Betwixt and Between: Fluid Art
Updated: Jan 6
Fluid art, acrylic pour painting, pour painting are all various terms used for a painting style that has exploded in popularity over the last 5 years. There are numerous artists on Youtube displaying different styles of pouring and many paint manufacturers are jumping on the band wagon by offering pouring paints or fluid paints to supply the practitioners of this popular art style.
All in all, it's a painting trend that doesn't seem to be losing momentum, at least in the near future. The "trouble in paradise" scenario begins when traditional artists and curators sit in judgment on this art form. I personally have had artists tell me that "pour painting" should never be considered an "art". In their minds, it should be relegated under the heading of "crafts" which is code for "not good enough to be called art". To be fair, this individual relented a bit when they were shown some examples from experienced pour painting artists. Needless to say, this prejudicial attitude seems to be a common one in the "real" art community. Once again, we have the "No True Scotsman" logical argument being applied here to sideline the pouring artists to the "children's table" of the art community.
I certainly do not consider myself an expert in this or any other painting medium. I have been consistently producing fluid artworks for about 1.5 years, so hopefully, my art pieces have improved as I have navigated the trials and tribulations of pouring paint. Ironically, when I first saw artists doing this on Youtube in the first half of 2019, I dismissed the thought of giving it a try, not because I thought it wasn't art, but because I was not keen on all the mess. Whenever I paint in acrylics or oils, I don't tend to make much of a mess. I usually do not have to wear painting clothes in case of the odd mistake that makes it onto my shirt or pants. Since beginning my fluid art journey, I have invested in a summer and winter set of painting clothes and have learned to accept the messiness of paint pouring.
Once again, I (and probably others as well) find myself at odds with openly declaring the legitimacy of being a fluid artist and not wanting to be excluded from my art being accepted into the catalogue of various online venues. In my opinion, well-executed fluid art pieces can showcase painting effects and textures that are singularly unique and would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate using any traditional art methods.
Saskia Smit created a wonderful video highlighting some of the skills and techniques involved when doing fluid art and answering some of the objections to fluid art. I recommend watching it if you haven't, especially if you have experienced your art being casually discarded as being "just a craft". Thanks Saskia for encouraging us "ne're do well pouring artists".
I guess I would end this blog post and say to those fluid art deniers that if you think it is so easy to do fluid art, you try it. Different types of pours require different thicknesses of paint. Should you go thinner? Should you add silicone? How much paint will be required to cover the different sizes of canvas? How do you get lots of cells? How do you minimize the number of cells? How do you prevent cracking (crazing) and what's the solution when it happens anyway? What's the best way to layer the paints so they don't get muddy or create unwanted color combinations? How does one go about fixing a pour that isn't quite right? When do you give up and scrape the painting and start again? All of these questions and more are constantly being answered by just experimenting and learning from our mistakes. There's truly an "art" to fluid art.