What Is Acrylic Pouring? It's a Mesmerizing Painting Technique You'll Want to Watch in Action

Experiment and depending on the fluidity of movement on the canvas, different effects are created.

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Acrylic pouring, a painting technique discovered in the 1930s by Mexican social realist painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, has re-emerged and is taking social media by storm. It's a relatively quick process that can be done using inexpensive art supplies that are easy to source. With over 200 million views on TikTok, ​#acrylicpour​ videos are just as fun to watch as they are to make yourself.

Acrylic paint pouring process

Enter the beautiful pieces created by artist Gina Cuomo. For her, the process of acrylic pouring is a fun way to create while providing a sense of accomplishment and mindfulness. She started playing around with the technique in November of 2020, and was quickly drawn to the meditative process, and wishes she would have found it sooner. As Director of Operations at the ​Sie FilmCenter​ in Denver, Colorado, she's had a lot on her plate during the various stages of shutdowns due to COVID-19, and said that discovering acrylic pouring "helped preserve her sanity." She's created so many pieces she decided to sell them on Etsy.

The meditative pouring technique has limitless possibilities and allows the artist to be as complex in their techniques as they like, depending on the mediums and tools they choose to work with. It's an informative way to play with color and explore the techniques' origins in physics​.

Cups with paint and acrylic pouring materials in bins

Tools and Materials

The easiest way to get started is to familiarize yourself with the most basic mediums, then add to your inventory as your skills develop. Here's what you need to get started. Naturally, acrylic paint is essential: Fluid acrylics like DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint (from $1.49, joann.com) or thinner craft paints are a great place to start. Thicker, heavy body acrylic paints can be used but will need to first be thinned out with water. Don't forget about metallic paints when choosing your colors, they have beautiful effects, especially when added against a very dark background.

Paint is mixed with DecoArt Pouring Medium ($13.23, amazon.com) or Flood Floetrol ($7.98, amazon.com) then poured onto a stretched canvas (from $13.50, amazon.com) with cups; smaller size cups are perfect for mixing colors, while larger ​plastic cups​ are the perfect size for combining colors for a "dirty pour." Isopropyl alcohol​ or ​Miraclekoo Silicone Oil​ ($7.99, amazon.com) are great for creating the effect of "cells." Epoxy like the Alumilite Amazing Clear Cast​ ($23.99, michaels.com) can be added for a clear coat. Additional supplies include stirring sticks and straws. And for protecting your surfaces, it's recommended to use a drip pan (disposable aluminum pans​ are great and the size can be easily modified), drop cloth, and rubber gloves.

How to Do It

Once you make your first pour you'll have all the confidence you need to continue on experimenting and coming up with your own techniques. Cups are a great place to start when it comes to pouring, but consider experimenting with other household items; think: a funnel, condiment bottle, canned air, palette knife, or various size contained lids.

Starting on a small scale is the best way to learn—and that means making a minimal investment in materials. Secondhand stores and dollar stores are fantastic places to hunt for pouring containers, drip pans, and other pouring vessels. If you don't have a local craft store to purchase supplies, you can find complete ​paint kits​ like Ink Lab's Acrylic Pouring Kit ($29.99, amazon.com) available online, a great option for those who are unfamiliar with art or a perfect gift to send to someone who wants to spark their creativity.

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