Permission to Make A Colorful Mess



i make lots of messes every day. i make messes with acrylics, varnish, Mod Podge, and zillions of itty bitty scraps of colorful paper. Having a workspace that looks like a bomb went off is par for the course. But i make controlled messes. i keep the paint on the canvas and rags and the cut paper is vacuumed right up when i’m done.

Recently, i came across the blog of one mom who encouraged her kids and their neighborhood friends to make UNCONTROLLED messes. It sounded too good not to try!

So i set about planning a day of no-rules, squishy, messy art and splash fun. It was our end of summer hurrah for my 4 year old son and his friends and cousins and it happened last friday.

The itinerary went something like this:

11am – kids arrive and change into bathing suits, then proceed to run around the yard like maniacs playing on swings and slide pool and sprinklers and slip n slide and sandbox……

11:30am – i gather kids onto the deck steps to explain our fun projects which included Crazy Mixed Up Paintings, Marble Painting, Squishy Sculptures and a huge Group Mural. i hand out color coded stickers to help manage the group of 25 kids and we’re on our way!


11:45-12:45 – Chaos ensues and we love it! the boys especially were out of their skin excited over the POW! painting technique where baking soda, vinegar and paint are combined into a baggie and then allowed to explode and fizz all over heavy paper. then the kids attacked the already colorful papers with fly swatters dipped in paint and even Koosh balls dabbed in brightly colored tempera.

Some of the moms helped out with marble paintings made by rolling paint-dipped marbles all over inside box lids lined with paper. Gooey fingers!!


Another mom manned the 4’x4′ mural station where tons of random brushes and colorful paints were used to make what i now refer to as “my new dining room art” : )

The kids were all over the place getting messy at the art stations and getting clean in the sprinklers and pool (Actually, we had soapy water buckets at each station to keep the pool water clear, but the pool helped) and the parents even gotten to relax a bit and chat.

12:45 – 1:15 Pizza!!! plus fruit and healthy snacks finished off with classic Flavor Ice pops.

1:15 – 2pm – i face/body-painted a LOT of children (and some kids did their own!) while everyone finished up projects and completed the task of wearing themselves out. The families all contributed to my son’s Lemonade Stand to Save the Planet as well. Kids got a dixie cup and an Oreo in exchange for their donation which we are planning to give to a local cause this week.

2pm – Goodbyes and cleanup

The day was so much fun. We never even got to the Squishy Sculptures or Shaving Cream body “painting” parade i had planned, but i don’t think anyone noticed.

i might have to make this an annual event. Watching the kids explore and create with wild abandon was too much fun!  And heck, in a few years, i can be rewarded with artwork for every room in my house!

22 thoughts on “Permission to Make A Colorful Mess

  1. Looks like so much fun! We have a playspace here that does “messy art” every week. So great for the kids. Love the backyard version. I think a messy art birthday party would be fun. Hmmm, my son has one coming up…

    1. that sounds perfect amber! you’d just have to add unfrosted cupcakes with a whole table full of colored frostings and toppings for the kids to MESS with in making their own!

  2. How fun does that look?! Hmmm… I don’t have kids but I wonder if some of my grown-up friends could be tempted to let loose and make some messes…

  3. So much fun, and so creative. I just realized that I have a huge smile on my face (didn’t even notice it appeared while reading). I will definitely be sharing this.

    And the great news is that you have a piece of artwork for years to come that has more memories than anything you could buy from a store!


  4. this should be standard fare for anyone over age 2 (only bc of the paint in eyes issue). I’m going to implement this next summer, for sure! actually, it will be a fantastic birthday party idea!
    thanks for sharing!

  5. Fabulous! These kids will remember this party for a long time. I used to LOVE to throw great kid parties – there was a memorable one with games all themed around spongebob – including bobbing for sponges! Just love this art party!

    1. hi lisa! it’s actually really heavy watercolor paper i had special-ordered in a huge roll for a client project. i had it on-hand…and FREE is good : ) so i didn’t buy a canvas, just masking taped it to a piece of plywood. canvas would be great though!!

  6. Oh, I love the idea of having a big “mural” sized art for a kid’s party…or adult party. splatter art a la jackson pollack…
    very fun!
    xoxo – Kat.

    1. thanks jenelle. i love it too! i guess some would say there’s a price for everything…..but this one would be hard to part with. : ) You can absolutely make one yourself and that makes it all the more special! : )

  7. That looks an a totally awesome day! I too think this would be great for kids and adults alike. Can’t wait too tackle a day like this with my kiddos. What fun :)

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