Until now, I haven’t used any silicone additives in my acrylic pour paintings, so they’ve had more of a marbled look (which I love) and only have small cells, if any. Cells are one of the trademarks of acrylic pour paintings, and they add some seriously cool texture and variation (which I also love). In the video below, I’ll give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to use silicone oil plus isopropyl alcohol to create cells in your pour paintings.
My silicone oil is a treadmill belt lubricant that’s popular for using in acrylic pouring. It’s not too expensive, and it’s 100% silicone, which is what you want for pour paintings because additional ingredients can affect your results. This could be a good thing, but it could also be a not so good thing. I’ve seen people use everything from coconut oil to WD-4o (be sure to use the silicone-based WD-40) to create cells, so you’ve got a lot of options.
I used 4 drops of silicone oil per paint color (I didn’t used silicone oil in the white paint), and at first the cells were very subtle. But after I gave the painting a few spritzes of 91% isopropyl alcohol, the cells grew almost instantly. From there, I tipped the canvas panel around a little bit more to make the cells a bit larger, and the tilting also caused the cells to reshape themselves into more organic shapes, which I loved.
I’m really happy with this first attempt at creating cells, and I have so many more things that I want to try, like changing the amount of silicone oil that I use, adding the oil to all of the paints, seeing what happens if I don’t spray the painting with alcohol, etc. Acrylic pouring really does offer endless possibilities, and it’s always exciting to see how the next painting will flow!
Check out the video below to see how to create cells in acrylic pour paintings using silicone oil and isopropyl alcohol:
Supplies Used in This Project
The following supply list contains affiliate links. I make a small commission if you purchase through these links, and I really appreciate it if you do!
Husky Plastic Sheeting (or a large garbage bag / old newspapers / a bunch of plastic grocery bags / a painter’s dropcloth)
Foil Cookie Tray (to catch most of the excess paint as it runs off the edges of the painting – I purchased a set of 2 for $1.00 at the dollar store)
Vinyl Gloves (if you don’t want to be cleaning acrylic paint from under your fingernails for days, then use gloves – I buy mine by the box at Walmart in the cleaning supplies aisle)
Acrylic Craft Paints (in the video, I used Martha Stewart Wedding Cake & Beach Glass and Ceramcoat Black craft paints)
Pouring Medium (I make mine with a 1:1 ratio of Elmer’s Glue All and water)
Squeeze Bottle (I put the glue and water into this and shake it up until they’re well mixed. The squeeze bottles are a really easy way to dispense your pouring medium, and you can just put the cap back on when you’re not using so it doesn’t dry out)
Food Service Portion Cups (to hold the paint / pouring medium mixture – you can use any small plastic cups for this, or you can save yogurt containers or even plastic cat food containers and use those)
Wood Craft Sticks (to stir the paint / pouring medium mixture – I picked up a package of 100 for $1.00 at the dollar store, and once the paint is completely dry on them, you can reuse them)
Art Alternatives 8×10 Canvas Panels (if you want to hang your paintings on the wall, you should use a regular canvas, but I like these panels and buy them by the dozen from Amazon)
Plastic Shot Glasses (to raise the canvas off of the work surface so the paint can flow off the edges after you pour – I bought a package of 24 plastic shot glasses for $1.00 at the dollar store, but you can use food service containers, plastic yogurt containers, cat food containers, or even a small box under the canvas)
91% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol in a spritzer bottle to pop bubbles in the paint. You can spray this into the paint cups before pouring, spritz it onto the canvas after pouring, or both. Alcohol also helps to open up the cells in paintings when you’re using silicone oil.
Spot On 100% Silicone Treadmill Belt Lubricant to create cells in acrylic pour paintings. Combine with Isopropyl Alcohol for more pronounced cells.