Controlled Chaos: The Acrylic Pouring Technique

If you’ve spent any time on my Facebook, Instagram or if you’re lucky, in my studio, you’ve probably noticed that lately I’ve been obsessed with acrylic pouring.

Flip cup pour with cells at the bottom and top; I created this using acrylic paint and Floetrol, then sealed it with resin.

Acrylic pouring is a technique where the artist mixes acrylic paint and a flow extender like Floetrol or even water to create mesmerizing abstract artwork. Some artists even add silicone or dimethicone in the form of coconut hair serum to their paint and extender mixture, which helps the mixture to form cells. I’m not a huge fan of cells because they remind me too much of clusters of holes which grosses me out; so I just use Floetrol and acrylic paint for my artwork.

Once you’ve got your mixture, and your paint is the consistency of melted ice cream (smooth and creamy, not runny), you then take an empty cup and layer the colors together carefully. Then, you can either:

  • Pour the paint directly on the canvas or other medium of your choice; this is commonly referred to as a dirty pour.
  • Flip the cup upside down on the canvas , allowing the colors to mix and mingle before you pull the cup off; this is referred to as a flip cup pour.
  • Pour the paint in lines on the canvas, and then swipe over it with a wet paper towel, spatula or other tool, which is referred to as a swipe.
  • Pour the paint in a tight, circular pattern using controlled hand movements and coordination; this is called a tree ring pour.

Each of these pour types begins differently, but ends with the artist manipulating the canvas to spread and stretch the design on the canvas.

If you have a basic understanding of color theory, a little bit of a patience and a good protected area where painting won’t ruin your surroundings, this is a really great way to get into painting without the intricate technique needed for landscapes, portraits, etc. Plus, abstract art has the added benefit of freedom from expectations; meaning, and abstract painting can look like anything you want. There is no reference picture or guide to follow; that’s why I love abstract art! I live in reality (most days), realism gets monotonous after awhile.

So, if you’re ready to bring out your inner artist and try something new, think about giving acrylic pouring a try. This is also a great art project to try with children, since it’s fun, messy, and teaches them how colors jive.

For some really great resources about acrylic pouring, head over to; they have a great blog that I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to, and a lot of resources for the beginner artist. And, if you need any help, tricks or tips, drop me a line at and I’ll do my best to help. Happy creating!

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