Updated: Nov 18, 2020
I host regular workshops from pour painting, alcohol ink and resin paintings in Krakow and I'm often asked what's the difference between those three. To those that are creating fluid art for some time now it might be obvious, but if you're new it can be confusing especially that many artists (including me :O) mix those techniques.
In this article I will show you examples of all three including what you will need to start your fluid art adventure.
wet wipes for some techniques and for cleaning equipment from paint
silicone oil or silicone spray for creating cells
heat-gun or a torch
pouring medium (I rarely use it)
gloves to protect your hands
canvases, pieces of wood, synthetic paper, metal pieces, cardboard.... you can pour on anything
optional for some techniques: hair dryer, straws, pieces of cardboard, anything you might find around the house really ;) even kitchen foil will produce nice patterns
In this technique you mix acrylic paint with water and pouring medium (medium is optional, at least in my opinion) - each color in a separate cup - until you get a nice, smooth paint consistency (like pancake dough). Next, add silicone to every color and pour it on your canvas using one of maaaaanyyy pour painting techniques like flip cup, swipe, paint kiss, dip etc. Your main goal is to create beautiful shapes and cells.
To learn pour painting techniques, tips and tricks check my online pour painting course.
Difficulty level: 2 / 3
Weather dependency: medium. If it's too hot paint will dry too quickly and paintings might start to crack while drying, make sure they are drying in a shaded, cool place.
Cost: medium to high. You will use a lot of paint so depending on canvas size it can be quite costly. Cheap quality paints might not mix well with water or produce faint colors.
Safety: absolutely safe, acrylic paints are non-toxic and any spillages can be easily pilled off once paint dries. Still, make sure you work in well ventilated area.
How to spot pour paintings: Shapes are usually well defined, with cells. Colors don't mix much although still some blending might occur.
Examples of pour painting art:
Alcohol Ink Art
alcohol inks (acrylic ink won't behave the same way)
alcohol ink blender or Isopropyl alcohol
brushes or sponges for creating various shapes
eyedroppers for dropping blender on top of ink
hair dryer and / or an air blower
synthetic paper designated for alcohol inks (usually called yupo paper). Good alternative are ceramic tiles or glass, anything with smooth, non porous surface will do
gloves for protecting your hands
highly recommended: respiratory mask with Organic Vapor filters and safety googles. Fumes from alcohol inks are toxic
In this technique you drop alcohol ink on top of yupo paper, add a bit of ink blender and move it around with a hair dryer or an air blower.
Difficulty level: 1 / 3
Weather dependency: none. You can paint in both hot and cold temperatures around you.
Cost: low to medium. Both paper and inks can be expensive but there are many options and even with cheap products you can produce beautiful art.
Safety: alcohol ink is toxic so room in which you are working has to be well ventilated, if possible wear respiratory mask and safety googles, fumes from your art can irritate your eyes.
How to spot alcohol ink art: very flowy, colors blend beautifully, often there are gold or silver details on top. Shapes are not as well defined as in pour painting.
Want to learn more about alcohol inks? Get my e-book HERE
Examples of alcohol ink art:
cups and stirrers
base on which you can pour your resin, could be from mdf, wood or plywood. Canvases can dome under the weight of resin so need to be reinforced first.
pigments, resin paste, glitter, mica, paints, ink... you can dye resin with anything. Just make sure you don't overdo it on dyes or resin might not cure properly.
crushed art glass, pieces of foils (for example holographic one), colorful flakes etc... you can add literally anything to make your art more interesting
masking tape - use it around your base to protect it from resin drips
sanding paper - always have few grades at hand, if drips do happen you need to sand them off. Rotary tool with sanding attachments is great for that too but it's more expensive than sanding paper ;)
toothpick for picking up any stray dust particles from your painting
level tool to make sure your base is leveled before you start pouring resin
heat-gun or torch for getting rid of air bubbles. Heat-gun is also great for moving resin around and creating smooth blends
highly recommended: respiratory mask with Organic Vapor filters and safety googles. Fumes from resin can be toxic - even if resin is marked as safe, once you add various products into it like inks - it can be toxic again
In this technique you mix resin with hardener - you usually get both together. Always check resin data sheet for resin to hardener ratio, it varies depending on the brand. Mix your prepared resin with pigments, glitter, mica etc and pour on your base. Move resin around with stirrers or hair dryer / heat gun. Many pieces will require few layers of resin to achieve beautiful 3D look. You can also use clear resin on top of your pour painting or alcohol ink pieces to give them beautiful shine.
Difficulty level: 3 / 3
Weather dependency: high. Make sure to check resin data sheet for temperatures and humidity in which you can work safely, too high temperature can cause issues with resin curing, too much humidity will cause it to cure uneven or with visible marks on top
Cost: high. Good quality resin is expensive and any mistakes need to be corrected with additional layers of resin.
Safety: make sure to wear respiratory mask, safety googles and gloves. Room has to be well ventilated.
Examples of resin art:
Mixed fluid art
Resin can be used in conjunction with both pour paintings or alcohol ink paintings as a top coat. Gives them beautiful shine and more elegant look.
Additionally resin can be used for jewelry making, figurines or cabochons. All you need is a good quality silicone mold. You can create beautiful mini universes by dripping alcohol ink into resin. Check my youtube channel where I have few videos showing this technique in details :) You can also use dried flowers with your resin just make sure they are completely dry, otherwise they might start to rot in the resin and you really don't want to experience that ;)
Hope this article cleared it a bit and as always - if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach me on my instagram account :)
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post,