Acrylic Pouring Colander Pour: How to Guide & Tips

Last year, any fluid artist who had openly shared their love of pouring with Facebook family and friends likely found themselves tagged many, many times on the same video – the colander pour!

When we say you can pour with or on just about anything, we really do mean it; a simple kitchen staple like a colander can help you create standout art and really enhance your pieces

colander pour picture

What is a Colander?

colander pour what is a colander

It occurs to us that a lot of people don’t use the word “colander” to describe a common kitchen tool; a strainer. We’re talking about a pasta strainer that has holes, not mesh. You can find colanders pretty much anywhere that kitchen supplies are sold, including dollar stores, which makes this a pretty thrifty buy.

What is a Colander Pour?

Essentially, the colander pour is exactly what it sounds like: you pour your paint through the colander and manipulate the paint and colander to create beautiful pieces!

There are a few ways that you can create using the colander pour technique:

Dirty cup: if you like to combine all of your colors into one cup and then pour, you can definitely do that using the colander technique! If you choose to use a dirty cup, we recommend layering your colors in thicker layers to avoid an excess of color mixing.

Clean cup: if you prefer to add one color at a time, that’s also possible with a colander pour. We especially love pouring colors one at a time through different sections of the strainer; you can create some really cool designs this way!

What Kind of Paint Should I Use for a Colander Pour?

You can use craft or professional acrylic paint for a colander pour; basically, the same paint you’d use for any other pour painting. We recommend that you don’t use heavier paints like Liquitex Heavy Body paint, they tend to be a bit too thick to flow properly (or require a lot of medium). 

Paints that work well with colander pour:

  • FolkArt Craft Acrylics – You can also use the glitter colors, but we recommend testing on a smaller piece first, as some of FolkArt’s glitter acrylics are very, very thick.
  • Liquitex Basics 
  • Artists Loft
  • Arteza Acrylics
  • DecoArt Multi-Surface
  • Blick Studio Acrylic
image 2

Many of these paints are available through Amazon, or directly through the supplier’s website. 

What Kind of Medium Should I Use for a Colander Pour? 

colander pour floetrol

You can use any kind of medium you would normally use for a colander pour. Some mediums that our artists recommend:

If you’re not sure which medium to use or how much you should use or can’t get the consistency of your paint mixture quite right, check out our blog for helpful articles!

Does My Paint Need to be Thinner for a Colander Pour?

image 4

Your paint does not need to be any thinner than your typical pouring consistency. This being said, you’ll want to strive for the optimum flow; a mixture that resembles warm honey. Essentially, you want a mixture that’s free of clumps and lumps, and flows easily off of your stirring utensil when you pull it out.

Consistency is important for a colander pour, but so is proper medium and paint mixing. Because you’re using a strainer, any large lumps will likely be caught in the holes; however, this means an interruption in the symmetrical pattern created by the colander. 

To avoid lumps in your paint, we recommend straining mediums like Floetrol through a fine-mesh paint strainer before you mix the Floetrol with your paint. You should also check your paint prior to mixing with your medium to make sure the paint is still good, and not separated. Paint can (and does) go bad – a quick check before you start painting can help you avoid clumpiness later on!

Do I Leave the Colander ON the Canvas or Pull it Right Off?

The answer is yes. You can do either!

If you pull the colander directly off after pouring your paint into it, you’ll see less color mixing; we still recommend pulling it off slowly so that you don’t waste a lot of paint by leaving it in the colander. Pulling the colander off of your canvas relatively quickly will still give you some unique swirling with slightly crisper lines.

image 5

However, leaving the colander on the canvas for a few minutes is beneficial too. When you pour the paint into the colander, you’ll see that the paint slowly works its way out of the holes (which is the point). The speed at which it moves is directly related to how fast you pour the paint in. If you leave the colander on the canvas for a few minutes instead of dumping and pulling, you will see more intricate patterns and swirls. You may also see more color mixing too, so there is a fine line when it comes to how long to leave the colander on.

How Quickly Should I Pour the Paint into the Colander?

Here’s something to consider; the speed at which you pour the paint inside of the colander itself. 

We know from layering paint in a dirty cup that pouring speed and height make a difference in color mixing; pouring your colors in very quickly all together can cause more color mixing. It’s the same when you pour your paint into a colander using a dirty cup. If you have a beautifully layered cup, but then simply dump it into the middle of your colander, you’re likely to see some muddiness in the final product.

