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Dirty Pour Painting – An Acrylic Pour Painting Technique

Paint pouring is a new acrylic painting technique that has been taking over the abstract art world for several years.  The look is similar to marbled paper that I wrote about yesterday. Basically, paint pouring uses acrylic paint poured onto a canvas or another substrate.  This method of paint pouring is currently influencing and inspiring my new patterns and artwork, especially the dirty pour painting style. So, I wanted to share some of the inspirational artwork I’ve been looking at lately!

What is Paint Pouring?

Paint pouring is done by mixing acrylic paint with some kind of pouring medium. The pouring medium allows the acrylic paint to become more fluid, flow better, and increases the drying time.  First, the artist mixes the pouring medium and acrylic paint together.  Next, the artist pours this acrylic paint onto a canvas.  It creates a look a bit like marbling.  There are a number of techniques that can be used for creating different looks with paint pouring. Some of these techniques are dirty pours, puddle pours, swiping, and dipping paper into the excess paint from the pour painting.

Inspiring Dirty Pour Painting, Fluid Artwork, and Marbled Paper

I’ve been really inspired by the various techniques and looks of paint pouring lately.  I’ve compiled a short list of current favorites that have been inspiring my new artwork.

You can check out my Pinterest board below:

How do you do a Dirty Pour Painting?

One of the acrylic pouring techniques that I have found very inspiring is called a “dirty pour.”  The basics of this technique involve mixing multiple colors into one cup or container. Then, this “dirty” cup is poured onto the canvas.  In order to prevent muddy colors, these colors are layered into the pouring cup.  An acrylic pour painting that uses the “dirty pour” technique is called a dirty pour painting.  Below, I’ve highlighted 5 videos on YouTube and blog articles that showcase this acrylic pouring technique that I thought were really cool.

1 – Caren Goodrich – Acrylic Pour Painting: Feather Pattern Technique On Dirty Pour

I really enjoyed this video.  She combines a dirty pour with simply pouring of additional acrylic paint onto the canvas.  Plus, I really loved the feather pattern technique that she explains how to do.  Additionally, the feather pattern creates a really unique look to this dirty pour painting.

2 – Nicky James Burch – HUGE CELLS with Acrylic Pouring Dirty Flip Cups and Negative Space Demonstration

In this video, Nicky uses two dirty pour cups to create a negative space pour painting.  One of the ways that she helps the paint move is by pouring white paint all around the dirty pour cups that she has flipped onto the canvas. The white paint also helps to create the negative space in the painting.  Additionally, the white paint helps the dirty pours to flow across the canvas easier.  This was a really fun video to watch, and it made me excited to try out some negative space artwork as well!

3 – DeliberatelyCreative – Dirty Pour – Flip Cup Experiment – Cheap Paint and Water WOW!

Another artist I really enjoy is DeliberatelyCreative.  She is always experimenting, testing products, and ideas to see what works and what does not.  Additionally, she almost always will provide her paint “recipe” or the mix of pouring medium, paint, and anything else added to the paint for her videos. These recipes are really helpful for new artists exploring the acrylic pouring art form.  Other videos that I have watched often have their own tried and true paint recipe but they do not always share this information.  These recipes vary greatly depending on the kind of paint (craft, student grade, or professional grade) and the kind of pouring medium used.  So I really give her props for doing so many experiments with items that people can usually find at home or acquire without having to invest a ton into experimenting with acrylic pouring!

In this video, she is testing out cheap craft paint that she added water to, without any additional pouring medium. Generally, you should not add much water (if any) to acrylic paint as it can break the formula that binds the pigment/color and the other ingredients that make up acrylic paint.  DeliberatelyCreative creates two 6″ x 6 ” dirty pour paintings using this method in this video.  Additionally, she shows the final dry paintings at the end of the video.  This is important since acrylic pouring paintings continue to morph and change throughout the drying process.  Sometimes, a painting that you loved after pouring will completely change during the drying process so it’s really nice to see what her final paintings look like!

4 – – Using Leftover Paint to do a Dirty Pour

Another fabulous resource for learning about acrylic pouring is  This website has numerous tutorials and explains the various techniques quite well.  Additionally, this article is an excellent way to learn more about the process of doing dirty pours. This article also explains the benefits of dirty pours for using up leftover paint from your previous pour paintings. is another great place for figuring out your paint mixture recipes since she often lists what kinds of paint she used on the project, the mixing ratio, and any additives like silicone.  In this article, she creates an amazing dirty pour painting just from her leftover paint!

5 – Nicky James Burch – Fluid Art OPTICAL ILLUSIONs with a DIRTY SWIRL POUR Technique Acrylic Pouring

In this video, Nicky uses a dirty pour to create a swirl acrylic painting that has a bit of an optical illusion.  She achieves this look because of the way she jiggles her hand slightly as she pours the dirty pour cup onto the canvas.  Additionally, she continues to extend the swirling design by the circular motions in which she moves the canvas as she stretches the design.  I loved how bright the colors are in this painting, and the swirl technique is very interesting as well!  This painting technique really reminds me of geodes and sliced agates.

