The Sun Will Return – Winter Solstice Acrylic Pour Painting Tutorial

The second make of our Yule Craft Yourself Joyful series is a painting for the solstice!  Each project in this three series embraces using crafting and making as an act of winter celebration.  Check out the first in the series here, for which we created a Salem Witch Museum-themed Christmas or Yule tree decoration. For the Sun Will Shine Acrylic Pour, we celebrate the returning sun, using an intuitive painting technique with warm colors and a circle motif.  Take a deep breath – embrace what you cannot control and welcome a mindset of curiosity and willingness to experiment with no expected outcome.  Let’s paint!



What Is Acrylic Pouring?

For anyone new to this technique, acrylic pouring is a fluid painting approach. You start by mixing acrylic paint with a liquid medium – I like to use Elmer’s Glue and some water.  The fluid paint can then be added to the canvas in an endless number of ways – one of the techniques I use for this project is the, “Flip Cup,” which involves layering colors then tipping the cup’s contents out onto the canvas. Tilt the canvas, use your breath or a paintbrush to distribute the paint to cover the canvas and to encourage the paint to further mix in wonderful ways.   

Acrylic pouring is a collaboration with the paint, the artist, and the environment – humidity, gravity, air temperature – each of these impact the overall outcome of the piece.  But, while there is some degree of chaos in acrylic pour painting, there’s also a technique to master. With practice you can better move with the paint and control how the colors mix and layer. Still, the chaos in this medium will always persist, which makes it an enormously enticing style for newcomers and veterans alike! 

Materials I Used for the Acrylic Pour Painting

  • Canvas
  • Acrylic paint (Goldenrod, Prism Violet, Mars Black, Glitter )
  • Elmer’s Glue-All
  • Water
  • Artist’s Loft Ready-Mixed Pouring Paint – Metallic White
  • Take-Out Container Plastic Lid
  • Cups and Spoons
  • Something to protect my work space

Notes on materials and some alternatives: 

  • This is a messy project.  Prepare your work area.  I worked on a piece of wrapping paper to be festive.  But a large piece of cardboard or plastic drop sheet are other possibilities.
  • You could do this on a broad flat piece of cardboard instead of the canvas.  Prepare the cardboard by spreading a layer of glue and allowing it to dry- this will help keep the cardboard from becoming too saturated as you paint.
  • A couple of guidelines for selecting colors:
    • Use 3-5 colors.
    • Have a contrast color.
    • Use black and/or white paint.
  • I enjoy using glue as the medium mixed in with the paint- it is more affordable and I like the way it keeps more defined edges between the colors.  You will notice though, I use a liquid pouring medium for the white paint.  Looking closely at my finished painting, you can see how the white paint mixed differently than the other colors.  You could use a liquid pouring medium with all the colors, use glue with all the colors, or try glue with some colors and a pouring medium with others.  

  • The take-out container lid assists in maintaining a circle motif in the center of the canvas.  You can use anything round with an empty center.  I cut out the center of the take-out lid to leave the exterior ring.  Alternatives could be an embroidery hoop ring or some other reused food container. Whatever you use, it will be removed at the end of the painting process.



Preparing Your Acrylic Pour Painting Canvas and Colors

Start by mixing your paint. Mix each color in a separate container- I used cups.  Mix a larger amount of the colors you want to dominate your painting and less of the accent colors  Combine roughly 1 part glue to 1 part paint plus some water.  I don’t actually measure this and I don’t think you need to either!  Start with the glue then add the paint and stir together.  If you like the color, you are good!  If you think it is not saturated enough, add more paint!  When you are happy with the color, add a splash of water.  I know that a splash isn’t particularly descriptive…to be a bit more specific, you can add a teaspoon of water at a time.  Stir the water in and check the consistency of the paint. Generally, the mixed paint should run off your spoon in a steady stream.



If creating the circle motif in the center, glue your circle in place.  We will be removing it later, but the glue helps to prevent the paint from leaking out from under the edges.  

Getting the Paint Onto the Canvas

There are so many different ways you can do this in an Acrylic Pour Painting.  You can gather ideas down a YouTube rabbit hole, try whatever feels right, or give what I did a go.   

Pour Directly 

Add the paint directly to the canvas.  For the sun, I filled the plastic ring with yellow then swirled some white and purple through by dripping paint off the spoon.  You can soften these dripped swirls with your breath.  Take a deep breath and exhale onto the paint you want to disrupt. 


Flip Cup 

This is a great way to create a complex mixing of colors.  The picture below shows the effect this creates.  For this technique, add the colors to a clean cup.  Be sure to pour down the sides of the cup.  Add the colors in layers by adding a little of each color at a time.  I would recommend that you keep some of each color in reserve in case you need to fill in any parts of the canvas or want to try other techniques. Then pour the contents of the cup around the outside of the center ring. 



After using the Flip Cup technique, I filled out the rest of the canvas with the reserve paint by pouring directly around the edges of the canvas.  You do not need to have the entire canvas covered at this point.

Working with the Paint on the Canvas

You are trying to do two things with this step: cover all of the canvas with paint and mix/layer the colors.  Keep in mind, you can stop at any time!  I think I probably keep messing with my paintings a little longer than I should in hindsight.  I am always so fascinated by the potential of what could be revealed and find it hard to stop.  

Tilting the Canvas

Pick up the canvas and tilt it slightly in different directions for the paint to move.  Don’t tilt too much or the center paint will overflow the ring.  I like to try to get the entire canvas coated before I let too much paint flow over the edge of the canvas.  As the paint shifts, you will find underlayers of color emerging- and that is as exciting as it sounds!  


Use Your Breath (or a Hair Dryer) 

This is great for if there are particular spots that you want to change or if you want to soften out the lines between colors.  

Add More Paint

To accentuate the yellow sun after I removed the plastic ring (see Finishing Touches), I poured white paint directly on the canvas in a ring around the center and then added a layer of black paint dripped from the spoon.  





Use a Tool

My purple paint was a little thick and did not flow easily.  There were a couple places where it had created a thick blob – I used the spoon to distribute that and then a little more paint with tilting to smooth the harsh edges I created with the spoon. You could also use a paintbrush or toothpick or whatever else you want to try!

Finishing Touches

When you get to where you would like to stop, carefully remove the plastic ring and set aside. If you notice blank spots on the edges of your canvas, use the spoon to scoop some of the paint that has dripped off the canvas onto the sides.  

Transfer your canvas to a new clean surface.  The paint that dripped off the edges can be hard to remove if allowed to dry in place.  The canvas will need 3-4 days to dry and completely harden.  Your painting will continue to change as it dries- a process I find equally as fun and exciting as the painting.  Also be sure to put it on a level surface.  I put mine on a slightly slanted surface and the hole painting slipped to one side.  You can imagine my reaction when I peaked at it the next morning- initial dismay then a growing fondness. 


I still like it even though the circle motif is lost.  You might not get what you expected, but it will be brilliant!  Happy pouring and happy solstice everyone. Stay weird, witches!