You don’t have to pour at a glacial pace, but a steady, careful pour will help you minimize unwanted color mixing.

What Surfaces Can I Pour on With a Colander Pour?

There are a lot of great surfaces that work perfectly with the colander pour!

  • Round MDF or Canvas: Your paint will naturally exit the colander in a circle, so a round piece of MDF or canvas can really help those circular patterns stand out. Using a circular piece will also help you preserve the patterns you create, instead of having them slide off of sharp corners.
  • Large tree slices (circular): If you love a rustic look, live edge wood slices are the way to go! You can tape off the live edge first, and then pour on them. If you choose to do this, you can leave the wood unsealed which will result in a darker final product once the paint seeps into the wood, or you can seal it to retain the vibrance of your colors.
  • Circular cutting boards: This is a great technique to use if you want to create interesting serving trays! Most wooden cutting boards are already sealed, so you do not need to re-seal them before pouring.
  • Turntable or “Lazy Susan”: Creating a colander pour on a turntable will result in a vibrant centerpiece – plus, the ability to twist the surface quickly can result in some really incredible patterns!
image 6

We’ve listed a number of circular surfaces here, but you can use square surfaces too; as with most pouring techniques, there really isn’t much of a limit on what you can pour on! It may be tricky using this technique on 3D objects though – we’d love to see your 3D colander pours if you’ve created one!

What Size Colander Should I Use?

There’s really no rules on what size colander you should use, but if you want to create patterns that will stay on your surface, it’s a good idea to choose a colander that’s at least a few inches smaller in diameter than your pouring surface. 

Let’s Pour!

How To Create a Colander Pour: Galaxy Inspiration

In this tutorial, we’ll be demonstrating how to create a colander pour using cyan, magenta, blue and white to create a dreamy galaxyscape! If you have a favorite paint brand or want to mix things up with a different surface, feel free to improvise…and we’d love to see what you do with this recipe!

Materials You’ll Need
colander pour materials
  • Acrylic Paint
    • 3 ounces of cyan
    • 3 ounces of magenta
    • 3 ounces of blue or purple
    • 2 ounces of white
  • Floetrol
    • You’ll need 6 ounces each for the cyan, magenta, and blue (or purple)
    • You’ll need 4 ounces of medium for the white
  • Pouring Surface: in this tutorial, we’ll be using a 12 inch Birch round from Lowe’s. 
  • Colander: we chose a <<INSERT SIZE>>
  • Mixing Cups
    • You’ll need 5 mixing cups: one for each color, and one for layering
    • Optional: use an extra cup to pour your medium into first, making it easy to check for lumps and easier to dispense the medium into the cups when you’re ready
    • You’ll also want at least 4 cups to overturn and use as props for your birch round
  • Stirring Utensils (popsicle sticks work great)
  • Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Protection for your work surface….this is going to get messy!
  • A scrap piece of cardboard or another firm, flat material to catch drips from the colander after you lift it.

How to Create the Galaxy Inspired Colander Pour

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Surface

Pouring is messy; that’s a fact! It’s important to protect your work surface before you get started. You can do this by placing a sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap on your surface; you’ll want enough protection to catch drips of paint, so it’s important to protect at least four additional inches of surface on each side of your round.

At this time, it’s also a good idea to set up all of the things you’ll need so that you don’t have to search for them later on. Once your gloves go on, and paint is measured, there’s a chance that you’ll transfer paint from your gloves onto other household items. Set up your stirring utensils, cups, and prop up your round first!

Step 2: Glove Up and Measure Up!

image 8

Now it’s time for those gloves – protect your skin! Once you’ve got gloves on, measure approximately 3 ounces of cyan, magenta and blue into separate cups, and 2 ounces of white its own cup. If you’re using an extra cup to pour in some Floetrol to check for lumps, now is the time to do that too.

Step 3: Mix, Mix, Mix

image 9

It really can’t be overstated; mixing your paint and medium is the most important part of this whole process. Pour approximately 6 ounces of Floetrol into the cyan, magenta and blue, and 4 ounces into the white. Using a separate stirring stick for each color, gently mix each color with the medium until it’s fully incorporated. You’ll know that the paint and medium are fully incorporated once there are no longer any white swirls or pockets in your paint. 

It’s difficult to tell when white and Floetrol are mixed because they’re the same color; our best advice is to mix for at least 5 minutes, taking special care to scrape the sides of the cup and move paint from the bottom of the cup to the top. 

