Pour Painting Supplies for Beginners

Updated on July 20, 2018
carrie-kelley profile image

I've been drawing and painting for most of my life. My favorite subjects are animals, nature, scenery, flowers and abstract art.

Pour painting supplies for beginners: find out what you'll need to get started.
Pour painting supplies for beginners: find out what you'll need to get started. | Source

What Supplies Do I Need for Pour Painting?

Acrylic pour painting is a fun and interesting art technique that creates beautiful, unique and one-of-a-kind paintings. Before you get started on your first painting, you’ll need some specific pour painting supplies.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • What pour painting supplies you'll need.
  • Some basic information about each supply and how they'll be used in the painting process.
  • Where you can find these supplies.

A collection of supplies for pour painting.
A collection of supplies for pour painting. | Source

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1. Pour Painting Surface

What is the best surface for an acrylic pour painting? It’s possible to do a pour painting on many different types of surfaces. Sealed and primed wood panels are an ideal surface because they can withstand heavy paint without sagging.

An assortment of surfaces for acrylic pour painting.
An assortment of surfaces for acrylic pour painting. | Source

Here are a few types of surfaces for pour paintings:

Wood Panels - Any size or type of wood panel can be use for pour painting. If it's not already sealed and primed, you'll need to do this prior to painting.

Ampersand Gessobord Panels - These artist quality wood panels are already primed and ready for paint. They’re made with durable, archival quality materials and are available in a wide range of sizes.

Stretched Canvas with Staple-Free Edges - Stretched canvases of every shape, size and price range can be found in art supply stores. Canvases with staple-free edges are best for pour painting because they can be displayed without a frame.

You’ll need to brush on a coat of gesso (an acrylic primer) and let it dry for a day before starting your painting.

You usually don’t need to worry about a canvas sagging with a small pour paintings or if you do a larger pour painting on a high-quality, tightly stretched canvas.

Multi-Packs - Multi-packs of small to medium size canvases, wood panels and Ampersand Gessobords are available in art supply stores and online. If you plan to do a lot of pour paintings, these can save you money.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Liquitex Professional GessoAn example of a paint brush that can be used to apply gesso.
Liquitex Professional Gesso
Liquitex Professional Gesso | Source
An example of a paint brush that can be used to apply gesso.
An example of a paint brush that can be used to apply gesso. | Source

2. Gesso and Paint Brush

If you're using a canvas for your pour painting, you'll need a bottle of gesso. This acrylic primer helps paint adhere to the canvas. Liquitex Basics, Liquitex Professional or Golden Gesso are all good choices.

You’ll also need a flat paint brush to apply the gesso.

Liquid or soft-body acrylic paints are best suited for acrylic pour painting.
Liquid or soft-body acrylic paints are best suited for acrylic pour painting. | Source

3. Paints for Pour Painting

What kind of paint do you use for pour painting? Liquid or soft body acrylic paints are best because they're in a fluid consistency for pouring. These vary greatly in cost and quality. Your two options for liquid acrylics are artist quality acrylics or craft acrylics.

Artist quality liquid acrylics can get expensive when you buy a selection of colors, so craft acrylics are a good choice when you’re just starting out and learning the pouring technique.

Here are a few details about both types of liquid acrylic paints:

Craft Liquid Acrylic Paint

Bottles of craft liquid acrylic paint can be found online and at most arts & crafts stores. They can be purchased individually or in sets. Craft acrylics start at about $1.00 US for a 2-ounce (59 mL) bottle.

Some popular brands of craft acrylics are Americana, DecoArt, FolkArt, Apple Barrel and Artist’s Loft.

Artist Quality Liquid Acrylic Paint

Artist quality liquid acrylics have high pigment concentrations, intense colors and less color shift when the paint dries compared to craft acrylics. They’re also less likely to crack, have better lightfastness and long-term durability. If you want to create pour paintings that will last, this is the type of paint to use.

A 2-ounce bottle starts at about $5 to $10 US. Since you use a small amount of paint compared to pouring medium for a pour painting, a 2-ounce bottle of artist quality acrylic goes farther than you might think.

Some brands of artist quality liquid acrylics are Chroma Atelier Free Flow Artists’ Acrylics, Chromacryl Fluid Acrylics, DaVinci Fluid Acrylics, Golden Fluid Acrylics, Golden High Flow Acrylics, Holbein Fluid Acrylics, Lascaux Studio Acrylics, Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylics, Ultrecht Artists’ Fluid Acrylics and Vallejo Acrylic Artist Fluid Colors.

The two brands I’ve been using are Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics and Golden Fluid Acrylics. They both have rich, vivid colors and a little paint goes a long way.

Acrylic Paint Colors for Pour Painting

You’ll need at least two or three paint colors for a pour painting. If you’d like to experiment with a variety of different color combinations in your paintings, buy six to ten colors or a liquid acrylic paint set.

