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  • Writer's pictureMade by Courtney G.

Outdoor Painting

Take a trip outside and learn about how you can use art to help you cope with big feelings. We all experience different emotions all throughout the day and art is a great way to help us process and remain calm when we have hard feelings. Follow along for suggestions on how to release some of your extra energy and create a cool, lasting image outdoors! Kids of any age can participate how they see fit.


Spray Bottles OR upcycled water bottles OR empty condiment bottles

Pen (optional)

Food Coloring


Outdoor Clothes

Activity Steps:

Step 1: Let’s start by getting our supplies together. If you’re using a spray bottle, you can skip to Step 2. If you’re using a recycled water bottle, we need it to have an opening at the top for our “paint” to squeeze through. You can make a hole at the top by placing your cap right side up on the table and gently pushing a pen through the middle of it. You should hear a small pop and there’ll be a hole in your cap! SAFETY WARNING: Kiddos under the age of 6 might need the help of a grown up to complete this step. Be cautious of where you place your fingers when you’re pressing down the pen.

Step 2: Now that our bottles are ready, let’s think about what colors we want to use in our art. Sometimes during the day, we might experience a lot of big feelings and each of these feelings can be represented as a color. What kind of feelings have you had today? What are you feeling now? Sometimes I feel happy or angry or sad or calm or excited. Each of these feelings are important and okay to feel.

Let’s start with the first thing you feel right now. For example, I feel calm. And a color that makes me feel calm is green. So, take your first bottle and fill it almost to the top with water.

Next, add 4-6 drops of green food coloring to your bottle, replace the cap, and gently swirl.

Now your water should be green!

Step 3: What other emotions do you want represented in your picture? Suggestions for emotions you might feel and want to express are sad, loved, excited, disappointed, angry, or silly. Remember to pick a color that you think matches with the feeling. Whatever emotions you feel and colors you choose for those emotions is great! Grab a new bottle, fill it to the top with water and add 4-6 drops of food coloring. Remember to swirl your bottle with a finger covering the top hole so it doesn’t spill all over! Repeat this step until you have 4-5 colors or all of your big feelings have a color matched for them!

Step 4: Okay! Now that our paint is prepared, let’s go outside! Choose an area outside your home with a blank surface. You might have a pile of snow or an area of dry concrete.

Before you go outside, make sure you choose clothes that are appropriate for the weather. If you’ll be in the snow, make sure you have a jacket and gloves. If you’re in warm weather, maybe you’ll need a baseball hat and sunscreen.

Step 5: When we paint, or draw, or color, our picture can represent what we feel.

We can use the colors to express our emotions like: a blue cloud for sadness, sunshine for happiness, or green grass for calm.

We can ALSO use our actions to represent what we feel. For example, if I’m calm, I can use a gentle sweep to paint or a big mist on my spray bottle. If I’m angry I can use a big, hard squeeze to spray my bottle fast and all over the place.

As you go outside to paint, practice using both methods: by expressing your feelings through the picture itself or through your actions.

Step 6: When you’ve chosen which way you’d like to use art to express your big feelings, point the bottle towards the ground and gently squeeze it while you move your arms around to create an image.

Step 7: As you paint, check in with your body. Are your muscles tense/tight? How is your breathing? Or heart rate? What does your stomach feel like? Or your arms? As you switch between different colors or different emotions, try taking a deep breath.

Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds and out through your mouth for 3 seconds. Taking deep breaths when we feel upset is another good way to cope with our emotions when we create art. Deep breaths outside in the fresh air is an especially good idea. Keep practicing this exercise as you finish up your picture.

Step 8: After you’re all done creating, make sure you reflect! Check in on your painting throughout the week. Remember which color represents which feeling. Ask yourself: are you still feeling that way? Is there anything you should add or change? What else besides art helps you feel better when you have big emotions? Think about how you can use this activity at school or with friends and make sure you share your picture with someone you trust!

~ Made By: Courtney G.

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