When you’re mixing, do so steadily and without pulling your stirring utensil out multiple times. Mixing vigorously and moving the stirring utensil in and out of the paint will introduce air into the mixture, which will then produce bubbles.

Step 4: Layer Your Paint & Pour Your White

image 10

Grab your layering cup and slowly layer your colors into the cup by tilting the layering cup slightly to the side and pouring your mixed paints down the side of the cup. If you pour your paint gently down the inside wall of the cup, it will gently settle onto your other paints and be less likely to sink through your other colors. Since the colors will be mixing quite a bit in the colander, keeping your colors somewhat unmixed in the layering cup can help you avoid muddiness.

Once you’ve layered your paints, pour your white paint and medium mixture onto the center of your birch round. You can then gently spread out the white paint with a stirring stick, or tilt the board to move it if you like; or you can leave it as a fluffy white pillow. That’s up to you!

Step 5: Place Your Colander and Pour

image 11

Once you’ve got your white on the birch round, place your colander directly in the middle of the round. Then, grab your layered cup and slowly start pouring the paint into the middle of the colander. Pouring into the middle of the colander will produce a more symmetrical pattern; if you aren’t looking for a symmetrical pattern, you can pour the paint in a circular pattern instead. 

Step 6: Lift the Colander & Catch the Drips

Once you have fully emptied your layering cup into the colander, wait a few moments until you see that the paint coming out of the strainer holes has slowed. Then, gently lift the colander straight up off of the birch round, holding it an inch or two above the paint to allow excess paint to flow out. 

After the majority of the paint has come out, or enough has come out to your liking, hold the colander with one hand and then slip your piece of scrap cardboard directly underneath it to catch any excess drips before moving the colander completely off the birch round. 

Step 7: Manipulate

colander pour manipulate

Using circular tilting motions, begin to manipulate the paint in a rotating motion to move it to the edges. Do this gently to avoid extra mixing, or breaking up of swirls and patterns. If you manipulate the birch round slowly, you can keep the symmetrical, round features of your pour.

Manipulate the piece slowly and gently until the paint has reached the outer edge and dripped over. Because the paint has been poured into the middle, you’ll want to make sure that you manipulate until you have an even coat of paint covering the surface to avoid cracking/crazing later on. 

Step 8: Pre-Clean Your Piece and be Patient

Once you’re done manipulating the piece, you’ll then want to place it back on the overturned cups that you were using to prop it up. Using a gloved finger, gently run your finger underneath the piece to smooth out any under-drips. Optional: you can always use painter’s tape on the underside of your piece before painting if you do not want any excess paint on the back. 

Now, you wait! We recommend waiting at least 4 weeks before sealing a pour, but your pour will be safe to move and store flat after a few days, as long as the surface of the paint appears dry.

Why do we say four weeks? Paint is a master of illusion – it can look dry, but that doesn’t mean it’s cured. Your paint essentially has two layers; the top layer, which you see, and the bottom layer which you don’t see. The top layer will dry faster than the bottom layer, and it forms a sort of skin; which is the dry part that you see. However, under that skin is wet (or at last damp) paint. Polycrylic, resin and other sealers are pretty magical, but they don’t hold up if the material underneath them is wet; don’t sacrifice your whole painting because you can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s sealed!

Final Thoughts

Don’t you love how creative the acrylic pouring community is? Most of us wouldn’t have thought to grab a colander to pour through, but the artists who create pieces using acrylic pouring have the vision to try new techniques all the time! That’s why we say; there are no limits to acrylic pouring. As long as it’s not alive and it belongs to you, pour on it, or with it! And make sure to show us all of your experiments, successes and fails (we like to call those lessons) in our Facebook Group.  

7 thoughts on “Acrylic Pouring Colander Pour: How to Guide & Tips”

  1. What a unique idea!
    I will try it out in when the snow clears and our outdoors availability is available. Pouring out-of-doors is a unique method …. further opens one’s senses.

  2. Great idea,
    Like the colander method. I use shop acrylic ink in big bottles so going to try this method thru the colander. I also make my own acrylic inks which you prob know how to. Cannot wait to try this.
    Keep up your very interesting and helpful tips.

    1. Silicone is a common ingredient for cells. You can use treadmill lubricant, or you can even use hair products like OGX Coconut Serum (dimethicone is similar to silicone.)

  3. What’s the name of your YouTube channel? A link would be super helpful! I scanned the entire blog page and couldn’t find one.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *