Acrylic Pour Painting




About: Obsessed with learning and making things the best they can be.

Hey guys, in this Instructable I will be walking you through how to create a beautiful abstract acrylic pour painting. If you've heard of acrylic pour or fluid painting, chances are you have found yourself deep inside the rabbit hole that is Youtube and Instagram pour videos. They are sooo satisfying to watch and the finished pieces can be somewhat intimidating. Worry not, because after this Instructable, you will see just how easy it is to achieve the same stunning results!

Lets get to it!


Garbage bag or recycled newspaper to protect your work area

Disposable cups 15-20 should suffice

Popsicle sticks

• Acrylic paints, whatever colours you want to use. (you can use artist acrylics like Heavy body Liquitex or Craft acrylics Like Folkart, I will explain the major differences between the two below.)

White acrylic paint

Canvas- I'll be using a 16inch x 20inch staple backed canvas

White school glue mixed with water at a 1:1 ratio

Pouring medium - I'll be using Liquitex brand (Golden GAC800 and Floetrol also work)

Squeeze bottle

100% silicone oil

Optional Supplies

Disposable gloves

⁃ Heat gun or Butane torch

Palette knife

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.


Glue + water mix - This mix is something I swear by, it cuts cost and brings the paints to a pourable consistency. The water is used solely for diluting the paints, while the glue acts to replace the binding agent that you just diluted out of the paint if you were to just add water your paints you would end up too runny.

Pouring medium - Pouring medium is a transparent acrylic paint additive that reduces 'colour crazing'. It also helps in the creation of cells. It keeps each of the colours separate, without it you would end up with a muddy mess of colour that would honestly look rather sad. It extends the paint but will not thin it out.

Silicone - Silicone oil is used to create cells in pour painting. If you decide to use silicone oil in your piece, please note; before any protective topcoat is applied, the silicone HAS to be 100% removed, this can be a tedious process, I have never gotten 100% of the silicone off of any of my paintings partly due to the silicone soaking into the canvas itself, residual silicone keeps the topcoat or resin from sticking to the canvas, leaving a rough patchy appearance. Silicone is a great additive that creates intense cells but it doesn't need to be used to achieve cells. In fact, a lot of pour painting artists swear against the use of silicone in their art. I personally still like to use silicone in my paintings.


The term 'pour painting' is in reference to the paint being poured onto the canvas. There are several methods of pouring that will give differing results.

'dirty cup' or 'Flip cup' - This is when the paints are all added into one cup then the cup is flipped and lifted.

'Tree ring pour' - The paints are all added into one cup and poured in slow circular motion in the middle of the puddle using a circular wrist movement. This gives a result similar to the rings in a tree trunk.

'Puddle pour' - Puddles are poured onto the canvas alternating between colour and your white/black paint. Each puddle is poured in the centre of the last.

'Swipe' - Pouring the paint onto the canvas in lines, then using a damp paper towel swipe over the canvas to drag the colours on top of one another.

'Blow pour' - This method involves adding paint to the canvas then blowing it around with a straw, you can achieve stunning flowers with this method.

There are also different ways to do dirty pour such as pouring the colours into a cookie cutter or colander on top of the canvas which has a really cool effect.


You will need to lay down a drop cloth or something else that will protect the area you'll be working on. This technique uses a lot of paint, a lot of it drips off the edge. It has the potential to create a very large mess if you do not take the proper precaution. That being said I recommend wearing clothes you don't care about, I have ruined almost every article of clothing I own with paint, don't make the same mistakes I have.

Make sure you do this painting in a space or have a space you can put the painting afterward, that is level while it dries where it won't be affected by dust / tipped for 24-30 hours. This should be sufficient time for the paint to dry or almost completely dry.

Once you have your work area covered, You'll want to prop the canvas up. Some artists use push large push pins in the corners of the canvas, driving them in with a hammer. I can never get mine to sit perfectly level so I use additional cups flipped up side down under the corners of the canvas. As I previously mentioned, a lot of paint drips off the edge, so the canvas needs to be elevated to prevent it from sticking to the drop cloth.

Step 4: Choosing Your Colours and Mixing the Paint

Artist acrylics VS.Craft acrylics - The major differences between artist and craft acrylics is cost and pigmentation. Artist acrylics are pricier but have far more pigment in them, they also come in soft, medium and heavy body. Body refers to the thickness of the paint, soft being the least thick, heavy being the thickest with almost a chunky consistency. Artist acrylics need a lot more dilution to be able to pour them. They cost roughly $4usd/ 2oz.

