Fluid Art Guide for Beginners

Fluid art guide for absolute beginners. Understand what is pouring medium and types of medium, pouring techniques

Acrylic Pouring or Fluid Art is a fun method to create beautiful abstract art. You do not need any art background or prior art experience to do this painting. Even if you’ve never painted before, don't be shy to try, you will enjoy it!

This article lets us go through all the supplies and how-to methods one must know before starting with Fluid art.

In this tutorial, you will learn

  • What Is Fluid Art? 
  • What all supplies do you require 
  • Type of Paints 
  • What is a Pouring Medium?
  • Pour Techniques in short
  • Prepare a Canvas for Fluid Art
  • Step-by-Step Instructions for How to Do an Fluid Art Painting
  • Pour Painting Ratio

What is Acrylic Pouring or Fluid Art?

Fluid Art is a painting technique where acrylic paint is mixed with a pouring medium. This liquid is poured onto a canvas or any surface in various ways to create mesmerizing swirls in unique designs. 

The colors from each cup are poured onto the surface to create stunning abstract designs. Sometimes the colors are also combined in one big cup and poured together. The result is unknown until the paint is almost dry. 

When the mixture is poured onto the canvas or surface, the imbalance of different paint densities creates marvelous patterns. The surface is tilted at some angles to let the paint flow in different directions. The colors interact in unpredictable yet intriguing ways. 

The best part of doing pour painting is that even without mastering it, you can create unique art with smooth swirls. You can do pouring art with minimum supplies and create a stunning painting without spending an entire day!

To start the painting, let us check what materials you will need for fluid art.

Pour Painting Supplies

Acrylic Pouring Essentials and Supplies kit

  • A workspace with adequate ventilation and light
  • A plastic mat to protect your workspace or floor
  • Surface to paint(like canvas)
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Pouring Medium
  • Water
  • Stirring sticks
  • Cups
  • Hand gloves
  • Heat gun or torch
  • Paper towel or rag 
Once you have the above supplies ready, you should be good to start. Let us talk about some of the material in detail.

Acrylic Paints

Choosing a suitable acrylic paint for the painting is quite important. Fluid or soft body acrylics work best for the pouring technique. They are of suitable consistency, and you only need to thin a little.

If you are a beginner, and doing it as a hobby, buy inexpensive craft paints. Adjust the consistency by adding a medium. The paint should be fluid enough to move around the surface as you tilt it.

If you have thicker acrylics available, you can thin them with little water and some medium. Always use a small amount of water to thin the paint. To thin down further, use a medium. Too much water will fail your pouring process as water alters the paint's adhesion to the surface.

What is a Pouring Medium?

Pouring Medium, types of pouring medium, pros and cons of pouring medium, alternative pouring medium

A pouring medium is a transparent additive that helps the acrylic paint flow. A good pouring medium is the key for this painting. The paints are mixed with pouring medium to create a pouring mixture of right consistency.

The pouring consistency should let the paint flow freely but is not overly thin. Without a good consistency, paints will crack or separate.

There are several advantages of a medium:

  • Slow drying time. Hence, more time to work with paints.
  • Paints adhesion to the painting surface is maintained.
  • Color crazing and cracks are reduced to a large extent.
  • Extends the paint volume and colors remain bright.
  • Pigment density is unaltered.

You will find mediums in several brands, and each has some advantage over the other. Depending upon your requirement, choose your medium. 

Fluid Art Techniques

Acrylic Pour Techniques, acrylic pouring with medium

Each painting is a work of art that could barely be reproduced again. There are  diverse possibilities to create this art, starting from the color used, various mixing ratios, and different additives that can be added to make numerous patterns.

We'll dive deeper into one basic technique. Read about all the other techniques in pouring techniques.  Remember whatever technique you choose, ensure you have a flat surface to get the best results possible.

Dirty Pour or Flip cup

The canvas is placed on top of a cup that is filled with paint, the cup is flipped and lifted, allowing the paint to escape and flow across the canvas. This technique is called Flip cup or dirty pour. 

Consistency plays a crucial role here. If the paints are too runny, they'll blend in the cup and come out muddy. This technique will not work if the colors are too thin.

Dirty pours are excellent because they're so spontaneous, and you will never know what dynamic design will come out. If you want to create cells in this design, add silicone oil. 

