How to prepare acrylic paint for dripping technique

Reader Question: How do I create the right consistency for dripping acrylic paint? Do I use an acrylic medium or just water?

If you want to do a dripping technique with acrylic paint, I would recommend using an acrylic medium to create the right consistency to drip the paint. Technically you could use water as well, so I'll address that also, even though it's probably not the best method. It depends on how "drippy" you want your paint to be, and how much of it you plan to drip.

The thing to keep in mind about diluting your acrylic paint with water is that if the paint is diluted too much, the binder breaks down, which means that the paint is unable to stick to the surface (canvas, wood, etc) in a stable, reliable manner. Plus, if the paint is overly diluted with water, the color loses its strength. The paint takes on a more watercolor-y feel.

I would only recommend using water to dilute the paint if you plan to just drip a little bit of paint, and also if you don't mind that the color is largely washed out. If you need to drip a lot of paint, then use an acrylic medium to ensure the stability, and color strength, of the paint.

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To do an acrylic dripping technique, it's best to use fluid acrylics, because they require much less dilution than heavy body or even soft body acrylics.

Liquitex Fluid Acrylics for Dripping Technique

If you want to achieve smooth drips with strong color, use an acrylic medium like Liquitex Pouring Medium. You can read more about Liquitex Pouring Medium, and how to use it, here (clicking this link will prompt you to download the Liquitex brochure on their pouring medium). This is your best bet for nice, strong drips of acrylic paint.

To create thinner drips, you could try diluting your paint with a medium such as Liquitex Flow-Aid Fluid Additive or Golden Acrylic Flow Release. These acrylic mediums make the paint more fluid, making it easier to create drips, but the result is more like a watercolor-type stain that soaks onto the surface (be it canvas, wood, paper, etc).

So in short:

  • For strong, bold drips, mix your fluid acrylics with Liquitex Pouring Medium.

  • For thin, watercolory drips, mix your fluid acrylics Liquitex Flow-Aid Fluid Additive or Golden Acrylic Flow Release.

  • For experimentation, or for creating a few drips, you can dilute your acrylics with water, but be aware that the mediums listed above will produce better results, depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Hope that helps and Happy Dripping!