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painting techniques

  • Making Acrylic Pour

    Create Amazing Patterns with Flowing Acrylic Paint

    Acrylic pour painting is one of the top techniques under the title of “satisfying” and “calming” art. And no wonder it's so popular; from Youtube stars to professional artist, everyone finds it a good fun. It's especially a good technique for those who never painted before, those who are afraid of the blank canvas or those who'd just like to have fun with this messy but amusing technique. Read on to learn different methods you can explore your inner abstract artist!

    What is Acrylic Pouring?

    Acrylic pouring is a painting technique where the paint is mixes with a medium and then poured onto a surface in different ways. Sometimes individual colours are poured onto the surface separately, sometimes one cup is filled with different colours and poured at the same time. You can try many different things, the results will always be incredible and unique!

    What do you need for acrylic pouring?

    Acrylic Paint

    The best type of acrylic paint for this technique is called Liquid or Soft-body Acrylics. For example:

    What Is a Pouring Medium?

    Pouring medium not only helps the flow of the paint, it keeps the colour separate so they don't combine in the pouring cup. It also extends the paint do as to prevent cracking.

    We recommend using GOLDEN's Acrylic flow medium. It's a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion that can be used to extend acrylic colours, regulate transparency, create glazes, increase gloss, reduce viscosity and improve adhesion.

    Find out more and link to buy >>

    GOLDEN GAC 800 

    Amsterdam Pouring Medium 

    Other Supplies:

    Different Pouring Techniques

    (click on the photo for video demonstration) 

    • Puddle Pour

    Puddle pour mean when each colour is individually poured one after the other.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    Pour each individual colour after the other onto the centre of the painting, then move the ground back and forth until the paint is completely spread or you achieve the desired effect.

    • Dirty Pour

    This is an easy acrylic pouring technique in which all colours are poured into the same container and then poured onto the painting surface.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    The colour mixtures are poured into a new container in layers. Then, this mixture is poured over the painting surface. Move the surface back and forth until the paint covers it evenly.

    • Flip Cup

    This technique is the same as the Dirty pour, the main difference is that the container needs to be on the surface. This way the layers are on top of each other.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    The colour mixtures are layered on top of each other. The surface is placed on top of the cup then flipped over whilst holding onto the cup. Carefully lift up the container and let the paint out. Move the surface back and forth, or use a hot air dryer to spread the paint mixture.

    • Bottle Bottom Puddle Pour / Flower Pour

    In this technique, the colour is applied to the painting surface via the base of a plastic bottle. The raised area creates a pattern that resembles a flower.

    Mix each colour together with the pouring medium and water in individual cups. (No need to add silicone for this technique.)
    Take a plastic bottle and cut the bottom off. It's essential that the surface and the bottle are both level, otherwise the pattern won't show.

    Place the bottom of the bottle on the canvas and start pouring small amounts of each colour one after the other onto the bottle. The colours run over the gaps and create a flower-like pattern.

    If you like the result, remove the bottle carefully.

    • Tree Ring / Swirl

    Swirl Pouring is a technique where the paint is applied to the surface with circular movements, creating a pattern that's similar to the annual rings of a tree.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    Each colour is then stacked on top of the other in a container.

    The mixture is poured really slowly onto the surface with very small circular movements.

    Then, the surface is tilted back and forth until the pattern is achieved.

    • Wing Pour

    The wing pour is a modified version of the Swirl Pour, where the aim is to get two mirrored wings.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    Then, start filling the cup with each colour. First the one you'd like to appear between the wings. Then pour the second colour to one side of the cup; this will be the colour on the inside of the wings. Next, you want to choose a contrasting colour and pour it in a circle on the previous ones, in a way that the colour is only at the edge of the cup.

    You can add another colour as in step three, that will be visible on the outside of the wings. If you do this you got to add some of the first colour again.

    Raise the canvas a little on the side closest to you and pour the paint in the middle in an even, constant stream onto the surface. This will cause the paint to slide away from you, forming a long wing shape. You can also start moving the cup in your direction all the way to the edge of the surface to separate the two wings.

    • Swipe

    This technique can be used alone or with other pouring technique. It's used to make visible cells or to achieve flowing patterns.

