Dirty Pour Painting: A Beginner’s Guide

Dirty pour painting is a popular acrylic pouring technique that involves layering multiple colors of paint in one container before pouring them onto a canvas or other surface. This technique is often used by beginners and experienced painters alike due to its unpredictability and ability to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Take a look at this massive dirty pour that Rinske Douna did so you can see how fun it can be!

One of the benefits of dirty pour painting is that it allows for a lot of experimentation and creativity. By mixing different colors and pouring them in different ways, artists can achieve a wide range of effects, from smooth and blended to bold and abstract. Additionally, the process of pouring the paint can be quite therapeutic, as it requires a certain level of focus and concentration.

While dirty pour painting may seem like a simple technique, there are a number of factors that can affect the final result, such as the type of paint used, the consistency of the paint, and the pouring method. With a little bit of practice and experimentation, however, artists can learn to control these variables and create stunning works of art.

So if you are ready to learn this technique, keep on reading!

If you want to learn more about acrylic pouring, here's a free quick guide for beginners.

Materials Needed

Dirty pour painting is a very fun technique. Here are the materials you will need to get started:


The type of paint you use is crucial to the success of your dirty pour painting. You can use any brand of acrylic paint, but it's important to choose a high-quality paint that has good pigmentation. You can use any color you like, but it's recommended to use at least three colors along with maybe 1 metallic paint to create a dynamic effect.

Pouring Medium

Pouring medium is a special type of medium that is used to thin out the paint and make it easier to pour. It also helps the paint to flow smoothly and creates a matte, satin, or glossy finish when it dries. There are many different types of pouring medium available, so it's important to choose one that is compatible with your paint and that you feel comfortable working with. 

Check out these best acrylic pouring mediums to learn how to choose one.

Canvas or Surface

You can use any type of surface for your dirty pour painting, but canvas is the most popular choice. Canvas is a durable and flexible material that is easy to work with. You can choose any size canvas you like, but it's recommended to use a larger canvas if you want to create a more dynamic effect.

Here are some of the best canvas for acrylic pouring.

Cups and Stirring Sticks

You will need cups and stirring sticks to mix your paint and pouring medium. Sturdy plastic cups with lids are the best choice because they are reusable, easy to clean up, and great for storing left-over paints. You can use any type of stirring stick, but it's recommended to use a wooden stick or a reusable silicone paddle.

Protective Gear

Dirty pour painting can be messy, so it's important to protect your work area and yourself. You can wear gloves to protect your hands from the paint if you don't want to get your hands dirty. You should also cover your work area with a plastic sheet or a dog pee pad to protect it from spills and drips. I prefer to use something more reusable and environment-friendly like a non-stick baking pan or a silicone mat.

Preparing the Paint

Calculating How Much Paint to Use

To determine how much paint you will need for your acrylic pouring surface, check out this acrylic pouring calculator that makes the process super easy and quick!

Mixing the Paint with Pouring Medium

Before starting the dirty pour painting, you need to mix your acrylic paint with a pouring medium. The pouring medium is a substance that thins the paint and makes it flow easily on the canvas. You can use any pouring medium available in the market, or you can make your own by mixing 40% water with 60% PVA glue.

Take a cup and add your paint and pouring medium in a 1:1 ratio if using craft paints or a 1:3 ratio if using tube paints. Mix them well with a stirring stick. Make sure there are no lumps or clumps in the mixture.

Add water to get it to the consistency of whipping cream, not too thick or too thin. Be careful not to add too much water, or the paint might become too thin and lose its vibrancy. 

Here is a helpful paint consistency indicator tool that you can use to get your paint mix just right.

Adding Silicone (Optional)

If you want to achieve different effects in your painting, you can add silicone oil to the paint mixture. Silicone oil will create cells in the painting.

Add a 1 drop of silicone oil/4 oz of paint mix, and slightly mix it in. Do not add too much silicone, or the cells might become too big and overpower the painting.

Note that adding silicone is optional and depends on your preference and the effect you want to create in your painting.

Now that you have prepared your paint, you are ready to start the dirty pour painting.

Setting Up the Workspace

Covering the Surface

Before beginning your dirty pour painting project, it is important to protect your workspace. Cover your table or work surface with a plastic drop cloth, newspapers, or a dog pee pad to prevent any paint from staining or damaging your work area. You can also use a silicone mat or a large baking sheet to catch any drips or spills.

Arranging the Cups

Arrange your cups of paint in a way that is easy to access and use during the painting process. You can use plastic or paper cups, or even reusable silicone cups. Make sure to label each cup with the color and type of paint you are using to avoid confusion during the painting process. You can also arrange the cups in a specific order to create a specific color pattern or design.

