I have spent an undisclosed amount of time watching acrylic pour projects on YouTube. There is something soothing about watching the colors swirl, cell, and beautifully blend together. I knew I wanted to try this technique, but honestly I was a little intimidated. Each artist had their own process, and their own “recipe” for the perfect mixture of paint and additives. When I saw the new canvas alphabet letters I knew it would be an ideal surface for this DIY paint pouring process, and a perfect addition to my craft room decor.
In full disclosure, I figured I would mess up somehow. I got some smaller canvases to practice on before I worked on the letters. Guess what? I didn’t need the practice! My practice canvases were awesome! I am happy I did them, they just add another pop of color to my room.
Here are the practice canvases:
Supplies needed for DIY paint pouring:
- Canvas Surface of Your Choice
- 4×4 White Canvas (for practice! :))
- Acrylic Paint – I used:
- Clear Plastic Cups
- Natural Wood Craft Sticks
- Make’n Mold Decorating Squeeze Bottle (full of water)
- Liquitex Flow Aid Effects Medium
- Floetrol (you can pick this up at any home improvement store in the paint department)
- 100% Silicone Lubricant (mine is treadmill lubricant, I found this at my home improvement store)
- Small Butane Torch (optional)
- Large cookie sheet, or other similar container
- Cooling rack, or paper cups (I will explain that later)
- White Heavyweight Plastic Table Cloth
Begin by prepping your project surface. If you are using a canvas make sure that it has already been coated with gesso.
Cover your work space with a disposable tablecloth. Wear clothes that you don’t mind ruining. Gloves too, if you don’t like your hands getting colorful. This project is a wonderfully messy one.
I used a cooling rack and a cookie sheet.
The paint is going to need space to drip and run. If you don’t have a cooling rack, you can use disposable cups to hold your project above the “drip” surface. They have a lot of options at the dollar store: aluminum roasting pans or even a shallow cardboard box would work.
The hardest part about this project is mixing the paint and additives. If you have any questions on this process, leave me a comment, and I will try to answer them. Keep in mind, there are several ways to mix a pouring medium. I am only experienced in the process I am sharing with you today.
Choose the colors of paint you like. I would suggest you don’t do more than 4, or it just gets murky. You will need a clean cup and wooden craft stick for each color. Make sure you use paint that is well pigmented. I chose to use student artist grade acrylics. They worked just fine for DIY paint pouring.
I will start out by saying that I am a pretty frugal person, so I chose to go the inexpensive route with Floetrol. I put a small amount of Liquitex in my mixture as well, but the majority was Floetrol.
Floetrol as I mentioned above can be found in the paint department of most home improvement stores. Shake your Floetrol really well. I put about an ounce (like an inch) of Floetrol in the bottom of my cups.
Some pouring artists I have watched have complicated “recipes” for their mediums. One guy even broke out a scale for super precise measurements! We are friends here, right? Well my “eye-ball it easy way” totally worked. I am not sure you can really mess up here.
Add your paint.
Take your wooden stick and really mix this up. Scrape the sides and bottom, and get it mixed well.
This mixture is going to be pretty thick right now. Put some water in a squirt bottle and start watering your mixture down. Add your water small amounts at a time. Keep mixing with your wooden stick, scraping the sides and bottom.
Then add drops of silicone lubricant. The “guideline” to the silicone is 2-3 drops per ounce of pouring mixture. Again, I eye-balled this. I added 6 drops per color.
The silicone is what helps to create the cells in the acrylic. The fun textural elements.
See how pretty my pouring mediums are?
Using a clean cup, pour your mediums together. Keep in mind: for this project, the letters- the surface area is broken up (not a solid canvas) I chose to pour several “cups” to cover the letters. If I would have done one pour, the paint may not have made it down to the bottom of the “R”, if that makes sense.
If you are doing a canvas, you can do one pour.
Use whatever amounts of each color you would like. I kept my colors pretty even.
Then make another pour, and repeat. For the narrower areas of the letters, I chose to not flip the cup, but just let it pour out.
Once the paint is applied, and it looks like enough to completely cover the project surface, you can hit the paint with a small butane torch. The heat from the torch causes any paint bubbles to lift, and help with the creation of the cells. Plus I felt cool- like I could also whip up some crème brûlée.Tilt your project to get the paint to go over the edges and run down the sides.
Here’s a tip: if you have some dry spots on the sides of your canvas, you can scoop up some of the paint that has dripped into the bottom surface and kind of dribble it on the canvas sides using your hands.
Once all of the canvas is coated, allow the project to drip and swirl for a bit on the cooling rack.
If you are doing multiple DIY paint pouring projects, once it looks like the dripping has slowed down, move your project to some disposable cups so you can use the pan/rack combo for your next project.
Make sure you put your projects in an area where they will not be disturbed while they dry. Recommendation for drying time is 2-5 days. It depends on how thick your medium is. Once your project is cured, you can choose to coat it with a resin or varnish to make it thick and shiny, and to seal it. I left mine as is. Mostly because I was anxious to hang the letters!
Look how freaking cool these DIY paint pouring cells are:
This is a messy-but-worth-it project. One that would be great for older kids or teens.
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Shaunte is a 30-something, chocolate-loving, SAHM from Utah. She has been scrapbooking since 1997, the dreaded era of photos cropped with deco scissors. Since then, her work has evolved into a clean, linear, photo-focused style. Her favorite subjects to scrap are her husband and five kids (never a lack for subject material there).