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.
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.
Have You Tried Paint Pouring Yet?
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?
What Type Of Paints To Use For Pours
- 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.
- They can be a bit pricey
- They are somewhat ‘diluted’ so work out more expensive in the long run
There are 2 main types… Soft Bodied and Heavy Bodied
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.
This is just a very small example of some of the paints I use for paint pouring.
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
What is Pouring Medium?
So as you can see, Pouring Mediums are an essential ingredient for paint pours!
Which Pouring Medium To Use?
Liquitext Pouring Medium On Amazon
The best known, and most widely used brand of Pouring Medium is Liquitex. (Amazon often have it at a good price) 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.
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…
I actually buy the Gloss Mod Podge by the gallon from Amazon (check here to see if it is stock) 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.
You can also use PVA glue and water, but my best results have been with Mod Podge.
Using Floetrol As A Pouring Medium
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.
Can You Mix Paints With Just Water?
Having said that, there are some great artists that use only water with their paint, I use just paint and water myself sometimes and it works really well… but I advise caution if you are tempted to go down this route. Only use high quality paints, I mostly use Amsterdam paints when I’m just mixing with water because they are a great quality paint, and get to know how paints and pigments work first.
Can Craft Paints Be Used For Paint Pouring?
How To Mix Paints 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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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
- Table Tops
- Chopping Boards
- picture frames
Both of these sets of coasters were painted on 4 x 4 inch ceramic tiles – They were created using the Bloom technique
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
- 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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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
I did this paint pour using the Swipe technique. All those lovely cells
and I didn’t use silicone oil.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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! :-/
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.
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?
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