Craft acrylics are far cheaper and are closer to the desired consistency to pour with, but are less pigmented. These paints can be found at the dollar store, Walmart or any craft store. Brands such as Plaid and Craft smart will run you roughly $1-$3usd/2oz.

I prefer to use both artist and craft acrylics.

Artist acrylics= Less paint, more dilution.

Craft acrylics= More paint, less dilution

I normally use 3 or more colours and then white or black. Black is very powerful and will often drown the rest of your painting out, use your judgement. The black/ white paint is needed as a break between the colours depending on the method of pour painting you choose to do. This is also how artists achieve cells without silicone.

You can use more than 3 colours, I find 3 is perfect to keep it visually interesting. If you want to do a monochromatic pour painting you can use 1 colour in 3 different shades.

In my painting, I will be using 6 colours that I mixed using both craft and artist acrylics.

Recently I began teaching a pour painting class as an independent contractor at my local Michaels craft store and the question that students ask that is by far the hardest to answer is, 'How much paint do I need in my cups?' This question involves a lot of variables. It all depends on what you hope to achieve, If I want more blue in my finished piece, naturally I mix more blue.

You want enough mixed paint to cover your canvas. For my 16inx20in I will need about a half of a litre of mixed paint, you'll start getting a feel for how much once you begin mixing, don't worry you can always add more to your cup if need be.

For each colour, you will need a cup and a mixing stick. Add paint to your cup and mix in some 50/50 glue & water mixture, You're looking to get the consistency of melted ice cream, or a milkshake that has been in a hot car all day. Fluid but not too thick and not too watery. Do this for each colour.

Now that you've diluted your paints, you want to go back and add pouring medium to them. I find you can get away with 2 parts pouring medium to 3 parts paint+ water glue mix. Once you have those all thoroughly mixed, if you want to add silicone to your paints, this is the time. You can add it to all the paints or a couple, it doesn't matter. If you choose to use silicone. A good rule of thumb is one or two drops per fl oz of paint, the more you mix the smaller and more scattered the cells will be. The less you mix, the larger the cells will be.

Set your paints off to the side.

Flood coat

One last thing before we get the paint on the canvas. Grab your squeeze bottle, we need to mix what is called a 'flood coat' You will want to mix the flood coat thinner than your other paints, and enough to cover the canvas. A flood coat helps the paint move freely around the canvas and it is a lot easier to get the paint to the edges opposed to if the canvas was dry. Flood coats are usually white or black but can be any colour you want really. I prefer to use white for mine. Add to the squeeze bottle 2 parts paint +glue and water and about 1 part pouring medium, then give the bottle a shake.

Step 5: Pouring the Paint

I found this cute mini colander at the dollar store the other day and I have been wanting to try pouring paint through it since I brought it home.

First, I am squeezing flood coat all over the canvas and using my palette knife to help it to the edge.

Then I place the colander on my canvas and begin pouring, alternating between colour and white.


Until there is enough paint on the canvas for me to be able to cover the remaining blank spots by tilting the canvas.

Now that the face of the canvas is covered, you can dab your fingers in the paint that has dripped off the sides, and smear it on any empty spaces on the side of the canvas, I always paint my edges, it gives a more complete look to your painting

.If you used silicone, you can quickly heat the paint with a blow torch or heat gun holding it about a foot away from the surface and a ton of cells will instantly appear. Don't overheat the paint as this will cause it to crack.

You can leave your painting to dry now for 24-30hours,

Step 6: Final Thoughts


Paint Challenge

Runner Up in the
Paint Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Art Skills Challenge

      Art Skills Challenge
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    10 Discussions


    Tip 8 weeks ago

    Beautiful work here. I love the techniques and the finished paintings. So cool.


    8 weeks ago

    Awesome tutorial! I cannot wait to try and then post!

    1 reply

    2 months ago

    You discuss acrylic craft and art paints. Could this be accomplished using leftover acrylic room paint?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 weeks ago

    Absolutely! I used the paint from my living room and the paint from my dining room to tie the two rooms together. As long as you buy latex paint you're good to go. If you happen to be in a hardware store check out their "Oops" paint section. I bought a beautiful red for .50 cents. Some of us buy white house paint to use as a base white. Any time I'm in a big box store to buy some Floetrol I check out what's there. You can get some great buys which helps save a few bucks on a hobby that can be expensive. Have fun with it!


    Reply 8 weeks ago

    Great question ! I havent done it personally, which Is why I didnt mention it in my tutorial. I have heard of artists using acrylic house paints, because they can be purchased in sample pots for relatively cheap.


    2 months ago on Step 6

    Nice, nice, nice tutorial, thanks for sharing it with us!

    1 reply