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Paints and Colors

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Wheelchair art- mural painting
Submitted by Dwayne Szot of Zot Artz

Size of Group: 5-100

Equipment/Supplies Needed:  Zot Artz univerally designed art tools and supplies.  Paint

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome:  Create a large mural painting

Description of the Activity: Individuals create their own prints which attach to the art rollers, apply the paint, and make their mark creating large mural paintings.  For individuals of all ages and abilities.


Ziplock Painting
Submitted by Emily MacPherson of FJ Davey Home Long Term Care Facility

Size of Group: Small Group (1-3)

Equipment/Supplies Needed:  Large ziplock freezer bags Paints Green Tape

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome:  Sensory Stimulation Expressive Art Enjoyment/Pleasure/Contentment

Description of the Activity: 1) With the large ziplock freezer bag, drop different colors of paint (I use 3, usually red, yellow and blue)
2) Seal large freezer bag
3) Tape ziplock bag on table (use green tape, more visual)

After completing those steps, have individual play with the paint and mix them together. It is visually stimulating and mess free!


Crayon "Stained Glass"
submitted by Becky of NHS Human Services on September 22, 2009

Size of Group: medium

Equipment: wax paper, crayons, pencil sharpener, iron, black construction paper

Objective: fine motor skills

Description: Sharpen different colored crayons, making sure to separate the different colored shavings. Put the shavings in between 2 pieces of wax paper (putting like colors together, so they don't just all blend in with one another) Iron the top wax paper. It should melt the crayon shavings. Cut out a design in the middle of a black piece of construction paper. Do the same design on another piece of construction paper. Put the wax paper with the melted crayon shavings in between the 2 pieces of construction paper. Looks great in a window!


Salt Art
submitted by Felicia Rodriguez, CTRS of The Children's Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies on April 27, 2009

Size of Group: 5-10

Equipment: Salt, colored chalk, glue, printouts of whatever the theme is.

Objective: An art project that is tactile and visually stimulating and utilizes fine motor skills.

Description: Beforehand, use different colored chalks to color salt by rubbing the chalk into the salt. Put each color in a separate bowl with a spoon. Obtain a printout of whatever picture you want. It can be a large flower for a horticulture group or an animal for animal week. Have participants apply glue to their picture one section at a time. The participants then get some colored salt on the spoon and sprinkle it on the glue. They can also use their fingers to pinch some salt and sprinkle it. They do this to each section until the picture is finished.

Rock Painting
submitted by aimee gardiner of kamloops seniors village on March 13, 2008

Size of Group: unlimited if you have helpers

Equipment: various color paint, brush, small to medium sized rocks

Objective: Relaxation, Increased Attention Span

Description: Encourage participants to paint anything and everything that comes to mind on rocks. It took a little time to get everyone going but once they were it was a blast and almost everyone got involved.

submitted by Marty Pants of caring clown volunteer on July 25, 2005

Size: 15 residents

Equipment: crayons from the dollar store 8 crayons in a box, and a flower or any other BIG figure printed in paper, which you can find for free in any internet site.

Objective: They love coloring "with a purpose", they share ideas and even sometimes crayons.
They will stay busy for at least 45 minutes and love to play with colors....

Description: I give each resident a box of crayons and a paper. Then I ask them to color the paper so I can take them to the Oncology ward in local hospital.

Mandala Coloring Therapy
Submitted by Shannon McGill on March 24, 2003

Size: Any size, any age

Equipment: Printer or digital graphics program like Paint Shop. For printed copy you'll want coloring gear like felt markers, watercolor paints, pencil crayons, glue and sparkles etc. Good posture is highly recommended while coloring, find a coloring location/posture that supports this.

Objective: Many people find meditation incredibly hard to get into, even though the benefits are well documented. With Coloring Therapy, a state of meditative awareness is easily attained, because the focus needed to gain observation of our inner dialogue occurs in the coloring. -

Description: This is an additional resource related to Mandala coloring therapy, with a free printable dolphin Mandala and many original hand drafted Mandala in coloring sets 1 and 2. The Mandala artist has written some very informative articles to support the concepts behind coloring therapy.

For more info go to

Inspirational Hands
Submitted by Amanda Rhodes of Bay View Behavioral Health on March 23, 2003

Size: any size

Equipment: finger paint, large white paper, markers, copies of inspirational quotes

Objective: To have patients boost each other's self esteem.
To work as group.

