Paint mixing for pouring

I’m in a few acrylic art/pouring groups on facebook and every day, a few times a day in fact, someone asks a question about paint mixing. Usually it comes down to “how do i make my mix work properly/what is your pouring ratio”. The reason I’m writing this post is not to denigrate them but rather to add my own perspective to the answer to this question. Much of the advice that’s given seems to revolve around a one size fits all type policy.

I’ve been doing pours for a long time (my brother did this style of work from his late teens and still does, so I’ve been inspired by him as well as the reemergence in popularity of these paintings) but only became “serious” about them in the past few years. I’ve done a lot of trial and error and I’m hoping that someone might find something a little helpful in this post.

The first and most important thing that you can do for yourself, to save yourself a TON of frustration, is to watch as many videos and follow as many artists from your local geographic area as you can. While YouTube algorithims reward placement based on subscribers and frequency of posting, the wealth of information you can discover from watching artists near you is worth the dig.

That’s not to say don’t watch the “bigger” vloggers! But we’re talking fixing your basics here, which is your pouring medium. Your needs are going to be different than others outside of your area. See what these artists use for their mediums at different times of the year. The needs are going to change. Ratios will change. There’s not a OSFA unless someone has a climate controlled studio, and even then it might change based on the paint they use or manufacturing differences.

I started out using a mix of elmer’s, floetrol and silicon oil based off a wonderful artist in AUS. It was a great leaping point to get in for me but I couldn’t get the same effects that she was. I came across another artist in northern Florida who also had her studio space in her garage, like me. She spent the first few minutes of the video talking about the weather the previous night and the day she was filming and that’s when it hit me – I can’t do my work based on someone else’s ratio that lives in a dry climate when I’m in the middle of a humid swamp. It simply won’t work.

The experimentation led me to a vastly different ratio than even the FL artist, but I found one that opened up what I was hoping for. It enabled me to actually practice and perfect techniques versus becoming so frustrated with the quality of the pour. I was able to concentrate on color theory, mediums and colors and pigments and embellishments and everything else.

I came across another pour artist living in the same climate as me and found that our “ratios” were pretty damn similiar which led to confirmation bias that I might be on to something. Obviously YMMV but if you find yourself getting frustrated with your pouring ratios not leading to the same type of quality as artists you admire, find someone near you that pours and ask them. Or just experiment. There’s endless combinations. The amount that I use for heavy body versus craft paint versus enamel versus pigment versus whatever changes.

I will say that since I have decided to go simply with water and HBA, sometimes with oil but most of the time not, I’ve found it SO much simpler. I’ve found the colors better and more powerful, and I’ve found the quality of my pours has increased dramatically. Again though, YMMV.

I hope that some of this is helpful for someone that’s just starting.

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