Nancy’s Painting Blog

Pouring Acrylic – some special tricks

How do you get that cool effect? Contemporary paintings are notorious for sporting a wide variety of special effects, especially when the imagery is abstract. Most of these effects, I have found, are obtained by pouring. Pouring is a simple concept. It’s a way of applying paint without using brushes, knives or other application tools. Just grab a large container of acrylic medium and pour it out onto a surface. Simple? Yes. Messy? Yes. Easy? Often, no.

Pouring is most commonly used to get a “surfboard finish”; a super glossy, brushless and smooth rich layer of color or clear coating on a painting. This is often obtained by using toxic resins. However, there are ways to get the same results with non-toxic acrylic.

In addition to the surfboard finish, pouring can offer some new and unusual special effects to your work. With pouring its easy to think of Jackson Pollock. It can be a great way to add some fun into your painting process, smooth out unwanted texture on your surface, get marbleized effects, and rich colored glazes.

Here are some basic tips from my DVD to get a flawless “surfboard finish”:

(1) Use a rigid surface to keep from buckling while drying.

(2) Use a medium that is made specifically for pouring, like Golden’s GAC800. If using other fluid mediums, such as Clear Tar Gel or Self-Leveling Gel, dilute up to 40% with water and spread thinly to avoid crevicing.

(3) Apply a stain sealer, then prime the surface before pouring to keep stains from coming through the surface into the poured medium.

(4) Pour on a surface that is level, so while it dries it won’t shift.

(5) Immediately spray with alcohol after pouring and spreading to eliminate bubbles.

(6) For deep pours apply duct tape around the edges like a wall, seal the seam with a gel, then pour as deep as you want using GAC800. This is the only medium that I know of that can be poured deeper than ¼” without crevicing.

Other techniques covered in the DVD: Smoothing out a textured surface; Deep pouring & embedding; Transparent and Opaque Colored Pours; Poured Collage Shapes; “Dirty Mix” Pours; Jackson Pollock Drizzle Pours; Marbleized Pours

For more information, I produced a 70 minute video available for sale called Secret Tricks to Pouring Acrylic, click here to purchase.

13 thoughts on “Pouring Acrylic – some special tricks

  1. Thanks for this insightful post Nancy. I have never imagined Pouring technique can be so complicated. It's not as easy at it looks. I have more respect now for Pouring.

  2. Pouring is a new art form for many people. Some don't even consider this as artistic or difficult to do. This blog hopefully will enlighten those who are ignorant of pouring. I hope people like you can sell art like this more often.

  3. I am so delighted that I can learn from your DVD's whilst I live half the world…or nearly half the worled away in the UK. I set myself time to watch and then I 'play' and it feels so good having a "mentor" there to refer to. May we 'clone' you in the UK??!!!!!
    I do get frustrated but I am happy, learning and re learning skills that seemed to be defunct!
    Also I have to say that I am a "Golden" paint fanactic! I just love their website and how they answer emails in person, which is a wonderful link. My first painting hangs in our kitchen/ dining room so that I can critique it as I go back and is from my imagination of the Maine coast. Also I invite friends and neighbours who visit to comment as well. Lots of positive comments as well as negative. But I can live with that!
    I am waiting for my crackle pastes to asrrive and then the fun will commence!!! Thank you so much Nancy!!

  4. I am intrigued by the Pouring method. I have studied art history but have not done much with creating the art itself. Well I am a photographer and videographer- not to discount the 2! With Pouring I love the play on colors and the sublime lines. I am a big fan of Mark Rothko and his push-pull effect on his works. This reminds me of Rothko. Love your blog! – Alexandra

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  5. Thanks for sharing some of the best hidden points on pouring really helpful for beginner as well as for experienced ones

  6. Hi Nancy, love your work! I paint oils on faux silver and gold leaf and have been experimenting with pouring medium, but have not combined the two so far. I was told by several artists that any water based product on top of imitation leaf will eventually tarnish the metal. Have you found this to be true and if not, what do you use to prevent it? Also, how do you get acrylics to adhere well to the leaf since the leaf is a non-porous surface? Thanks so much for any insight!

  7. Hi Pamela,
    Good questions! Real gold leaf will not tarnish. Imitation gold leaf, however, is made of copper and zinc. The copper will tarnish when exposed to air (which may take months to a year to show visible darkening) or when exposed to ammonia. Ammonia is in acrylic paints, so that is what can tarnish imitation leaf, not the water. The problem with applying acrylic on top of metal leaf is that if there is any added water to the paint it will bead up. For even applications of acrylic paint, I like to apply a solvent based clear gloss acrylic over the leaf first, let dry, then apply a thin layer of a glossy acrylic medium, and let that dry. Now I can more easily apply acrylic paint, whether I add water to make it thinner or washer, or not. I hope this helps answer your question. My new book, Acrylic Illuminations, has an entire section dedicated to working on metal leaf with acrylic paint. It is due for release November 2013 and is available for pre-purchase now on

  8. Thanks, Nancy! Would that work with faux silver leaf (aluminum) as well or would it tarnish over time? Excited to read your new book!

  9. Hi Pamela,
    One of the techniques in my new book, Acrylic Illuminations, is exactly that – using this pouring technique over silver leaf made from aluminum. It looks just like a stained glass window – quite beautiful! The aluminum will not tarnish, however, I still recommend sealing the leaf with a solvent-based acrylic spray before applying acrylic to help adhesion between the poured acrylic and the metal leaf.

  10. Just use regular isopropyl rubbing alcohol (the kind you get at drug stores) to spray over a newly poured layer to eliminate bubbles.

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