Jackie Cortina: In the Acrylic Pouring Business, Just Go With the Flow

Not many artists can say they have no idea what their painting is going to look like by the time it’s finished, but for Jackie Cortina, that’s all part of the fun.

Cortina specializes in acrylic pouring, a free-flowing technique that simply requires pouring paint directly on canvas— no paint brush necessary. She discovered the art form this past summer and has since set up Acrylic Pour Amour, a business dedicated to selling her works with her hometown friend, Amanda Marconi.

Jackie Cortina '20 prepares to pour a mix onto the canvas.

At the beginning of the summer, the girls had no plans to start a business— creating the acrylic pours was a relaxing hobby that they discovered by chance.

“My friend was like, ‘Let’s do acrylic pours tonight,’ and I was like, ‘Okay,” Cortina said. “Ever since, we were hooked.”

When she and Marconi were left with a surplus of paintings and a shortage of supplies, they began to sell the paintings as a way to continue the craft.

“We ended up with around thirty paintings in my basement and we couldn’t afford materials anymore,” Cortina said. “We wanted to keep doing it, but between canvas, paint, and medium, it was ridiculous. And I didn’t have room to hang all thirty paintings.”

Since officially starting the business at the end of July, their Instagram has grown to over four hundred followers.

As a senior at UMass, majoring in journalism and BDIC in marketing communications, Cortina has learned to market the business and apply the skills she’s learned in the classroom to the real world.

“We have to run our Instagram and market our paintings, and since I have a marketing aspect to my degree, it’s been awesome to put that to work,” she said.

While Cortina and Marconi worked more closely on creating the pieces while they were home in Connecticut this summer, Marconi is a student at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, so their separation allows them to expand the business to their respective areas. However, Cortina says working together has made them closer.

“Now that we’re doing this, we stay in touch so much more. We have to talk way more,” she said. “I went to New York two weekends ago so I could do a two foot by four foot piece with her, because there was no way she could do that by herself. It was the biggest piece we’ve ever done. But I miss painting with her here— it's different doing it on my own.”

A portion of the 2' x 4' piece Cortina and Marconi worked on for a client. From start to finish, the pieces can take up to three weeks to completely dry. (Courtesy of Jackie Cortina, @acrylicamour)

Running the business has been a learning curve overall, from learning to communicate with clients to creating the paintings themselves.

“I feel like when I first started this, it was not a science at all,” Cortina recalled. “It's crazy to think, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was giving no thought to how I was doing it.”

With experience, she’s learned small tricks of the trade, from the impact that different paint-to-medium ratios can have to using pouring styles to create different effects from the paint.

Still, the acrylic has a mind of its own as soon as it hits the canvas, and Cortina likes the unexpectedness of the final product.

“They come out so different every time,” she said. “With different pours, you know more or less what it could look like, but I really like that I never know what I’m going to get. I have to make sure the canvas is really level, because paint will keep falling and I’ll come back an hour later and see it doesn’t look anything like when I first poured it.”

The biggest change from bringing her business to Amherst is the change in space. While Cortina was able to have a studio at home, she now runs her business from the corner of her bedroom and has considerably less room to work.

“At home, my dad has this huge basement and I had a huge table I could work on,” she said. “Here, I can really only dry three paintings at a time. I could try to layer paper and dry them on the other side of my room, but I get dressed on that side of the room. I don’t want fiber from my sweater or hair falling off my head to get onto them and dry like that. It’s safer over here.”

Going forward, Cortina hopes to continue to market herself to UMass students and keep the business going after graduation.

“I would love to continue with this, especially if I’m home and can set up our little studio again,” she said.

Cortina is mostly thankful for the fact her hobby has turned into a job.

“It’s such a stress reliever- it started out as something we’d do at the end of the day after work, and it was so relaxing,” she said. “It’s awesome that it’s turned into a business, and it wasn’t even planned.”

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