You will have likely heard the term ‘pouring medium’ used in acrylic pour painting, but what is a pouring medium, is there more than one kind and why do we use it?
Why use a pouring medium?
If you want your paints to ‘flow’ over the canvas, you will most likely need to thin them, unless you are using High Flow Acrylics. You could just add lots of water to make the paints ‘runny’ enough to pour, and some artists do, but in thicker paints, like tube paints, and some heavy body acrylics, the amount of water you would need to add would likely cause problems in your paint by diluting them too much. You could find that your paints would flake, lift off the canvas, layers wouldn’t stick to each other, and your paintings wouldn’t stay looking good for long.
That’s where a pouring medium comes in. It acts as both a dilutant and a binder. It helps to thin the paint while still making sure the paint retains its strength. Now you’ll need to add less water, if any, to make your paints flow.
A pouring medium may also extend the drying time of the paint, making it easier to work on your painting for a longer time, or create faux finishes.
What kinds of pouring medium are there?
Liquitex Pouring Medium – best-known brand and product and a lot of painters use this and won’t consider anything else. However as pouring has become more popular, Liquitex have had trouble keeping up with demand and it has often been out of stock. Painters are also reporting that prices have risen sharply because of the demand as retailers realize that it’s become a very popular product.
Novaplex 233 – offered by a small company in California, a popular and economical alternative. Shipping prices can be high though. If you live close by, you’re in luck. This company also has a great range of paints. A favorite brand used by Caren Goodrich.
GAC800 – the Golden equivalent of the Liquitex Product and especially designed for pouring. Designed to prevent or limit cracking and crazing and thick layers of paints. Can be used in a very high ratio compared to paint, up to 10 parts GAC800 to 1 part fluid acrylic. Golden have their own formula for pouring including GAC800 and alcohol here.
Floetrol – the hardware store alternative. Floetrol is sold as a paint extender. It thins paints for use with spraying or extends drying time for creating faux finishes. Many painters use this as a stand-alone pouring medium, or as an additional additive along with one of the additional mediums as it seems to promote the formation of cells. Totally inert when dry.
PVA glue – used by several popular YouTubers, PVA glue, such as Elmer’s Glue All in the US, can be used as a very inexpensive pouring medium. Not however that it is slightly acidic and your resulting paintings will not be ‘archival quality’.
Book binders glue – a neutral PH alternative to the regular PVA glue, and suitable for archival quality paintings as a result.
Sargent Art Gloss Medium – I’ve just discovered this product myself and fallen in love! I bought it originally as a varnish but used it as a pouring medium and it’s wonderful. Dries so beautiful and glossy and much more economical than the Liquitex. Give it a try. Videos to come on this in future….keep watching.
Is any one better than the other?
That’s a hard one to answer. Certainly most prolific and experienced pour painters will have their favorite product or favorite paint ‘recipe’ and will usually not deviate from that because they can be sure (as much as you can be) of getting a repeatable and consistent result when they pour.
But while some won’t use anything other than Liquitex Pouring Medium, there are many others who found it to be out of stock, tried other products what were much cheaper and now won’t go back. PVA glue and Floetrol are both popular alternatives. I’ve personally recently been testing the Sargent Art Gloss Medium and am really happy with my results – it makes the paints and especially the metallics, really shine.
Best advice – start with either what’s available or what’s within your budget and test it out with your favorite brands of paints and see if you like the results. Try a few of your own side by side comparisons and see if the premium products work better and are worth that extra investment for you.
Where can I order my pouring mediums?
We’re glad you asked. Have you seen our store yet? We’ve curated all of the usual pouring mediums into one simple category page so you can compare the prices and the features of each. Add your products to the cart and then check out on Amazon. It’s easy and you get all the benefits of shopping with Amazon, such as Prime, free shipping, great customer service etc.
Other beginner articles you might enjoy:
- Acrylic Pouring terms for beginners
- Best YouTube painting channels to watch
- Beginners acrylic pouring tips
- Basic supplies to get started in acrylic pouring
- Swiping experiment with black paints