If you’d prefer to keep things simple, choose three colors in the same color family. For example: a pale blue, medium blue and dark blue.

Complementary colors can also look nice in a pour painting. These are colors on the opposite side of a color wheel, such as blue and orange or light green and purple.

Color Wheel

If you're new to mixing paint colors or just want to know which colors go well together, try using a color wheel. I like the Cox Color Wheel from The Color Wheel Company because it's easy to use and shows color relationships on both sides.

Cox 133343 9 1/4" Color Wheel
Cox 133343 9 1/4" Color Wheel | Source

Metallic Colors in a Pour Painting

To add some sparkle and shine to your pour paintings, try using iridescent, pearlescent, metallic or interference paint colors. You can find these in both craft and artist quality acrylics.

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Golden GAC 800 can be used as a pouring medium.Liquitex Pouring Medium
Golden GAC 800 can be used as a pouring medium.
Golden GAC 800 can be used as a pouring medium. | Source
Liquitex Pouring Medium
Liquitex Pouring Medium | Source

4. Pouring Medium

Pouring medium is what you’ll mix with your liquid acrylic paints to create a unique “marbled” effect when the paint is poured onto a surface. Pouring medium helps keep each color separate instead of blending into a single color like it would if you mixed paints without it.

It’s important to use a high quality pouring medium to prevent cracks or “crazing” as the paint dries.

Two of the more popular mediums for pouring are Liquitex Pouring Medium and Golden GAC 800. I use both of these mediums and love the results. They can be used with both artist quality and craft acrylics.

An 8-ounce bottle of these mediums costs between $12 and $16 US.

You’ll find that you use quite a bit of pouring medium, even with small paintings. I suggest buying one or two 8-ounce (237 mL) bottles to get started and see how pour painting works.

If you’re thinking of doing large pour paintings, you’ll need a bigger bottle. Both Liquitex and Golden GAC 800 are available in larger sizes, which are more cost-effective if you do a lot of pouring.

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Demco Silicone OilA close up of cells in a pour painting.
Demco Silicone Oil
Demco Silicone Oil | Source
A close up of cells in a pour painting.
A close up of cells in a pour painting. | Source

5. 100% Silicone Oil

Adding a few drops of pure silicone oil to your paint mixtures will help create “cells” throughout your pour painting. I used Demco Acrylic Silicone Oil for some of the paintings shown in this article. “Spot On 100% Silicone Treadmill Belt Lubricant” or any other brand of 100% silicone oil can work just as well.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An assortment of plastic cups for pour painting.For small pour paintings (under 6" or 8" square), 3-ounce (88 mL) plastic cups are the perfect size for mixing paint and pouring medium.
An assortment of plastic cups for pour painting.
An assortment of plastic cups for pour painting. | Source
For small pour paintings (under 6" or 8" square), 3-ounce (88 mL) plastic cups are the perfect size for mixing paint and pouring medium.
For small pour paintings (under 6" or 8" square), 3-ounce (88 mL) plastic cups are the perfect size for mixing paint and pouring medium. | Source

6. Plastic Beverage Cups

You’ll need plastic beverage cups for mixing and pouring your paint. It's helpful to have small, medium and large cups.

If I’m doing a small painting, I use small and medium cups. For larger paintings, I use medium size cups for mixing and large for pouring.

Three Sizes of Cups to Buy:

  • 3-ounce (88.7 mL)
  • 9-ounce (266 mL)
  • 16-ounce (473 mL)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wood Craft Sticks for Acrylic Pouring - Craft sticks are useful for mixing paints and can also be used to create designs in your acrylic pours.Small Plastic Squeeze BottlesTwo Plastic Palette Knives from a Grumbacher Palette & Painting Knife Set - These are about 10" long and made from a durable plastic that's easy to clean.
Wood Craft Sticks for Acrylic Pouring - Craft sticks are useful for mixing paints and can also be used to create designs in your acrylic pours.
Wood Craft Sticks for Acrylic Pouring - Craft sticks are useful for mixing paints and can also be used to create designs in your acrylic pours. | Source
Small Plastic Squeeze Bottles
Small Plastic Squeeze Bottles | Source
Two Plastic Palette Knives from a Grumbacher Palette & Painting Knife Set - These are about 10" long and made from a durable plastic that's easy to clean.
Two Plastic Palette Knives from a Grumbacher Palette & Painting Knife Set - These are about 10" long and made from a durable plastic that's easy to clean. | Source

7. Wood Craft Sticks

Wood craft sticks are used to mix paint with pouring medium. Get both the regular (popsicle stick size) and large 5.75" (tongue depressor size) sticks.

The regular size sticks work well for mixing paint in small plastic cups and the large sticks are better for medium and larger cups.

