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How To Do Acrylic Paint Pouring-For Beginners

Acrylic paint pouring is a fun way to create art at any skill level! Learning how to do acrylic pouring doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or have done this before. It’s a great fluid art medium and it just takes the right tools and a bit of letting go of control of art turning out “perfectly”. In fact, the more imperfect this art is, the better! To me, paint pouring is almost mesmerizing and I love how abstract art is so easy to create this way! You some how never create the same project twice, even if you use the same color or try to duplicate the same technique!

Woman doing paint pouring on a canvas

There are lots of ways to create a paint poured acrylic artwork, but we’ll start with the easiest technique creating a paint poured canvas art and using what’s called a “Dirty Pour”.

Paint pouted canvas example with green and pink


To make an acrylic pouring painting you’ll need:

Find paint pouring supplies here

Acrylic craft paint in color of choice (Use as many or as few of colors as you like- using 2-3 paint colors is the best way to get started)

-Pouring Medium and Top Coat (You can use any brand, DecoArt Pouring Medium, Liquitex Pouring Medium, or Floetrol are to name a few. I am using the DecoArt brand)

-Or pre-mixed fluid paints

-Plastic cups and wood stir sticks

-Canvas Boards or regular canvases

– A tarp to protect the surface, or as I prefer, an old baking sheet to be used under my pouring surface but over my tarp that can be used as a paint drip tray and used over and over again (I also like to be able to reuse my dripped off paint for other projects!).

-Paint brush or palette knife to catch the drips

Mixing DecoArt Pouring Medium with Paint in a plastic cup

Mix the pouring medium into your craft paint to create the paint poured mixture. The general ratio for an acrylic paint pour is 50/50 or 1 :1. in other words, 50% paint pouring medium and 50% paint, or 1 part to 1 part. The consistency should be quite fluid, almost similar to loose honey.

Get your canvas ready for paint pouring

Place your canvas on a set of 3-4 cups underneath so it is slightly elevated above the tray. This ensures a smooth run off when you pour your paint. No priming or prep is needed on your canvas before paint pouring. Most canvases are pre-gessoed (primed) and that’s enough to paint pour over. You can even paint pour over an old canvas with art work already on it from the thrift store! If you want to use an old canvas and are worried about the other artwork bleeding though, you can base coat it with white paint or primer before starting.

Paint mixed with pouring medium Jennifer Rizzo

After mixing your paint, decide which technique to use to pour your paint. Different acrylic pour techniques will end up with different results. A puddle pour, tree ring pour, marble pour, dutch pour and flip cup pour are just a few techniques you can try! One of the easiest and best paint pouring techniques for beginners the Dirty Pour. This involves pouring all of your paints in a cup together and then pouring from that one cup onto the surface of the canvas. I used a dirty pour when creating this paint poured boho bowl. But this fluid medium is so relaxed, you can even create your own pouring techniques just by experimenting with things like a circular motion or back and forth motion. Also, by adding a different layer of paint on top of each other can create another look.

To create your paint poured artwork, pour your paint directly onto the canvas so it’s a big puddle in the middle of the canvas board.

Lift your canvas by your fingertips at the edges and lightly tilt your canvas, letting the paint run off of the edge. You’ll see the paint make different patterns and forms as it moves around the canvas. Continue to tilt and move the board until you cover the board (If you are struggling with this step, there are some troubleshooting tips below!). You can keep the paint somewhat centered, or tip it all of the way to one side and then the other.

Dirty Paint poured canvas

Once your paint poured piece is done, use a palette knife or paint brush to clean any drips off of the edge of the canvas. Let you paint poured artwork sit at least 24 hours or until dry out of direct sun light on a flat surface where it wont’ be disturbed. Depending on the humidity, this could take up to several days. Once it’s completely dry, it’s ready for a top coat for extra protection and gloss, or it’s ready to hang and you can enjoy your artwork!

For another fun painting technique, try string pull painting!

Paint pouring with bright colors

Acrylic Paint Pouring Troubleshooting:

What do I do if the paint sitting on canvas and not really moving? Try adding more pouring medium to thin out paint more.

What if my paint pouring is running off the canvas too quickly? Add less pouring medium and more paint to thicken the mixture.

What if I pour my paint on the canvas and the paint doesn’t over the canvas all of way? Try mixing up more of the paint mixture and pour in the areas where the paint hasn’t covered. One of the beautiful things about paint pouring sis how every painting is different.

What if I don’t like my poured painting? You have a couple of options! If your paint pouring is still wet, you can scrape the paint off and try again. If it’s dry or too dry to remove, simply mix up a fresh batch of pouring medium/paint mixture and do a fresh paint pour over the top of the same canvas, it will cover it up.

Why does my paint pouring have a lot of bubbles? Bubbles in paint pouring can have be because it was over mixed, or shaken up before using. While your price is still wet, you can try gently tapping on the underside of your painting while keeping it flat to bring any bubbles up to the surface. If you feel like all of the bubbles are up, then you can carefully use a toothpick to pop the bubbles as well. If your paint poured piece is already dry, before applying the clear coat, you can try taking a thin brush with a matching color and paint over the bubble.

Swired dirty paint pouring aqua

I hope you’ll play and try this easy and fun fluid painting technique! It’s a fun and rewarding painting technique you can use on all kinds of surfaces such as how I created a faux marble top table!

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How to make paint poured art with a dirty pour for beginners