Dirty Pour Acrylic Art
Using Testors Marbling Medium

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  100% Silicone Oil added to paint

100% Silicone Oil added to paint

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If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to add art and color to your walls, Dirty Pour Acrylic canvases are impressive. They only require one basic skill we learned as toddlers – how to pour. You don’t have to limit this technique to canvases, but applying it to dimensional objects requires a bit more patience.

This very trendy craft requires acrylic paints, a brush and containers. There are many YouTube videos describing how to apply a dirty pour. Some recommend other mediums plus water to thin the paint along with additives like 100% silicone oil to create interesting cells in the marbling.

If you’re looking for “simple”, I suggest Testors Marbling Medium, which is available at Michaels. In this tutorial I will talk about different pouring techniques using this medium and also show you my actual tests results with and without the medium.

Slip into your disposable gloves for this project!

Directions

 step 1 - Use a disposable foil pan much larger in size than your canvas. If you are creating several canvases, line the pan with aluminum foil. After many uses, paint may take a long time to dry and will be pooled in the pan in a gummy mess. Using Aluminum foil gives you the option to reline and use the same pan again. Use a tissue box or any disposable container to elevate the canvas up from the surface so you can get underneath to lift and tilt it.

step 1 - Use a disposable foil pan much larger in size than your canvas. If you are creating several canvases, line the pan with aluminum foil. After many uses, paint may take a long time to dry and will be pooled in the pan in a gummy mess. Using Aluminum foil gives you the option to reline and use the same pan again. Use a tissue box or any disposable container to elevate the canvas up from the surface so you can get underneath to lift and tilt it.

 step 2 - These directions are for the blue and green heart shaped canvas at the top of the page. Pour Aztek Turquoise, Blue Pearl, and White Pearl each into their own small container.

step 2 - These directions are for the blue and green heart shaped canvas at the top of the page. Pour Aztek Turquoise, Blue Pearl, and White Pearl each into their own small container.

 step 3 - Mix each acrylic color, 1 part paint, 1 part medium.

step 3 - Mix each acrylic color, 1 part paint, 1 part medium.

 step 4 - Stir each gently with a craft stick.

step 4 - Stir each gently with a craft stick.

 step 5 - In a new larger container, pour in 1/3 of the turquoise followed by 1/3 of the Blue and 1/3 of the White. Continue layering the colors until you’ve used up the paint.

step 5 - In a new larger container, pour in 1/3 of the turquoise followed by 1/3 of the Blue and 1/3 of the White. Continue layering the colors until you’ve used up the paint.

 step 6 - Generously pour one of the colors directly from the original bottle onto the canvas then cover the surface using a sponge brush. In my experience, a dry surface does not work as well as a wet one.

step 6 - Generously pour one of the colors directly from the original bottle onto the canvas then cover the surface using a sponge brush. In my experience, a dry surface does not work as well as a wet one.

 step 7 - Pour the layered colors into the center of the canvas. Pouring really is the fun part of this technique. There are many ways to add the paint to the canvas which I will describe later.

step 7 - Pour the layered colors into the center of the canvas. Pouring really is the fun part of this technique. There are many ways to add the paint to the canvas which I will describe later.

 step 8 - Slowly tilt the canvas, allowing the paint colors to move against each other. Expect that paint will drip off the sides. Don’t rush this tilting process. The patterns will continue to change. You can also create interesting patterns by tilting the canvas in a swirling motion or using the (air only) airbrush to blow colors in desired directions. Blowing through a straw will also work. Just be sure you are not getting unwanted moisture on the paint. If paint doesn’t evenly cover some edges, dab a craft stick into paint drips and touch them lightly to the spots.

step 8 - Slowly tilt the canvas, allowing the paint colors to move against each other. Expect that paint will drip off the sides. Don’t rush this tilting process. The patterns will continue to change. You can also create interesting patterns by tilting the canvas in a swirling motion or using the (air only) airbrush to blow colors in desired directions. Blowing through a straw will also work. Just be sure you are not getting unwanted moisture on the paint. If paint doesn’t evenly cover some edges, dab a craft stick into paint drips and touch them lightly to the spots.

step 9 - Allow the canvas to dry for approximately 24 hours. The canvas needs to be level especially as it dries, otherwise the paint may shift.

My Tests

On the left canvas below, I used both airbrush paint and craft paint. I mixed Testors Coral Cove and French Vanilla craft paint to create a light peach color. I added the medium to it. Then I layered Aztec (Testor’s airbrush paint) white pearl, Aztec copper, and the peach in a container. I poured it onto the canvas and noticed I could not control it very well with tilting.

 
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I pretty much had to let it do it’s own fluid thing. It was very wet, probably because the airbrush paint is very thin compared to craft paint. This was a nice effect. But after having done a lot of pour art lately, I felt the whole thing was too fluid. While it marbled, it was super fine marbling.

On the right canvas, I used the same colors in the same quantities but added the medium to the airbrush paint. I got a very different result. It’s obvious to me (and probably you) that the medium does more than just thin the paint. I’m not a chemist but it seems to separate colors in a very dramatic way. In the first test I think the white and copper were mixing too much, and not allowing more dynamic contrasts.

Paint Resistance

Pouring paint from the container onto the canvas creates interesting patterns. But experiment with objects that might cause resistance and send the flow of paint in different directions. I used a plastic tool for this canvas meant to support thread spools on my Serger sewing machine. The many cuts in the plastic created detours for the paint that were immediately visible as I started to pour.

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Other Mixing and Pouring Tips

The Marbling Medium packaging suggests pouring one color onto the surface followed by another. The paint resistance example above is just one more creative way to challenge that method. Here are other ideas for mixing and pouring:

• Combine the colors then pour them from one container into the center of the canvas.

• Place a small colander or other object on the canvas then pour the paint into it for some interesting patterns.

• Pour combined colors through a short cardboard tube held against the canvas. Let the paint rest for a minute then lift the tube. You can also do the same with several tubes on a canvas.

• Pour the paint onto the surface in a swirling pattern allowing colors to overlap each other.

• Paint edges of a canvas with a solid contrasting color then pour the multi colored paints in the middle. Don't allow the poured paint to move beyond the solid color.

• Keep in mind, if you don’t like the look of what you’ve done on any canvas, just add another color and tilt.

• You may consider your project complete when dry. But if you prefer to protect and finish your work you could spray on one of Testors’ Lacquers like GlossCote or DullCote.


Supplies

At Testors

At Michael's Store

  • Testors Marbling Medium
  • Craft sticks
  • Disposable gloves
  • Various size containers
  • Sponge brush

At Amazon

Miscellaneous

  • Foil pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Empty Tissue or other boxes

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