As soon as you understand the densities of various paints, you will make extraordinary paintings out these. For these pour techniques, canvas is not the only surface, you can use any material that lacks porosity.

Prep the Canvas

It is not mandatory but advised to prepare the canvas with a layer of gesso. Even if the canvas is pre-coated, another coating of gesso will help the paint adhere better. If you have never used gesso, here are the basic steps on how to use it.

1. Take out Gesso in your plate or a plastic dish. Ensure the canvas is clean and dust-free. 

2. Take a flat brush or a sponge brush to apply a thin, even layer of gesso over the entire canvas in one direction.

3. Move the brush in a single direction avoid any brush marks. You should add more water only if brush does not move smoothly over the surface. 

4. Leave the canvas for a day to dry. Clean your brush well with soapy water or a brush soap.

Paint Medium Ratio

Take a plastic cup and insert medium in every cup. Paint and Medium ratio can be 1:7 or 1:8 for an artist grade paint. You can add a little water when needed to get it to the right consistency.

Add required paint n medium in each cup. Stir them with a wooden stick until the mixture is blended. Prepare the mixture a few hours before you plan to use them so the air bubble will settle down. Cover each cup tightly with a plastic wrap after use.

Prepare your workspace

It is important to set up your workplace to avoid all the mess that is going to happen. Cover your workspace using a drop cloth, plastic sheet, or yard-sized garbage bags to cover the paint splash and spills.

If you line the table with wax paper or any aluminum foil, it should remain clean and sufficient to re-use. Always wear an apron to keep paint off your clothes. Though acrylics are water-resistant, they tend to be hard to remove from the clothes.

Start Pouring

Acrylic Pouring with blower to create effect

Lay the canvas on a flat surface. Check the cup containers and their consistency. If the mixture is too thin, add some water and then blend again. Mix everything carefully to get a homogeneous liquid. 

If you want cells in your paintings, add 1-2 drops of silicone oil and blend. Keep a palette knife handy to combine a few colors on the canvas.

Tilt the Canvas

For a small canvas that is easy to pick with one hand, try this. Set the filled cup at one side of the table. Place the canvas on top of that cup. Now, with one hand on the cup and other on the canvas, flip them over so, the cup is upside down.

For a larger canvas, try this. Place a small plastic over the top of pouring cup. Manipulate the cup and plastic in the same way as you would have done for a small canvas. Place the cup where you like to start pouring. Flip the cup and let the liquid go over the surface.

Now your cup is on the surface, and paint is all over the canvas. You can play however you want to get the desired result. So pick your canvas and tilt it in  one direction at one time before the paint nears the border. 

Try not to allow a lot of leaks before the canvas surface is covered. You never really understand how all of the colors will come together till you reach this stage.

Until the complete canvas and all sides are well covered by paint, continue tilting in various directions. If you are delighted with the total composition and color patterns, stop tilting. 

If you want to create cells, read Cell Creation in Acrylic Pouring.

Do the Edges

Assess all four borders for any locations which are not covered in paint. Use a palette knife or timber craft stick to smooth some paint on these sides. The paint under your canvas is excellent for this. 

It is also possible to use leftover paint out of your cups. The way the colors drip down the sides of the canvas may improve the total appearance of your painting.

How to prevent Crazing

Even after using good grade mediums, sometimes crazing occurs after drying. Take care of few things to prevent crazing.

  • Do not add a lot of water to your mix
  • Recheck the consistency; it should be like honey
  • Keep a constant temperature throughout the process and even for drying the painting. If the top layer dries faster than the bottom, it may lead to crazing. 

What to do with leftover Paint 

The leftover paints from the cups must be stored in an airtight container. Please make sure the container is wiped and cleaned from outside before storing it. 

Fluid Art is a messy yet fun activity; try to reduce the mess by taking some measures! Remember not to dump the paint and medium down the sink. They will clog and ruin your pipe apart from the environmental hazard it will do.

Lastly, read this article on Pour Painting Tips and tricks to make yourself aware of the common tips and mistakes one can avoid. 

Final Tip

Painting is supposed to be fun, do not get upset or stressed if your painting doesn't turn out as desired. 

Join online pour painting groups, communities to interact and gain knowledge. There are many artist out there ready to share tips, tricks and help others.

Happy Pouring!