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The Artistic Way to Splatter Paint

Splatter painting is a technique made famous by abstract expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock. It’s energetic, unpredictable and a whole lot of fun. If you’ve ever thought about incorporating it in your art, you know that making a paint splatter can be messy and uncontrollable. But you’re in luck: I’ll show you how to splatter paint three ways.

Learn 3 techniques and 6 helpful tips for how to splatter paint in acrylic and watercolor!

How to Splatter Paint 3 Ways

Learning how to splatter paint will add an energetic texture to your painting.

The first thing to know about this technique is that it can get messy. You’ll want to wear your designated painting clothes and move the objects you want to keep clean — you can never know where the pigment will fly!

Tools needed for splattering paint

One of the best things about this technique is that if you’ve got a paintbrush, you can splatter paint. There aren’t any special tools needed, but here’s what I use:

  • Your favorite acrylic or watercolor paints
  • A brush (or brushes) with stiff, sturdy bristles
  • An old toothbrush (optional)
  • Gloves (optional)

Once you have your space ready and supplies secured, there are two different ways of splattering paint to your paper or canvas.

Splatter paint techniques

Technique #1: Use a second paintbrush to give you leverage

Splatter technique with acrylic

Acrylic paint

Splatter technique watercolor paint

Watercolor paint

The basic idea for this technique simple: Fill the bristles of your paintbrush with pigment. Then, with a stick or second brush held in your opposite hand, gently tap the pigment-filled paintbrush. That will give the paint enough force travel across your canvas.

In this technique, you’ll be able to cover a lot of ground. One drawback, however, is less control of where the splatter goes.

Technique #2: Use your fingers to manipulate the brush

Splatter technique with acrylic paint

Acrylic paint

Splatter technique with watercolor

Watercolor paint

Here’s where your toothbrush will come in handy! Or, if you don’t have a toothbrush to sacrifice, a stiff-bristled brush will also work. In one hand, hold your brush or toothbrush at a downward angle so that its bristles are pointed toward the ground. Then, with your opposite hand, run your fingers along the edge of the brush. Go slowly and pull the bristle back so that they launch paint from the brush onto the canvas.

With this technique, the tips of your fingers will get dirty. If you’d prefer to wear gloves, now is the time to put them on. Because of the lack of force and length of the bristles, the splatter will be localized and in smaller quantities.

Technique #3: Control your paint with a stencil

Splatter technique with stencil Stencil splatter

Control is a big challenge when splattering paint. It’s a challenge to make unpredictable paint particles into something with sharp, clean edges. One way to control your splatter is to create a stencil. It can be something complex or simple (I’ve created a small circle), but make sure there’s plenty of positive space around your cut out — that way, the extra paint splatter won’t get on your canvas.

Splatter technique with stencil

Acrylic paint

Splatter with stencil

Watercolor paint

Tips for how to splatter paint

  • Use Technique #1 for large areas because it has better range.
  • Use Technique #2 for smaller areas and finer details.
  • Dilute your acrylic paint with a little water to make paint splattering easier.
  • Don’t be a afraid to use multiple colors! This will give your splatter depth and visual excitement.
  • Make your splattering the last thing you do for your painting. Think of it like an accent color and be deliberate when you use it.
  • Next time you want to paint stars in the sky, think about splattering paint!

Bring the intrigue of mixed media to your artwork!

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6 Comments

Larraine

I would like to know if liquid acrylic paint can be used on raw polymer clay. Or cured polymer clay. Thank you

Reply
Keltie

Larraine, I believe only on cured. The baking process might not be kind to the acrylic pigment.

Reply
Louise

Great advice on splattering paint.

Reply
Sue Springer

Actually you can use acrylic paints on both. The heat is so low in the curing process it does not burn. If you paint on raw clay and let it dry you can stretch the clay to for cracks to reveal the clay underneath. Also you can stencil and silkscreen on the raw clay before forming it.

Reply
Lillian

Great information on splattering paint. This article has helped me a lot.

Reply
Juliet

Thanks for giving a good advice. I’ll be using these techniques for my assessment at school!!

Reply

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