Paint Pouring : Preventing Muddy Pours in Fluid Acrylic | Brenda Dunn | Skillshare

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Paint Pouring : Preventing Muddy Pours in Fluid Acrylic

teacher avatar Brenda Dunn, I make things. I also make things happen

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Welcome to Pouring Pitfalls: Colour Theory

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Colour Wheel Basics

    • 4. Picking your Palette

    • 5. Low Risk Colour Combos

    • 6. High Risk Colour Combos

    • 7. How to Test Your Palette

    • 8. Examples

    • 9. Set Up Your Workspace

    • 10. Paint Mixing

    • 11. Dirty Pour Drizzle

    • 12. Cup Flip

    • 13. Class Project

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About This Class

This is part one of my three part series on Pouring Pitfalls. We'll tackling specific issues my students shared about their fluid acrylic pours and how to handle them.

This section is all about colour choices. We run through some basic colour theory, including hue and saturation. If you'd like to dig deeper into that topic this other class is a great primer on colour theory!

We'll talk about choosing your palette and what colour combinations are at higher or lower risk of muddiness. You can also check out albums from my Fluid Acrylic workshops here and see hundreds of example pours. Check out work from other students to help you pick a palette!

We'll go through some tests you can do to check how your colour choices might interact, and then I'll go through a simple method for a three colour pour using only paint and pouring medium. No silicone or floetrol is used in this session. If you have another pouring method you like, all the principles in this workshop can be applied to palette choices. You can also check out an intro pouring workshop here.

Grab your canvas and some paints and be sure to follow my profile to check out Section 2 and 3 of this series! 

Other stuff: this class was created with the help of Board Productions who know how to kick it up a notch.The awesome artwork behind me is a mix of my own (colourful squares and purple mountain) local Ottawa artist Andrea Stokes (axe swinging girl) Unicorn creatures by my buddy Westin Church

Meet Your Teacher

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Brenda Dunn

I make things. I also make things happen


Heya! My name is Brenda Dunn and online I go by Art in Jest. I'm a full time artist and arts based facilitator in Ottawa, Canada.

I help people of all ages and skill levels exercise their creativity in every setting from classrooms to boardrooms.

I help others to be brave about making things and making things happen.
Now let’s make something awesome.

