Swipe Technique

The swipe technique in fluid acrylics is another method of spreading the paint that can give really good results and quite often produce great cells with an additive like Floetrol. It does give a slightly different look to the painting than if you do a cup pour as the patterns do not form quite so naturally than if you tilt the canvas.

The method involves applying the paint to the canvas – often in the same way that you might do otherwise, for example using a pour from a cup or actually pouring the paint onto the canvas separately. Ideally when you put the paint on the canvas, try and put more paint on the end you are going to swipe from so that the paint carries over the other end of the canvas.

You can then add a swipe colour which might be white or black to one end of the canvas and swipe the paint from that end.

Once the paint is on the canvas, you can use your own choice of tool to swipe lightly across the top of the paint so that it just moves the top layer and exposes the paint underneath. Don’t go too deep into the paint – it’s almost like you are brushing it but with a smooth tool.

To do the swipe choose something that is flexible and not rigid as it is likely that if you use a rigid tool like a ruler you will miss out bits of the painting where the paint is lower. You could use a piece of kitchen towel or even paper. Ideally it is as long as the painting is wide so that you can do the whole thing in one swipe but this is often not possible if the canvas is large. I have an icing spreader that I use if I want to do multiple swipes in one painting, for example in my wave paintings.

You can swipe the paint more than once and even add more paint in between. Do be a bit patient between swipes as cells may take a few minutes to appear on the painting.

You can swipe using all the usual additives. Add your usual pouring medium, and silicone of course gives you some good cells and can actually work even better when you use the swipe method as you are encouraging the paint to come through the different layers. Check out the products page for information on buying the various items.

One of the best proponents of the swipe method in fluid acrylic painting is Caren Goodrich and she has a number of videos showing this technique. The video below is one of her most popular ones with over a million views and the painting ends up with really lovely cells just using some basic primary colours.

Sometimes it is better to use primaries as you can otherwise end up with a bit of a muddy mess.

Here is a quick video that I did while I was creating a swipe painting, it comes up with a slightly different result but you can see that you can just use a bit of old wood to do the swipe so you don’t particularly need a special tool to try the swipe method.