    Apply your colours (mixed with silicone) to the surface with a Puddle or Flip Cup pour. In addition, apply a new colour without silicone. With a tool (painting knife, spatula, moist paper towel or sponge) the individual colour is dragged over the previous layers. The cells should start to form at this point.

    • AirSwipe

    The Air Swipe technique is similar to the Swipe technique, except the paint is applied with air instead of hand tools.

    Mix your colours with the pouring medium and silicone in a separate cups. Then do a Flip Cup Pour. Leave the cup for a bit so the colours can settle. Get a negative colour (without silicone) and pour it around the cup. Distribute it evenly all over the surface, then lift up the cup. Once the cup is empty and the paint is covering the surface evenly, you can start moving the paint with a hairdryer.

    • String

    This technique isn't really a pouring technique as such, but it's used regularly in combination with pouring techniques.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    Before layering the paint, put some 20 to 30 cm long pieces of sisal cord in a container. Pour the colour mixtures into the cup. Alternatively, you can mix the colour first in individual cups and put the thread in separately, which makes it possible for you to decide where to place each colour on the surface.

    Pour the mixture onto your surface. This way the threads, full of paint, are draped on the surface in a way that they wiggle back and forth. At the end you can pull the threads over the surface. The movement of the threads will create interesting patterns.


  • Egg Tempera

    Guide to help you make your own paint

    A painting method that shows you, eggs are not only for breakfast!

    History of Egg Tempera Paint

    Tempera paint seems to be one of the most common paints that we're introduced to from the very beginnings. Can you imagine it has been around since the first century AD?

    Many examples of the use of tempera include the Fayum Mummy portraits, and other Egyptian sarcophagi decoration, Orthodox icon painting, early medieval paintings in temples in India, and even Michelangelo had egg tempera paintings.

    Tempera was the primary painting medium up until the 1500s, when the appearing oil paint replaced it. There were some occasional revivals of tempera paintings, for instance in the 19th/20th century by the Pre-raphaelite Brotherhood.

    What You Need


    • egg yolk
    • water
    • dry pigment
    • glass muller
    • jars or tubes

    The Method

    Preparing the Pigment Mixtures

    First you need to grind the pigment with a small amount of water using the muller, until the consistency reaches a creamy state. (The time and amount of water depends on the particular pigment!)

    Preparing the Egg Yolk Medium

    The next step is to prepare the egg yolk medium which consists of egg yolk and distilled water. In order to make it, you'll need to separate the egg yolk from the white, You might want to carefully dry it with a paper towel to remove all the white. Then, take the yolk and pierce the sack under a jar. Discard the sack, and if you find any impurities in the yolk, strain the liquid. If needed, mix it with a bit of distilled water, and it's ready for painting. Keep the medium tightly sealed and refrigerated up until two days.

    Christina's World - Andrew Wyeth, 36" x 29", 1948



  • A Different Painting Technique

    Painting With Palette Knives

    Forget the idea that palette knives can only be used for mixing colours!

    Choose from a wide range of palette knives 

    Tips for Painting with Palette Knives

    Not only are brushes are suitable for painting – using palette knives can give an entirely different effect, and they are particularly recommended for Impasto technique.


    Palette knives are especially useful when you want to achieve ‘clean’, brushstroke-free surfaces. Colours applied with a knife are pure and more vibrant, and due to the range of different sizes, it’s even possible to cover larger surfaces.


    Painting with palette knives is more like layering paint, so it’s the perfect tool for expressive marks as well as for realistic details like waves on the sea and tree trunks.


    Palette knives are very useful for painting outside (plein air) as it’s not only faster to put the constantly changing scenery onto a canvas with it, but it saves time and effort as knives can just be wiped clean in order to use a new colour.

    Palette Knife Types

    regular palette knives
    • Use a short blade for angular strokes
    • Use long blades for sweeps of colour
    • Use sharp pointed blades for thin scratches and lines
    • Use round blades to avoid sharp lines
    palette knives for unique effects

    Palette Knife Painting Techniques


    • Scraping back the paint, revealing the previous layers is a technique called sgraffito (using the end of a brush)
    • Pressing paint onto the surface will make a good textured effect
    • Pressing the edge of the knives is used to make fine lines
    • For making ridges, press the blade flat down into the paint
    • Or simply spread paint across the canvas like butter on bread with the long side of the blade

    Watch this Demo!