See full profile

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1. Welcome to Pouring Pitfalls: Colour Theory: Hello friends and welcome back to my Skillshare classes. My name is Brenda Dunn and I go on line by Art in Jest. Today we are going to dive into some of the pouring pitfalls that you might run into when you're trying to do fluid acrylic. I have taught hundreds of fluid acrylic workshops, and I've built three classes that tackle the specific problems that my students have told me they run into. The first of these three sessions is all about color choices and how you can get the most exciting, interesting pores and reduce the chance of Medina. If that sounds interesting to you, stick around. 2. Materials: First up, let's talk about materials. So for the purpose of this workshop, all you're going to need are some fluid acrylic paints. You can get any brand or any type that you like. We're going to talk a little bit more about fancy versus cheap paints, but for now you just need a few different color choices. You're also going to want something to pour your paint on. I have an 8 by 10 canvas. You can get really inexpensive canvases, even from places like the Dollar Store and they work great for this kind of exercise. You can actually also poor on top of old paintings. So if you're looking for a way to re-use stuff that you're not in love with. This is a great chance to do that as well. I'm also going to be using 310 fluid ounce plastic cups. If you have reusable cups, that's wonderful. It's just acrylic paints so they can be rinsed out pretty easily. Have a few of these on hand, at least three, and I've got a few different popsicle sticks just to stir and mix my paints. A couple of optional supplies to go along with those bare minimums are things like supporting medium. We'll talk more about why this matters later. But for right now, if you've gotten on hand, it's a great thing to help your paint move. I also like to use plastic gloves just so that I can switch quickly from one poor or color scheme to another. These are essential if you're in your home studio, you can always pop over to the sink and give your hands as scrap. That should be all that you need for lesson number one, color theory. 3. Colour Wheel Basics: Was building this class. I asked people who had taken my workshops before what kind of problems they were running into with their fluid acrylic. I got a really great question from Angie about what colors work together and why. In order to answer that question, we're going to tackle some really basic color theory. We're going to go through the very preliminary ideas behind the color wheel. We're going to talk a little bit about primary and tertiary colors and how your color choices might contribute to having moneyness in your poor. So in front of me I have the main paints that I'm going to be using for our workshop today. You'll notice that all of these paints are in the same bottle and that is because they are all the same type. If you have a mix of paints, that's okay too. We're going to talk a little bit about how to make them play really nicely together. But for now, what we're focused on is just the basics of the color wheel. So you'll see that I have the colors arranged kinda been Pantone order, which is the same way they would appear if they were in a rainbow. So if you blur your eyes, yellow, we'll kinda fade into green, which will kinda feed into blue, which will turn into purple, pink, red, orange, and then back again. Within this setup, we also have the primary colors are three primaries, which are blue, yellow, and red, which can be mixed to make any of the tertiary colors. So if you mix yellow and red, yellow, orange, if you mix blue and red, you get purple. And if you mix blue and yellow, you get green. Make sense so far. So when you're looking at your color wheel, a lot of times we instinctively want to choose colors that are complimentary. Complimentary colors are the ones that sit across from each other on the color wheel. So a lot of times you will very instinctively like the idea of yellow and blue together. They're very complimentary. They sit directly across from each other on the color wheel. But this can be a great way to get a beautiful palette. But we can run into problems when we mix those colors together. 4. Picking your Palette: Anytime you're choosing your colors for fluid acrylic, keep in mind, they're going to stretch really thin over top of each other on your Canvas. Part of the beauty of fluid acrylic is that we don't always have a ton of control over where our colors go. But this also means that if you took two colors, put them in a cup and stirred. If they make brown in your cup, they might make brown in your poor. A great way to test out a possible color combination and see if it has a greater risk of moneyness. To put a small amount of the colors you're thinking of into a cop. And str, if it turns into a really dull, muddy color in the cup, it doesn't mean you can't use this color combination. It just means we need to take a couple of steps to increase the chances that the colors stay nice and high contrast and separate from each other. We'll talk about techniques to do that in our next section. But for now, just keep in mind if you want to give yourself a little test, take the colors that you're considering, put them in a cup and stir. Another really great way to reduce the chance of Medina in your poor is to use white. One of the reasons why we use quite a lot in fluid acrylic is because it will play really nicely with pretty much any one of the other colors. It's not going to muddy them. If anything, it's going to make it a slightly lighter tone. And you can get some really interesting variation in your poor because of it. All of your choices of color. So what's coming straight out of the bottle? These are all choices of hue. Hue just means the actual color our eye sees when we look at our paint. The other thing that can have a big impact on whether your colors play nicely together is saturation. Saturation refers to the intensity, kind