Organizing the Tools

Gather all the necessary tools for your painting project, including a palette knife or scraper, a stir stick, and a measuring cup. You may also want to have gloves, a spray bottle of water, and paper towels or rags on hand to clean up any spills or drips.

Creating a Comfortable Workspace

Make sure your workspace is comfortable and well-lit. You may want to use a table that is at a comfortable height for you to work on. You can also play music or use aromatherapy to create a relaxing and inspiring environment for your painting project. Overall, setting up your workspace properly can help you to create a successful and enjoyable dirty pour painting project. 

Performing the Dirty Pour Technique

Layering the Paints

The dirty pour technique involves layering individual colors of paint and pouring them onto a surface all at once. The size of the cup will depend on the size of your canvas and the amount of paint you want to use.

Start by pouring a small amount of one color of paint into the bottom of a larger cup. Then, pour a small amount of the next color of paint on top of the first color. Continue layering each color of paint in the cup until all of the colors have been added.

Pouring the Paint onto the Canvas

After you have layered all of the colors of paint into the cup, it's time to pour the paint onto the canvas. Hold the cup of paint over the canvas and slowly pour the paint out of the cup in any pattern you'd like. You can pour the paint in a straight line, or you can pour it in a circular motion to create a spiral effect.

Tilting the Canvas

Once you have poured the paint onto the canvas, tilt the canvas to move the paint around and create a composition that you find pleasing. Tilt the canvas back and forth to move the paint and completely cover the canvas and the sides. Gravity will create the painting for you!

Remember, the dirty pour technique is just one of many acrylic pouring techniques. Experiment with different techniques and color combinations to create your own unique works of art.

Finishing Touches

Removing Bubbles

After you have poured the paint onto the canvas, you may notice some bubbles forming on the surface. These bubbles can be distracting and take away from the overall look of the painting. To remove them, you can use a heat gun or a blowtorch.

Hold the heat source about 6 inches away from the canvas and move it in a circular motion to pop the bubbles. Be careful not to hold it too close or for too long, as this can cause the paint to melt or burn.

Adding Details (Optional)

If you want to add some extra flair to your dirty pour painting, you can add details once the paint has dried. This can be done with a paintbrush or other tools, such as a palette knife or toothpick. You can create lines, dots, or other shapes to enhance the design. Just make sure to use a contrasting color to make the details stand out.

Another way to add details is by using metallic or glitter paint. This can add a shimmering effect to the painting and make it stand out even more. You can use a small paintbrush or a sponge to apply the metallic or glitter paint to specific areas of the painting.

When adding details, be careful not to overdo it. Too many details can take away from the overall look of the painting and make it appear cluttered. Keep it simple and let the beauty of the pour speak for itself.

Here are some ideas for embellishing pour paintings.

Drying and Curing

Once you have completed your dirty pour painting, it is important to allow it to dry properly to ensure its longevity. Drying and curing are two distinct processes that are important to understand when it comes to acrylic pouring. Drying is the process where the water in the paint evaporates, leaving behind a dry surface. Curing is the process where the paint reaches its maximum hardness and durability.

Acrylic pours usually take around 1-3 days to dry and 7-14 days to fully cure. However, the drying and curing times can vary depending on several factors such as the thickness of the paint, humidity, temperature, and airflow. It is important to give your painting enough time to dry and cure to ensure that it is fully hardened and protected from damage.

Here are some tips to help speed up the drying and curing process:

  • Place the painting in a warm and dry room with good ventilation to help the paint dry and cure faster.
  • Use a fan or air conditioning to increase airflow and reduce humidity, which can slow down the drying and curing process.

It is important to note that rushing the drying and curing process can result in poor quality and durability of the painting. Therefore, it is best to be patient and allow the painting to dry and cure naturally.


Apply a thin layer of acrylic spray varnish or resin to the painting once it is fully dry and cured to protect it from damage.

To learn several Acrylic Pour Methods and see how they're done using toturials, click here.


Dirty pour painting is a fun and exciting technique with endless possibilities. By experimenting with different colors, pouring techniques, and additives, you can create unique and beautiful works of art.

One of the best things about dirty pour painting is that you don't have to be an expert to produce stunning results. With a little bit of practice and patience, anyone can create a beautiful piece of art.

Remember to always use high-quality materials, including paints, mediums, and canvases. This will ensure that your paintings last for years to come.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, dirty pour painting is a technique that you should definitely try. It's a great way to express your creativity and create something truly unique. So grab some paint, pour it on, and see where your imagination takes you!

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