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Pour Painting

Our neighbors introduced my son and I to pour painting! It was so much fun! He is still talking about it. 

Acrylic pouring painting is the art of using fluid acrylics to pour onto a canvas (or other surface) to create unique abstract effects. The actual process of doing pour painting is mesmerizing and quite addicting!  You can use a canvas, rocks or any other firm surface. 

In this article I will guide you through how to do acrylic pouring! I will walk you through how to pre-mix your acrylics to make them into fluid paints as well as how to achieve those really cool “cells” you have seen in acrylic pour paintings. 

You will also get some information about how to select colors for your acrylic pours. I think selecting colors is an important part of the creative process that takes place because you really have to think about how colors look together.

In the acrylic pouring world, there are so many techniques! You can spend weeks watching videos and soaking up all the information on all the different techniques! 

I will only be describing to you what is called a “Flip Cup Dirty Pour”. This is where you put all your (pre-mixed) colors in one cup and flip the cup onto the canvas. Why is it called a dirty pour? It is because the paint colors are all layered/ poured together in one cup! 

  • Acrylic Paint (Any brand! Craft paints work great for this.)
  • Canvas or other object (start smaller and work up to a larger art work.)
  • Palette knife if you want to “swipe” the paint to create more cells
  • Floetrol (thinking medium)
  • Plastic cups
  • Stir sticks
  • Disposable Gloves (highly recommended since pour painting is messy and you will be mixing additives. My son had this all over the place! Then touched his face. He loved it by the way!) 
  • Optional: gesso (a thin paint for coating the canvas.)
  • Acrylic sealer (optional)
  • Cardboard or Tinfoil Sheet Pan for catching paint drippings. Rubbermaid bins are great as well, low profile is best!


  1. Chose a color pattern! This is the fun part! It will keep you coming back! I like to choose colors in the same family. Such as blues, greens, and teals. I added in some metallic gold for fun!
  2. Premix your colors with a 2:1 proportion of floetrol to acrylic paint.
  3. Add a tiny bit of water (preferable distilled) to each cup and stir.
  4. Add 2-3 drops of water to each color and slightly stir until you get the consistency you want. I made mine the consistency of thin honey. It’s ok if your paint colors aren’t all the same thickness. 
  5. Pour each of the colors in layers into one cup.
  6. Place your canvas on the cup and flip over onto an elevated but level surface. You can also slowly pour the paint over the canvas. 
  7. Slowly lift cup and watch paint flow out.
  8. Tilt the canvas to allow the paint to flow everywhere and off the canvas.
  9. I blew on my canvas to create bubbles! It was a neat technique. 
  10. Optional: use a palette knife to gently swipe some of the paint to reveal some more cells and help it to spread.
  11. Leave the pour painting elevated for 2-3 days to allow it to completely dry.
  12. If desired, finish with an acrylic sealer such as a high gloss varnish.

Enjoy and happy acrylic pour painting!!!

Tonia Loy

Tonia Loy was the Mail Lifestyle Columnist covering Food, Arts & Crafts, and Do-It-Yourself topics from January 2021 until August 2021. She is from Peoria, Illinois, and is the owner of Great Cake Adventure Bakery. She attended ICC and NIU for art and design.