8. Small Plastic Squeeze Bottles

Small plastic squeeze bottles can be filled with your paint and pouring medium mixture to create interesting designs on your canvas or board. These can be found in art and craft supply stores. Many dollar stores sell squeeze bottles in larger sizes, which work well for bigger pour paintings.

9. Palette Knife

A palette knife can be used to smooth the poured paint onto the edges of your wood panel or canvas. You can also use them for spreading the paint across your surface to create cells and other more advanced liquid acrylic techniques.

Both plastic and metal palette knives work well for this.

10. Metal or Plastic Cans

You’ll need something to keep your board or canvas raised as you pour paint. Some people use plastic cups for this. I’ve found empty soup or coffee cans to be more stable and less likely to tip.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Use two cans to support a canvas.Use a metal can to raise your wood panel for a pour painting.
Use two cans to support a canvas.
Use two cans to support a canvas. | Source
Use a metal can to raise your wood panel for a pour painting.
Use a metal can to raise your wood panel for a pour painting. | Source

11. Aluminum Baking Pans

Aluminum baking pans work well to contain the paint that drips off the edges of the painting and makes clean-up easier. They won’t work for large boards or canvases, but they’re perfect for small to medium size paintings.

12. Wax Paper

If you’d like to re-use your aluminum baking pans for multiple paintings, line them with wax paper. Use masking tape to tape down the edges so they don’t curl up and touch the painting.

13. Plastic Drop Cloth or Painting Tarp

Pour painting can get very messy, so you’ll need a large plastic drop cloth to protect your table and the floor surrounding it.

14. Disposable Latex Gloves

Acrylic paints are water soluble, so they will come off your hands with soap and water, but it takes some effort once the paint has dried. Disposable latex gloves are great for keeping your hands clean throughout your pour painting session.

Tip

If you happen to get acrylic paint on your hands, try using a bar of Lava Soap. The grain in this soap helps scrub off acrylics better than plain soap. If you still have paint or pouring medium residue on your hands or nails after washing them, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to remove what’s left.

15. Art Smock or Old Apron

To protect your clothes, you’ll need an old apron or art smock. I also recommend wearing clothing you don’t care about because paint and pouring medium can ruin clothing.

16. Paper Towels

You’ll need a roll of paper towels for various clean-up during and after your pour painting sessions.

Optional Pour Painting Supplies

Here are a few other supplies to consider:

Level

Pour paintings need to be done on a completely level raised surface to prevent paint from pooling on one side of the canvas or board. A basic level from a discount or hardware store can help your paintings turn out better.

Safety Glasses

Paint and pouring medium can occasionally splash when you flip open a cap or mix paints, so you may want a pair of safety glasses.

Wide Straws

Straws can be used to blow paint and create interesting effects in your painting. Look for these in craft supply store, grocery store or online.

Painter’s Tape

If you'd like to cover the backs of your canvases or boards to protect them from messy paint, pick up a roll of painter's tape. It peels off easily without damaging surfaces.

Varnish

A coat of varnish helps protect pour paintings from light and environment damage (like smoke, dust or fingerprints).

Plastic Storage Bin

A plastic storage bin with handles is a convenient place to gather and store your pour painting supplies. I found the pink one shown in the photo at a dollar store.

A plastic bin to store supplies
A plastic bin to store supplies | Source

Where to Buy Pour Painting Supplies

Arts & Crafts Store
Dollar or Hardware Store
Online
Wood Panels, Canvases or Canvas Board
Plastic Beverage Cups
Wood Panels, Canvases or Canvas Board
Gesso & Flat Paint Brush
Wood Craft Sticks
Gesso & Flat Paint Brush
Liquid or Soft Body Acrylic Paint
Aluminum Baking Pans
Liquid or Soft Body Acrylic Paint
Pouring Medium
Wax Paper
Pouring Medium
100% Silicone Oil
Masking Tape
100% Silicone Oil
Wood Craft Sticks
Plastic Drop Cloth or Tarp
Wood Craft Sticks
Small Plastic Squeeze Bottles
Disposable Latex Gloves
Small Plastic Squeeze Bottles
Palette Knife
Paper Towels
Palette Knife
Art Smock
Lava Soap
Art Smock
Color Wheel
Level
Color Wheel
Varnish
Safety Glasses
Varnish
 
Wide Straws
 
 
Painter's Tape
 
 
Plastic Storage Bin
 

Here's an acrylic pour painting supply checklist:

Acrylic Pour Painting Supply List
Acrylic Pour Painting Supply List | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Carrie Kelley

    Comments

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      • carrie-kelley profile imageAUTHOR

        Carrie Kelley 

        4 weeks ago from USA

        Hi Denise,You're welcome. Thanks for your comments =)

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        This is a pretty comprehensive list, perfect for the beginner. I tried pour painting once and used the wrong paint and got lumps. I was so disappointed. Your list would have helped a lot. Thanks for sharing.

        Blessings,

        Denise

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