Testing Pebeo's Nancy Wood Ultimate Pouring Discovery Set


Judy Csiky

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Acrylic pouring has been a growing trend in the past few years so when I heard about the new pouring set Pebeo and artist Nancy Wood created together, I couldn't wait to test it. Join me on my messy but fun journey to create something unexpected!

What is Acrylic Pouring?

Acrylic pouring is an innovative and relatively new way of creating art with acrylic paint. You can use fluid acrylics or regular heavy bodied paint with a pouring medium to achieve the fluid consistency and pour the paint directly onto the (primed) painting surface. The colours are usually prepared separately in cups (unless you are using a dedicated pouring range like Pebeo's Pouring Experiences where the colours come pre-mixed with the pouring medium) and then used in a myriad of ways. You can layer the colours in a cup then pour onto the surface in a sideways sweeping fashion. You can also turn the cup upside down and let the paint spread out as it pleases. You can pour through a colander or a funnel for unique effects and use strings, chains, palette knives and other painting tools to manipulate the paint. Some artists use the pouring technique to create dynamic landscapes and embelish their artwork with gold leaf and metallic pigments. And while there's all this complexity to acrylic pouring, it is also possible to just let go of your expectations and let the paint lead the way.

What about Cells?

One of the most interesting (but not always used) features of acrylic pouring is the formation of cells or sometimes called lace effects. You can achieve this by mixing Silicone Oil into the paint mixture and it works on the basis that oil and water repel each other. The result is surprising, unique and adds to the unpredictability of this technique.

How is the Pebeo Ultimate Pouring Medium Different from other Pouring Mediums?

Pebeo's new range is a 2 part medium consisting of the Mixing Medium for pouring and a Catalyst that helps create the lace effect. It's an innovative new formula that helps artists and beginners achieve unique and professional effects. They are sold in 250ml, 500ml and 1L sizes as well as part of the Ultimate Pouring Discovery Set I am testing in this blog post. The range was created through a collaboration with artist Nancy Wood, whose pouring art has achieved a lot of attention and acclaim. 

Testing the Nancy Wood Ultimate Pouring Medium Discovery Set

This set contains the Ultimate Pouring Mediums, 5 tubes of Pebeo Studio Acrylic Paints, a plastic palette knife, an instructions leaflet and a QR code for Nancy Wood's Pouring Masterclass (which is by the way also included with the Medium Sets). I will not talk about the Masterclass in this post, let that be a surprise if you decide to try the products.

All you need to add is your choice of support. The 250ml medium is enough to fill a 55 x 55cm area but if you are trying this for the first time or working in multiple layers, I recommend getting a smaller canvas or board to give yourself some leeway. I chose three 20 x 20cm Lawrence Protege canvases and I ended up using most of the medium.

Step 1. Preparation

First I covered my work surface (I used a large sheet of paper but bin liners, newspaper or plastic sheets will do) and I put on clothes I didn't mind getting acrylic paint on. Pouring requires space free of clutter as it can get a bit messy. Next, I elevated my canvases off the table so they wouldn't stick down. I used thick rolls of masking tapes as they nestled nicely inside the frames and left a good 5cm space underneath for the dripping paint.

Then I started preparing the pouring mixtures. I poured the medium into separate cups and added colour. The instructions leaflet recommends 85-90% Medium and 10-15% paint but I found the colour a bit too pale so I kept adding more paint until I was happy. I stirred it until I got an even mixture. Some colours like the Black and the White mixed quite evenly, however I noticed that the Turquoise separated a little so it needed much more mixing time. 

The colours contained in the set are Mars Black, Titanium White, Blue Turquoise, Oriental Violet and Yellow Ochre. I made a sixth colour by mixing the Turquoise and the Yellow Ochre. I am a big green enthusiast so naturally I wanted to see what would come out (a dark grass green). I made about twice the quantity of the colours that I wanted to use as background which was the White, the Black and the Turquoise. I left the cups to settle for about half an hour which is useful to get rid of any potential bubbles and gives more time for the paint and the medium to properly mix. I added a little water to them as they looked thicker than the optimal pouring consistency (this is also recommended by the instructions).

Step 2. Pouring the First Layer

This part is quite self-explanatory: pour some paint over the canvas and manipulate it until it gives you an even coverage. You can tilt the canvas and use a palette knife to push the paint all the way to the edges. Be sure to cover the corners. You can use your fingers to do this (but try wearing gloves for this purpose which is something that I did not do myself and regretted later). 

3. Additional Layers

While the first layer was still wet, I started adding the other colours. I did not think much about the placement of these colours but it is entirely up to you if you want a more controlled process. This is the stage where you can layer the paints in a cup, use a colander or other tools. You can also wait for the first layer to dry before you add the accent colours but be mindful of the drying of any premixed colours and only mix what you are using within the hour or so. It was a particularly hot day when I attempted it so I had to work quickly and add more water as the time passed and the mixture thickened.

4. Adding the Catalyst

This was the trickiest part to master and this was partially due to my error of not following the instructions properly. I used the remainder of the mixtures on the bottom of the cups and added the catalyst to them. The correct mixing is 50% Catalyst, 25% water and 25% paint. My mix contained a little bit of the Medium too which slightly reduced its effectiveness (my economical-mindedness backfired). I dipped the painting knife into the different coloured catalyst mixtures and spread them over the still wet paint, manipulating the surface in circles, waves and whatever came naturally. 

5. The Results

When I was finished, I left the paintings to dry for 2 days which is what Pebeo recommends. They were touch dry within a few hours but I let them cure properly before I attempted to move them. I was quite happy with the results despite my error with the Catalyst mixing. However, what I really liked was taking detail shots of areas that turned out well so these are the ones I will share here.

Above: cell formation, waves and swirls

Above: I got even more pronounced cells on these ones and I particularly liked these gorgeous turquoises & pinks that were created by the colours mixing on the canvas.

Above: Some more cell formation and colourful swirls.

Closing Thoughts

This was a fun project and a bit of a challenge as I don't usually work with acrylics. My preferred medium is watercolour where I work in meticulously planned layers so this was definitely a process that required more flexibility and letting go of control. I think this set would be ideal for someone that enjoys unpredictability and/or wants to loosen up and try something new and experiment with materials. Even though I didn't master the cell effect, I understand what I did wrong (besides, the cells still appeared, just a bit fewer than I hoped) and how I will improve on my technique when I try this again in the future. Here's what I learned/observed:

  • Use fewer colours especially when working on small scale
  • Include Black and White as they add sharpness to the painting
  • Experiment with colour combinations other than what's in the set
  • Try wet on dry pouring
  • Try pouring onto a round shaped canvas
  • Master the cell effect

Here's one more image I took of the dripping paint which I really loved.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that you got inspired to try something new. Have you tried acrylic pouring before? What techniques and tools have you used? Comment on our social media channels Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

All items mentioned in this post can be purchased through our website http://www.lawrence.co.uk or by calling us on 01273 260260.

To purchase the Nancy Wood Ultimate Pouring Discovery Set, Click here.

If you are interested in my personal work, you can find me on Instagram @judycsiky.art