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How to Do Splat Painting

by Jean Van't Hul
August 20, 2023
splat painting featured image

Splat painting so easy and so much fun for kids! This simple action art activity involves hitting paint-soaked cotton balls with a small mallet or spoon.

Updated July 2023

Splat painting is fun, fun, fun.

And it’s so simple!

  • Dip cotton balls in paint.
  • Place paint-soaked cotton ball on paper.
  • Hit it with a small wooden mallet or spoon.

Then watch as paint splats and splatters out of the cotton ball.

Your kids will want to do it over and over again!

Here’s a brief video showing splat painting in action. And then keep scrolling for a quick tutorial.

splat painting pinterest
Photo by Rachel Withers

Splat Painting for Kids

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*Make your own by hot-gluing a large wood bead to the end of a wooden dowel as we did. Or use a drumstick or the mallet that comes with a xylophone set or a pounding toy. You can also use a spoon!


  1. Set up for splat painting

    As you can imagine, splat painting is a tad messy and is a great outdoor art activity. A hard surface works best, as you’ll be pounding with a mallet. We set up a small kids’ table on the back deck, but you could also do this on a sidewalk or driveway.

    To set up, we put liquid watercolor paint in small cups and watered it down. You could also use food coloring or even watered-down tempera paint.

    You can also tape down the corners of watercolor paper to hold it in place as the kids pound and the paint splats.

    splat painting materials

  2. Dip cotton balls in paint

    You can do them one at a time, as you’re going to use the cotton ball. Or you put a cotton ball into each paint cup to soak at the same time.

    cotton ball in paint

  3. Place paint-soaked cotton ball on paper

    You can transfer the cotton balls from paint cups to paper with a spoon, tongs, or fingers.

    cotton dipped in paint

  4. Hit it!

    And watch as paint splats and splatters out of the cotton ball.

    splat painting with spoon

    Kids get such a thrill out of watching the trajectory of the paint splatters. Plus, of course, they love pounding the cotton balls with their little mallets or spoons.

    splatting paint

  5. Repeat!

    Remove the cotton ball with a spoon, fingers, or tongs and repeat with more colors and more balls as desired.

    spoon on cotton ball and paint

If your kids are looking for more opportunities to get messy, try these splat painting ideas, too!

  • Drop paint-covered cotton balls onto paper from a distance (standing up, on a chair, or from a porch)
  • Fill water balloons with DIY chalk paint and drop onto the sidewalk (on Growing a Jeweled Rose)
  • Splat painting with paint dots and cotton rounds (on A Crafty Morning)
splat painting blobs
Photo by Andrea Martelle

People Also Ask

  • How do you splatter paint with a straw? You can achieve splat-like results by dripping paint onto paper and then blowing the wet paint with a straw! Blow painting is one of our favorite art activities!
  • How do you splat paint? It’s easy! Simply dip cotton balls in paint, then place paint-soaked cotton ball on paper. Next, hit it with a small wooden mallet or spoon and watch as paint splats and splatters out of the cotton ball!
  • What paint do you use for splatter painting? You can use liquid watercolors, food coloring, or watered down tempera paint.

More Messy Art Ideas for Kids

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How to Do Splat Painting How to Do Splat Painting

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