No-mess Color Mixing Art

Emma mixing colors in a ziploc bag

We have been putting paint (and other liquids, like hair gel with food coloring) in ziploc bags to play for years now, and it is always fun – especially since I discovered the trick of taping them to the table with a sheet of white paper underneath to make the colors pop! One thing I kept intending to do but never got around to, was mixing colors – every time I suggested it, my kids vetoed the idea! Then Rainy Day Mum mentioned that I had inspired her to try this method of color mixing, and decided to give it another go!

This time I didn’t ask, just set it up! They still think the color mixing idea is a little odd, being their minimalist selves, but they enjoyed it! I was hoping to do a range of different colors, but they all wanted the same set; red, white, and blue. Next time, maybe!

Emma used her hands to create some very modern-art-looking pieces, like the one above!

Color exploration in a ziploc bag

Lily has consistently been extremely delicate in her explorations, while Johnny favors more of a full-body approach:

Full body, mess-free art

I’m actually hoping to try this out with one of those GIANT ziploc bags – doesn’t that sound like fun?

I also need to introduce Lily to one of Johnny’s original favorite activities: taking small toys and having them make footprints in the paint!

We use the freezer bags for this activity – they are stronger than the ordinary bags, and don’t rip very easily. I also recommend using washable paint over food coloring, just in case the bags do break. I like to dilute our paint with dollar store hair gel, which gives a nice texture. Shampoo can be fun to mix in, too, and creates a different effect. We tried baby oil this time, and the results weren’t particularly amazing. When I tape the bags to the table, the kids enjoy using them for days on end – and so do their visiting friends!

Have you played with paint inside a ziploc bag?

Sharing with Fun Sparks, Living Life Intentionally, Link and Learn, and 3 Boys and a Dog


  1. Amy K says

    I’m a toddler teacher and we’ve done something similar in my class, but on a larger scale. We covered a low table top with contact paper to protect it, taped down big sheets of thick white paper, put globs of paint in between each sheet of paper, then covered the whole thing with a clear plastic shower curtain from the dollar store. The edges were sealed down with packing tape. The kids could squish the paint around and blend it, making beautiful patterns with the paint. When they went home for the day, we opened it up to get the paper out and let it dry – gorgeous! The blobs of paint were just big enough to squish onto the paper, with different colors just starting to blend in the middle of each page. Then we peeled the contact paper up for quick, no-mess clean up.

    • maryanne says

      Genius! I’m hoping to do something on a larger scale with my kids at home – and maybe a few of their kids. Thanks for sharing your class project!!!

    • Nancy says

      What a great idea! Your kids must love coming into your classroom every day! Very creative….so much fun. :) Love it!

  2. says

    I dont know why I havent tried this before, but I love your idea of taping them to the tabletop/ floor… probably some nice painty walkway idea…hmmm

    • says

      Did it as a before-school activity. bad idea. couldnt get them off it to go to school and daddy had to yell at us to get out of the house or be late

  3. Bing Locsin says

    My daughter is 4 years old, but I think she will still love this. I will definitely recommend this to a friend with a baby! Nice way to play with colors! I read a blog at, where the Mom used cereals with colors for her baby, quite messy but still is fun! I have another fun activity for the weekend! Thanks for the great ideas! :)

  4. says

    So cool! I have a similar activity described on one of my blog post. When I first decided to do it I was so proud of myself being so creative just to later find out I wasn’t the first one to get this idea haha I used just 1 colour and I used it (and use) for letters and numbers tracing with my daughter and in my Mommy & Baby sessions. We will try your way too! Sounds fun!


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