Pour Paintings

“Viscosity” Pour Painting

My technique is based on the “simultaneous color printing” method devised by Stanley Hayter (1901-1988) in his etchings and lithographs. Hayter found that oil colors of different consistency not only did not blend, but they repelled each other. I pour oil colors of different viscosities onto a flat panel, and by tilting and manipulating the flow, I can control and create the image.

68 thoughts on “Pour Paintings

  1. Pingback: Viscosity Pour Painting « Maurice Sapiro Studio Gallery

    • The secret in thining is to have the colors mixed in varied dilutions. I use mineral spirits mixed with Liquin (Winsor Newton product) in various proportions as a basic thinner, stirred into the pigment until it is pourable. As long as the proportion of dilution in the different colors remains unequal, the paint will repel adjacent colors. I keep a spray bottle of mineral spirits handy, to break down the repelling action, where needed, to allow the colors to blend. I found that the mixture amounts are not critical, as long as each color has a diferent viscosity. It’s a lot easier to do than explain. Hope this gets you started. Thanks for looking.


      • Maurice, would you mind please telling us what surfaces you use for these pour paintings? I suppose something with a smoother surface than a canvas?
        Thank you in advance!


      • Elena, I use pressboard, (sometimes referred to as Masonite), The primer is gesso, applied with a smooth nap roller, and sanded before the pour is attempted. I did a large pour painting, “Yellow Cloud” 38″x32″ which is on canvas. Here I troweled on thick gesso to smooth the surface. You are right—a smooth surface is needed.


  2. Several of these I was sure were photos of lava when I first looked. Lately I’ve looked into similar pour techniques with watercolor but this is the first I’ve heard of it being done with oil paint. I’ll try this. :)


  3. aargh I don’t know how to message you as me instead of lovers orchard, which is an entirely different blog site! But wanted to say I really enjoyed your paintings, your landscapes are really my kind of thing!! :) (carolyn morris)


  4. These are so cool that I had to pin them. I enjoyed viewing your landscapes as well, definitely got the Turner thing going on. Thanks for following my blog. I’ll be following your work too.


  5. Really beautiful and your work is “Turner like” lovely sense of color and airy space. I’ve done this with Acrylics but never oil! Must try soon. I love your landscapes too so peaceful and iridescent.


  6. I just looked at your work under portfolio but could not find a way to respond or comment, so, I’m doing it here. Everything I saw was beautiful. Full of energy and motion. Wonderful. Enjoyed it so very much. Thank you.


  7. More spectacular works! Mr McArthur (above) had a similar reaction to mine: much here looks celestial and interstellar. I also see a lot of lava flows! Gorgeous stuff, no matter what I see in it.


  8. Great technique! I learned about viscosity printing when I started hanging out with printmakers, and have some friends that do watercolour pour paintings, but have never seen anyone do this with oils Wonderful results — someone further up in the comments said “Turner-like” and that’s exactly what I have thought about your work. Lovely.


  9. Gorgeous work, dynamic and vibrant! You mention adding liquin and mineral spirits to get the oil paint “pourable.” Do you use tube paints? Because it seems as though the mixing of large amounts of color would be tedious. Do you mix large batches in containers? Thanks for your advice on this.


      • Thanks so much for the prompt reply! I love it when artists are also good at “taking care of the business” of art. Do you use glass or metal 8 oz bottles? I’m wondering if plastic will react with the mineral spirits/liquin/oil paint mix? Thanks for having patience with these questions.


  10. It’s best to use glass. I’m using old sauce jars with metal lids. After I sent the last answer, I checked and found t’m using 16 ounce bottles. The dilution is important—lumps disrupt the process. Good luck!


    • Thank you for such a generous amount of information. I’m excited to play with this. I’ve always worked with realism, but it’s good to get outside our comfort boxes and explore…you are an inspiration!


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