I have been asked a few times about using Tempera paint as a substitute for acrylic pouring.  As far as I can recall I had a grandmother asking if it was possible to use this type of paint so she could show her grandchildren.  First I have to say it is awesome showing kids how to make brave art.  Children have no interest in selling their art and do this for themselves and not for “Likes.”  In some ways, it is much like intuitive painting.  If only we could all go through life with childlike faith, childlike curiosity and childlike love.

Since this is really for kids and not intended to be archival, I used tempura paints and regular school glue.  Both are washable and safe to handle.  Tempera paint is not much different from acrylic except it uses calcium carbonate as a binder and does not dry into plastic.  Calcium Carbonate is pretty much found in eggs, snail shells and various other organic minerals.  It is sometimes referred to as Egg Tempera and was used long before acrylics.  There are some permanent tempera paints, but I am using a student grade tempera from Chroma.  Chroma has a bunch of different types and recently came out with a Kids Chroma Tempera specifically for schools and kids.

What I found is that these act similar to the craft style paints.  Of course, the school glue is thicker and does not have a long-term archival property, but again, this is for fun and not for sale.  Based on the number of different types of tempera paints available I am sure you could get different results, but I hope you give this a try with a little one in your life!  So get your kids, get your paints and get your wet towels because this is tons of fun!

Here is the recipe I used.  (Please note, this is not exact, and I encourage you to experiment beyond just a recipe).

  • 1 part Paint
  • 1 part School Glue
  • A splash of alcohol
  • A splash of water

The alcohol will help with making cells and the water will help thin everything down some.  Once you get it the right constancy your can do a swipe, pour whatever you like.  Keep in mind, the Chroma Tempera paints actually use pigment so specific gravity does make a difference.

Here are the products that were used: