There’s one thing a lot of artists do in their fluid art videos that I don’t – show their materials. I started out recording all of that and ended up never putting it in because I use the same basic materials every time. It would be pretty boring to watch the same few minutes of me showing the same few bottles every week anyway, right?
This list is all of my favorites things (and some other stuff) to put into my fluid art! Some are requirements (well, to me they are), and some are just nice to have, but it’s what I’ve come to like after some trial and error. We all do it differently!
I buy almost everything from Dick Blick because I like their selection the best and their prices are competitive. I’ve also found their shipping speed (even the free) to be better most of the time. Their biggest competitor once took a week to put my stuff in a box when I paid for shipping to get something on time – not okay. They aren’t sponsoring this post (hey, Dick Blick – wanna sponsor me?), this is just my experience. Sometimes you can grab a deal from Amazon, but make sure you buy from a reputable seller or you run the risk of getting old materials that have been sitting in a warehouse ever since warehouses were invented.
(Full disclosure/disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by anyone, but I have included some affiliate links. Just another way to support your friendly neighborhood artist!)
This is the base for all of the paintings! My numero uno! My bread and butter! All of the paints are mixed into this stuff. Pouring medium reduces crazing (crevices in the paint) and leaves a nice glossy finish. It’s expensive and I’ve noticed the price fluctuates a bit, so shop around. The big art supply websites typically have the best prices, but once in a while you can get a deal on Amazon.
Don’t skimp and get something smaller than a 32oz – it won’t be enough (especially if you love it!). If I’m doing a lot of paintings I’ll blast through a gallon of pouring medium pretty quickly. I still use that first 32oz bottle I bought and refill it as needed from the gallon bucket – it’s way easier to manage. When I’m on my last 32oz, that’s when I reorder. I’ve started exploring different techniques to reduce how much I use since I went through two gallons in a month at one point (mistakes can cost you – literally!).
These are beautifully pigmented and a little goes a very long way. They are a little expensive, but they can last a long time. I’ve also used them to paint with and left them sitting out in the palette for a long time. They didn’t dry out or even skin over nearly as quickly as regular acrylics do. A set of these is worth having in your arsenal just because.
You get what you pay for with acrylic ink. This costs a little more, but it the color holds well when it’s thinned out. I use these sometimes, but I prefer the high flow acrylics when I need something lighter and thinner.
Less expensive than Liquitex, but I find that I have to use more to keep the colors true when adding to the medium. BUT, it’s readily available at the local art store, so when I need something in a hurry I make that 40% off coupon work!
I use Liquitex Professional Spray Paint and MTN Hardcore 2 Spray Paint. I also use Krylon in a pinch. Which is the best? I don’t have an answer for that because I just started using these and I’m working at a Kindergarten level with them. I’m leaning more toward the transparent colors from Liquitex layered over the opaque MTN. More on this some other time – I’m still playing. 🙂
Generic Craft Acrylics
You can get these pretty much anywhere and a small bottle is fifty cents to a dollar. You might have seen people poo-poo on these because they are cheap. They aren’t as lightfast and can cause some crazing if you use too much. That’s true, but ask yourself this – are you making a painting that’s going to end up in the Louvre 100 years from now? Me neither. These paints are hands down the best way to get started on the cheap. Once you’ve got all your staple materials built up, they are still a great way to fill in the gaps in your palette and try new colors.
Different artists add different things to their fluid art to get cells and I’ve found that I like silicone the best. I use this whatever brand because… it’s what I’ve always used? I can go to the store and get it if I need to, but I’m actually still on the first bottle I ever bought. It cost four bucks and has lasted nearly a year. Easily the most cost-effective material on this list!
Generic Painting Panels
I first tried to pour on those flimsy canvas panels that come in packs of three or five. All they did was warp. I don’t know if they were absorbing the moisture or if it was the paint contracting as it cured, but I used exactly two of these panels before I switched.
Stretched canvas can work and I do use it from time to time, but the weight of the paint can cause it to sag in the middle and then the paint just pools there. Not cool. Smaller canvases (think under 8×10) work pretty well. I especially like getting gobs of the tiny ones when they are on sale and pouring a bunch of them together as one piece. They are too small to sag and they are cheap to pour on!
3/4” Painting Panels
These were (and sometimes still are) my go-to. Some brands are better than others, but I found the Blick brand worked best for me. There was another bunch I ordered from another site and nine of the ten of them had damaged corners. They were also very poorly packed.
I’ve never had a problem with the Blick ones and I still order them if there’s a good deal on them. They are thick enough that they will not warp and they have slots in the back for hanging, so you don’t need any additional hardware to finish the piece. The only issue I have there is sometimes the painting looks better upside down and the slot is on the other end! Blick has some that have a regular cradle, so you can hang them however you want. I recommend grabbing these when they are on sale. Sometimes you can get a deal on the Blick Super Value Wood Panel Packs. These Arteza panels are pretty good, too!
Build Your Own Panels
This what I do now. I use 1/4” birch plywood and 1×2 pine boards for support. Materials-wise it’s cheaper, but it takes time to build the panels. It also requires space and tools – not something everyone has and that’s okay! If you don’t build, you don’t have to deal with the noise, the mess, and the big sigh (and light cursing) when you mess one up. What I do like about it is being able to make whatever size I want and being able to just run to the hardware store when I’m out of panels. On top of that, when I’m building I get to go to this beautiful zen place where all that matters is “measure twice, cut once” and whatever happened earlier that day doesn’t matter.
Is there something you think I should try? What are your favorite materials? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! Until next time!