Pour Painting

And now for something completely different!

I have been trying Pour Painting, which – as the name suggests – involves pouring paint. But it’s a bit more complicated than that, as you might expect. You mix each color of paint with pouring medium, which was in turn mixed from three other ingredients. One of those ingredients is silicone oil, which helps the paint to make “cells,” or small bubbles of a different color. Here is an example of a pour painting with lots of cells:

“Rainbow Fire,” 24″ x 18.” See the red “cells” in the blue area?

The next step is to layer the colors in a larger cup. This is where you start making artistic decisions. What is your color palette? I found that I particularly liked the bold combination of black and metallic paints. You have to consider that adjacent colors may blend. With some color combinations, that could be a bonus; with others a disaster. Next you consider how you want to apply the paint to the canvas. With the painting below, I poured the paint across the canvas in a sort of S shape. The blending of colors here added a softness to the painting.

“Jupiter,” 18″ x 24″  You can still see that basic movement in the finished image.

In other instances, I turned the whole cup over onto the canvas and allowed the paint to flow over it. Here’s an example:

“By the Time I Got to Woodstock,” 12″ x 12″

Next comes the fun part. It’s a kind of collaboration between the artist and the medium. You tilt the canvas to move the paint. The paint, of course, has its own ideas about how to move. You make artistic decisions on the fly. Is there an area that doesn’t please you? Let it drip right off the edge. Is there a particular kind of movement you want? Tilt the canvas to encourage that.

Pour painting is not a small undertaking! I did it with my artist friend Cindy Griffith. We set up in her garage. First, we covered the floor with tarps and plastic. Then we brought in tables and covered those with plastic too. We set up a drying area using a ladder propped horizontally. We put newspaper (and usually cardboard as well) over the tables. On a central table, we laid out our paint and mixed many cups of colors with pouring medium. We wore old clothes and surgical gloves. We had a hose nearby to clean cups, other materials, and ourselves.

What a mess! You can see why we will only do it if we can set up with access to the outdoors and with plans to paint a few days in a row. It’s tiring, too. We were on our feet for hours every day. But what fun! Each painting is a surprise. Look at the “Pour Paintings” page to see all of them. But I will leave you with a final image here:

“Dragon Flight,” 18″ x 24″ Do you see that dragon? I did not plan that!

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4 Responses to Pour Painting

  1. Gail says:

    You have too much fun! The results are very appealing. I like the title best “before I got to Woodstock!” Yes, I do know it was a lot of work,too.

  2. jamie miller says:

    These are so interesting and fun! Love the dragon!!!!! Love Jamie

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. The viewer, me, can sort of feel the fun you’re having with color and movement just by looking at them…

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