Fluid painting, also known as dirty pour or dirty cup, is a new and exciting painting technique which has been popping up all over YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Here we show you how to get started with this wonderful technique. Obviously it is hard to explain just how much fun it is, so you will just have to try it for yourself.
Prepare your desk
You will need some kind of box or alternatively, two supports for your workpiece to sit on while it dries. Before you start, use a spirit level to make sure that the canvas sits completely flat on the supports.
Mix the paints
Choose which colours you want to work with and pour the paints into individual cups / pots. Add around 30% pouring medium to each pot and stir well. The amount of medium you need to add in relation to the paint doesn’t need to be exact and you can experiment a bit until you find a blend that works well with the paint you are using. If you are using a thicker paint, for example, you may find that you need to use a little more medium. Here we have used acrylic paint (2424-) with Pouring Medium (7005-). You can also use Color Medium, but if you do you first need to mix it with water (3 parts medium to 1 part water). Color Medium is especially suitable for use with Tempera Color (8912-) and Flexi Color (8913-) paints.
Getting the right consistency
It is now time to mix in the water until all of the paints have the same consistency. The consistency you are after is such that it flows onto the canvas easily, but not too quickly. The paint should run off the spatula when you tip it downwards, but should build up when you hold it flat. Use a pipette to add the water a little at a time. The most important part of this process is that the consistency is the same for all of the colours. When you have stirred in the water properly, let the cups sit for a short while until all of the air bubbles have disappeared.
In order for the paint to form into individual “cells” when you pour it, it is advised that you mix in a little silicone. Here at Slöjd-Detaljer we stock a silicone spray which is easy to use. Simply spray out a teaspoon of silicone spray into a mug and use a pipette to add approximately 5 drops to each of the paints. Mix for a short time to create large cells of paint and for longer to create small cells.
Mix your ”Dirty Cup”
Pour all of the paints into one single mug, adding a little of each colour at a time. Pour it in from a height so that it pours in a thin stream. When you have enough paint in your mug, place a canvas panel over the top of the cup and turn it upside down.
Let the mug stand upside down for a short while and then carefully lift it up at one side so that the paint flows out slowly onto the canvas ensuring that it is evenly spread out on the canvas, including the corners. Allow the paint to flow over the canvas. If you want to you can now use a butane burner to heat up the large paint cells a little to help with the flowing process. Don’t use it too close as it will burn the paint. To help the paint cover the canvas, carefully and slowly tilt the canvas and move it in a circular motion. Make sure that the paint covers the entire canvas. You can use your fingers or a spatula for this. Heat the surface again with the butane burner to get rid of any air bubbles and to create a few smaller paint cells.
When you are happy with how your finished piece looks, leave it to dry for at least 2 days as the paint can be very thick and take a long time to dry all the way through. It is very important that the canvas rests in a completely flat position so that that the paint doesn’t flow during the drying process.