Acrylic pouring is both beautiful and frustrating because, like every other art form, it requires you to think outside of the box in order to find something that really speaks to you! And there are many different abstract acrylic pouring techniques for you to try.
But…what about those days where thinking outside of the box seems like a monumental task? In this article, we’re going to show you ten inspirational abstract acrylic pouring ideas to get your artistic juices flowing and help you not just think outside of the box, but paint the box too.
#1: Landscape Pours
Landscape pours are two-fold; they can be embellished with landscapes, or poured as landscapes.
Poured landscapes are controlled pours where the artist manipulates the paint to emulate mountains, trees, water…you know, landscape things! This can be slightly more challenging than a standard landscape pour.
Embellished landscapes are created by taking an already cured pour and painting a landscape on top of it.
If you don’t necessarily want to paint a detailed landscape, you can paint a silhouette instead; by using just black and a few white highlights, you can make a piece that pops!
If you do want a detailed landscape, you can use complimentary colors and shading to make your mountains and trees really stand out. Embellishing already cured pours with landscapes results in dreamscape like pieces with a lot of interest and depth. If you’re ready to try creating your own beautiful landscape pour, check out our article, How to Turn a Flip Cup Pour into a Landscape to get started!
#2: Balloon Smash Flowers
Stress relieving? Check. Unique? Check. Use of balloons in a messy and fun way? Double check! Using the balloon smash technique to create flowers is a fun way to grow an artistic garden any time of the year.
You can choose to layer your paints on the balloon first, or pour on your surface and then “smash” the balloon into the paint; it’s up to you! Fill your balloon to varying sizes to create different sized flowers for more depth. You can also add shading with simple black paint once the piece has cured to really make the flowers pop.
Not a fan of balloons? That’s ok! You can also use the bottom of a flexible silicone bowl for this technique, too. The key is to have a rounded surface that isn’t rigid. Smash with anything you like!
A friendly reminder: if you don’t use harmonious colors for this technique, you will definitely get muddy colors. While we love browns, we only love them when we want them, right? Make sure to check out our articles on Color Theory if you aren’t familiar with what harmonious colors are.
#3: Elemental Pour
The elements of fire, air, water and earth have been used in art forever; these four simple items inspire everything from passionate, fiery pieces to neutral earth-inspired artwork. So why not use them to create abstract acrylic pouring art? If you’re ever in a position of complete artistic blockage, find inspiration in the elements! We love this technique so much, we even featured it in our eBook, Acrylic Pouring Recipes: 33 Step-by-Step Formulas from Top Artists.
Typically, you’ll see the elements represented by the following colors:
- Fire: Bright red, deep crimson, orange, yellow, sometimes blue
- Water: Blue, teal, turquoise, green
- Air: White, grey, very light blue
- Earth: Brown, green, terracotta, lapis
Not in love with these elements? Try a few of these other nature-inspired ideas instead:
- Night: Black, deep purple, deep emerald green
- Day: Bright yellow, sky blue, white
- Winter: Ice blue, deep sapphire, white, grey
- Rainbow: Magenta, cyan, yellow (add white or black for extra depth)
You can create one cohesive piece using all of the elements, but you can also create coaster sets and multi-piece wall art by using each element separately.
#4: Abstract Acrylic Pouring: Geode Pour
Geode art has really exploded over the past couple of years as the use of resin and embellishments like crystals has become more commonplace. Did you know that you can also create geodes with acrylic paint?
You can create geode art on rounded wooden panels, canvases, coasters, even ornaments! Geodes don’t need to be a particular shape (although they aren’t typically square).
To create a geode acrylic pour:
- Pour each paint color on your desired surface one at a time to create the rings of the geode. You can repeat colors, and try to make some rings thicker than others.
- Add a ring of white every so often to create barriers between the colors.
- Once your piece has completely dried, you can use a gold or white paint pen to draw lines on your piece and embellish it. You can also add crushed glass, glitter, or other shiny pieces using glue or resin during this step.
- Seal your piece with a flood coat of resin to bring out the shine of your geode.
#5: Abstract Acrylic Pouring Techniques: Planet Pours
If you want to create a truly out-of-this-world piece, we can share a few stellar ways you can create a space-inspired piece that will leave you starstruck with these amazing acrylic pouring techniques.
