Introduction to Acrylic Fluid Painting – Getting Supplies on the Cheap!


acrylic pour painting materialsHi all! I’m titling this post acrylic pour painting supplies on the cheap. It’s going to be an introduction to one of the hottest art trends going on today. And yes, I am a little late to the party. Guilty as charged.

And it is embarrassing to admit, but I only found out about this technique from a few comments on here and from visiting Pinterest. Yep, that’s right! Well, since the pandemic started, I honestly can’t say it’s been easy to discover new art trends socially as it once was. Hopefully some of you can relate. Anyway, moving on…

Have you ever heard of “pour painting”, also known as “painting pours” or “fluid painting”? and wanted to learn all about it, and maybe try your hand at it? Great, me too! Are you intrigued by the look of abstract art and wanting to get in on this hot trend, but don’t have a lot of money to spend right away? I hear you.

I must confess, I am totally lousy at abstract art. I just can’t get a handle on it. It is almost as if I am not wired for it at all. After all, I studied under “old school” instructors in which above all else, you almost have to become wedded to your subject matter to paint it accurately. It’s easy for me to know what I need to do to complete work in the ultra-realist style, but if I am working in an abstract style I have no idea. Frustrating. Oh well.

The good news is that I think learning fluid painting may be the answer I’ve been hoping for! I’ve scoured as many articles and how-to’s as I can and even without taking a single class, I think I can do this. But since this will be my first official “pilot” fluid painting, I’m keeping a log on this post bit by bit to show you how things will unfold. Ok, let’s begin with the necessary materials, and how to acquire them inexpensively in the beginning when you’re just starting out.

Quick Links (Click ahead!)

floetrol for pour paintingPainting Medium

The painting medium is the first thing you need – this is a product with which you will mix with your paints so they will flow on the canvas easily to create the interesting patterns. First off, one afternoon, my boyfriend and I were shopping at Ace Hardware for some supplies for our backyard garden, and the thought occurred to me to check up on a product called “Floetrol” I was kind of bone-headed when I asked the sales associate about it as I couldn’t really say the name correctly until I pulled it up on my phone.

Floetrol (most popular brand is “Flood” ) is a product used to mix with acrylic paints to improve their consistency. This¬† Liquitex has a proprietary brand of their own as well, the main thing is it has to be acetone based Although you can thin acrylic paint with water, you have to be mindful of how much you add to it as you run the risk of de-pigmenting the vibrant colors. A good painting medium will offset this.

I have also heard that you can assemble your own painting medium using a combo of Mod Podge and water. Sounds just like my recipe here if not identical! If you’re starting out on the cheap or you can’t get out much and you have to use what you have on hand you might consider this. I do want to stress that it may work well, but long term the results may not be archival quality. So it depends on what your goals are.

Anyway, you can buy a product like Floetrol at most home improvement stores (or online if stock is low). It comes in a quart sized bottle.

I have decided that I am going to use the acetone product that I found in my collection of paints that was made to be used with my enamel (glass ) acrylics. Call me cheap but I don’t see why you should spend money on something if you can find what you need in your very own closet or pantry that will do the job you need. Can I get an “amen”?

Related Post: Choosing a Good Painting Medium

Silicone oil

The second thing you need…Silicone oil. This product will help create the “cells” in the final pour painting. Cells are amorphous looking shapes or patterns.¬† that develop naturally as you disperse with the paint. Now I am in a quandary about this, just out of curiosity I checked under the kitchen sink where I keep all my cleaning/household supplies and found a bottle of “3 in 1 multipurpose oil” (made by the same company that also makes WD-40.)

cells in pour painting example
The addition of silicone oil produces the “cells” in this painting

I got online ad did some poking around trying to find out if this oil I found would be as effective as silicone oil , it was hard to get good answers, even read reviews on Amazon to see if any customers used 3 in 1 for fluid painting. Uh…no. Refer to my above argument. Sometimes you are just on your own about these things.

The paints

The good news is you can use any of your acrylic paints you want..the trick will be choosing the right combination of colors so you get the right effect. The wrong color combo, you could end up with a muddy looking work of art, or too washed out. I love warm tones with lots of orange so I am going to stick to that. As you can see, I’ve selected a handful from my multipurpose crafting paint collection – red, orange, yellow.

acrylic paint for pouring

Also, if you decide to include black in your scheme, do so very very sparingly. A little will go along way. I rarely use black when I paint, period. You can even use metallics or neon colors if you want as long as you choose colors that work together.

Cups for mixing paint

You’ll need a handful of disposable cups…one for each color (about 4-5), and some sticks for stirring, like popsicle sticks or coffee stirrers. I myself have a lot of those cups on hand – however, I cant use them as I’ve been turning them into seed starters, and the drain holes I pierced into the bottom has pretty much cut off that possibility to use them to hold the paint mixture.

I’m planning to use some of my empty water bottles, which I will modify by cutting them halfway in the middle towards the bottom.

A kitchen scale

This is what you will use to weigh your paint mixture. This is important to make sure your ratios of paint
/medium/oil are correct and equal in each color as it may affect the result. I have a postal scale that weighs in ounces and pounds so I think it will do fine.

A canvas

Get yourself a canvas – you can use other substrates later on, but for now, you’ll have an easier time using a conventional stretch artist canvas, preferably in a smaller size. Tip: If you can, start with a small canvas (about 11 x 14 or similar) and a roasting pan (which are usually about that big or a little larger, ) as these are usually about the right size to catch paint drips.


Whew, that was quite a list, but I think I covered everything! And last but not least – be sure you wear a smock and protect your workspace as things are about to get messy. You’re probably going to spill some paint so put down newspapers or one of those disposable plastic tablecloths.

Well, I’m excited to get started! What about you?


2 thoughts on “Introduction to Acrylic Fluid Painting – Getting Supplies on the Cheap!”

  1. Thank you for the info regarding the 3 in 1 oil. I literally just picked it up and here I am looking back to find some one like you!

  2. Yeah, I read up on both types of oils and I still can’t find out what makes the difference in this one and silicone. Call me cheap, but who wants to spend 5 bucks on a product if you’ve already got something similar that may work just as well? Cheers, Jennifer

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