How to Start Pouring Acrylic and Creating Abstract Paintings

Photo: Image bank by Jennylynn Fields/Shutterstock
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that you want to call it fluid art, liquid art or acrylic pouring, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating abstract masterpieces by letting the pigments run wild. This form of abstract art uses acrylics with a liquid consistency to create psychedelic paintings. There are endless creative possibilities with the different ways to combine acrylic paints and there’s something so satisfying about seeing it spread across a surface.

start with acrylic casting isn’t particularly difficult, making it a great art form for all skill levels. With so many techniques to try, you can get as simple or complicated as you want. At its core, fluid art lets you learn a lot about materials and is great for experimenting with color and technique. It’s also fun for all ages!

Acrylic Casting Supplies

Acrylic Casting Supplies

DecoArt | $2.71+

Best Paint for Acrylic Casting

The key to a good acrylic pour is the consistency… of the paint. You will want to use fluid acrylics, which have a much thinner consistency than thick bodied acrylics. If you only have thicker acrylics on hand, you can still use them, but you will need to thin them with water.

Some people have great success just using craft paints (apple barrel and American are two popular brands), but if you want a piece of art that lasts a long time, we suggest using professional quality fluid acrylics. Golden Fluid Acrylic and Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics are excellent choices for their powerful pigments and lightfastness.

Casting mediums

Although fluid acrylics have a high viscosity, you will still want to add something to create the consistency you are looking for. What you will add depends on whether you are doing a cast coated, where the finished product has bright, even layers of color, or a wash pour, where the finished product almost looks like layers of watercolor.

To achieve the desired viscosity and casting rate, you can adjust with water first. Fluid acrylics won’t need much, if any, to add; and for coated casting, only a small amount in a ratio of 1:10 should be added. Adding more water will also change the paint’s adhesion to your surface, so try not to exceed a 1:1 ratio, which is recommended for washouts. By experimenting and tweaking things, you’ll discover all types of fun effects.

Acrylic Pouring Medium

Liquitex | $31.89

Beyond the water, a good casting medium This is the key. Liquitex Professional Pouring Medium is a popular choice for its ability to create even sheets and puddles while promoting drying. AGC 800 is another quality casting medium because it helps prevent cracks from appearing. Known as crazing, the cracks appear due to uneven drying times between the lower and upper tiers. One of the downsides of GAC 800 is that it can become slightly hazy when dry, so it’s not ideal for use as a clear topcoat. If you are looking to get started without investing too much, Floetrol is another effective casting medium without breaking the bank.

Isopropyl alcohol can also be added to pours to create interesting circular cells, which occur when the quick-drying alcohol tries to escape. A ratio of 2 parts casting fluid to one part acrylic to one part isopropyl alcohol will give excellent results.

There are also a number of people who use glue, silicon, and oils ranging from motor oil to coconut oil to create cells or serve as casting fluids. All of them can give interesting results but can decrease the longevity of your paint because they can modify the properties of the paint.

Acrylic casting

Photo: Image bank by Jennylynn Fields/Shutterstock

Supplies to start pouring paint

Many people are starting to use canvas for their fluid art. For best results, try prepping your canvas with a coat of gesso to better support the weight of the paint. As the canvas can deform a little under too much weight, which makes the surface uneven, prepared artist panels are often the safest choice.

Clear topcoat

DecoArt | $10.88+

Another essential part of liquid art is keeping your space clean! Obviously, it’s an art form that can get messy, so plastic sheets to prevent your table or floor from becoming stained is essential. Other must-sees include clear plastic cups, squeeze bottles, and wooden stirrers. Palette knives will help you smudge and even paint towards the edges and a torch can eliminate bubbles and bring out cells in specific areas. You will also want a beautiful clear topcoat to seal your work once it’s done.

Acrylic Casting Techniques

Experimentation is key, but two basic techniques for pouring paint will help you create your own psychedelic masterpiece:pay directly and dirty pour. We’ll dive deeper into what each of these methods entails, but wWhichever technique you choose, you need to make sure you are working on a flat surface to ensure you get the best possible results, both when pouring and when letting the paint dry.

Pour directly

Dirt Pour Art

Photo: Priscilia Salinas via Shutterstock

A pay directly is simply when you individually add color to your surface, building layers as you go. One method is to pour “puddles” of individual colors which are then manipulated to move across the surface as the canvas is tilted at different angles. Straight pours can provide nice crisp lines of color when wrapping pour or feathering effects when creating a wash pour. You can also drag them with all types of instruments to create different effects.

pour dirty

Acrylic casting

Photo: Jennylynn Fields via Shutterstock

With the dirty pour technique, all your paints are placed in a cup before being poured onto the panel or canvas. Consistency is key here – if the paints are too runny they will mix in the cup and come out muddy. This technique will not work well for washes, where the colors are quite thin. Dirty pours are great because they are so instinctive and you never know what will come out of the cup. Once you understand the densities you can create with different colors, you’ll see that anything is possible.

To be even more spontaneous, try a flip the cup or one funnel for. With a flap cup, you’ll want to place your canvas on top of your container once it’s filled with color. Turn everything upside down, then slowly lift the cup, allowing the colors to spread across the surface. To make a funnel, block the pouring end of the funnel while you fill it with paint. Once you are ready, place the funnel on your canvas or panel and allow the paint to flow from the funnel as you move it.

To glide

To make acrylic scanning technique, you can apply your choice of paint or paints and silicone directly to the canvas. Then you glide over the canvas with a tool, which can be a damp cloth, a piece of plastic wrap, painting knives or spatulas. This will create a striking cellular formation on the canvas, in which the different colors naturally separate into cellular shapes. This technique can also be used in conjunction with other acrylic casting techniques.

Dutch casting

In the Dutch technique (also called air swipe technique), you will apply the colors of your choice directly on the canvas. Then you will use a hair dryer or other device to blow the paint onto the canvas. It will help you create fascinating patterns and effects in a relatively short time.

Looking to get more advanced learning?

acrylic casting book

Rick Cheadle | $35

by Rick Cheadle Fluid Art Recipes and Art Journal is packed with over 100 casting recipes to take your craft even further and YouTube is packed with tutorials from knowledgeable experts like Nicky James Burch of Fluid Art Studios and Gina DeLuca.

Get inspired to try acrylic pouring by watching these fascinating videos of artists in action.

This article has been edited and updated.

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