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Understanding the Techniques of Pouring Acrylics

396 thoughts on “Understanding the Techniques of Pouring Acrylics”

      • Mike when using liquitex pouring medium with fluid acrylics how much exact should be used? it seems it gets to thin. Can you use this with regular tube acrylics? What is best to seal the gesso befor pourings?

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        • Hi Ginny,
          We have tested Liquitex Pouring Medium with Fluid Acrylic and Heavy Body Acrylics, so they are compatible with one another. Using Heavy Body Acrylics should result in a thicker pouring mixture, assuming enough paint is added to factor in the overall thickness.
          Sealing the Gesso surface can be accomplished with many kinds of mediums, gels and even pastes. I would use a gloss product, such as Polymer Medium Gloss, but keep the layer very thin to avoid crazing.
          – Mike

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      • Hi! Thanks for the great post. I’m trying very hard to get large cells to form when I do pours. I’ve watched many tutorials and tried many paint:Flietrol ratios, paint:silicone ratios and am finally getting teeny tiny cells. But I want large ones. I live in a very arid, high altitude desert and my studio has been experiencing sub freezing temperatures. I can’t control those things. Any suggestions? I’m totally at a loss.

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        • You are very welcome, Kathleen.
          It sounds like you are in a very dry area with low temperatures. One of the things you may not have tried is to add some water into the paint mixtures to help make them a bit thinner, which can help the development of the cell patterns. Do some testing, where you add 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% water to the paints you are currently mixing up, and see if you notice any improvement of cell development. If you still don’t see any positive changes, repeat, but use a medium with retarder in it, such as GOLDEN Airbrush Medium and see how that does. IF that still doesn’t work, then you may need to switch the paint brand and mediums being used. – Mike Townsend

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          • Hello Cathy.

            Thanks for the question. A “retarder” is a paint additive that “retards” the evaporation of the water in the paint, effectively slowing down the paint’s drying speed. In artist acrylic paints, this provides extra blending and painting time. It is important to be careful with using retarders in thick paint layers, because it is harder for the retarder to evaporate out, which keeps the paint sticky or tacky until most of it has gone.

            – Mike Townsend

        • Rain X + floetrol + Liquitex pouring medium + paint = cells cells cells
          that rain x is a game changer, trust. 😉

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          • Hello Cara.
            Thank you for commenting.
            You may very well achieve some cells with this combination, but the question is whether the RainX will also create issues for the artwork long term?
            It is unknown without scientific testing confirming if adding these non-painting products will create failure for the artwork in the future.
            – Mike Townsend

      • Hi Katie,
        At this point in time we do not endorse the use of silicone oil in painting mixtures that are expected to last. There are many reasons for this stance. Most silicone oils do not evaporate out of the paint, therefore they stay within the matrix of the paint and could potentially cause film formation issues. At the very least, the silicone oil will impede the intercoat adhesion between the surface of the pour and subsequent product layers, such as mediums and varnish. As an artist, you are free to do what you want to to make your artwork, but until we gather enough evidence that there isn’t any long term issues, we won’t suggest artists add silicone into paint. – Mike Townsend

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        • The automotive silicone works beautifully! I made my own pouring medium with Elmer’s Glue All. Would love to try alcohol but concerned it might not work with my everyday craft paints.

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          • Hello LAC,
            Thank you for your comments. Artists are free to combine materials as desired for their artwork. Our job is to try and identify any potential permanency issues likely to occur when using products never intended to be added into paint films. Silicone oil is a non-drying, non-evaporating oil. Other non-drying oils like Mineral Oil, Olive Oil, and Motor Oil are all things best left out of paint mixtures. The use of Elmer’s Glue All as your base medium, poured thickly, is likely to result in adhesion issues and noticeable yellowing.
            – Mike

          • Hello Shelly.

            Please re-submit your questions as I’d prefer not to guess what you are asking.

            Thanks

            -Mike Townsend

        • Hi, I have been using silicone in my mixes and in Reading this I am concerned…. The silicone tends to rise during curing and then gets washed off whien acrylic is dry. Would it still affect the film formation?

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          • Hello, Emmanuelle. Thank you for your question. While some of the silicone rises out during drying, no one knows if ALL of it comes out and reaches the surface. I believe wiping down the surface is a good idea but it may require repeating several times as the films more fully cure. We have seen this happen with overloads of surfactants, which tend to rise and collect on the surface of the paint film. So to summarize, what is truly going on with the silicone during film formation and afterward still needs to be studied, but overall try to minimize the amounts until it’s shown to be either acceptable or not.
            – Mike Townsend

          • You don’t need silicone for cells anyway once you learn about the different densities of the different paints and how they react with other colors. #stopusingsiliconeforcells

          • Michael and Ryan,

            Totally agree with you both but I am having a heck of a time learning this information. I know that Golden has a chart of their densities but do either of you know of any resources that can teach me more in depth about this? Thank you in advance!

