Pinterest Challenge: Homemade Paint

I recently saw this on Facebook, and later found it on Pinterest. Perhaps you’ve seen it too.

I love the idea of being able to inexpensively supply my kids with art supplies, and my son loves to mix, cook and experiment so this was an activity that HAD to happen.

We mixed up a full batch, waiting to mix in the food colors until we had divided it into four different containers.


We found that the paint was super gritty, and additional stirring didn’t seem to help.


I took the kids outside to paint on some cardboard…


And a tree…


and my sensory-seeking son couldn’t resist the urge to go all out with the body paint.


And while it was good, messy, non-toxic fun, the paint really didn’t adhere very well to much of anything, remaining grainy and pasty.


After giving the kids a good bath I began to wonder if perhaps cooking the paint might make it smoother. After all, play dough has a quite a bit of salt in it but isn’t gritty.

So back to the kitchen for a quick half-batch to test out my theory…


I found that when cooking it the ratio of water to the other ingredients goes way up. Sorry, I didn’t measure; I just kept adding water as the mixture kept clumping and coming together like play dough.

It felt like the salt was dissolving but I had a lumpy mess, so I put it in the Magic Bullet with some additional water.


The result? A nice smooth white paint base.


Mix in the colors…


and give it a try on Eli’s easel paper.


Two thumbs up!

Next time I will use more food colors for darker paints. I learned long ago when working in a preschool to mix dish soap in with kids paint. It helps any accidents to wash out of clothing better.

So while I really like the idea of using old ketchup bottles to store this paint, the original post won’t give you a paint worth storing. With added water, cooking and blending though you can get a paint that will save you money on your kids’ art supplies.


Homemade Finger Paints

On one of my Pinterest boards I have this recipe from Raising 4 Princesses. Given Eli’s recent interest in painting it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. After being disappointed by the set of natural food colors I went ahead and picked up a pack of conventional food colors for this project. There are other interesting finger paint recipes out there, but I wanted one that while still non-toxic would definitely not taste good as I don’t go to great lengths reading every label known to man only to serve up a heaping dose of artificial coloring to Eli in the tempting form of delicious art supplies.

With no further ado, here we go. You won’t believe how crazy quick and easy this is!


2 T. sugar

1/3 c cornstarch

2 c. water

Boil until it forms a gel. It doesn’t take long at all. It will look like this (except it will still be in your pan.)

Add 1/4 c. liquid soap

Not only does it now taste bad but it is washable too!

Divide into separate containers. Add a few squirts of food coloring.

After this test I did add a little more dye to the green paint.

Stir, et viola… cheap, easy and washable finger paint!

If you click through on the link to my source for this recipe you will see that she let her kids go crazy with this stuff outdoors all over a bed sheet. Amazingly, she found that it all washed off afterwards with a hose!

Before giving this a go I decided to do a test on the dishtowel I’d already splattered a bit while making the paint. (Adult sounding excuse… but really I couldn’t keep my own fingers out of it. This stuff just begs to be smeared!)

After washing the paint off the towel under the tap I was still left with a pink stain. Perhaps with a stain treatment and a proper laundering this will come out. Even so I added a bit more soap to the container of red paint. Red is the one you’d want to taste particularly bad anyway! (If only I had some essential oil of something Eli would find truly revolting, like lettuce, avocado or cantaloup… but actually I don’t have much of a problem with him putting non-food items in his mouth anymore.)

The first time I let Eli have a go with these paints he didn’t want to touch them at all and practically had a meltdown demanding a brush. I gave him the brush , of course, as I certainly don’t want painting to become some form of chore or torture, but it really did defeat the purpose of it becoming a sensory  activity. I have noticed a growing sensitivity to having messy hands with Eli. To address this I will be bringing more of these gloppy sorts of activities into his sensory diet.

So Mama got to scheming… A few days later I asked Eli if he would like to go outside, and paint, with his FEET! The suggestion was greeted with a “Yay!” by a toddler who had never before been in such a hurry to change his clothes.

I decided to just use a large sheet of paper instead of trying out the bed sheet painting activity. I was just not in the mood to create more laundry today.

As our sidewalk is on a bit of an incline and the paint is somewhat slippery I think doing foot painting on a textured piece of cloth may be a bit safer.

After a while a nervous Mama suggested he squat down and try using his hands. By now he didn’t think twice about not wanting to touch the paint, although he did then keep asking me to wipe his hands off. I just showed him how to try to wipe it off himself using the paper. We made some progress with his tolerating the feeling of the paint on his hands, but he soon decided he was done.

Clean up is always great fun when it involves a hose, especially when there are bubbles involved!

The Genesis of a New Obsession?

The other day I decided it was high time I get Eli involved in some painting activities. He has done a little bit of painting at school, but it didn’t seem to make much of an impression on him. I picked up some chunky paint brushes and some watercolors in preparation.

I’m not sure how he did it, but he managed to reach way into the fenced off sewing are (a.k.a dining room) and snagged the brushes off of the ironing board where I had placed them when unloading the bag from the store.

I have no idea what happened to the watercolors. Perhaps we have an out-of-season leprechaun problem? I’m sure they will show up eventually as I bought two sets on separate shopping trips. In the meantime Eli was beside himself needing to paint RIGHT NOW!

Luckily, I had a set of acrylic poster paints in the house. I mixed a glob of green and another of blue into small dishes of water. Eli, paper and paint came together in his high chair.