Description: Using the finger paint, have patient's make a print of each hand on the white paper. On one hand, have them write 5 positive things about them self (one for each finger), on the other hand, have the group help fill in the last 5 fingers with a positive about another group member. Finally, hand out the inspirational quotes and let them choose one to write on the top or bottom of the paper, or help them create their own.


Here's an easy painting project that can be completed by a variety of population groups....

Pour acrylics on a sheet of white paper. Take a waded up newspaper as a "brush." Twist and turn and wave the newspaper over the paint. Pick up the newspaper and dab at the paint. Add more colors if you wish. Fold the "canvas" paper in half and open it back up. Use the canvas paper to make prints on a clean sheet of paper. Let your ideas go wild. Frame the "modern" art and display the client's work in the "modern art gallery."


Spread a large sheet of paper or sheet on the floor. Pour or splatter paint on the "canvas." Invite patients using wheelchairs to run their wheelchairs all over the "canvas." Be sure to have water and towels to clean up the wheelchairs. Hang the painting on the wall for all to see. Don't forget to have everyone who participated to sign their work of art.


Give each participant a straw and a sheet of paper. Pour splotches of water colors on the paper. Invite participants to blow air through the straw aiming a the beads of water colors. Blow at the water colors in angles, blow at it from straight


What you need: Snow, paper plates, water colors, brushes

Pack snow onto paper plates and invite patients to paint the packed snow with water colors. The paint bleeds into the snow giving it a "neat" effect.


Provide participants with different types of sponge.... even sponges cut out in shapes of animals and flowers and other shapes. Soft sponges work great. Dab the sponge into the paint and use the sponge as a "brush." Sponges permit participants that have difficulty holding brushes an opportunity to paint.


Turn on a dramatic piece of music. Turn off the lights and instruct the participants to close their eyes and listen. Stop the music when you feel appropriate. Encourage participants to cover the paper with colors which reflects the mood of the music.

Repeat with another piece of music. Alternatively, play the music while participants are painting.

Submitted by Jen Cueto

Size of Group: 4-6

Equipment: Water based paint, sponges and/or paint brushes, clear acetate plastic sheets, already cut out stencils of whatever them you like, fall (leaves), winter (snow flakes, Christmas card theme), etc. 

Trace outlines of leaves, etc on the clear acetate and cut them out using a exacto knife.  Outline the shapes with black marker, so it's easier to see for those with limited vision.

Objective: Increased self esteem and accomplishment, especially for those that don't think they are any good at painting.

Description: Drop different colors of paint on a plate, and encourage clients to use a sponge to dab into paint and onto stencil. It doesn't matter is you go out of the lines. After the client puts paint onto the acetate stencil, place the stencil paint down onto a sheet of paper, envelope, greeting card, cloth, etc. When finished, take off the acetate and voila, a stencil painting.

I used this activity on medium to low functioning clients with Dementia.

Marble painting
submitted by Cynthia Davis of Professional Counseling Center

Size: 4-10

Equipment: Shoe box lids, water based paint, marbles, construction paper, tape

Objective: Hand control, eye, hand coordination.

Description: Tape construction paper to inside of shoe box lid. Drop beads of paint in various spots on the paper. Place a marble inside the box and encourage clients to roll marble through the paint by tilting the box. Clients will be thrilled at the graphic designs they create! Remove from box and add to art gallery.

Line Painting to Show Emotion
submitted by Jen

Size: 2+

Equipment: List of or drawings of faces depicting various emotions, have enough for each participant. Crayons(wax or pencil) or paint. Bigger than 8"x11" paper, the bigger the better.

Objective: Students practice being able to make their art work reflective of themselves. This activity provides an outlet for emotions.


Have each participant circle as many as five emotions on the emotion list you have given out (one's with pictures are best).

Ask each participant to draw a line that would represent an emotion that you call out (this is for practice and to get everyone into the flow). Call out for example: how would a sad line look, how about and excited one, a sorry one a peaceful one etc.

Then after everyone seems at ease with this, tell them to draw the emotions that they circled on their inventory sheets in one connected line. So, one continuous line could show up to 5 emotions. Then each participant takes a turn to describe their drawing. Students are asked to talk about and describe how each line represents an emotion in them.