          • Hello Alana.
            Yes, there’s a learning curve with this painting technique and the more you try to pinpoint a specific pouring method, the more testing you need to do. Work small, take notes, and don’t be afraid to fail! I will say that density is important for this level of control, and if you make a set of paint mixtures, use a little to create 2″ puddles of one color, and then drizzle a few lines of a second color across it. You’ll be able to use this as a guide to better predict how individual colors will behave based on the sequence of the order in which they are applied.
            – Mike Townsend

      • I would be worried about toxicity, after reading the labels on silicone lube products. Did my first pour with WD40, which worked, but was very smelly. Now I use rubbing alcohol, acrylic gloss varnish and paint conditioner.
        Also torching silicone products releases hazardous fumes.

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    • I get my cellar patterns by mixing liquid silacone also known as a lubricant such as coconut oil in to one or more paint color then once finished I use a chefs torch in a circular motion to achieve cells.

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      • Thank you for replying to Christine, Max. Just realize that we do not endorse the use of silicone oils, commercial lubricants, or other non-drying oils with acrylics, as we do not know what it does to the film formation process or long term stability of the paint layers. This also goes for the use of a torch. The high temperature may not adversely affect the silicones but may cause film formation issues of the acrylics.
        – Mike

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        • Michael,
          I have been doing experimental silicone pours and there have been a few issues but the GAC 800 finally stopped crazing issues for me. What I’ve discovered is that the oil will continue to come out of the painting for a couple of weeks and during those couple of weeks while you essentially cure the painting, you keep wiping it thoroughly in circular motions and it continues to create a nice shine. If you want to epoxy one, wait 3 weeks, you don’t want any moisture at all in the painting.
          I do one coat varnish when I feel it’s cured enough. The torch stabilizes the cells you are trying to preserve in the initial pour and it helps create texture, giving an organic look, and it works better than a heat gun or blow dryer which moves the paint to much.

          Reply
          • Thank you Kim for your insight. There is much testing to do to learn how the silicone oils are affecting the paint layer, and if enough of the oil can be removed to allow for sufficient intercoat adhesion between the paint and the varnish or topcoat layers. In the silicone testing I have done, which isn’t very much to qualify me as an expert, the surface seems very slick and not likely to allow for proper adhesion. We follow the “ASTM Cross-hatch Adhesion Test” which is one we use for many kinds of adhesion testing between substrates and primers, primers and paints, paints and topcoats.
            – Mike

    • Great article!! The chemistry geek in me loves getting into what’s going on behind the scenes so to speak…how & why the paint is doing what it’s doing!! Thanks for the informative article!!
      One question…I mix my paints ahead of time as I love having a collection of colors available…I mix large batches of white too…my white was getting low so I mixed up a new batch & I’ve been battling the white ever since. It is rising to the top. I tried making it a bit thicker still it is overpowering…any ideas why this might be happening? I’m wondering if I got my ratio wrong…your note taking advice seems relevant here LoL!! I thought I had it memorized but as I write this I’m having some doubts…any suggestions would be great!!
      Thanks so much!

      Reply
      • Interesting, Amber.
        My experience has been that the Titanium White wants to dive downward in a pour, not rise. However, if the white mixture was thinner than the other paints it would likely stay afloat or rise upwards, trying to equalize. Try using the same amount of medium to paint, and see if this helps!
        Regards, Mike Townsend

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        • I do not want cells. Is there a way to avoid when using heavy body, regular, or liquid acrylics with GAC 800?
          Should water be avoided during mixture? Can you pour color combinations in a cup or can the colors be directly poured onto substrate.

          Great article and replies to questions. Thanks.

          Reply
          • Hello Michelle.

            Thank you for your questions. The Fluids and GAC 800 can produce smooth color fields without the creation of cells. The 10:1 ratio in the article helps to minimize the impact of the various paint formulas, which in turn reduces the differences of the color mixtures for pouring. It can also be helpful to keep the pigment density range close together. Density differences will cause some colors to sink and others to rise. The easiest way to do this would be to work with organic pigments (modern pigments such as Phthalo, Quinacridone, Benzimidazolone, etc.) and avoid most of the inorganic pigments(metal and natural earth pigments. At least try to use one type in a painting.

            Please let us know if you have any other questions!

            – Mike Townsend

    • Hello Natalie,
      Yes, once you have allowed the poured layers to become solid (typically 3 days or so) then you may hand-paint over them as desired. It’s possible you may be able to paint sooner, but the timing changes based upon environment, poured paint thickness and what you’d like to do next. Multiple pours often take the most time to reduce the chance of cracks and other unwanted surface defects occurring.
      – Mike

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