There are so many cool ways to pour paint out there right now – cells created from silicone and alcohol inks, lots of ways of producing beautiful, intensely different work, using materials across the spectrum – from expensive pouring medium and quality paints to PVA (think, Elmer’s Glue), latex house paints and Floetrol, and more. There are many artists out there enjoying all of these creative explorations – and some artists who see these explorations happening and cringe.
What’s the issue, and why the arguments on the web? I think the answer to all of this is that both sides are right. It all depends on what artists want to do with their paintings.
First, consider longevity, and degree of salability of the work. If a pouring artist wants to explore, give free voice to their creativity, or give paintings to friends or relatives, sell them on Etsy or festivals where the sales price isn’t going to lead a client to believe that the painting will last, in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter.
And, the fact that archival or lightfast materials are much more expensive than, say, white glue, means that glue is just a lot more affordable for artists on a budget to explore pouring.
However, artists who want to sell at galleries or at gallery prices, or who want to create work with longevity, will probably avoid using nontraditional materials that haven’t been tested. They have to worry about the long-term, and while it’s not definite, tests still haven’t determined whether a water-repellant like silicone might create delamination down the line and cause an eventual flaking of the painting; that house paint, craft paint or glue might yellow or fade, etc.
On the other hand, the innovators in art have classically used materials that were often questionable. But their work can lead to trouble, too. Jackson Pollock is a prime example – he used house paints and enamels a lot, and museums are having a heck of a time keeping his paint on the canvas, and keeping the colors true. But that’s really the museum’s problem – he needed to throw that paint, and drip it, and it’s what worked for him.
Just because a piece might not have a super long shelf-life doesn’t mean it isn’t art. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy. There is always a place for something that’s a bit ephemeral, and beautiful to look at, and maybe intensely fulfilling to create.
So. If you have money issues and need to work more cheaply, or if you just love the cells silicone leaves (make sure to read the materials bullets below), there’s no reason you shouldn’t create this way. Like I said, there’s Etsy, festivals, lots of places to sell art where you can’t guarantee a shelf-life – but also consider making prints of your work and not selling the originals, or sign onto one of the many websites that will print for you like Society6.com, redbubble.com, fineartamerica.com – the percentage of profit can be low but far less hassle and expense. They can print them on demand for the paying customer, and be aware that they may end up on coffee cups, pillows, shower curtains.
And some just want to create, no matter what.
Notes re: Products, if you are concerned-
- Craft paints and student-grade paints don’t have a high lightfast rating, meaning, they will fade over time, much more quickly than a high grade paint.
- Elmer’s Glue yellows over time, as do most non-acrylic resins. Through an email conversation, a rep for the maker of Floetrol says that while it hasn’t been tested for this application (pour painting), it should not yellow.
- Silicone, or the treadmill lubricant pour painters are using to create cells, repels water, according to the Liquitex rep I queried. Acrylics are water-based, which is how the cells happen – repelled by the silicone. The rep also stated, a bit cagily (probably considering that the demand for Liquitex Pouring Medium (LPM) is high now, and due to the pour painting craze) that silicone won’t help it be more archival – and ended with the caution that it could create delimitation in the future (meaning, the acrylic could peel or flake off). A few artists I know are trying to remove the remnants of the silicone with things like talcum powder; two are simply encasing the paintings in several layers of resin. Others are sticking with alcohol and alcohol inks, which the rep said was fine to use with LPM as, while it repels water, it evaporates quickly and shouldn’t cause a problem with flaking.
YouTube is ripe with how to’s on all of the above – Good luck!
September 4, 2017 at 7:27 pm
I make stuff because it’s fun, and for no other reason… just because it pleases me. A friend posted a picture of her doing a project with her young grandson, and I loved it (pour painting) and had never seen it before. So I started watching videos on YouTube about the different things people were doing. I’m looking forward to doing my first, because I have a special thing in mind to make as a gift. I also like the idea of using different materials, just to see what they do. So for an artist to say that his/her way of doing a painting or other piece of art is the only “legitimate” way, I say, phooey on that. I’ll do what makes me happy. I don’t care if it doesn’t last for a hundred years. I’ll be dead by that time, and so will anyone who receives a gift of art from me. If it gives pleasure in the moment, and maybe a little beyond, that’s all that matters to me.
November 10, 2017 at 2:43 am
Exactly. I just want people to understand both sides.
October 17, 2017 at 11:46 pm
peeling off or flaking I don’t think is an issue if you paint on watercolor paper. Since most of the paint gets absorbed unless you use gesso. If using gesso avoid anything that hasn’t been tested. And avoid dilluting paint with more than 30% water. Use airbrush medium if you want to do watercolor effects instead
November 10, 2017 at 2:45 am
That’s a point, too. It would probably stick just fine to paper. I like using cradled board, so I’m a little more careful about what I use.
July 20, 2018 at 2:18 am
I think your explanation was extremely unbiased and helpful. Thank you for shedding some light on the subject.
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