He was entranced! I love the expression of serious focus and concentration he gets on his face while painting. You can tell this is serious work and not some frivolous game to him! We will have to work on the concept that a picture can be “done” while unused paint still remains. Either that or I just have to offer less paint for a while. When he had finished there was a beautiful but very sloshy lake of paint in the middle of his paper.

Another use for the abundance of D.A.R.E. shirts I’ve been blessed with.

The next morning my boy, who normally will sleep at least until 8 a.m. and often until 9:30 if we don’t have anywhere to go in the morning, was up at 5:30! He cut his wake-up nursing session drastically short (which NEVER happens) and grabbed his paint brushes. He made it clear that it was imperative he get started immediately, and no time to waste!

I gave him back the dried painting from the day before and some yellow paint. This time I didn’t thin the paint and I gave him one of my thinner paintbrushes. Once again  he worked away with incredible focus and concentration. (This is the child who could not sit down for more than 30 seconds ever or remain with one activity longer than 2 minutes just 6 months ago!)


I’m thrilled Eli loves painting. Fine Art was my major in college. After much dabbling in many different mediums I focused on painting for my senior show. I haven’t done a lot of painting since those days but the love is still there.

Going forward… I need to make an easel for Eli. I would love for him to have the ability to go and begin to paint independently. Of course, there will be a fair amount of supervision and practice of expected behavior leading up to that. You know, small considerations such as using a smock and loaded paintbrushes staying in the painting area!

Our highchair painting extravaganza has left us with a very stained highchair tray. The sun, which does a great job of quickly bleaching out food stains, doesn’t begin to touch these! I rarely use chlorine bleach but perhaps I’ll have to now. Maybe you have a different suggestion?

I also need to lay in a supply of non-toxic paint. I wasn’t completely comfortable with letting him use the acrylic poster paints that are not meant for toddlers. I am learning that in the Waldorf tradition, high quality art materials are used. Cheap children’s materials (think Rose Art brand crayons) can frustrate and turn kids off. Eli is too young now to care if his paint brush sheds a bristle now and then into his work, but I remember as a child being upset by that happening. And just as children tend to take better care of their toys when they have fewer, higher quality toys, the same applies to the judicious use and care of art supplies. Honestly though, at this stage I think the main concern is safety. When Eli reaches the stage of greater intentionality in what he is trying to create the quality will be a greater factor of consideration for me. Right now he seems to be driven more by the joy of the process.

I’m not sure about the expense of using the “good stuff”.  I would like to encourage Eli to be free to create and experiment to his heart’s content and not feel like I have to ration supplies that are too precious. I’m also wary of the attitude that one needs to buy only “approved” materials from Waldorf suppliers. But the jury is still out as I haven’t yet had the time to do my research. I’m sure I’m not the first parent with this concern. I’m off to find out how other families have  provided eco-friendly, non-toxic, good quality art supplies for their budding Rembrandts without breaking the bank. If you have any ideas to share please leave a comment.

Mama’s got some readin’ to do.

Thanks for stopping by!


Roadkill Rescue: Painted Chair

English: Cemetery in . Français : Cimetière à ...

Image via Wikipedia

I grew up next to a cemetery. Although most people would consider that all sorts of creepy, I liked it. It was an old cemetery with stones dating back to the early 1800’s, some perhaps even earlier if they had still been legible. It was a great place to ride bikes, play hide and go seek, or climb the larger monuments. One of the best things to my 9 year old point of view though was that the cemetery was less than environmentally responsible. They dumped the trash unceremoniously over the bank at the back of the property into the woods where we played. And that is where I developed what to many is the unsavory habit of garbage picking. I know it drove my mom nuts when I was continually dragging home bedraggled silk flowers and plastic flower pots.

A typical dumpster in Sunnyvale, California.

Image via Wikipedia

Some bad habits you don’t out grow. I still can’t bear to see usable items sitting in the dumpster. I usually look around to see if anyone is going to see my unglamorous self making the dive, and if the coast is clear the piece of trash treasure is mine! If I can’t use it or revamp it it goes into the Goodwill pile. (After a good cleaning, of course.)

This chair was one of my dumpster scores. I wish I had taken a before picture, but I didn’t. I washed it well and repainted the wood white. I also painted over the old fabric seat and back with gesso. It took a few coats as it soaked in quite a bit but in the end I had my canvas.

I’d been inspired by Valinda’s Art for the Soul shop in Laguna Beach. I like the lighthearted, quirky, colorful furnishings and home decor. The prices, not so much. ($1516.00 for a bar stool on sale, anyone?) Not that artists shouldn’t be able to charge what the market can bear for their creations. It’s just that the new owner will never be me. And I’m ok with that. Because my neighbors throw away some good stuff!

Once I finished my chair I took it to a home consignment shop. It sold in 2 weeks for $90, of which I received $60. Not bad for the cost of my pride some paint and a few afternoons of fun. And whoever bought it got something Art-for-the-Soul-esque for a whole lot less!

Here’s where I’m linking up.


Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticBlue Velvet Chair, Whatever Wednesday


Mom On TimeoutSomewhat SimpleThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageFun to CraftHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love CreationsA Glimpse Inside,

Between U & MeHappy Hour ProjectsAnything Goes Linky Party,


Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestChic on a Shoestring DecoratingFrench Country Cottage,

The Charm of HomeThe Grant LifeAt the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge,

Stuff and NonsenseOne Art Mama2805,


The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal


LambAround,  Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo Toes,

Petite HermineMy 1929 Charmer Blog,


{aka}/ designGet Outta My Head PleaseMad in Crafts, Skip to My Lou,

The Gunny SackSew Can Do, Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorize,

C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet homeCraft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday