Syringe Painting

where's the paper?

For Medical Monday last night we did syringe painting! While I’ve done syringe painting with individual patients, I’d never done it as a group activity room event.  It was a little chaotic at times, but the patients really got into the painting.  We had several that worked with the materials for the entire 1.5 hour time block. If you haven’t tried syringe painting before, I highly recommend it.  Patients and parents enjoy working with the syringes in a non-threatenting way and splattering color across the page. It is a very therapeutic, fun, and expressive activity suitable for all ages. There are lots of different ways to do it, but I’ll share my setup for the group last night.  First, I couldn’t have done it without the help of two practicum students. I highly suggest recruiting students, volunteers, or playful staff to assist with this messy activity. The extra sets of hands makes this manageable with a group :)


  • 2 plastic tablecloths, a large drop cloth, or other floor covering
  • aprons, disposable isolation gowns or other cover for patients if they want
  • washable tempera paint mixed with a little water in containers
  • syringes in different sizes (I used 1cc, 5cc, 10cc)
  • straws
  • watercolor, posterboard, or other heavyweight paper
  • water cups to rinse colors as needed
  • papertowels

I used two plastic tablecloths from the party section of the dollar store to cover the middle of the activity room floor and taped them down. Patients sat around the edge and we put paper in front of them. We draped an apron over patients in wheelchairs. We mixed 3 sets of 5 colors so that patients could pass colors and share. We provided guidelines before beginning including: 1) paint is only for the paper 2) only put paint on your own paper 3) we’ll bring supplies to you and let us know if you need more 4) you get to use the supplies almost any way you want to create your art. Then the fun began! I loved all of the experimenting with techniques.  Some used the syringes like droppers to make very controlled work while others squirted pools of paint onto the paper. They used the tip or plunger to “draw” with the paint. We had straws available and some patients chose to blow the paint around and mix colors that way.

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried syringe painting and any variations that are fun or tips for implementation.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Photo Credit: I woz ere via Flickr


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