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The Cell Poking Technique AKA Chameleon Pour

A chameleon pour painting in white, black, yellow, and pink with the text "How to Poke Cells"

One of the surprisingly fun ways of creating cells in a pour painting is by using a pin and silicone oil to directly poke cells into paintings. With cell poking, individual droplets of silicone oil are placed onto the surface of the paint, and if certain conditions are met, a beautiful round cell will appear in its place.

In this article, I'm going to help you understand how to pull off this technique. When done in a certain way that covers the whole canvas in cells, it's often referred to as the Chameleon Pour technique. But there's nothing stopping you from using this same method to create whatever composition you like.

This technique uses the standard list of recommended materials, so nothing extra is required (besides a pin or toothpick!)

Silicone oil is a hydrophobic material, meaning it does not absorb water or mix with water. It is also clear-colored, so when a droplet displaces paint, what the silicone oil does is it creates a window to what's beneath it.


Cell Poking Recipe

A chameleon pour painting with a spiral pattern

I like to use a recipe of 2.5 or 3 parts of pouring medium to 1 part of paint. Finding the right balance here (depending on how runny your pouring medium is) will give you the nicest balance of movement and cell development.

You can experiment with different tools to poke the cells. Some fun things to try are combs, catalyst wedges, and toothpicks.

A chameleon pour painting with cells covering the whole painting

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