Did you ever see a craft on Pinterest like poured painting, run out to the craft store to buy all the supplies, and then get home only to be distracted by cleaning and dishes and laundry for two whole months?
Yeeeeaaaaah. I see you raising your hands. No worries, we’ve all done it.
That’s exactly what happened with me and poured painting. Well, that and a whole lot of “this is going to take forever/make a mess/be hard/be something I’ll suck at.” What if I can’t art properly and everyone makes fun of me?
I promise you none of those things are true about poured painting. Well maybe you do have two months of laundry but that can wait. I won’t tell a soul if you turn your socks inside out and wear ’em again. *pinky swear* #igotyourback
So while I was sitting with this pile of artsy fartsy nonsense in the corner of my craft room for a couple of months I stumbled across some intel that my local Michaels store was teaching a class on poured painting.
I signed right up even though I hate doing anything that requires me to be out of the house on a school night because I’m hermitish.
At the appointed date and time, I scooted over to my favorite place in the universe a/k/a Michaels. When I got there I learned that the instructor had never tried poured painting herself. Ruh roh.
I’ll be honest, this was a little disappointing because I wanted to learn! But I quickly realized this was a good thing – we’d all learn together and make messes and play with paint until we ended up with something that hopefully looked like it was supposed to!
We gathered our supplies (acrylic paint, water, a mixing cup, a wooden craft stick, and a small canvas hot glued to a larger canvas).
I mixed up my first paint color. All the videos I’ve watched recommended mixing some kind of pouring medium into your paints. We just used plain old tap water. I’m sure this yielded a different result than using pouring medium, but It worked well enough for playing around purposes. I encourage you to start with water because pouring medium is a little spendy.
Note: You use a LOT of paint to do poured painting. This is not the time to break out your expensive fine art acrylics. Some of the ladies in the class used craft acrylics, and others used fine art acrylics. I grabbed some student grade fine art acrylic paint because I’m most comfortable working with them.
It’s very easy to pour too much water into the paint when you first get started. Just add a little at a time until you get something that looks like….hmmmm…pretty pancake batter, but only if you like thin pancakes. I’ve read descriptions that say it should have the consistency of warmed honey, but I’ve never warmed honey so I don’t know what that looks like. You want it to…pour. Apparently there are a zillion different ways to accomplish this so poured painting is very much a trial and error artistic endeavor.
There are scientific ratios for water (or pouring medium) to paint, but since we didn’t have measuring tools available in class, I just eyeballed it. It looked like a 1:1 ratio of water to paint worked well but in hindsight it may have been too thick.
Mix your paint thoroughly, otherwise your paint will be lumpy and that will show up on your canvas. Unless you want that look, mix mix mix mix until the paint is nice and smooth. Then let it have a little rest so the air bubbles pop.
If you have air bubbles, you can use a straw to gently pop them, or a tooth pick, or a torch. All of them will have a different effect on your end result.
This is why it’s art. You just do all kinds of whatever and art magically happens.
In class we mixed our paints one color at a time and made big pours. Then one of the ladies had the idea to grab some more plastic cups and mix all of her colors at once before pouring. I totally copied her because she was smart. On my last pour, I did a “dirty pour”, where you pour several colors into one cup and then tip the cup over onto the canvas. That was SO fun!
Next time I’ll mix all my colors before I start pouring, because I’ll have better control over making little spots of color on the canvas. If you look at the photos, you can see that the first color I poured – purple – has almost completely disappeared under the teal.
I’m noticing as the paint dries that you can see the texture of the canvas peeking through. We used pre-gessoed canvases, which are fine for paintings where you want to see texture. BUT, when I do this again, I’m going to give my canvas another coat or two of gesso to try to smooth out the texture a little more.
I’m pretty pleased with how my canvas looks mostly dry!
It got totally stuck to the craft paper though, womp womp. This is one of those projects you want to do in the same general area where you can let the canvas dry for a couple of days. You don’t really want to move it after you’re done pouring, otherwise the paint will continue to swirl around on your canvas. At the end of class I had to carry my painting out to the car and it was SUPER windy. It was a challenge to get it home and up to my craft room without wearing those pretty colors in my hair!
When you do this at home, you’ll want to rest your canvas on top of a drying rack or some wooden blocks or something to allow the paint to drip off the edges. Don’t put your supports in the middle of the canvas, though, because it will stretch it. Put them under the frame and as far away from the paint drips as possible.
By the end of the class, all our canvases looked very different! One of the ladies used earth tones – dark brown, tan, and copper – which looked like petrified wood when she was done. Another woman used many shades of blue. Her paint was a little lumpy, but it ended up working because her painting looked like the ocean when she was done.
I was surprised by how quick this project was to complete. We were only in class for about an hour and a half. This is definitely something you could do in an evening. Acrylic paints are easy to clean up and, if you use disposable cups, it’s even easier!
There are no mistakes in art, and with poured painting even if you make a “mistake” it will totally look like it was done on purpose.
Are you ready to give it a try?
Here are the products I’ll be using at home. You don’t have to use these specific products – poured painting has a lot to do with experimentation and your budget! You can make beautiful poured paintings with craft acrylics, those acrylic paints kids use in school, or artist acrylics (and this isn’t even getting into the different pouring mediums you can use!). You can get into pouring with resin and adding glitter and crystals to it (this is the direction I’m going in). And you don’t have to pour onto canvas, which can get expensive. You can also pour onto tiles and pieces of wood.
My advice: start with a couple of cheap supplies, see if you like poured painting, and go from there.
We all learn differently, so if you’re still not sure whether you can do this, I super recommend watching a couple of videos. Just know that watching other people pour paint onto canvases is addictive and you may lose a few hours to this activity. 😉
I really like this class on Skillshare – his paint mixing supplies are a little advanced, but it gives you a great idea of what is possible if you really get into pouring paint all over everything. He shows a TON of different pouring techniques – I especially like the bread pan trick!
My brain has been swirling with ideas for poured painting projects, so we’re definitely going to be revisiting this here on the blog. I’d love to put a crafty twist on this because if I kept just pouring paint on canvas I’d quickly run out of wall space!
Have you tried it? How’d it go?
P.S., You might have noticed three things: 1) I’ve been sprucing the blog up a bit; 2) I’ve been away awhile; and 3) I’m no longer doing weekly yarn sale posts. I might talk about the second thing at a later date, or I might not. Haven’t decided yet because it’s a lot of big family/anxiety/etc. stuff and I mostly want to just to move onward and upward, rather than spend a lot of time looking backward at all the things that went not quite right. You know? And the yarn sale posts…they were a LOT of work, and it ended up being a time crunch trying to get those done and posted before church on Sunday – especially around weeks where I was doing volunteer work. And that kind of sucked the joy out of doing it (and maybe even blogging in general, because it cut into time I could have been designing/creating for you!). So! There’s my story. Thanks for sticking with me.