didn’t want to get paint on… More than once, I still haven’t learnt this lesson! :-/

Plastic cloth to cover tables and floor… As much as you try not to, you will get drips and spills, so please do take precaution before you start, and cover any nearby surfaces/floors that you would be upset about if you got paint on them.

Paper towel… I don’t tend to use the kitchen paper towel, I use those big industrial rolls of blue paper towel to clean up with. It’s cheaper, and stronger than kitchen towel, and I do get through a lot of it as there is always something that needs wiping or cleaning up.

cleaning up paint
Measuring cups/spoons… These are really handy when you want to get accurate measurements for a paint pouring recipe, especially in the early days when you are testing things out.

I know it seems like you need to buy a lot of things, but in this paint pouring for beginners guide I’ve tried to think of everything you might need. You certainly don’t have to go out and buy everything in one go.

Paint pouring is a huge topic, but I hope I have answered a lot of your questions in this article! If you have any questions that I haven’t covered then please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

If you haven’t already tried paint pouring, which technique are you thinking of starting with?

where to buy jewelry making supplies

 

I thought you might also be interested to find out where the best place to buy wholesale jewelry making supplies is. I’ve been buying from them for years, so I know they are a good company… Check it out HERE

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