How to Create a 'Swirled' Abstract Painting With Acrylic Paint
Swirled Acrylic or Paint Pouring?
I wrote this article a number of years ago (in 2010) and have been doing what I have called swirled acrylics since about 2008. In recent years, fluid acrylic painting or paint pouring have become increasingly popular, with the addition of products such as (which I now use to create cells with a lot of success) to the paint to get different effects. Floetrol
This method just uses watered down paint (as those products weren't available at that time) so you don't need any of the extras (which can add to your costs) and you can use just what you might have available.
A 'Swirled' Acrylic Painting
Creating an Abstract Painting
If you are an abstract artist you can achieve some really beautiful results using watered-down acrylic paint. This is a technique that I have been using for a number of years and I have sold many paintings using this technique.
What you need:
- a canvas
- empty plastic (water) bottles
- acrylic paints
- masking tape
- spatula/icing spreader
So first of all you need to decide which colours you wish to use. You can check my article on basic colour theory if you wish to know which colours go best together. Generally I tend to use colours that are close to each other on the color wheel (analogous hues) but sometimes I mix up opposite colours in the painting or even completely random ones just to see how it will turn out!
Once you have decided this you need some empty plastic bottles in which to mix the paint. Mix the paint with water in an approximate 1:1 mix. Make up at least 5 different colours to give the painting some variety. It is a good idea to test the colours first on a spare canvas to check that they go well together. Have a good variety of contrasting depths of colour. You don't need to mix particularly large quantities of the paint but obviously it depends on the size of the canvas.
Once you have mixed the colours, put masking tape all around the edge of the canvas to form a lip which will stop the paint from running off the edges.
(further instructions are under the video below)
With the canvas flat on the ground or on a table, pour the paint from each bottle onto the canvas in an approximate pattern of how you want it to look. Try to spread the paint around the canvas evenly and don't have too much of one color in one place.
Once you have put all of the colours on the canvas, use a spatula or something similar to make sure all of the paint joins and that no canvas shows through but try not to mix the paint on the canvas while you are doing it so that you get a more organic look from the painting as the paint merges in its own way.
Make sure you do not put too much paint on the canvas or else it will likely pool in the middle and may take days to dry and may also crack off the canvas if it is too thick.
At this point you can add some glitter or gold powder to the painting to give it an extra sparkle. In order to add more movement to the painting, slightly tilt the canvas to get some patterns into the paint. Keep tilting in various directions until you have a pattern you are happy with. You could also add a few drops of water in various places which will make the paint move around more.
Once the paint is covering the whole canvas, leave the canvas to dry flat overnight. It depends upon how much paint you have used as to how long it takes to dry but if it takes more than 36 hours you have probably used too much!
If you think there is too much paint on the canvas when you are creating the painting then literally tip it off or else use a syringe to take it off if you don't want to spoil the pattern, but you need to take the excess paint off before the paint starts to dry.
Once it is dry, remove the masking tape from the sides, paint the edges and varnish.
In recent years I have coated my paintings with resin but in the past I just used a nice glossy varnish that brought out the colours of the painting.
Some of my paintings using this technique
My Other Painting Hubs
- Abstract Acrylic Painting - Applying Paint To A Text...
If you have read my previous article on creating your own home made texture then you will have already started to create your textured paste to use in this painting style. Once you have mixed up your texture...
- Alternative Texture to Use in Abstract Paintings
As a mainly abstract artist I have come up with some interesting ingredients to use for texture under my abstract paintings. I mostly use acrylic paint but this texture base can also be used for oil...
Questions & Answers
Do you have a medium to suggest for doing a swirled abstract painting using oil paint?
I wouldn't recommend doing this style of painting with oil paint, you would end up needing too much medium for the paint to be the right consistency and I think and it would probably split. There are special mediums designed to use with acrylics and of course you can just use water.Helpful 3
Can you use linseed oil as a primer?
It is not designed for that and this technique uses acrylic paint and not oil. You shouldn't use oil under acrylics in any case (as a general rule). If you haven't bought a pre-primed canvas then there are plenty of tutorials of how to prime a canvas using various things. If you want a base coat under the painting then just use a coat of acrylic paint or gesso.Helpful 2
© 2010 Marian L