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Painting Spills and Aha’s – Recipes for Creative Play.

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Spills – A Recipe for Joyful Disaster

Nutritional information:  This project for family and friends is a great way to get past the paralyzing perfectionism that can happen when you show up to ‘creating.’  Enjoying the process and letting go the outcome makes this a freeing and fun event. Be sure to remind yourself and others that the paintings have potential to be really ‘bad’ and that’s not just okay, it’s wonderful.


  •  One canvas (or more) per person. Canvases are available inexpensively at local dollar stores.
  •  Any and all paint you already have:  House paint, tempera paint, spray paint.
  •  Painting ‘tools’: Brushes, sticks, spray bottles, branches or whatever tickles your imagination.
  •  Paint balloons: Fun, but if the messiness of making them stops you from doing this, then don’t include these.
    To make paint balloons: Using a funnel to fill a pop bottle with paint. Blow up a balloon and quickly place it over the top of the bottle.  Tip bottle to fill balloon, remove balloon and tie it shut.


  • Set canvases side by side outside on the ground or against a fence. Use a tarp if you are concerned about paint damaging the area.
  • Everyone starts throwing paint on ALL canvases using balloons, paint dipped branches and brushes, spray bottles, or simply pour and drip from the paint containers.
  • When everyone has laughed enough and tossed enough, have people stand beside their favourite. It’s surprising how this can evolve without a fight.  Each person then plays with their canvas to enhance it. Feel free to paint with leaves, branches, sticks or whatever is nearby.
  • Let paintings dry then 1. store in the shed if really ugly.  2. use them again for the next spills event or 3. sometimes these paintings are amazing. Have each person decide what they would like to do with their creation.

Aha Painting Recipe

Nutritional Information:  A very freeing painting event that encourages imagination, intuition, perceptive skills and storytelling in addition to all the other benefits of creative play.


  • Yupo paper – available at The Art Store or Opus in pads or sheets.
  • Watercolour paint – any kind works. Higher quality watercolours work best but are not necessary.
  • Brushes
  • Plastic Wrap – Saran Wrap or Costco brands work best.


  • Paint or pour watercolour paints onto yupo paper in ‘splotches.’  Deeper, brighter and more opaque colouring works best.  (ie: colours that don’t appear faded or overly translucent)
  • If you are inclined to paint an ‘image,’ do not fuss too much as it will change quite drastically by the time you are done.
  • Before the paint dries, take sheets of plastic wrap and lay over top of the entire painting.  You can use more than one sheet if necessary.
  • You can leave the sheets exactly as they land, or manipulate the plastic a bit to ‘move paint’ underneath.
  • Be careful not to overdo this movement or colours may mix and become muddy.  (This is perfectly fine if you like muddy!)
  • Leave the plastic sheets on the painting for 24 hours or more.  Paint must be dry before removing the plastic wrap. No peeking!  Even after 24 hours, lift a corner to make sure paint has dried.
  • Remove plastic wrap and AHA! You have an intriguing landscape of patterns and colours.  Have everyone look closely from all angles at the paintings. What do you see?  Do you see flowers? dragons? faeries? people?   What does the entire painting look like?  Can you make a story up about the images you see?

To use this technique intuitively: Before beginning your painting, ask a question that you would like an answer to.  When the painting is complete and you’ve removed the plastic wrap, see if there is an answer to that question hidden within the painting.

Article by Janet L. Whitehead

© 2012       Originally published in Kamloops Momma Magazine  June 2012



About Janet

Artist/writer with a tall ship and mystical twist, Certified Professional Life Coach (ICA), Master Creativity Coach (KMCC), Curator/owner of Writerly Kits, workshop leader and creativity group facilitator trainer. Outdoor enthusiast and Tall Ship sailor. Been through breast cancer and found her own tools of play, lightness, creativity, nature, thinking differently and visualization assisted healing through and after treatments. Ever ever so grateful for all the wondrous people she is surrounded by.

3 responses »

  1. Oh I love that, It looks like a dragon trying to hide amongst the stained glass.

  2. Pingback: Still exploding – The Right Side 2 | Life at no fixed abode

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