5 Best Acrylic Pour Painting Techniques

by | Mar 27, 2020 | Blog | 7 comments

Amy Anthony is Guest Author on Nancy Reyner’s blog, writing this article on Acrylic Pouring.

Acrylic Pour Art
involves an incredible mix of colors where the textures and shapes are developed strictly from the pouring of paint. The art itself is stunningly beautiful, but what’s more surprising is the fact that all of the depth and variance in the painting is created through only paint.


If you’re interested in creating a pour painting, or you’re curious about how that lovely pour painting you own was done, here is my list of the top acrylic pour painting techniques for 2020.


Prep Work 

If you’re an experienced painter and already know what you’ll need to mix the paints and cover your workspace, then skip and get right to the techniques. But if you’re about to venture into new territory, the following steps are important to note before getting started.

Mixing Paint 

Before beginning a pour painting, the acrylic paint has to be mixed with the pouring medium. Start with a 2:1 paint to medium ratio, then adjust as needed. Different paint brands can require more or less medium. When the consistency of the mixture is honey-like, you’re ready to pour.



If you mix in paper cups, then you’ll be able to pinch the sides every so slightly when you pour, making a spout. This will help you get the paint where you want it to go.

Prime the Canvas 

Most experienced pour artists will tell you, don’t skip this step. Gesso is the best option for setting the canvas. Cover the entire canvas with the mixture, and let it dry. The combination of ingredients in Gesso will provide a base for the paint and allow it to adhere to the canvas.


Protect the Surfaces Surrounding 

Whether you do your paintings within your studio, or you prefer to work in the garage, protecting the table or work surface is crucial. Pour art is done best when you’re not worrying about making a mess.


Elevate the Canvas

If the canvas receives paint while it’s sitting flat against the table or floor, the paint will pool around the edges. Raising the canvas off that surface will prevent this from happening. Some artists prefer to use a couple of drying racks on either side of the canvas to lift it, while others like using small cups at each corner.


Pour Painting Techniques

The paint and medium are mixed, the workspace is covered, now it’s time to get pouring. 

Flip Cup 

You can do either one flip cup, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try two. Make a dirty pour in either the one or two cups, and set aside. Using a piece of cardboard that’s similar to the size of the canvas, rest it on top of the surface where the canvas rests. 

Set the dirty pour(s) on top of the cardboard, and cover with the canvas, facedown. Carefully, flip the cardboard upside down, to the canvas is now face up. Wait a couple of seconds, then remove the cups. Watch the paint spread, helping it reach the edges by angling the canvas if you need to.




The puddle technique is one of my favorite techniques, because I love how the colors take shape as they merge together. Pour little pools of paint on the canvas, making sure there’s some space in between each. Use different colors, just like with a basic pour. 

As soon as you’ve poured until your heart’s content, start moving the paint across the canvas by tilting. See the puddles slide across the canvas, merging into one big one. All of the colors will swim together, without mixing.


Balloon Smash

Similar to the start of a puddle pour, make several smaller puddles across the canvas, layering in concentric circles. Take a small balloon that’s been blown up to fit in your hand, and firmly press it into each circle. The result will be a splat of color. 

Keep pouring, smashing, pouring, and smashing until you’ve sufficiently covered your canvas, and it’s matched your pour art expectations.



This technique is equally as mesmerizing as the puddle pour, but there’s an added level of excitement because of the tools involved. This is also one of my favorite pour techniques for adding gold or another metallic. 

Cover the entire canvas with one color; I prefer to use black or white. Carefully pour select paint colors in concentric circles, Use a final color, again, I like to use black or white here, and make a circle around the perimeter of the first pour. Now, use a blow dryer to spread the paint. The painting almost has a cosmic feel when it’s done.



For this, you’ll need a palette knife, or a plastic scraper. I picked my scraper up from a specialty baking store, it’s for frosting cakes, but it works perfectly with this technique. I think this one is best when it’s kept simple, with just two or three colors, and then white. 

Pour the paint on the canvas, except the white, either in circles or ribbons. Make sure to overlap the paints some, but not enough to mix the colors too much. Add white around the perimeter. 

Use the scraper or palette knife to very gently, without applying any pressure, spread the white paint. It should smoothly glide over the top of the others, allowing some to peek through. Try moving in different directions, and then adding a bit more pressure, then watch the colors pop. 