Clip Art Painting
Submitted by Kim Ladwig of Alterra Clare Bridge Cottage/ Memory Care Unit on January 12, 2001

Size: up to 10

Equipment: Water colors, paint brushes, clip art from computer

Objective: Hand eye coordination. Socialization and self esteem.

Description: Choose black and white clip art from computer. May use clip art according to holiday. Flowers work best. Enlarge clip art up to fit size of paper. Have patients paint picture. Very good activity for Alzheimer's patients. It is not coloring, which to me is a dignity issue. Also, the thick black lines will make it easier for patients to see and they will be more successful. I use this activity once a week in my program. It is our "Water Color Class" and I have more success with this activity than any others.

Pudding painting
Submitted by Jessica Hohenberger, CTRS of Hawthorn Center on Friday, February 21, 2003

Size: 1+

Equipment: Instant pudding-different flavors, Large sheets of paper, Raisins, cheerios, gumdrops, mini marshmallows, etc

Objective: sensory stimulation, encourages creativity

Description: Make pudding according to directions on box. Make sure participants wash their hands before starting this activity. Let participants finger paint with the pudding and use the other items to decorate their pictures however they want. The cool part about this activity is that everything is edible so eating the art is half as much fun as creating it! This activity works very well with younger kids or with clients who will benefit from sensory stim.

Coloring Therapy
Submitted by Chantelle Fortin of Coloring Therapy on Saturday, January 11, 20043

Size: unlimited

Equipment: markers and coloring pages

Objective: fulfillment through coming together with loved ones/friends in a shared activity.

Description: To bring grandparents and grandchildren together (or friends) to color. Free coloring page for adults and older children can be found at and

Window Painting
Submitted by Pamela Garofolo of Mainland Manor

Size: 1-5 (Depends on size of window)


  • poster/tempera paints
  • brushes
  • pattern (you can by at craft store or enlarge your own)
  • water & rags
  • Wipe off markers

Objective: encourage creativity, nonverbal communication, socialization

Description: Tape a big pattern of a seasonal, or other, picture behind a window (Indoor or outdoor) Or you can draw or trace one yourself on to the window with wipe off markers. Have the clients "Color in" with the poster paint the pictures. It is very easy to edit or take off with a wet rag or paper towels, even when dry. This is very good for wheelchair clients if you have a window that is full length. You will love the clients reactions when the sun shines in and the pictures glow.

You or the artists might want to go over the outline of the pictures with black when you are done. This hides mistakes, defines the picture, and is easier on the eyes for those with vision problems.

Be careful of painting over the markers or a dirty window it can prevent the paint from sticking.

Try it out, and have fun with it!

Window Painting 2
Submitted by Evelyn Mika, CTRS of North Broward Medical Center on June 27, 2002

Category: Art, Crafts & Cooking

Size: 1 or more

Equipment: Dry Erase markers
Tempura Paints, various colors
Paint Brushes
Stencils or photos to draw

Objective: Standing tolerance (as needed)
Balance and Coordination (as needed)
Creative Expression
Self Esteem Building

Description: Draw or trace on windows with dry erase markers. The scenes on the windows can be a theme (seasons, holidays, big upcoming activity, etc) or simply writing to be painted (birthdays or holidays to remember). Paint or fill in outlines with tempura paint. Mistakes and paintings come off easily with water and a washcloth even after months baking on in the Florida heat.

NOTE: Do not paint the entire window or you will lose your view. If you hate the view, an underwater scene fills the space nicely.

TIP: If you want a lighter coverage (more opaque like snow) then mix paint with water.

We put up seasonal scenes without specific religious holidays so as not to offend our multicultural and diverse population. It also allows us to keep our dining room windows painted for two or three months with the freedom to choose when we take it down/when we have time rather than being dictated by the exact date of a holiday.

Room bound patients may enjoy having a different view for a while or just a border so as not to block their view. Talk to them while you paint. Get their ideas and preferences. Paint a scene from their childhood memories.

Happy Painting

Foil Painting
Submitted by Amy Best of UCP Eldergarden Older Adult Day Care Center on September 11, 2002

Size: As many as you want

Equipment: Newspaper, aluminum foil, various shades of paints, paint brushes, paper

Objective: To be creative in their own way.

Description: Place newspaper all around the table. Give everyone a piece of foil about the size of a sheet of paper. Then allow everyone to just paint away on the foil. When they are finished
painting, press a piece of paper on the painted foil. Peel the paper back and let it dry.


Send your creative ideas and have it posted here.

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