of the darkness or lightness of the color. This is a really basic skim over on color theory. If you want to do a super deep dive, I can link them resources in the project description of this course. But for now, what you want to keep an eye out for is if your colors are really close in the darkness or lightness. So if I have a couple of earth tones or a couple of darker tones in my poor. Or if I go for colors or closer to the pastel end of things, it's not that I won't get an interesting poor, it's that the colors are so similar that it's going to be a little bit harder to see. The truth is most of this just takes trial and error. So as a little introductory test, again, take the colors you're thinking of using. Put a tiny amount of them in the cup and str, if they just brighten, lighten, deeper, darken each other, you're probably in good shape. But if you've got a really muddy brown or gray color, you might run into that in your poor. The other thing that you can always do is make sure that you integrate a little bit of white just to keep things bright and simple, especially if you're using a couple of other riskier colors. And the last thing that I would suggest, especially to start out, is to stick with a three color poor. Every time you add another color, you increase the chance of those colors mixing together, desaturating each other and getting a little bit muddier. So especially in the early stages for trying out some of these techniques, try sticking to one or two colors with white maybe as a third option, or p63 just to stick to a symbol palette. This will also help you notice what impact each color choices having on your poor. Once you get up to 456 plus colors, it gets a little hard to see what's going on. 5. Low Risk Colour Combos: So let's talk about some of the color combinations that have slightly higher chances of working out. In reference to Angie's question, there are a few color choices that are a little bit easier to get great pours out of than others. I'm going to give you a few examples based on the colors that I have here. But keep in mind, every type of paint is different and every type of poor is different. So you can use this as a jumping off point, but don't hesitate to try a bunch of different colors and see what you think. And again, if you get some pores that are maybe more interesting than others, That's the beauty of fluid acrylic. So one of the things that works really well for getting some interesting pores is picking similar hues, those things that are in the blue family, but pick two different saturations. So a dark blue and a light blue. This is a great place to start because these colors are going to play really, really nicely together. Even if they're stretched thick and thin over top of each other, they're not going to muddy the other color. And again, for a third color, you can always throw in white just to get a little bit of variation. If you do this anywhere on the color wheel, when you're working with two color tones right beside each other, you're probably going to get a pretty interesting poor, especially as an easy place to start. This is a great place to try a few experimental pores. It also gives you a chance to test out your paint and see what colors work the best together. As another really easy option, try choosing things that are in a little triangle formation on the color wheel. This isn't quite as sure fire, but you can find some really exciting color combinations this way. So things like the bright magenta that I have here, either one of the blues and the yellow and the teal will all work really nicely in combination. There's a little bit of contrast. And if you stir these colors together, typically, they'll play pretty nicely. If at any point you're feeling a little bit of decision overwhelm a great base to start from is to go back the good old primaries. This is also a fantastic place to just get used to the way that colors interact. So if you want to eliminate all of that decision fatigue, go back to basics. Take your blue, your red, and your yellow as close to primary saturation and hue as you can get. And just play around with these. Keep in mind, just like in primary school, if you have the three primary colors, you have everything you need to make every other color under the sun. So if this is feeling like a lot of choices, all you have to do is go back to your primaries, start from square one and try a few poorest just with these. 6. High Risk Colour Combos: Let's talk a little bit about riskier color combinations. So say you've run through a few primary pores and you're really wanting to try some more exciting combinations. You can absolutely do that. And there are some things that we can do to try to get a really exciting for, even if your color choices are a little bit tougher to work with. So some of the things that come up a lot in fluid acrylic are really beautiful. Metallics and earth tones. Metallics are gorgeous. They can be a lot of fun to work with, but keep in mind that underneath things like gold, copper and bronze are tones of brown. Underneath things like platinum and silver are tones of gray. So when you put them into a pore, they increase the chance of moneyness and other colors. One of the things that you can do to prevent that is again, just use something really brightening and complementary, like a white and a yellow with warm tones. And if you're using cooler colors or metallics, same thing, but try white and blue as your complimentary tones. Give it a try and use the metallics a little bit sparingly at first, just so you can see the impact that it's having on your poor. It's not that you can't use metallics, they're amazing. It's just that you have to get a little bit of practice in there, making sure that they just don't D saturate all of your other colors. Some of the other combinations that can turn out beautiful but are a little bit trickier, are things like we mentioned, complimentary colors. So things like red and green, but also colors that are really close and saturation. So these two particular shades