Acrylic Skins From Dirty Pours

Many aren’t bothered by the relatively large amount of acrylic paint and thinner/polymer emulsion mixture that is essentially wasted as it runs off a painting.  To me, it’s not wasted. Initially I just put some newsprint under my tiles or canvases and threw it away after it was dry.  Then I decided to try putting Freezer paper under the canvas and thus able to make use of the pour excess, since other skins I’ve made for collaging were made on freezer paper.

It works pretty well, but there are two things that are quite different from using straight acrylic pain for the skin.  1.) The skins are quite thin when dry and are thus quite fragile. 2.) They take a long time to dry. These two skins I’ve had out in the sun most of the day for almost a week, and they finally have matured/cured enough to remove from the freezer paper.  Also I noticed that those skins from FW Acrylic Ink are very brittle and don’t survive removal as well as those from Fluid Acrylics.

So, when trying to salvage some skins for your pours, don’t spread them out. The quite thick puddles will flatten to normal thickness when dry.  And, don’t try to remove them until they are finally dry and cured.

Here’s a couple of skins I just today was able to remove from the paper.  The first is from fluid acrylics and PaintEasy. It’s quite thin, but will make a good piece in the right spot.

Acrylic skin from a Dirty Pour about a week ago. It is about 6 inches in size.

The second is from a pour using FW Acrylic Ink and Floetrol. It is a little thicker, but somewhat brittle and needs to be handled with care. It too will make a good piece in the right spot. It is a little smaller (about 5×3″) than the first and quite a bit more shinny than the first.

From acrylic pour using FW Acrylic Ink

Have you tried saving these for late use in paintings? Let me know.

A couple more Acrylic Pours with Inks

After seeing how the acrylic ink pours that I did a couple days ago dried and looked when dry, I decided to try some more.  This time I was a little more careful of how much Floetrol I added.  I used about 30-35% Floetrol, since the FW Inks are so heavily pigmented.  I added about 10 drops of silicone.  (Since I had so much silicone spray, I collected the spray in a bottle with a dropper, outdoors, for more accurate application, and less air pollution indoors when using it. ) Even with that much diluent the colors are dark and bright appearing.

The first pour was a swipe pour on a piece of gessoed mat board, about 11×14″ (27×35 cm) I had stapled to a paint board.  I think pouring on a paper base, instead of a non-absorbent surface like a tile, hastens the drying process immensely. The same applies to using canvases, but when it’s dry there’s no canvas pattern showing.

First Pour – A swipe pour using Acrylic Inks, Floetrol and silicone.

I still had quite a bit of paint left, so did a dirty pour on an 8″ tile. The excess paint that ran off from that pour is very interesting, and I’ll leave it on the Freezer Paper to dry and peel off in a couple days.

Second pour –same paints as first one.
Runoff from 2nd tile pour.

Still had some paint left–gee, does it reproduce and multiply in the cup? So did a 4″ tile. Didn’t have but a few drops of the red left, so it doesn’t show.

Leftover paint from two previous pours–this is a 4×4″ tile. Acrylic ink and Floetrol and silicone.

Will be interesting what these look like in a couple days when they’re dry.  I’ll post some more pictures then.

Last Day of Workshop and next day

Day three was spent on collage, mainly using the collage papers that we did on the 2nd day. Everybody seemed very successful.

Here’s the piece I worked on;

At the end of the workshop – day 3

Then today, it was very quiet and I still had my stuff ready to work on, so I almost finished it. Still have a few more pieces to add.

Worked on my own today. Quiet around

Day Two – Acrylic Pours

We spent all day working with acrylic pours. My first demo of this was yesterday (first image below), and today I initially went over the steps in detail, then decided to experiment a bit–did a demo using FW Acrylic Ink mixed with Floetrol. Used all ink, including the white. Since the inks were less viscous than the mixed acrylic paint, I decided that the addition of the thicker Floetrol would be better. It worked fantastically, drawing ooh’s from the gals watching. And the cells remained pretty stable. I must admit it did use a good 10 drops of Silicone. (Second image below)

We had three different kinds of mixtures being used today, all giving about equally good results. One was using PVA glue mixed with water and liquid Silicone. Another was using PaintEasy and silicone spray, I was using acrylic inks and Floetrol. The determining factors in the types and sizes of cells seemed to be three things–one the thickness or viscosity of the acrylic mixture, and  two, the amount of paint used, and thirdly, to a lesser degree, the amount of silicone used.

Some images of different pours.


Tomorrow we’re going to be using the collage papers from yesterday to do an abstract image, inspired by a photograph from me.

Workshop Time

Today was the first day of my 3 day abstract/experimental art workshop. Trying to get everybody loosened up and to think and look at images as non-real things is difficult. Today we did collage papers for use in doing a painting of an abstract image. (See my gallery of Abstract Images as some are in there.)

The gals really worked hard today. Here’s a few shots of the work.

Recent Activity

I entered this piece in this year’s ISEA exhibition at BigArts in Sanibel, FL and received notice last week that it was accepted. So, now the process of varnishing, framing, packing and mailing it off starts. It was started on my spinner after coating the whole piece of Yupo with black gouache and then applying fluid acrylics on top. When they were thoroughly dry I hosed off most of the gouache, and then enhanced some of the other areas by hand painting.

Lines from plant shadows

This piece I started a couple winters ago, by copying shadows cast by a bush outside with an early winter sun. But it just didn’t seem to work. So after experimenting recently with water soluble embroidery stabilizer I applied that over the previous working using a somewhat dilute gesso. This created a great texture as well as subduing many of the lines. Some, I repainted to emphasize them. Just varnished it today, and I have a black frame I’ll mount it in for hanging.

