The Beauty In A Flip Cup Fail

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Let’s be totally honest here, below is a list of supplies but you probably don’t want to repeat this experiment. The recipe below is not a recipe for success. After all, the name of this blog entry does contain the word “Fail.” Just saying…

Supplies I Used:

  • Apple Barrel Bright Blue mixed two parts paint and one part water, approximately four drops of silicone were added as well as one tablespoon of Zinsser Paint Booster
  • Artist’s Loft, Metallic Gold paint mixed two parts paint and one part water, approximately four drops of silicone were added as well as one tablespoon of Zinsser Paint Booster.
  • Apple Barrel Black paint – the paint was watered down somewhat but was definitely thicker than the other two colors. No silicone was added to the black.
  • Treadmill Oil (silicone)
  • A small packet of gold glitter (that was never seen in the painting)
  • Zinsser Paint Booster (a.k.a., Zinsser Flow Control Additive) approximately 1 tablespoon of paint booster was added to each color except for the black.
  • Water (In Atlanta, I use the water right out of the faucet, but you may need to use bottled water.)
  • One10”x10” canvas.


Sometimes you fail. It is just a fact of life. You do things to the best of your abilities. You base your decisions on all your past experiences. You come up with a plan that you believe has a high chance for success and you go for it. Then, even as you are in the process of creating, you realize that what you are doing is quickly becoming a failure. That’s just life. It happens. And acrylic pouring is no different.

When I first made this video I had been working in my studio for several hours and I had made some very nice paintings. But, it was was time to wrap things up and quit for the day. I’m not sure if you have had this feeling when it comes to making pour paintings, but when things have been going well, it is really hard to stop. “I can’t stop now! I still have more paint and six more canvases!” Meanwhile, every square inch of your kitchen table and your kitchen counters are covered with pour paintings.

You go to bed hoping the paintings will be dry enough by morning that you can move them out of the way so your kids can have breakfast. A few readers just nodded their heads, so I know you know what I’m talking about.

My one consolation at quitting time is the End of the Day Dirty Flip Cup. That is where you make yourself stop mixing paint, gather up all the partial cups of paint that are on the fringe of your work area, and combine them all into one last pour. As much as I hate stopping, I do love the last pour of the day. Some of my best pour paintings have been the last pour of the day. You never know what you are going to get and that is half the fun.

When you watch the video you will see I enter the experiment with my usual excitement and anticipation. I can’t wait to see what beautiful creation will be born from my last pour of the day. Shortly after I lift the cup I realize that no magic is going to happen and I have created a pouring fail.

I almost didn’t submit this video to the editors at Acrylic Pouring. But then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to finally see another person create a bad painting?” Just about all we ever see online is another beautiful, amazing, cell-popping painting being created. I have tried to recreate some of the beautiful pour paintings I have seen in videos, using the recipe and style provided—only to come up with a big puddle of yuck.

This video captures one of those moments and I wanted to share it with you, so you know that not every pour painting you make is going to be amazing. You might even go through a string of bad paintings as you slowly learn a new technique or style. If you stick with this unique form of art, sooner or later you too will experience failure.

The idea I want to leave you with is this—it’s okay to fail. It happens. But don’t use that as an excuse to quit pouring. Take a look at your painting and try to figure out what went wrong. In my case I used way too much black paint and I believe the black paint was so thick it simply engulfed the glitter and the other colors. Learn from your mistakes and remind yourself that paint really isn’t all that expensive, and you can always reuse the canvas of a bad painting (scrape off the wet paint or simply let it dry and pour over it in a few days.)

I’ll leave you with a few inspiring quotes for those days when you create your own “Pouring Fail”:

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”
—Richard Branson

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
—Winston Churchill

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”

― Ellen DeGeneres

Pouring Follow Up

A few minutes after I stopped making this video, I took a long look at the obviously unsuccessful painting I had created. I decided that I would try one last thing before giving up. I grabbed a premixed bottle of one of my favorite colors (a sea foam green) and proceeded to drizzle two thick lines of green paint along two of the four sides of the canvas. Next I took a thin piece of cardboard and did a swipe. The painting was saved and some of the previously consumed glitter even appeared. It would seem that success and failure can be one swipe away from each other.



  1. This is the true beauty of art, creativity isn’t always about making masterpieces. It’s about the process of learning and enjoying, the overall process of art. Sometimes it’s a fail, sometimes it’s a success. But the adventure is worth it.

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