    Don't be scared to try oil paints!

    Using oil paint might seem a bit scary at first – they require the use of chemicals, they are more expensive and generally considered harder to learn the proper techniques. This general introduction to oil paint should prove useful if you’re considering making the decision and try them out – even though they require more painting knowledge, it is worth getting into!

    So what really are oil paints?

    Oil paint is a traditional material that has been used in Europe since the 15th century. It basically consists of one or various pigments (organic and/or metallic based - these days synthetic versions are much more common) mixed with oil - typically linseed, poppy or sunflower.

    Different Solvents

    The most striking feature of oil paint is that they will not dissolve in water. But don’t let it discourage you! With enough knowledge, these chemicals will become less sinister!



    Painting Medium

    If you are not sure about what kind of brush to use with oil paint, find more information here

    Curious what brand of oil paint to choose? Read our comparison here

    Painting Surfaces and Preparation

     There are two main surfaces for oil painting: stretched canvases, canvas boards or wooden panels. You can prepare your own preferred painting surface, or purchase them.

    Canvas stretching
    canvas boards
    Wooden panels

    It is advised to put a layer of (rabbit skin) glue onto the surface of the canvas before the Gesso, but it is essential when you’re working with wood, as otherwise it could curl due to the moisture in the paint. After two or three layers of glue another two or three layers of Gesso (a mixture of rabbit skin glue, water, and chalk that creates a flexible and absorbent layer between the canvas or wood and oil paint) are applied. It’s not necessary to paint too many layers, as it could result in dull colours if the heavy layers absorb the oil paint. In between preparatory layers you should always use sandpaper to smooth the surface.

    Oil Painting Techniques

    “Fat over lean” technique

    This is the basic principle of oil painting, which is the method of applying thinned down paint (high percentage of solvent) first, and gradually using less and less solvent. “Fat” refers to the oil paint that’s diluted with an oil medium (linseed or poppy seed oil) while “lean” means oil paint that’s diluted with turpentine or spirits. If the layers aren’t applied correctly, it could cause cracking.



    Artwork by Meredith Milstead

    “Alla Prima” / Wet on wet technique

    This is a technique where layers are applied without leaving the previous one to dry.



    Varnishing Your Painting

    No matter what kind of varnish you use, it is important to know when to varnish oil paintings - however dry they seem, they might not be completely!
    With other paints, the drying process is basically just evaporation – but not with oils. While the surface is seemingly and “physically” dry, truly it is an ongoing chemical process of oxidation, and after this stage the painting begins to age.

    Therefore, oil paints are advised to be varnished after at least half a year after the work has been finished. Otherwise, the varnish will work as a seal and won’t let oxygen pass through the layers effectively. Halting the oxidisation process will leave the deeper layers still wet, which on a long run will cause the surface layer to crack.


    Read more about varnishes here.

    How Do I Clean My Brushes Properly?

    Getting out of oil paint from your brushes might seem to be a struggle – but in reality, it’s not so hard! First of all, you don’t necessarily need to have completely clean brushes. It is easy to simply wipe your brush with a towel, or for a cleaner bristle, damp it with a bit of solvent, linseed oil or brush cleaner solution. Even when you’re starting a new painting, it is useful to have a bit of leftover paint in your brush, as it is perfect for sketching. As Mark Carder* demonstrates in his useful video, cleaning your brush frequently does more damage to the bristle than leaving paint in it! However, even if oil paint dries very slowly, you do have to take care of your brushes when you don’t intent to use them for a few weeks. In that case, the best way is to use some sort of spirit in a well ventilated area, and clean the brush with a (paper) towel.

    *make sure to check out his tips on "easy ways to take care of oil paintbrushes"

    How to dispose of turps and other chemicals?

    It is essential to know how to dispose of hazardous waste properly when you’re working with such materials. It is not only illegal to pour them into the sink or on the ground, but highly dangerous to the environment. 

    When you no longer intend to use your paints or solvents, make sure you either donate it to someone who would use it or take care of them properly. One way is to let the used turpentine or brush cleaner to sit in their container while the paint separates – the clear liquid can be reused, the remaining paint then poured onto an absorbent surface such as cat litter, saw dust or concrete. Let it completely dry and them put it in a fire-safe trash container.

