Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tips on Pouring Acrylic

I get a lot of requests for tips to pouring acrylic. To get a very smooth glossy finish, pouring acrylic mediums is a great way to accomplish that “surfboard finish”. Pours are also cool ways to get smooth evenly applied glazes or transparently colored overlays.

My favorite pouring mediums are (these are all Golden products) Clear Tar Gel, Self-Leveling Gel, and GAC800. The Clear Tar Gel and Self-Leveling Gel both need about 20-40% water added if you are pouring in a dry warm climate – like out here in New Mexico. You don’t need to add water in wet cool climates. Adding water will enable a thinner layer to be applied. If you apply it too thickly, the top part of the layer will dry first, then the rest of the acrylic will dry slower and shrink down in volume, creating crevises or cracking on the top. Its better to pour a few thin layers, one on top of the other after they dry, then one thick layer that may crack. GAC800 does not need any water added, as it is made especially for pouring, and can be poured very thickly without crevising or cracking. The GAC800 is the easiest to pour, but has a slight yellow or cloudy look to it, that is more noticeable the thicker the pour. I like to use this in thick layers to simulate a wax or encaustic look. When I pour, I pour very gently, from a low height and a soft angle. If you pour from a high height, or vigorously, the medium may jolt out of the container creating bubbles. A light spray of alcohol on the surface before pouring, or even after pouring while the medium is still wet will eliminate bubbles too.

My book, Acrylic Revolution, has several pouring techniques with step-by-step demonstration photographs – some add color to tint, while some are just used plain to create a smooth surface. Here is a link to purchase the book.



Blogger Cindy Davis said...

Very helpful info Nancy. Still digging into your book, always find something new each time I look at it.

Just like raccoons, I love shiny things!

A shiny finish on a painting can really make the color glow. (in my opinion)

January 27, 2009 at 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tips, thank you. I love your book but it is really great to hear your tips.

January 30, 2009 at 3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tips. Very helpful for a newbie like me. Thanks!

January 31, 2009 at 3:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great tips, thanks!

April 13, 2009 at 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post (and great book!). I did a pour with self leveling gel, and I got the cracking... argh. Is it worth trying to save it with thin pours (self leveling with water) as you state in this post- or is it ruined? thanks for the help!

May 17, 2009 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

Hi Emily,
Pours are tricky as you have discovered. The best pouring medium is Golden's GAC800, made especially for pouring without having any crevicing. To fix the crevicing with more pouring will just increase the problem. The only solution, now, to fix the crevices, is to push a thick gel into the cracks, let it dry, repeat until the surface is smooth, then pour over the entire surface with the GAC800. If you want to still use the Self Leveling Gel for pouring, then add about 30% water to it, pour, and spread so it is a very thin layer. You can build up layers after each layer dries, but pouring one thick layer will just add more crevicing.
Hope this helps.

May 17, 2009 at 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Nancy- that does help! It's funny, I have always stuck to my good old matt medium, but it is fun playing all the gels:: I guess I am learning through experimentation! I am working on filling with some heavy gel I have, and then I will try another pour later. Off to get some GAC800! xo

May 17, 2009 at 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Jessie said...

Hey there Nancy!

I have a question about pouring with clear tar gel. In your book (pg 94) layers of fluid acrylics are poured onto a red canvas to mix together and create a beautiful swirling pattern in the center of the lines. How would I achieve this affect using clear tar gel and watered-down heavy body acrylics (I'm on a limited budget and I can't afford to buy both fluid and heavy-body)? Is clear tar gel too heavy to create such an effect?

May 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

Dear Jessie,
I think you mean Technique 94, which is on page 109. You can use Heavy Body paints instead of Fluids to add to the Clear Tar Gel. You are only adding about 10% color paint to 90% gel, so it won't matter which type of paint you add. If you use Clear Tar Gel for a pour, I recommend adding 20% water to it, which helps keep the pour thin. It's better to add several thin layers (one of top of the other when dry) then one thick layer which may crevice.

May 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

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