The SheleeArt Bloom Technique is an advanced acrylic pouring technique that creates a captivating effect called "Lacing." Developed by Australian artist Shelee Carruthers, the technique is as popular as it is tricky to perfectly execute.
The technique involves the use of three distinct layers, known as the Pillow, the Color Puddle, and the Cell Activator. They go in that order, and they cascade in consistency from thick to thin. The cell activator is blown out from the center, and it sinks into the colors in a pattern. This pattern is called Lacing. Once happy with the composition, the painting can be spun or tilted to expand the patterns to cover the canvas.
There's a common misconception we should clear up right away, though. There are two techniques that you might see referred to as a "bloom." Dutch artist Rinske Douna does a variation of her Dutch Pour technique where she puts a puddle in the center and blows it outwards to look like a flower using a hair dryer. This "Dutch Bloom" is no different from her usual Dutch Pour in terms of consistency or recipe, but that's where the similarities end.
In the SheleeArt bloom, the first major difference is we're on the complete opposite side of the paint consistency spectrum. This technique uses the thickest consistency you can possibly use, while the Dutch Pour is the thinnest. Beyond that, the patterns are different, the materials are different, and the recipes are all different.
Get started with the Acrylic Pouring for Beginners Online Course and learn all my tips and tricks!
The Layers of the Bloom Technique Painting
The base of a Bloom is called a Pillow. It differs from traditional bases in other techniques in that it is thicker than the colors that go on top, and it is made with house paint, not standard acrylic paints. It serves the same purpose as a base, in that it helps the colors on top glide and expand. This is the thickest layer in terms of consistency.
The Color Puddle
This is where things get tricky. At the stage where you mix your colors, you will be working with a homemade pouring medium. This pouring medium is made from untinted house paint (as in the base form of house paint before they add and mix colorant) and polyurethane varnish. Popular options are the Deep Base 8300 from Behr and Jo Sonja gloss varnish. This mixture is then used as a pouring medium, where you can add acrylic paint or mica pigments to create your color puddle. All of your colors should be the same consistency. This layer should be thinner than the pillow.
Before we go any further, I know you're confused about the untinted house paint. You need to go to a paint store or hardware store where you can choose from a catalog of colors, and it is mixed for you on the spot. You will ask for the base they use to mix the darkest colors. This is called neutral, untinted, base 3, or base C.
The Cell Activator
The highlight of the SheleeArt Bloom Technique is the third layer, known as the cell activator. This is a specific recipe created by Shelee to create the Lacing effect. The cell activator consists of Australian Floetrol and high-quality pigment paint like Amsterdam. It is carefully applied on top of the color puddle layer and blown out to create the captivating webbing and lacing effects that are characteristic of this technique.
How does the Cell Activator work? I've explored the science behind how Lacing works, known as the Rayleigh-Taylor Instability, in a separate post about All The Ways to Make Cells.
The Bloom Technique Materials
Pillow: You want an eggshell or satin sheen latex/acrylic house paint. In the US, many brands require the paint can to sit open for a day to thicken. Elsewhere in the world, if the house paint is thick like a paste, some thinning will be required.
Color Puddle: A water-based enamel untinted paint OR an acrylic untinted paint mixed with a water-based polyurethane gloss varnish. This creates the pouring medium that you mix your colors with.
Cell Activator: Australian Floetrol and Amsterdam paint.
Spinning Table: To expand the patterns created by blowing out the cell activator.
Note: be very careful NOT to purchase any oil-based enamel or polyurethane. All of our materials are milky white to clear. If anything is amber-colored, avoid it.
If you're interested in learning the SheleeArt Bloom Technique, the best possible place to do so is with the artist herself! Shelee offers an online course where she provides detailed instruction, guidance, and support. The course covers the materials with recommendations in several countries, over 3 hours of demonstration and tutorial videos and troubleshooting, as well as access to an exclusive group for its members.
They were kind enough to offer me a discount code for anyone looking to take the SheleeArt course!
at checkout for 15% off!