Art Blog

Go With the Flow: 4 Fluid Acrylic Painting Techniques to Try

I love painting with acrylic, but sometimes I want my acrylic paint to have a lighter, more watery effect. Although it is possible to dilute regular acrylic paint in water, it is not recommended for dilutions higher than 50%. Anything higher than this and we end up with uneven coverage and lack of adherence to the substrate. Not great when you’re trying to paint fine art. Cue our knight in shining armor: fluid acrylic.

Paint With Fluid Acrylics, Layering -

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sandrine

4 fluid acrylic painting techniques to try:

Fluid acrylic was developed for artists who wanted to use acrylic in a more fluid way, whether painting water or simply aiming for a more watery effect. Just like regular-bodied acrylic, fluid acrylics can be applied to a variety of support, the most common being paper and canvas. From dripping to pouring to making swirls, fluid acrylic broadens the effects you can create with an already awesome medium.

Painting With Fluid Acrylic

“Embroidered Forest” by Sandrine Pelissier

1. Emulating the look of watercolors

Fluid acrylic can emulate the look of watercolor paint with the added advantage of being permanent. This makes techniques like layering much easier. That permanency will prevent the dried paint from scrubbing off as easily as watercolors, regardless of if you choose to paint on paper or canvas. This is particularly convenient if you are painting on yupo paper. Layering watercolors on yupo is very tricky but becomes much easier with fluid acrylics.

You can also choose to add a flow-increasing medium to the paint, making the paint more fluid and absorbable. As the paint increasingly soaks into porous surfaces, it behaves even more like a watercolor.

So, with the exception of lifting-off techniques, liquid acrylic can basically be used the same way as watercolor. You can paint washes, paint wet on dry, wet on wet or layer colors.

Note: In the above painting, the tree trunks have been painted by layering many successive layers of fluid acrylic, the same method as watercolor on paper. Designs with markers were added after the trees trunks were painted.

Fluid acrylic poured onto medium to make swirls

2. Experiment with pouring techniques

Fluid acrylic can be poured directly on the substrate without the use of any brush. One interesting technique is to pour on the medium to make swirls!

Here’s a few tips to note when pouring fluid acrylic:

  • If poured directly, remember that fluid acrylics should not be diluted more than 50% in water as the paint might not adhere properly.
  • Try moving the angle of the paper or the canvas to make the paint go in a particular direction.
  • Fluid acrylic can also be mixed with medium without losing adherence. Use medium to give it just the right consistency to be poured on canvas. This will make the paint move slower than in its liquid state, which makes it easier to control.
  • Pour some medium onto the canvas (gel medium, pouring gel or self leveling gel), add drips of fluid acrylic and then make some swirls on the paint using a skewer or a painting knife. The medium will become transparent as it dries.
These techniques will create interesting color effects that can be a painting in itself, the beginning of an abstract piece, or the starting point for some negative painting techniques.
Successive Portrait Study in Fluid Acrylic

“In the gardenz” on yupo paper by Sandrine Pelissier

3. Glazing

Glazing consists of painting semi-transparent layers of color. Fluid acrylics are very well suited for this technique, as they can be easily mixed with gel medium to produce a homogeneous, semi-translucent mix.

Because of its consistency, fluid acrylics make it easy to obtain an even wash, without any brushstroke or thickness showing on the surface of the canvas or paper. For this reason, fluid acrylics could be used as the bottom layer of color in a painting where you don’t want visible brushstrokes.

Close up of an abstract painting with drips and paint applied with a dropper

4. Adding drips on a painting

If you like drips, fluid acrylic is the medium of choice because it’s already liquid! Adding flow medium to the paint will produce even thinner drips. Try using a liquid dropper to apply the paint as was done in the close-up of this abstract painting.



Claudette Leboeuf

only by selling books? you don’t offer day ou weekend classes?
I’m from Montreal Qc and I don’t know where you are.

Claudette Leboeuf

only by selling books? you don’t offer day ou weekend classes?
I’m from Montreal Qc and I don’t know where you are.

Mimi Lupien

avez vous une page en francais, do you have a french site.

Mimi Lupien

avez vous une page en francais, do you have a french site.

Interstellar film complet fr

Je suis plus certaine le lieu vous êtes obtenir votre info ,
mais grande sujet. I doit certain temps découvrir beaucoup plus ou compréhension plus
. Merci pour excellente informations Je l’habitude d’être chercher info pour ma mission .


I’ve been researching this subject as I have many questions.
Maybe you can give me a help.

Which product or trick can I use to create gradient shadows for objects and put glazes on them using layers? It feels like the new layers of paint just don’t soak into the canvas after I put the first layer of paint.Do you know Michael Lang work? He creates nice shadows layer after layer and paint seems to soak into the canvas creating nice gradient. Mine just sits on the canvas very watery.

Even after I apply a layer with glazing on a gessoed canvas for the first time using flow release then the next glaze coats will soak into the canvas?

I’m afraid the next layers don’t soak and there a resistance on the surface avoiding me to make a shadow or shade with some gradient effect.

The Flow release should be used on raw canvas only or could be as the first layer on gesso primed canvas?

I wanted to be able to put new layers on specific areas and wanted the paint soak in after rubbing the brush sometimes.
Currently when I do that the paint continues to go further and don’t stop the point I want.
In resume I wanted to put as many layers as needed but just on some areas and have the layer (shadow or shade) go until the place I want I don’t want the layer to cover the entire canvas. Wanted to put small amount of color layer by layer on specific areas on the objects on the canvas to build the shadows.

For example imagine a cube with darker areas at bottom.
When I paint the cube let it dry and put new layer at bottom to darken it the paint doesn’t soak and continues go further creating drops and it’s a mess.

Sorry long messages I just wanted to get a better idea on what products or tricks I could try to create this.



Use fluid acrylics for the first layer then glaze your shadows with oils.

michael lowther

I have seen acrylic paint used on a water flooded cavas then turps is drip on and the effects were terrific what is required to do this any advice is appreciated


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