Acrylic Pouring

This seems to be the newest fad in acrylic painting. It can produce some beautiful pieces. It’s easy to do on a small scale, but very difficult on larger canvases. I did this using acrylic paint and Paint Easy to thin the paint, and silicone spray. I have not seen any mention of using Paint Easy to thin the paint, but it seemed to work well. It’s made by Wagner Spray Tech Corp, and can be purchased at Walmart stores. Another diluent is Floetrol by Flood, which is made by PPG. I just purchased some from Amazon, but I think Home Depot sells it also.

These are 8″ tiles (doesn’t matter what color they are). I then varnished a couple coats with Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS. I like this varnish–produces no brush strokes and is an archival finish that can be removed and replaced if dirty after years of display. One piece of advice–photograph them before varnishing them, particularly if you use a glossy varnish. It’s very difficult to get rid of the shiny highlights from your photograph if it was taken after varnishing.

This is a very unpredictable way of doing paintings, and I’d like to find a way to make better designed paintings with it. I’ll keep working on it. Check out the other couple other images in my gallery of paintings also.


Lighting Requirements
The best lighting is bright clouds outdoors.I often do my photography in front of a large West Facing window which gives about a 45 deg angle to the light. I avoid taking any picture when there is direct sunlight falling on the floor where I do the photography. This will give you the truest white balance and best likeness of your art work with the least requirement for post processing. When photographing indoors or in bright sunlight.specular highlights are sometimes difficult to avoid. If you are using artificial lights indoors, have the lights on either side of the art work and at a 45 degree angle to the painting. (See drawing in Part I) This makes the highlighting problem much less.

If you are photographing a 3-D piece some shadow is desirable–it gives shape and form to the piece. Do not use on-camera flash for any art photography. It is usually unnecessary and gives horrible, flat, frontal lighting and often times a lot of specular highlights.

Post Processing for best likeness.
If you have had adequate lighting, so that you have a well exposed image with normal appearing white balance your work is almost done. You will need to adjust the size of the image to fit the requirements of the venue it’s going to be entered. Above all make sure it is straight and no frame or background is showing and that it looks like the original art work. If the image looks blurry, retake the photo of your piece. There is no fix for blurriness.

Questions–please open a discussion in the Comments.


First–A a couple pictures of the problem of photographing your image after framing in glass or Plexiglas.

Here’s a photo of a painting after framing.

Photographed AFTER Framing

Best results with post processing on framed first image.

And Here’s before framing. What a difference.

Camera Requirements and Basic Settings
Most newer cameras, including cell phone cameras do a great job with recording your image if you have heeded the preliminary requirements listed in Part I. If your venue requires images suitable for publishing in a catalog a phone camera usually produces images which are a little on the small side. The image file after processing needs to be 1.5-2.0 MP in size. Having a camera with an adjustable shutter and lens aperture will make the process much easier in every step, and give you sufficient size for publication.

You will need some means to hold the camera steady with the sensor plane parallel to the painting surface. If you have good lighting your shutter speed will be fast enough to hand hold. There is no need for extra depth of field, so use an aperture that’s wide open, and set your camera on Aperture Priority. Set the ISO no higher than 400. If you are photographing several paintings, mounting your camera on a tripod will help speed things up.

If your piece is mostly white or light colors, you may need to increase your exposure a little if possible, as your camera’s exposure is based on 18% gray, which is darker than light colored paintings and lighter than dark color paintings. If the image is too dark and no way to set the exposure, it can be corrected on your computer later. Also for overexposed images with dark or black pieces you may need to decrease the exposure if possible.

When you photograph 3-D pieces you need to make sure your background is bare. Hanging a black or white cloth so that it covers the entire field of view of your camera is an absolute necessity.

Next time I’ll wind this up with a couple notes about post-processing.


I want devote a couple posts to talking about photographing your art work. In this digital age, most organizations require digital images for entry into juried and non-juried shows. Also, it’s a must for documenting your work, should it ever be sold, donated or given away or stolen.

Part I
Important Points in the Process of preparing an image for juried entry:

1. Read the Instructions from the venue carefully. You have to know the requirements of organization or web site. – Most will specify the size, the digital format required (most use JPG) and naming of the file. All of these requirements will need to be met using some software on your computer. Common free programs include, Irfanview, Xnview and GIMP and Picassa. (However I don’t recommend Picassa because it strips the EXIF information which may be required for some entries.) Other programs that entail some expense in order of increasing complexity (and expense) are, Photoshop Elements, Corel Paint Shop Pro, ACD Systems, Serif PhotoPlus, Lightroom and Photoshop Creative Cloud. All of these I think are available in MAC and Linux versions also.

2. Record your image before it is framed. I can’t stress this enough. It’s almost impossible to avoid reflections, frame edges and get correct color balance if the painting is framed. Three-D art work has special needs for even lighting with some shadows. (See suggestions under #4 below.) A good accurate image will help your entry.

3. Make sure your camera looks at your painting exactly square on. (See my drawing–notice the plane of the sensor is exactly parallel to the plane of the painting.) The more accurate you do this now in the camera the easier and quicker it will be editing it later in the computer.

4. Lighting is important for 2-D work as well, most importantly so you don’t get specular highlights from a shiny painting). I use natural daylight as much as possible–either in front of a large window, or outside in the open shade. Cloudy days are especially good because the light is more even, and you don’t have to worry about shadows and a slight blue tint you will get in open shade on a sunny day. Make sure there are no shadows on your work–the results of which on your work are almost impossible to correct in free programs. With 3-d art, some shadows are advantageous in defining the shape and contours of the piece, so some directional light is necessary.

In the next post I’ll mention a bit about cameras and settings.