Paint pouring is a really interesting art form that is very popular and trendy right now. It’s really easy to attempt on your own. I find the dirty pour painting style is extremely inspiring as I work on new patterns for the shop. Let me know what you think about this art form in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you!

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Marbling with Spraypaint – DIY Marbled Paper

I created these sample pieces using this method of marbling with spraypaint.
Marbled artwork is so unique and interesting!  I love how no two pieces are the same.  Artists use marbled artwork to create cards, journals, home decor items, and so much more!  Last summer, I tried marbling with spraypaint to create a series of cards.  Today I am sharing this very simple marbling process.

History of Marbling Paper

Marbling has been used for various purposes throughout the ages.  Marbling began in Japan around the 12th century.  This technique involved floating inks on water and then placing a piece of paper onto the floating ink.  This technique is still popular even today.  This Japanese technique is  suminagashi.  Another type of marbling originated in Turkey, Persia, and India during the 15th century.  This technique is known as Turkish marbling or Ebru.  This style of marbling used thickened water, similar to current marbling solutions today.  Ebru produces amazing backgrounds and usually has a design lightly combed into the foreground such as flowers or leaves.


During the 16th and 17th centuries the art of marbling spread to Europe.  The marbling industry kept the marbling trade techniques secret.  Often decorative book binding used marbling, such as book endpages.  In 1853, Charles Woolnough revealed the secrets to marbling in his book, The Whole Art of Marbling.  Unfortunately, machines automated book production by the time bookbinders had access to these techniques.  Marbling lost popularity until the 1970s, when handmade books emerged and helped to renew the popularity of this art form.  Today, marbling has thousands of masters who continue to explore these traditional methods and develop new ideas.

Samples of My Marbled Paper Projects

Over summer, last year, I created these really neat marbled stationary cards.  It was a lot of fun, albeit extremely messy.  Even my daughter, Atizle, got in on the fun and helped me to pick out color schemes.  I love how each card is different from the rest.  Marbling with spraypaint is a very fun process with such cool results!
Marbled Stationary Card Set - Set of 3 Marbled Cards in Blue, White, and Purple colors.
Set of 3 Marbled Cards in Blue, White, and Purple colors.

Marbling with Spraypaint

Supplies used for marbling with spray paint including spraypaint, aluminium foil pan (or other container large enough for the paper), paper.
Supplies used for marbling with spraypaint including: spraypaint, aluminum foil pan (or other container large enough for the paper), paper.
First, you must have a bucket or pan deep enough for your paper to be submerged in. This is very important!  I tried to do some different sized objects and I really struggled with the items that were bigger than my aluminum foil pan.  By the way, you can usually snag 2 pack of these pans for about a dollar or two at the dollar store.

Prepping for Marbling with Spraypaint

  1. Fill the pan with enough water so that your object for marbling can be completely covered with water.
  2. Choose the colors of spray paint that you will use.  The spraypaint cans need to be well shaken.  This process is very fast.  So it’s important to have EVERYTHING set up and ready before you spray the paint into the water.
  3. Make sure you have some sort of drying station setup.  I hung some clothesline and clothespins along the railing on my steps, so that the pieces could easily hang up to dry.
  4. Once you have your paper/objects ready, your marbling pan filled with water, chosen your spraypaint colors and shook them so they don’t clog or spray funny, and your drying rack is setup – its time to play!

Process for Marbling with Spraypaint

  1. Spray 2-3 colors into your water.  You can dip your paper or objects in now, or you can use a stick and swirl the paint.  Remember to work quickly as the spraypaint will dry very fast.  The spray paint sits on top of the water, and once the paper touches the surface the paint will stick to it!  Dip your paper/object in the water, remove, and hang to dry.  You can usually get 2-3 pieces from for each time you spray paint into the water.
  2. Warning – your hands will get completely covered in excess paint!  So you may want to use gloves.  I rarely use gloves when I paint.  However, I ended up completely covered in paint for several days after these marbling sessions!
I created these sample pieces using this method of marbling with spraypaint.
I created these sample pieces using this method of marbling with spraypaint.  For this batch, I used spraypaint made by Rust-Oleum.

Marbling isn’t just for Paper

Marbling is a very unique, and interesting art form that has been around for ages!  Each piece is a complete original.  So every piece is new and different from the previous ones, even the ones that use the same paint colors!  You can use this technique to create some new artwork or even cards to send to your family and friends!  This process makes quite the mess, so prepare for that part!  Marbling with spraypaint is super quick.  If you don’t feel you are up for the mess, feel free to snag these awesome marbled stationary cards from the shop.  Marbled artwork also looks fantastic on other pieces of home decor.  I’d love to hear from you if you decide to try out marbling with spraypaint, so please leave a comment below!
Marbling with Spraypaint to create original artwork quickly and easily.
Marbling with Spraypaint to create original artwork quickly and easily.