are both a little bit darker. Anything in the earth tone family gets a little bit muddier right from the beginning. So if you want to help yourself out with that, try putting a really bright vibrant color as the third option, just so that it's brightening the tone of the other two colors in your poor. And again, like always, if you want to give yourself something that's a little bit of a safer bet, try using white as your other option. Same thing, if you're using colors that would maybe make brown if they're stirred together. No problem, It can be a little bit trickier to work with, but just try a few different pores putting the painting in varying ratios. So if you want to see maybe a lot of purple tone show up in your poor. Try putting white on top of the purple in the cop, or try putting a lot of purple in and just a small amount of yellow. We'll talk a little bit more about ratios, but these are great ways that you can mitigate some of the riskier color choices. And again, a lot of it is trial and error. 7. How to Test Your Palette: So with all that said, color theory can still be a little overwhelming and it doesn't necessarily translate right away into making good color choices. So I'm gonna give you a quick exercise you can do to test drive pretty much any palette I'm going to recommend, especially to start off working with a three color palette, mainly because this just gives you fewer variables. And especially early on, the fewer variables there are, the better your chances of success. So go ahead and choose your three colors. I would recommend making one of them white. Again, especially early on. And try out this super simple palette test. What you're gonna do is take any Canvas or piece of paper and you're going to make a miniature color pyramid. This is going to replicate a little bit what the color wheel actually looks like. And it's going to let you see how your colors impact each other. So pick any one of your three colors, just make a little blob of that color at the top of your surface. And then you're gonna take color number 2. And you're going to put a little blob of that color down in one of the corners. And once you've done that, you're going to take color number 3 and you're going to put a little blob any opposite corners. So once you're done, you should have something that looks a little bit like a triangle with your three colors. What you wanna do is just blend each of your colors towards each other so that you can see how they're going to impact each other. So right now, I'm just blending together the teal on the white. And not surprisingly, all it does is lightened. The teal system says it's shocking, a revolutionary, it's just going to give me an idea of the range of tones that I might see when these two colors interact in my form. I'm going to repeat that process with the magenta. And again, in a shocking turn of events, the white is just going to lighten and brighten them a gentle little bit. So I know for sure if these two colors interact, I'm going to get some ranges in pink tones, know moneyness, nothing concerned about. The most interesting variable for this particular three color palette is how the magenta and the teal interacts. So what I'm gonna do is just work these two colors into each other. And I can see that they pretty much makes some shades of sort of a lilac purple. Now this is a great test to do with any of your color choices before you put them into your poor. Because if you see a really muddy or del, color in this little mini color wheel, odds are it's possible it will show up in your poor. If you have a section that you really don't like, try swapping it out for a different color. So if I'm really not enjoying what's happening up towards the magenta section. Maybe I pick a different color like purple and repeat the exact same test until this canvas is covered in colors that I like. This is a test that we do all the time in larger scale acrylic paintings. And there's no reason that you can't apply the exact same palette test to any of your colors schemes prior to putting them in your poor. 8. Examples: So all of that can still feel like a lot of decision-making and nothing will replace the benefit of just a lot of trial and error until you see combinations that you like. But to give you a little bit of a headstart, I'm gonna put some examples up on the screen. So over here you'll see a few examples of color combinations that stayed really vibrant and worked really well together. There's a lot of distinction and separation between the colors and you can still see all the tones really clearly. Over here. I'm going to put a few examples of colors that maybe got a little bit muddier, either because they mix together or desaturated one another. And they were just really close in tone. So it was a little bit harder to see those distinctions. I'll also link some albums from different workshops in the description for this class. If you want to see hundreds of examples of color choices that students have tried for dozens and dozens of different workshops. Go check it out. It's a great way to see how colors might impact each other without actually having to go through your paint. 