Go Big or Go Home!

This pour had been building in my mind ever since I made the video called “Huge Flip Cup.” The painting for that video was 24×30 inches and pushed the limits of my small art studio, but I knew I wanted to go even bigger. As I planned things out, I thought about what I would need to have or do in order go really HUGE. I quickly figured out that to make a huge painting, all you really need is more paint and more room to work.

Supplies I Used

  • Paint by Apple Barrel in various shades of blue. In mixing such large quantities, I failed to keep track of the exact names of each paint (I’m sorry), but the basic colors were: Black, White, light marine blue, sky blue, dark blue, teal, metallic green, and light purple. Some Real Red was added just before the swipe, but I don’t feel it contributed to the painting.
  • Treadmill oil
  • Zinsser Paint Booster (a.k.a., Zinsser Flow Control Additive)
  • Water (In Atlanta, I use the water right out of the faucet, but you may need to use bottled water.)
  • One gigantic 30”x40” gallery wrapped canvas
  • A swiping tool (can be as simple as a piece of cardboard)
  • A level is helpful but not necessary
  • Drop cloth, tarp, or old sheet to catch paint drippings

My local Michaels was having a 70 percent off sale, so I bought a beautiful 30×40 inch gallery wrapped canvas (the heavy, thick kind). It was funny—I’m a pretty level-headed guy, but I found myself really excited and a little intimidated by this large, pristine white canvas.

When I looked at the canvas, I kept envisioning all the beautiful pour paintings that were possible. Would I do a swipe? A flip cup? What colors should I use? I thought back on all the fluid paintings I have done in the last several months, trying to envision which ones I liked the most and which one I might use as inspiration for this massive canvas.

I’m not totally proud of what I’m about to say, but I want to share it just in case this has happened to some of you. While picturing the beautiful possibilities of my next pour, that evil little voice of self-doubt crept into the back of my mind.

“What if you mess up? Remember all those pours that you pushed too far and ruined? Remember those pours where you made terrible color choices and ended up with a mess? What if you ruin this gorgeous, huge, expensive canvas?”

If you ever have these terrible thoughts creeping into your mind, ignore them as best you can. I think they are probably normal for most of us, but they sure are annoying. What I always tell myself is that paint really isn’t all that expensive and I can always reuse the canvas. So relax, pour, and see what happens.

painting

I decided that for my first really huge painting, I would use my favorite color scheme: blue combined with various shades of blue, complemented by some more shades of blue. Of course, I tossed in some white and black as well. I figure if you use all your favorite colors, you are already predisposed to like the outcome.

As you will see in the video, I took the entire event outdoors to my front yard. In the front yard I have a nice big wooden tabletop that sits on top of a fire pit that was large enough to handle this big canvas.

I covered the wooden table top with an old bed sheet to catch the drippings. If you decide to try this at home, I suggest you use a plastic tarp rather than a sheet. When I did my pour, a lot of the paint soaked through the sheet and ended up on the wooden tabletop—and it doesn’t look so great.

As far as paint, I mixed up several different shades of blue (and some teal and a little green). I can’t tell you exactly how many ounces of paint I used, but it was a lot. I probably had at least eight plastic cups, each containing 10 ounces or more of paint.

Plus, I had a full 16 ounces of my white swipe color. Most of the paint was from Apple Barrel, and I mixed it to various thicknesses using water (not Floetrol), and I added some Zinsser Paint Booster to most, if not all, of the colors, to help them bind together. I also added a few drops of silicone to each of the colors (except the swipe color) to help promote the creation of cells.

I have to say, I was thrilled with the outcome. I thought the painting turned out beautifully, and the experience was really fun. Filming outdoors kept things interesting. You can see my sweet old yellow Lab, Murphy, chilling in the background, and you can hear a plane or two flying overhead.

big painting

All of which added to fun and excitement. This painting was more of a “happening,” or event, compared to the paintings I create late at night when I’m alone in my studio—which made it a unique experience. If you have the room, the paint, and gumption, I highly suggest you try a really huge pour. They are fun.

What’s next? Well I’m not sure if I should say it out loud, because I’m not sure I could even film it. But what I would like to do is take things to the next level and do four or five of these huge paintings in a row, back-to-back, in my front yard.

I would mix up a few gallons of paint, set up some sawhorses to hold the canvases. Set the canvases up all in a nice row and then… pour, swipe, tilt, and move on to the next canvas, over and over again until they were all done. That would be a blast! Even as I type this, I’m shaking my head. This pour painting business really is addicting. Sheesh.

The final painting hangs in my wife’s office. If you’re interested in purchasing it ($250 plus shipping), please contact me at [email protected].

Steve Shaw is an artist and teacher living in Atlanta, Georgia. His days are spent in the classroom teaching his students the basics of art and self-expression. In the evenings and weekends, he paints. Steve has shown his work in several galleries in the Southeast and has illustrated three children’s books. Recently Steve has discovered acrylic pour painting and is putting all his other projects on hold while he journeys down this artistic road.

To see more, follow him on Instagram, visit his website, watch his videos on his YouTube Channel and purchase his paintings at Etsy.com.

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