I don’t use any oils in my pours. None. Nada. I am anti-oils, actually.
As well as being an artist, I run fluid art workshops and in each workshop I show and explain to them why oils are not needed. They then get to see their results without the use of oils and are always impressed. Even seasoned pourers looking to fine tune their skills at a workshop are surprised as to why they bothered with oils for so long. The results without oils are so much better!
But Youtube tells me I need oils!
Oils and water don’t mix. We all know that. Oils can create cells. Pretty large ones. There are hundreds of videos on Youtube telling people they must use oils to create cells. This is simply not correct.
What are the types of oils people use?
They’ll put a few drops in their cup of either: Silicone Oil, Treadmill Oil, WD40, Coconut Hair Serum, Dish Soap, RainX, Olive Oil and the list goes on…
How to create cells without oils
1. Varying density of the paints
It’s that simple. Cells are created automatically with just the use of a pouring medium and acrylic paints. The different densities of paints together will create cells. And plenty of them. Each paint has a different weight. So, if you choose colours with generally the same weights, the likelihood of achieving many cells will be low.
You will also need to fine tune your recipe, though. That will help considerably to achieve cells without the use of oils. If your mix is too thick or too thin, you will struggle to achieve cells with or without oils added.
When you use a blowtorch or heat gun (sparingly) on your pours it will pop air bubbles. These air bubbles can turn into cells once popped.
Golden Acrylic Paints (high quality paint) are known for labelling each paint colour with the specific gravity on its labels. How handy is that? You can check out it out here: https://goldenhub.goldenpaints.com/storage/uploads/pigment-density-of-golden-artist-colors.pdf
While you're here, take a look at what Michael Townsend, a representative of Golden Acrylics says about the use of Silicone Oil in Pours:
“At this point in time we do not endorse the use of silicone oil in painting mixtures that are expected to last. There are many reasons for this stance. Most silicone oils do not evaporate out of the paint, therefore they stay within the matrix of the paint and could potentially cause film formation issues. At the very least, the silicone oil will impede the intercoat adhesion between the surface of the pour and subsequent product layers, such as mediums and varnish. As an artist, you are free to do what you want to to make your artwork, but until we gather enough evidence that there isn’t any long term issues, we won’t suggest artists add silicone into paint.”
Why I don’t use oils in my acrylic pours (or teach the use of them)
They are simply not needed. If they aren’t needed, paying for extra supplies would be a waste right?
I use resin to varnish my artwork. Not every piece, but some. Removing oil from the artwork before I resin can be a huge hassle. The resin will not go anywhere near oils. So, if you do not clean the painting properly beforehand, the resin will have “pot marks” and you will need to sand that resin layer back and start again. What a waste of time and money.
As well as running fluid art workshops, I sell my artwork. I want to be confident that my artwork is archival. As oils and water do not mix, the oils are not supposed to be there and it can affect the life of the artwork. I wouldn’t be comfortable selling my artwork if I cannot guarantee its quality.
I teach only what I use and recommend. My workshop participants learn how to create cells without the help of any oils. If they understand how cells are created naturally, then they do not need to pay for extra supplies or have the hassle of cleaning the artwork once it has dried.
I like to keep my recipe clean and as simple as possible – and it is very effective!
If you take the time to learn how cells are created naturally, what the densities of different paint colours are, you’ll be on your way to creating higher quality pours and be more confident in the artwork you are selling.
If you would like to learn more about Acrylic Pour Painting, join me at one of my upcoming Fluid Art Workshops!