9. Set Up Your Workspace: Okay, that is enough theory. Let's get our hands dirty. Speaking of getting our hands dirty, I got questions from a couple of people, fry and Cynthia both asked about how to reduce the mess so that you're more inclined to pull out your paint pours. One of the things that you can do that super simple is to cover your workstation. You can do this with a garbage bag. It can be a drop cheap. You can get plastic tablecloths that you can reuse over and over. But what you wanna do is protect the surface that you're working on because pores do get messy pretty quickly. The other thing that you can do, if you want to give a little added insurance that you're going to be able to contain. The paint is rather tray that's a little bit larger than the size of your Canvas. I like to get these tinfoil baking trays that they have at dollar stores, baking stores, they're not particularly expensive and they're a great way to make sure that the runoff ends up in your tray instead of on your floor. The other thing that you can do is take little cups, little smaller cups or boosters or anything that will just elevate your canvas. And what you're gonna do is set it into your tray so that when you're finished, you're poor. You can rest your canvas so that it's elevated. This means that all of the runoff is going to go off your canvas, but it's not going to stick it to the surface that you're working on. Any combination of these is going to help you reduce the mess in your space or your studio. And that's going to make you more likely to want to pull this stuff out and play around. The other thing that I'll often do, especially when I'm switching between different pores, is use gloves. Now, these are not the most environmentally friendly option, I'll admit. So if you're working in a home studio and you have a sink nearby and you can just give your hands a bit of a wash. That works too. You can also get just dish gloves, things that are going to fit, and just be a little bit principle after you're finished. For the purpose of this exercise, we are just going to swap between gloves. But again, keep in mind you don't have to do that. For just a step-by-step on fluid acrylic itself. There are a lot of really amazing tutorials out here. I'm going to quickly run through a method that I like to use that we're going to circle back to a few times that helps with things like getting the right consistency in your paint, increasing the chances of cells, things like that. But keep in mind there are a ton of methods out there and there are lots of amazing mixed media artists doing really in depth step-by-step tutorials. I'm gonna give you the format that we'll be using for our class project today. But don't hesitate to try out as many different approaches as you like. You will find one that works for you. They are not right or wrong. They're just a lot of different ways to do the same thing. 10. Paint Mixing: Okay, So for a demonstration, I'm going to go through a really sure fire color combination just to demonstrate some of the principles of color theory that we've been talking about. So you can see that the two colors that I've picked are the teal and magenta. The teal is a little bit more pastel and the magenta has a really nice bright saturation. These two usually work really well together. There's a lot of contrast, but when they stretch over one another, they tend to make a really nice kind of purpley tone. So that's going to work super well. As my third color, I'm using just to wait because this is the most sure-fire with any color combination. So to illustrate that we're going to stick with the basics. I am also going to use a little bit of this medium and each color. And we're going to return to the ratios and how to mix the paint in our next section. But for now we're just going to focus on the color principles. And as we go through this, I'm going to throw up some more examples on the screen of color combos that are pretty low-risk, pretty sure fire. And again, really it's just trial and error. So what I wanna do is take maybe a couple of tablespoons of paint and it's already fluid acrylics, so it has a pretty nice flow to it. But just to make sure that I have lots and lots of movement, I'm going to dump a healthy couple of tablespoons of medium into each color as well. And then I'm gonna take my little stir stick and I'm going to vigorously mix my color until I have completely gotten rid of all trace of the medium. In our paint handling section. In the next workshop, we're going to talk a little bit more about the impact of this particular type of mixing. But for now, all I want to do is make sure that all of the medium is completely integrated into the paint so there shouldn't be any visible streaks of white. None of it should look like glue. All of it should be completely mixed. And I'm going to repeat that step for all three colors. 11. Dirty Pour Drizzle: After I've taken a healthy couple of tablespoons of my medium of choice, and I've mixed all three colors really vigorously so that they have a nice even consistency. I'm going to go ahead and do a really straightforward, dirty, poor and a dirty pour if you're not familiar, just means that we're going to put all three colors into the same cup. Now, one of the questions that I get a lot that we're going to come back to is the inquiry about whether or not putting colors in different orders and the cop makes the difference? And the answer is probably not, even though we really, really want it to matter. Usually it's just up to chance. But if you're in the experimentation phase, I'd encourage you to take some smaller cups and put your colors into three smaller cups in different orders and just do a couple of mini cup flips with different order colors just to see the impact that it has. It's a great experiment and it's super fun to do. So what I'm gonna do is take my white and I'm just going to set that cut down and I'm going to drizzle color number to my teal into the white. And again, we'll dig a little bit more into paint handling and how to integrate all three colors. But for now, the part that matters is that I have quite a bit of weight in this poor, so that when my really nice high contrast teal and magenta go in there, there's lots of lightness for both of those colors to bounce off of. That's going to help make all of the variation in this war really, really visible. It's going to help prevent that moneyness that some folks were saying they were struggling with. So I've got all three colors in one cup. And for this poor, we're actually going to skip the silicone completely. We're not going to worry too much about encouraging cells. We're just going to focus on the color contrast. So I've got all three colors. One carbon, you can actually see if you look at the cough, there's a really clear definition between the three colors. If you drizzle a thin line of paints that are just dumping them into each other. That's going to help a lot with keeping your colors a little bit separated. And when you flip your cough, you're going to get a little bit more of a clear distinction again, that's going to help prevent Medina. Yes. So when you're pouring, make sure that you hold your cup from a little bit of a height. Try to drizzle a thin line of paint into the cup just so that you get, ideally this kinda like ice cream split in your cup. It's very pretty. 