I fancied revisiting a the dutch pour technique (or air blowing technique) I had used some time back, when I blew through a straw to create ‘flames’ in red-orange and yellow against a black background. In this guide I’ll cover more detail on what a dutch pour is, how to do a dutch pour, and a few tips for making stunning dutch pours.
What is a Dutch Pour?
A dutch pour is an acrylic pouring technique that uses air to manipulate the paints on a canvas. You can use a hair dryer, straw and lungs, or anything that blows air to make a dutch pour. Dutch pours are known for the ribbon like edges and cell lacing that can be achieved using the technique.
How to Mix Paint for A Dutch Pour
Dutch pours are one of the harder techniques to mix paints for because your mix will depend a lot on the final look you’re going for.
For this tutorial I didn’t change my typical ratio of 1 part paint (using craft brands like Sargeant art, Blick Student, Apple Barrel), 1/2 part Floetrol, and a little water until the consistency is like warm honey. Then I’d add 3-4 drops of silicone oil in about half the colors.
For more ribbon like dutch pours you’ll want to make your paints a little thinner. Add a little more water to your mix than you would normally and experiment to find the exact look your trying to get.
How to Do A Dutch Pour
There’s a lot of different ways you can do a dutch pour to get different looks and styles. I’ve tried to give you a few options in the steps below so you can decide what way you’d prefer to make your dutch pour so always keep in mind the end result you’re looking for.
- Mix your paint colors as described above
- Pour your negative space color (usually white or black) onto the surface and cover in a thin layer
- Pop any air bubbles in the negative space (you can use a torch for this)
- Pour paint colors onto your canvas or other surface. This can be a simple circle in the center, or a line that’s straight or curves. Remember that the paint will be spreading out from the air, so make sure it’s far enough from the edge to create the full effect. Usually you pour each color on top of the other.
- Depending on the look you want you can either start blowing the colors out now, or you can blow your negative space color in first. Many will use a blow dryer or some compressed air for this.
- Fine tune the pour using a straw or compressed air can. This is to add the exact detail with more control over the air flow.
What To Use for Air in A Dutch Pour: Straw, Blow Dryer, Compressed Air
Straws and Breath in Dutch Pours
You can simply blow on a dutch pour to spread the paint with just your mouth. However, I like to use a straw for precision although this will likely result in a little bit of saliva ending up on your painting. Oh well!
Using an Air Compressor
Air compressors are great because you can air pressure. They never run out of air like a can of air, and won’t exhaust your lungs like blowing will. They also have a large range of pressure that a blow dryer wouldn’t have, and can be much more focused streams of air than a blow dryer. They are a more expensive option, but there are some under $50 that are small and portable that would be perfect.
Blow Dryer for Dutch Pours
This readily available tool is great because it is cost efficient and isn’t super noisy. You’ll want to make sure you have the “flat head” attachments for your blow dryer for dutch pours (see link below). The only downfall of a blowdryer is that sometimes, dust can travel through the dryer into your painting. Make sure that your dryer’s filter is clean and free of hair and debris before you use it on a painting!
You can also use canned or propelled air to manipulate your paint. Most cans have a super focused nozzle, so you can create some really intriguing patterns and flows this way. Canned air can be really powerful and since it’s so focused it can clear your paint right off the canvas. Try holding the can at least six inches away from your paint to keep it under control.
Dutch Pour Recipe
Supplies I used:
- 1 part paint (sargeant art, apple barrel)
- 1/2 part Floetrol
- Water as needed
- 3-4 drops silicone oil (in about half the colors)
- 1 6×6″ tile
For this dutch pour I’ve outlined the specific steps I took to make this painting.
- Mixed paints, each color separately
- Poured colored paints in the center, one on top of the other
- Poured negative space color (white) around the center colors. Made sure the white ended up touching the center colors
- Blew using a straw from the center outward. Since this is a small tile I didn’t want to over-blow with something like a hair dryer.
I felt the end result was really striking. I thought it would be a nice way to create some movement and flow in the paints, while also preserving some negative space in white around the edges. You just can’t easily get this sort of look with a dirty pour or a flip cup or any of the other acrylic pouring techniques.
The straw allows you a certain degree of precision when it comes to moving the paint. I started with a puddle pour in the center and layered up paints in cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, white, a metallic teal and a bright green I mixed myself from emerald green and chrome yellow. A circle of white around the outside gave me the negative space to blow into. See how I did it in the video above.
I think really I had too much color because I ended up with less white negative space than I had intended, but wow, I still love it! So much so that I made a bigger one along with a step by step video: Pouring and Blowing My Largest Painting So Far
As usual, check out the slideshow below for lots more pictures, both wet and dry, and close-ups of the details.
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.