How to Mix Pouring Medium With Acrylic Paint

By Mandy Moss

Acrylic pouring has become a popular art form used by beginner and professional artists, alike. This is a type of painting where acrylics are mixed with a pouring medium to decrease the viscosity and are poured out onto a canvas. 

Acrylic Pouring Medium Guide

What is Pouring Medium for Scrylic Paint

Pouring medium is a fluid acrylic polymer emulsion formulated to increase the flow and enhance the pour-ability of acrylic paints. It acts as a thinner without compromising the binder strength and permanence of the paint.

Pouring medium contains acrylic polymers – the same polymers found in acrylic paint. This allows it to mix readily with the paint without breaking down its acrylic binder.

The primary role of pouring medium in acrylic pouring is to transform the thicker acrylic paint into a more pourable consistency. Acrylic paint straight from the tube or bottle is too thick to create proper acrylic pours. The paint will simply blob up rather than smoothly flow across the canvas.

What can i use as a pouring medium for acrylic paint?

To get a high-quality acrylic pour, make sure to use a quality pouring medium. It will improves the flow of the acrylics so you don’t end up with just a blob of paint on the surface of your canvas. A quality medium also decreases viscosity while keeping the paint colors rich. 

In addition, pouring medium makes the paints dry more slowly, allowing more time for your pouring techniques. You can experiment with different methods and, when you’re done, the painting will dry smoothly, instead of getting cracks on the surface from drying too quickly.

Can I just use water? 

It can be tempting to add water to your acrylics for ease or cost, but the best pouring techniques will result from using a professional pouring medium.

Why not using water for acrylic pour painting?

  1. Acrylic paints dry quickly, and water does not slow down the time to dry.
  2. Water will also cause you to lose the brilliance in your colors, by watering them down.
  3. It dilutes the binders so the paints will not hold to the painting surfaces as well.
  4. Acrylic paint also does not mix completely with water, meaning your colors will appear inconsistent, as well. No artist wants that!
PRO TIP: If you want to use a lower-cost option, Elmer's glue is effective as a pouring medium. The colors will not be diluted and the paint will still stick to many surfaces. The adhesive in the glue acts as a binder so the colors stick to the painting ground, while the lower thickness of the glue is successful at thinning the acrylic paints to the right consistency.

Different Types of Pouring Mediums? 

There are several options when it comes to selecting a pouring medium:

  • Professional pouring mediums – Formulated specifically for acrylic pouring, such as Liquitex Pouring Medium or GOLDEN Acrylic Pouring Medium. Provide reliable results but are more expensive.
  • Extenders or conditioners – General paint extenders such as Flood Floetrol or Rust-Oleum Extender. More affordable but can be hit or miss.
  • DIY options – Such as mixtures using glue, water, glycerin, etc. Cheap alternative but less consistent.

I recommend using professional pouring mediums when possible, such as Liquitex or GOLDEN. They are formulated to readily mix with acrylic polymers and deliver reliable results. DIY options can be unpredictable.

Pouring medium effects and features

Proper Ratios for Mixing Pouring Medium and Acrylic Paint

The ratio also depends on the brand and formulation of the pouring medium. Liquitex Pouring Medium tends to require more pouring medium compared to Floetrol.

The best way is to start with test ratios and adjust from there. Don’t be afraid to experiment – experience is the best teacher when it comes to mixing.

How much pouring medium should I use?

Achieving the right consistency for acrylic pouring relies heavily on using the proper ratio of pouring medium to acrylic paint. However, there is no definitive “perfect” ratio since the optimal blend depends on:

  • Type of paint
  • Brand of pouring medium
  • Desired pouring technique
  • Intended acrylic pouring effects

You’ll want the acrylic medium to bring your paint to a good pouring consistency. A common rule of thumb is to use 1 part paint to 3 parts pouring medium. Below are some general guidelines for ratios based on my experience:

  • Heavy body acrylic paint – higher pouring medium ratio, around 1:4 (paint to pouring medium)
  • Fluid acrylic paint – lower pouring medium ratio, around 1:1 or 1:2
  • DIY mediums (glue, glycerin) – higher ratio around 1:2 or 1:3
  • Smooth flow – lower pouring medium ratio around 1:1 or 1:2
  • Thick consistency (swiping) – higher paint ratio around 1:3 or 1:4

Remember this is art, and experimenting is the best way to find out what materials are for you. With that in mind, know that the higher quality your pouring medium is, the better your picture will look. 

NOTE: You should never use water though. Invest in a medium that ensures your work will be high quality.
Color Protection - acrylic mediums

How to Use Acrylic Pouring Medium

Once you understand the fundamentals, it’s time to get mixing! Follow these steps for properly mixing pouring medium with acrylic paint:

Gather Materials

  • Acrylic paint – Fluid and heavy body acrylic work best
  • Pouring medium – Professional medium or DIY options
  • Mixing cups – Disposable plastic or paper cups
  • Stir sticks – Plastic or wood stir sticks, spatulas
Check my related posts: Can you use acrylic paint on wood, metal, plastic and Styrofoam?

Measure and Pour Paint

  • Determine paint ratio based on brand, consistency, technique. Example: 1 part paint to 3 parts pouring medium.
  • Measure out appropriate amount of paint using scale or spoon/cup measures.
  • Pour paint into mixing cup.

Add Pouring Medium

  • Measure out pouring medium using same method as paint.
  • Slowly pour medium into cup with paint.

Mix Thoroughly

  • Use stir stick to mix paint and medium completely.
  • Mix for 2-3 minutes, making sure no streaks remain.

Adjust Consistency

  • Test consistency by drizzling mix off end of stir stick.
  • If too thick, add small amounts of water until ideal flowing consistency.

Tips and Techniques for Successful Mixing

From my experience, here are some tips to help nail the mixing process:

  • Mix gradually – Add pouring medium slowly to avoid bubbles.
  • Varied mixing tools – Use stir sticks for initial mixing, silicone spatulas for final mixing to smooth out any streaks.
  • Larger batches – Mix bigger batches of customized paint mixes for larger acrylic pours. Store leftovers in sealed containers.
  • Additives – Stir in silicone oil, alcohol inks, or flow enhancers if desired.

Common Mixing Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes I see acrylic pouring artists make when mixing paint and pouring medium:

  • Incorrect ratios – Not accurately measuring ratios or mixing enough medium or paint.
  • Insufficient mixing – Stirring too quickly or not mixing long enough results in unwelcome streaks.
  • Overmixing – Excessive mixing introduces air bubbles which leave holes and craters when poured.
  • Not considering technique – For example, using a thin mix for a technique requiring thicker paint like swiping.
  • Forgetting test pours – Always do test strips on a practice surface before pouring your final piece.

Achieving Different Effects with Mixing Ratios

One of the keys to creating unique acrylic pours is leveraging mixing ratios. Adjusting the amounts of pouring medium and paint provides distinct effects. Here are some examples:

  • Thin consistency – Higher pouring medium ratio thins paint for signature acrylic pouring fluidity and movement.
  • Thick consistency – Lower pouring medium to paint ratio keeps paint thicker for bold swiping effects.
  • Maximum color vibrancy – Higher amounts of fluid acrylic paint keeps colors richer.
  • Subtle blended effects – Lower amounts of paint and higher pouring medium provides blended, ethereal patterns.
  • Strong cells – Adding silicone oil to mixes encourages strong cell formation.
acrylic pouring on wood

Troubleshooting Mixing Issues

Despite our best efforts, sometimes our mixtures don’t turn out as intended. Here are some troubleshooting tips for dealing with problematic paint and pouring medium mixes:

  • Too thin – Add small amounts of acrylic paint until desired consistency is reached.
  • Too thick – Add water, a few drops at a time, stirring thoroughly until mixture flows freely.
  • Bubbles/foam – Stir gently to minimize bubbles, avoid overmixing. Strain if needed.
  • Separation – Re-mix with additive if needed or try new pouring medium brand.
  • Poor flow – Increase pouring medium ratio or switch pouring medium brand.

Exploring Alternative Pouring Mediums

While professional acrylic pouring mediums are ideal, it can be fun to experiment with creating your own by using:

  • Glue – Many artists use Elmer’s Glue-All combined with water to create pouring medium. The glue-water ratio can be customized.
  • Glycerin – Adding glycerin helps increase flow and cells. Mix with other DIY mediums.
  • Water – Plain water can be used but works best with high-quality paints. Too much water risks breaking down binder.

DIY mediums require more tweaking to get right. But experimenting with different homemade options allows for total customization and creativity!

Read more: How to dry Acrylic paint?

I hope you manage to learn something new regarding best pouring practices. Hopefully your paint pouring will be full of joy, stressless emotions and excitement.