If you don’t want to shade your planets afterward, you can pour your planets on a plain black background:
- First, paint your background black using an unmixed black acrylic paint. Wait for this to dry completely.
- Layer your desired colors for each planet into small cups. Remember, you won’t need a lot for each planet!
- If you want precise edges from the start, you can use a cookie cutter or tape places in a circular shape to keep your paint in the correct shape. You can also simply pour your paint in a puddle slowly, which will help it retain a circular shape
- Once your piece has dried completely, clean up the edges of your planets using the same black paint that you used to paint the background.
- Covering your planets with round pans, cups or anything else that is the correct shape (that you don’t mind using for painting), take white paint and flick it from gloved fingers or from a paint brush onto the surface of your painting to create stars. Practice this on a scrap piece first!
- After all is dried, seal.
If you would prefer to pour your piece first and then create planets, you can:
- Mix your paints and pour as you would any other piece, or use a poured piece that has already cured. In both cases, make sure the piece is completely cured before moving on to the next step.
- Using circular stencils and a fine brush with black paint, create the outlines of your planets.
- If you’d prefer to use spray paint instated, affix your stencils to the piece and simply spray paint with black around them. You may need two coats.
- After you’ve created your outlines, use a matte black acrylic paint to fill in the space around and between the planets. You can also use the black to lightly shade the parts of the planet the light would not be hitting.
- After your paint has completely dried, cover your planets and use white paint to create stars.
- After everything has dried, seal!
You can use this technique on canvas, wood rounds, coaters or even serving trays! For more about planet pours, check out our planet pours article here!
#6: Animal Silhouettes
If you look at an acrylic pour long enough, chances are you’re going to start seeing things; it’s a little like cloud gazing.
Acrylic pours work very well with animal embellishments because of their natural movement and vibrance. You can either use vinyl cutouts of animal silhouettes, or even use digital apps to enhance a pour and transform it into any animal you like.
If you decide to embellish a pour with vinyl, it is imperative that the piece has completely cured and is not flaking, lumpy, etc. The transfer tape used to, well, transfer a vinyl image to a surface can be exceptionally strong, and if your paint isn’t adhering properly to your surface or is still wet, you’ll risk peeling the paint up when you peel off the transfer tape.
If you want to use the vinyl cutout method with a poured tile, we suggest sealing the tile first with Polycrylic or Kamar Varnish to protect the paint before transferring the vinyl over. Plus, as a bonus, this will give you a very unique 3D look! Find inspiration in the wildly popular Blue Horse 2 painting by Linda Reitz King on our blog!
#7: Abstract Acrylic Pouring Techniques: Layered Resin Pours
By using flood coats of resin, you can create different layers to your pieces and make them seem 3D.
A few ways you could use this to your advantage with this acrylic pouring technique:
- Multi-level pour: Pour your piece as normal and then wait for it to cure. Then, apply a thick flood coat of resin, and allow that to cure. Repeat this process, varying how much of the canvas your pour covers.
- Enhanced landscape pour: Pour your piece, wait for it to cure completely, and then apply a flood coat of resin. Once the resin cures, paint mountains and trees; wait for this to cure, and then apply a flood coat of resin. Then, once the resin cures once more, paint more trees, rocks and other items that would appear closer to your line of sight. You can repeat this process as many times as you to create a unique, realistic landscape.
- Enhanced design pour: Pour your piece and again, wait for it to cure. Using the same “paint and flood coat” technique above, create different layers on top of your pour with zentangle designs, mandalas…whatever you like!
Layered resin pours will be pretty heavy when you’re done, which is important to take into consideration when you think of where it will be displayed. If you’ve used ten layers of resin and expect this piece to easily ship and hang on someone’s wall, you might be disappointed! It’s a good idea to consult with your customer first, if you’re creating a multi-layered commission, so that they can tell you where the piece will be displayed and you can share the potential weight of the piece with them.
If you’d like to create a layered resin piece but aren’t sure where to begin if you’d like to color the resin itself, check out our instructional blog post about coloring resin.
#8: Abstract Acrylic Pouring Techniques: Dueling Tree Rings
Why have one tree ring when you can have a lot of tree rings? You don’t need to limit yourself to just one type of pour per canvas…and this is true for all pieces. There are two important things to remember when you’re creating multi-pour pieces:
- Know your color harmonies! If you’re going to mix techniques, you should make sure that each different pour has harmonious colors, or at least lay down a common, harmonious barrier color between the pours to prevent muddiness. Good common colors are black and white.
- Remember that you don’t need as much paint with multi-pours. If you’re not covering the whole canvas with a particular color combo, take that into account so that you don’t end up wasting a ton of paint!
Tree ring pours work really well for multi-pours because they’re easy to control. You’re pouring your paint in a tight, closely regulated circle as opposed to a flip cup, where you’re essentially (and aggressively) letting that paint flow! Plus, tree ring pours are easy for every level of artist; you can create a tree ring pour in five simple steps.
When manipulating your dueling tree rings, try to do so in a circle to avoid over-mixing.
#9: Acrylic Pouring Techniques: Minimalistic Dutch Pour
You’ll have some commissions or pieces you want to make for yourself that might not call for dueling trees or fiery elements; sometimes, less is more!
The Dutch pour technique utilizes strong, focused forced air to move concentrated puddles or lines of paint out into a base layer, creating fades and wisps. Dutch pours can be as intricate or as simple as you like, and this technique works very well for minimalist pours.
Here’s what to do:
- Mix a base layer of paint and medium; you can use any color you like, as long as it’s harmonious with your other colors.
- Pour your one-color base layer onto your surface and spread it evenly.
- Mix up to 4 additional colors in simple palettes. A few simple palettes are:
- Sapphire blue, teal, white and gold
- Red, orange, grey and gold
- Emerald green, mint, white and silver
- Layer your colors in a cup and carefully pour a line of paint down the center of your desired surface.
- Using a strong blow dryer, a straw if you’re feeling windy, or an air compressor with a focused attachment, blow the paint in one direction (up or down). This will leave one side of your piece in your base color, and the other side with the colors of your choosing.
You can choose to embellish your piece with a few pieces of gold or silver metal flake, and seal with resin for a fresh, simple look.
#10: Abstract Acrylic Pouring Techniques Wispy Hair
Normally, we encourage you to pick hairs out of your acrylic pours, but in this case, we’re going to talk about how you can create whimsical, wispy hair on easy-to-draw silhouettes!
Dutch Pour Method
- First, paint your silhouette. You can find ready to print stencils on Google, or freehand. Use any gender, species, magical mythical create; the sky is the limit!
- Once your silhouette has dried, determine where you want the hair to flow. Then, place a base layer of any color you like in the area where you want the paint to flow to. This base color should be mixed with a medium.
- Next, pour a line of your desired colors on the desired hairline of your silhouette. Using a blow dryer or an air compressor, blow along the line in the direction you’d like the hair to flow.
- Again, paint your silhouette. You want to make sure that this is nice and dry before continuing on to the next step!
- After your silhouette is dry, determine where the hairline will be on your piece and where you want the paint to flow. Mix the colors you’d like to use and keep them in separate cups.
- Pour each color on the canvas wherever you’d like the hair to be, alternating colors in thin or thick lines.
- Using a damp paper towel that’s nice and unwrinkled, drag your paint in the direction the hair should flow using the swipe method.
- Use a straw or blow dryer to move around remaining paint.
You can do so much with this technique; think of running horses, elemental beings, bird wings; experiment!
We’re so glad that you joined us for 10 inspirational ways to create beautiful abstract acrylic pouring art. We want to see your experiments, so make sure to join our Acrylic Pouring Facebook Group and post your creations; we’d love to see what you do with these ideas.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out these helpful articles to keep you going on your fluid art journey:
- 40 Essential Tips for Acrylic Paint Pouring Beginners
- Acrylic Pouring Medium Guide: Everything You Need to Know
- How to Build an Art Business While Working A Day Job
After being told in high school that she was so bad at art that she should switch to another subject, Deby didn’t paint again for 35 years. Then a stroke released a new wave of creativity and she began exploring with dot painting, abstract and eventually acrylic pouring, and at last the joy of working with color returned. You don’t need ‘talent’ to be an acrylic pouring artist – just enthusiasm, some basic instruction, and a willingness to try, fail and try again. Paint along with her and learn from her many mistakes, and you’ll soon make great art together.