Pour painting is one of my favorite acrylic applications, because the process is just as meaningful as the product. Experimenting with the different colors and techniques is a great stress reliever, and it’s even better that there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. It’s all about the beauty of color working together.



About the Author

Amy Anthony is Guest Author on Nancy Reyner’s blog

Amy Anthony is a stay-at-home-mom of two who thrives on having a clean and organized home. As a writer by trade, Amy enjoys teaching others how they can achieve their own sparkling home with minimal effort on her blog Oh So Spotless.



More About Pouring

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Acrylic Illuminations, Book on special acrylic painting techniques, including pouring and other luminous effects.



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Special Offer

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Learn everything you need from your first brushstroke to the finished painting. Acquire techniques and ground breaking concepts to shape your artistic vision.


  1. Tiffany Kelly

    Hi. I have been doing a lot of practicing but don’t know what to do! I’m trying to do a “river” with a lot of blank canvas. I want a lot of cells so I’m using silicone oil and floetrol. The dutch pour works very well but… Is there any way to get the dirty pour flip cup technique more controlled and not over the entire canvas?

    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Tiffany,
      You could try to apply scotch tape where you want the pour to stop. Make sure you extend the tape out to the outside edges of the canvas so you can easily peel it off later (otherwise it gets buried under the pour and you can’t lift it up). Press down at the tape’s edge along that edge that is closest to where you want the pour to stop. With a small brush apply a gloss medium along that same edge to keep any of the poured medium from seeping through. For this I like to use Golden’s GAC500. It works the best. You can blow dry with a hair blower to speed the drying of that medium so you only need to wait a minute or two. Now you can do our dirty pour flip cup where you want. Once the pour sets after some time (depends on your climate but here where it’s hot and dry I wait about 10 minutes), when it isn’t too fluid, remove the tape carefully. Lift the tape back onto itself so you roll it off rather than lifting it straight up. This should work. Let me know your results when you try it.

  2. Olga Roca

    I would like to know what pouring acrylic medium you use?
    Is Gloss Galzing liquid a pouring acrylic medium?
    Tanks for your answer
    c villanueva
    [email protected]

    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Olga,
      I like to use Golden’s Color Pouring Medium. It is made especially for pouring so it won’t crevice once dry. Liquitex also has a pouring medium. Gloss Glazing Liquid looks pourable because it is relatively thin, but it will crevice once it dries. I recommend experimenting to see what works best for you. Crevicing happens more often in dry climates, hot temperatures, when poured on a porous surface, or when poured thickly.

  3. PPaint

    I’m a beginner in the artist field and I’ve found your blog really helpful for me this is the daily routine work and also in the projects too and the techniques really help me a lot you can check this one too for future blogging. https://ppaint.co.uk/

  4. Jane

    The instructions are clear and concise. I found them easy to follow. I have viewed other artists and they seem to cover the canvass with a colour, as you say, either white or black, before they begin their pouring. What is the advantage or disadvantage of this?

    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Jane,
      Thank you for your comment. Yes there are many ways to use pouring. You can use a poured layer in the beginning of your painting process on a white canvas, in the middle over paint color or a painting, and at the end as a final layer. Think of a pour using a mixture of paint and medium. The paint has color and the medium is clear (at least once it dries it is clear). If you use alot of paint in the mixture so your ratio is more paint then medium, this will be an opaque pour, and you will not be able to see what is under the pour. In this case it doesn’t matter whether your surface under the pour is white, black or a color, right? If, however, you pour with mixtures that have more medium and less color, then this mixture and your resulting poured layer, will be more transparent. In this case not only will you be able to see what’s under the poured layer, but what’s underneath will affect the pour colors. For example, if you pour using mostly medium and a small amount of yellow paint color, and you pour this over a pre-painted green surface, your green will still be visible as green but will just get a bit lighter and brighter with the yellow overlay. I like to use transparent mixtures rather than opaque ones for pouring. Transparency adds a lighter feel and the colors won’t get as muddy if you used too much paint color in the mixtures.

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Professional fine artist Nancy Reyner’s blog about art, painting and creativity. Her career spans over 30 years. She lives in Santa Fe in the US. Subscribe below for free tips on art and painting.

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