Fluid Art Painting - Trial & Error - What works best - TUTORIAL with tips and tricks for a dirty pour

Oh my. I'm obsessed. Fluid painting is oddly satisfying and looks super cool. 

I have only been playing around with fluid art for a few weeks so I'm still perfecting my technique. I thought I would share what I've tried and what seems to be working best for me.

What you need:

I prefer the higher quality paints but I did start with the less expensive paints for testing.

I use the white around the edges to help the paint run off the edges. See below. 

Plastic cups - 9oz
I layer paints in 9oz cups but depending on the size of the canvas I might layer in a larger 13oz plastic cup or two 9oz cups. 

Popsicle or craft sticks.

Floetrol or paint medium.

(It says treadmill belt lubricant but it's 100% silicone)

Butane torch (optional)
Trash bag or table cover

Other things I've mixed with paints to make the cells:

Hair oil
Water & dish soap mixed
Silicone with water & dish soap mixed

I found that silicone works the best.
Recently I tried the butane torch and it basically pops air bubbles and makes more cells.  

What I did:

I turned three empty cups upside down to place the canvas on top. I've used large tacks in the corners of the wood frame as "feet" to keep it a little elevated but I like the cups better. 

I added paint to the plastic cups. This is for an 8x10 test canvas so I didn't need a ton of paint.

First you need to mix the paint to make it more pour-able by adding a medium. I ordered Floetrol online from Amazon but I think Home Depot or Lowes carry it as well. Michael's carries a few mediums but they are much pricier.

UPDATE: I found that 1 part paint and 2 parts Floetrol work better.

I mixed the a 50/50 Floetrol and acrylic paint. Craft smart, Apple Barrel, and Folk Art small paints pour great and might not need as much. Some people add a little bit of water to thicker paints to get a more pour-able consistency. Be careful if you add water. The color is not as bold and you loose some of the integrity of the paint. 

Add Floetrol and mix.

I lift the popsicle stick to make sure it drips and not too thick.

Add silicone and mix. I don't have an exact measurement. I just squeeze a little into each cup.

Layer colors in a cup.

You can flip the canvas upside down on top of the cup but this is hard on larger canvases. 


I can't just flip the cup onto the canvas. I'll have paint everywhere. I usually use a cut down yellow file folder. Nothing too thick but a little more sturdy than paper. I had the envelope from a photo order from Walgreens and it worked perfect. 
I place the envelope on top of the cup and while holding tight, turned over the envelope and cup together. 

Then gently lay it on the canvas and slide the cup off onto the canvas. It will release a small amount of paint but majority will still be in the cup.

Before I release the cup of paint I add white paint all around the edges and use a popsicle stick to add it to the sides. This will help the flow of the paint off the canvas.

This is where you put on gloves....seriously....wear gloves.

I had to work fast before the paint ran off the edges but I released the cup and used the butane torch near the paint to pop some of the air bubbles. 

Then I tilted the canvas until the paint ran off the edges. 
I tilted back and forth not too loose some of the colors and stopped in between and used the torch to get more cells. Then continued tilting to move the paint around.

After I was happy with the results I used a popsicle stick gently around the bottom of the canvas to remove excess paint and prevent dried drips from forming.

I usually leave it to dry until morning and then gently move it off the cups I used to elevate the canvas or re-adjust so it can dry under those areas. It will still be wet so be careful.  

You end up wasting a lot of paint but it makes it easier to move it around if you have more paint. I've not mixed of enough paint before and had to mix up a little more paint to finish a pour and that's okay. Just add it to the edges.

I used more silicone added to all the colors except the black. I was able to get bigger cells and the black seemed to outline them better. I layered red first and white next in the cup for the pour. This made some of the red look pink. Next time I'll watch how I layer colors in the cup.

UPDATE: My favorite technique is the pour and drag!!! I love the cells it creates. 

Thank you for visiting my blog. Any questions? Just ask! 

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