12. Cup Flip: What are you gonna do? Very straight forward. I'm just going to flip my canvas over. And I'm going to take my little cup and I'm going to turn the whole thing upside-down. And for that mess prevention that Fry and Cynthia were asking about, we're going to keep the whole thing on these little cups and in this little tray so that nothing escapes your guts on the work surface. And just for an added measure, I still have this drop Sheet. And then I'm going to tap really gently on the butt of this cup. I'm doing this really gently because I want to move the paint from the bottom of the cup onto the canvas. But again, to encourage separation between colors and prevent Medina. I wanna do this really gently and gradually. If I'm really rough with this or I ran on the back of the cop, it's going to all dumped down and it's just more likely that your paint will mix in that process. So take a couple minutes, tap on the boat at the cup, seeing yourself a little song, take a little time doing nursery rhyme through the alphabet twice. Whenever you go, do just keep tapping on the butt of the path. Okay? So I'm going to pick up the cup and I'm going to try to pick it up and pull it straight up from the center. The next thing that's going to help a little bit with color distinction is to avoid tipping or tilting the canvas right away. So I take my little cup, hold straight up and I'm just going to wait for a minute, squeeze the cup and let all of that GUI goodness come out and splatter onto the canvas. And because it's dripping from the cup into that beautiful blob of paint, you're actually going to get a lot of really cool color distinction because a dropping from different points. And this is another way to get some really cool effects. And you're poor. You can squeeze it, you can shake it. You can just hang out here for a little minute, but give yourself a second to let your cup ideally stop dripping before you do anything to the Canvas. So I'm going to try to be patient with this. We're going to hang out, we're going to let it drip. And when it stops, eventually slowly but surely in a flip this upside down and set it aside. Now, the hardest part about fluid acrylic is how much we want to play with it. And the biggest danger to your poor having lots of interesting distinctions is over tilting. So when you're working on canvases especially early on, it can be really tempting to try to overwork the piece that you're on. So one of the things that I'll recommend, especially in the early stages, is have three or four of these going at the same time, do a bunch of pores, fill a bunch of cops, and have a few in quick succession so that you don't end up overworking the piece that you're sitting with. It can be incredibly tempting because it's super satisfying and fun. But the more we roll the paint around on the canvas, the more we're actually encouraging it to mix and that can contribute to Medina, yes. So what I'm gonna do is pick up my canvas and I'm going to start to tip until and shift this body of paint around just enough to cover the canvas. And I'm going to try to do this as quickly as I can without letting any of the corners go completely naked. Now some mixed me artists really like to leave some corners exposed. They like to see the path that the paint took and lots artist's choice, if you're into that effect, go for it. But as you can see, you should have lots and lots of paint. It's kind of a supplies Greedy Activity. So make sure that you've got a lot mixed and just tip and tilt and stretch until you've got your Canvas majority covered when you're happy with how it looks and you have some of the fun stuff in the center. Ideally, you should see we have some really great, really clear distinctions between that teal. You can see the magenta kind of peeking through the bottom and anywhere that the paint has mixed. Instead of getting moneyness, we tend to get a really beautiful purple color because it turns out that teal and magenta, we'll kinda just make a lavender color, which is awesome. When you're happy with how your Canvas looks, you can set it down on your handy-dandy cups and just run your fingers along the corners so that you get rid of any little excess drips. And then you're gonna give your painting a little minute to settle in. Well at all the little bubbles pop. And that is all you gotta do to get a really beautiful, exciting high contrast. Many, many cells, kinda poor fun, right? 13. Class Project: So for your project description, try doing a three color poor. And if you want to choose one of the examples of really successful color combos, you absolutely can. This is a great place to start. But I would also encourage you, just for experimentation, to try some of the riskier combinations as well, just so that you can see what affect those choices are having. Because this is a project that is a little bit greedy on supplies and materials. Use whatever pouring method you're comfortable with. If you want to follow along with what I've done, you can. But if there's another fluid acrylics, 100 ones that you really want to go with. That's totally fine as well. The point of this project is to test the difference between a high-risk color combination and a sure-fire color combination. In our next session, we're going to be looking a little bit more at paint handling and methods. So feel free to stick around for that other than that, thanks so much for joining me. And when you're finished, make sure to put your project in the project section of the class. I would love to see what you did. Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you guys in the next 15 runs.