As an artist living in the southern Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, I am constantly inspired by the nature around me. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by mountains, lakes, and abundant forests, and I have begun to utilize their silhouettes—and others inspired by landscapes—to enhance my pours!
Think about it: A pour is really the perfect backdrop for a mountain night, a tropical sunset, or a desert afternoon. Using a poured background really adds character to your landscape, and the end result is a surreal dream world of your own creation.
Supplies I Used
- Liquitex Basics: black acrylic paint
- Liquitex Basics: Titanium White acrylic paint
- Golden Fluid Iridescent Acrylics: Iridescent Bronze Fine
- Detail Paint Brush Set
- Set of 15 Assorted Brushes (great for someone who wants to buy all sizes at once)
How to Choose a Pour for Your Background
Depending on the final effect you’d like to achieve, there are a few guidelines you’ll want to follow when choosing your background.
First, think about your color scheme. Choosing the color scheme for a landscape background is a bit different than choosing a general pour color scheme. You’ll want to consider your final product: Are you pouring a night sky, a sunrise, or a dreamscape?
I recently experimented with a bright yellow, vivid orange, and candy-sweet red color combination, and found that it makes a warm and inviting sunset that can be used for any type of landscape enhancement. I strongly recommend experimenting with combinations a bit first so that you can better tackle your pour. And of course, here’s a little inspiration to help you get started:
Sunset: Sunsets are very warm and relaxing; the day is winding down. Think of cozy, warm reds, oranges, and yellows. Mixing in a little white will soften your colors, and might provide some clouds too.
Sunrise: Sunrise is the literal dawning of a new day, and the colors are bright to match. A winter sunrise is usually full of cool yellows, pastel purples, and blues. A summer sunrise will be much like a sunset, but I would suggest using a bit more yellow than red to really accentuate the concept of daybreak.
Daytime (fair weather): A beautiful day is filled with dreamy blues and fluffy white clouds. Think of how a bright, blue sky looks: lighter when you’re looking directly above you, and darker as it reaches the horizon.
Consider a bright cyan blue as well as a darker navy hue layered with white to reproduce that fair-weather feel; just use a light touch with the navy so that you don’t step into night sky territory.
Daytime (stormy weather): Nothing is quite as beautiful as a stormy sky over a waiting ocean; there is something very serene about the colors. Imagine soft grey, a hint of black, and white. If you’d like to add a bit of blue to your pour, consider mixing a light blue with a bit of grey to soften the color a bit and enhance the stormy feel.
Nighttime: Dark colors in a pour can be tricky, but if you’ve ever seen a night sky outside of the glare of city lights, you know that it isn’t just pitch black. To create a captivating night look, use navy, a deep, cool tone purple, and a hint of yellow or white. If you’d like to recreate the Northern Lights, you can also add a bit of green and/or teal.
Dreamscape: This is my favorite! One of my most beloved landscapes came from a pour of cyan blue, magenta, and bright yellow, with just a hint of white and gold. The result was breathtaking!
I wanted to imagine a world inside of a prism, and that’s why I created my pour using bright, rainbow colors. If you’d like to create your own dreamscape, I’d recommend coming up with a good theme; whether it’s the apocalypse, a rainbow world or another creative idea, having this direction will assist you in picking the appropriate colors.
Other Materials You’ll Need
Besides a fully cured pour, you’ll also need to decide what you’ll be creating your landscape with. I have used acrylic paint and gold leaf to create everything from mountains to city skylines over my pours; what’s most important is choosing a color that will stand out.
I primarily use black acrylic paint for my landscapes, and a very small amount of the colors I used in the pour itself to highlight the peaks of the mountains or the edges of the leaves.
You’ll also need to find paint brushes. If you are strictly a pouring artist, this might be foreign to you—but don’t be intimidated! You don’t need to go out and buy the most expensive paint brushes immediately.
I would recommend investing in at least a medium quality brush though; sometimes, cheaply made brushes shed as you use them, and there is nothing quite as frustrating as attempting to pull an errant piece of paintbrush out of a still-wet painting!
When choosing your paint brushes, you’ll want to find fine-tip brush and a medium-size brush. If you are doing a large landscape, size your brushes appropriately; what’s most important is that you have a brush capable of making crisp, clean outlines and a larger brush to fill in the outlines you’ve made.
Tips for Painting Landscapes
If you aren’t familiar with painting landscapes, don’t worry! !his method doesn’t really require you to have a background in landscape painting. I enjoy painting highlighted silhouettes, which are simple shapes, and I am not a landscape artist by any means!
If you are someone who enjoys painting intricate, detailed landscapes, keep in mind that the poured sky will likely draw the most attention. This is why a simplified silhouette is a great complement to your poured background.
If you’re using black for your landscape base, keep in mind that you will likely need two coats, depending on the paint you’re using. Try to keep a light touch so you can avoid noticeable brush marks, and once your first coat is dry, inspect your work for thin spots. A nice, solid base will make your piece pop!
To make a really standout piece, you should also be sure that your landscape is level if you are incorporating reflections into your work. Although you will be working with things like jagged peaks, fuzzy uneven treetops, and other traditionally uneven surfaces, make sure that your water line is straight, or your piece will look crooked.
A good way to ensure a straight water line is to use a ruler or even a paper edge and a white gel pen to draw a guideline. If you mess up this line, don’t worry; a damp paper towel will take the gel pen off easily.
Sealing Your Paintings
When I first began enhancing my pieces with landscapes, I took pours that I didn’t love but had already sealed and painted over them. This worked out great! I would recommend waiting until your pour is completely cured and whatever sealant you’ve used has had at least a week to cure as well.
Then, when you paint your landscape on top of it, be sure that your paint has dried absolutely completely, or you will risk either wiping the paint off or the paint running when you seal. I’d like to say I didn’t learn this by experience, but…impatience is not my friend!
If you decide to paint your landscape before sealing, follow normal pour cure times. I like to let my standard pours cure for about three to four days before painting on them. If you have a larger piece or a pour with very thick paint, it might be better to wait at least a week.
As with every piece of art, the only way to truly learn how to do it is to do it. I strongly recommend using an already sealed pour to practice on, especially if you have a few you don’t love. A sealed pour is easy to clean, and acrylic paint can often be wiped right off with a damp paper towel and a little patience.
Sara Wagner is an author and artist from Upstate New York. She is the owner of Studio Blackwater and can typically be found covered in paint, cats, or her two young daughters. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as @studioblackwater.
2 thoughts on “How to Enhance Your Acrylic Pours With Landscapes”
OMG I’m speechless Sara! That video was amazing. I feel like I could recreate something like that. I am by no means an artist like you are but I want to give it a try.. I liked your calm voice and the way you described everything you did and your tattoo is beautiful too. Keep your art coming.
This is exactly what i was looking for.