How to Create Pour Paintings

The trend of Pour Painting and abstract painting in general means that it’s easy for you to create artwork like you are seeing in home decor stores and on Pinterest. There are many, many ways to create a recipe for Pour Painting. Basically, you need to mix a “pouring medium” with acrylic paints. The pouring medium binds to the paint and makes the paint flow better and keeps the colors separated longer.

See our Pour Painting Experiments >

See our Pour Painting Projects >

One aspect to Pour Painting is the creation of cells. For many painters, this is what they are hoping to get with their pour. Silicone and heat are key in getting the best cell results. A couple of sprays of silicone in just one color used will get you good results. Silicone can be found at hardware stores. Many people use butane torches to apply the heat. At Craft Warehouse we used a heat gun.

Example of cells in pour paintings

Your Pouring Medium can be many things. We have experimented with water, Mod Podge (Glossy), dish soap, PVA Glue, Acrylic Flow Improver and more. How much you add will depend on how much paint you are using. Some people say a 1:1 ratio or 40% Pouring Medium to 60% Paint. The key to your first try is to add in a little at a time until you get the results you want. You want it to be fluid, but not too runny that it won’t adhere to the board. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

[Edit: Since this article was published there have been a number of paint pouring mediums that have come out that make creating the pour much easier. It’s still fun to experiment with lots of different ways so you can get the effect you want. But if you want ease of use, we recommend using a medium. This DecoArt Pouring Medium is a great choice]. 

Pour Painting is a messy endeavor, so it’s best to have a clean and clear work area, plastic tarps on the floor, and a large enough pan (an aluminum baking pan would be good – or a kiddie pool if you’re making large paintings) to hold the canvas and lots of paint run off. The drying time can be long, too, depending on what you have created, so make sure you can leave your painting someplace safe where it can dry.


  • Acrylic Paints
  • Pouring Medium of your choice
  • Craft Sticks
  • Plastic cups
  • Heat Gun (If you use a hairdryer instead, make sure to keep it far away. Hair dryers are much stronger than heat guns).
  • Drop mat
  • Pan or container to put it in (make sure edges are high)
  • Prop to hold up painting (could be a block of wood, a box or a brick. Should support the whole piece. If using a canvas, make sure it isn’t too small so that it imprints on canvas)
  • Gloves
  • Silicone Spray (optional)



  • Prepare work area. Cover table and floor with plastic tarps. Set out plastic cups for pouring paint. Place your canvas or wood propped up in the pan or tray. Add the paints you want to each cup and add the pouring medium until it has the consistency you want.
  • Spray a few sprays of silicone spray into the colors of your choice. You can choose one color or all. The more colors you add it to the more cells it will produce once the heat is added.
  • Once paints are mixed as you want you can pour them all into one cup. This is called a “dirty pour”. (You can also add them separately if you want, pouring on one and then the next in the way you want. This would probably be a better choice for larger paintings)
  • Once the paints are all in the cup, you will quickly flip the cup onto the canvas. Or you can put the canvas on top of the cup and, holding it securely, flip it over. The suction will keep the cup in place until you pull it off.
  • Pull the cup of and the paint will flow all over the canvas. Let it flow and feel free to tip or roll the canvas around to get the paint where you want it.
  • Once you have it as you want it, use the heat gun to pop some of the air bubbles trapped in the paint (this creates the cells)
  • Let dry for a long time. How long depends on how much paint you used and how big the painting is, but most drying times are 2-7 days.

Pour Paintings from Craft Warehouse

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