    Next step is to find your local hazardous waste collection site:



  • Rembrandt, the painter

    Have you seen the previous article on the Rembrandt and Van Gogh paints? Or you would like to get some painting tips from the Dutch Master? Even if you’re just interested in some fun facts about painters and techniques; curious what chiaroscuro means, or why it is so soothing to look at Rembrandt’s paintings, keep reading!

    Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn |1606 - 1669

    Self-Portrait, aged 51 (c.1657) Self-Portrait, aged 51 (c.1657)

    Interesting Facts About Rembrandt

    1. Rembrandt started attending the University of Leiden when he was 14 years old, but as he found art more interesting than his studies, he left for Amsterdam to master his painting skills. Not long after he returned to Leiden, at the age of 22, where he started teaching art.
    2. Rembrandt's famous painting Night Watch is actually a nickname standing for tediously long original title – funnily enough, the painting is actually set at daytime, only the old dark and dirty varnish made it look nocturnal.
      Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642) Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642)
    3. Rembrandt is famous for painting himself into his paintings – here he is in the background of Night Watch
    4. In 1715, the forementioned painting was supposed to be brought to the town hall of Amsterdam. However, it was so big that it couldn’t simply fit on the wall – therefore, to hang it, it had to be cropped, and in its present state it’s actually missing some parts.
    5. January 13, 1911, September 14, 1975, and April 6, 1990 – what is common with these dates is that they mark the days when the Night Watch somehow provoked violent reactions from visitors, they actually attempted to slash it with a knife – or a more modern method, pouring sulphuric acid on it. Nevertheless, the painting still remains untouched
    6. There are many reasons why Rembrandt’s paintings stand out from others, but one is definitely the phenomena of “guiding the eye”. Apparently, Rembrandt’s painting technique enables the viewers’ eyes to be directed throughout the paintings on a specific route, as if Rembrandt consciously wanted to present a certain narrative by making sure where his paintings “begin and end.” As the study – mentioned in the article “The Magic of Rembrandt’s Painting Technique”- shows, it has been confirmed scientifically that Rembrandt knew how the human eye works, and did actually guide the viewers’ eyes with his brushstrokes.

    Rembrandt’s Painting Technique:

    Chiaroscuro, meaning “light-dark” in Italian, is technique used to create contrastive effect, especially in painting. Moreover, it’s not simply the strong contrast of light and dark surfaces, but according to Tate Britain’s Glossary, the chiaroscuro technique is generally only remarked upon when it is a particularly prominent feature of the work, usually when the artist is using extreme contrasts of light and shade"

    The effect of Chiaroscuro is very characteristic of Rembrandt’s paintings; he usually used dark shades of browns for shadows and pale yellow tones with white highlights to achieve an illuminating effect, as if his subjects were the sources of light.

    Danae (1636)
    Self Portrait (1628) Self Portrait (1628)
    Self-Portrait in a Gorget, (ca. 1628) Self-Portrait in a Gorget, (ca. 1628)

    More on Rembrandt's techniques:

    • How to Paint Chiaroscuro -
    • Using the Secrets of the Master in Portrait Painting by Brigid Marlin -
    • Reconstruction of Rembrandt”s “burnt plate oil” -

    What was Rembrandt’s colour palette?
    You can find more about it in the previous article by clicking here

    How can I paint like Rembrandt?

    Well, naturally, to acquire such skills as Rembrandt’s, you probably would’ve need the expertise of the master himself. Although, perhaps with some help of these videos you can learn the technique and pretend you’re a contemporary of the Dutch Baroque painter.





    Rembrandt Etchings

    Fortunately, Rembrandt wasn't only a talented painter: he took an interest in this particular printmaking technique - and became quite known from his etchings as well. In fact, he produced almost 300!

     Triumph of Mordecai Triumph of Mordecai
    The Three Crosses The Three Crosses

    Interested in printmaking techniques? Keep your eyes on the website, or sign up for the newsletter to hear about the arrival of the article!

    Still want more?

    Rembrandt style drawing - U Tube Clip
    Painting techniques from Rembrandt to Vermeer - U Tube Clip
    BBC Fine Art Collection 3 of 7 Rembrandt - U Tube Clip
    Why I Tried to Copy Rembrandt By Sarah Hart


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