Blog Post

Kelsey is Painting with Food

Kelsey Griest is a teaching artist working at the Ewing School in Marietta, Ohio.
 This lesson is easy to do with materials around the house and has the potential to keep students (and grown-ups) busy for hours.

Kelsey wearing a black turtleneck with rainbow stripes, blue bib-overalls, with a butterfly pin on the pocket of the overalls.
Kelsey Griest, Teaching Artist

Hi everybody! I want to start by saying how much I miss seeing every student in class on Fridays. Though I wasn’t around for as long as I had hoped, I really enjoyed being your art teacher. I wish we could have finished the pinch pot project that we started in class, I would have loved to see what you all made from it. I am really excited to continue to make a few more lessons for you though, and I hope making some art can bring you joy!

What you will need

Pigmented foods (Pasta Sauce, Coffee, Kool-Aid, Fruit Juice) or create your own with spices and water. I used: Turmeric, Paprika, Kool-Aid and Coffee

Clothes that are OKAY to get dirty

Paintbrushes (if you have them) but fingers can work too!


Covering for whatever surface you are working on (Things may get messy)

Step 1: Raid your fridge and make your paints!

Using Foods: Any liquid-y food that has some color to it will work for this project. Think about things that might get you all dirty when you are trying to eat or drink them. Coffee, fruit juice, condiments, food coloring or any other household items will work well for this!

Coffee works great for this project because it stains like watercolor paints. I found that the darker the roast of coffee will leave a better mark. Make sure that you let hot coffee sit in the fridge until it is cool enough to use! Kool-Aid is a good watercolor alternative as well! Here are some examples of what the “paint” will look like:

two sets of painted lines each with two horizontal lines over three vertical lines. The set on the left is brown and has a handwritten label under it that reads coffee. The set on the right is pale red and has a handwritten label under it that reads kool-aid

Using spices: You can mix up some paints using spices and water. Some good ones to try are:

Turmeric: This is a good dye! Mixing turmeric with water will make a nice yellow color. 

Paprika: Will create a reddish-brown color. 

To make these mixtures, use about a 1:1 ratio of spice to water. So, just use the same amount of water as you use spice. This mixture can be as thick or watery as you’d like. I liked a thicker mixture.  Here is how this “paint” turned out:

two sets of painted lines each with two horizontal lines over three vertical lines. The set on the left is brownish yellow and has a handwritten label under it that reads turmeric. The set on the right is pale orange and has a handwritten label under it that reads paprika

You can also try mashing up some berries and use the colors of those juices as paint!

If you are looking for a thicker texture to your paint you can try mustard, ketchup or any other colored condiments in your fridge.

two yellow horizontal painted lines over three yellow vertical painted lines with a handwritten black label below that reads mustard

Step 2: Think about what you want to make:

For my example, I wanted to paint a picture of somewhere I am looking forward to going to when things are back to normal. So, I decided to paint a picture of Ewing School! You are welcome to paint a picture of where your place is with me, or you can see where your creativity takes you. 

Step 3: Start creating!

Feel free to mix different textures of “paints” and let your mind run away with all the possibilities of what you can make with your new paint!

Step 4: Complete!

You are an artist! Make sure to show your artwork to your family and friends. Here is my final piece:

watercolor-style painting of a school with a sign over the door that says Ewing. It is in a field with clouds and a sun and painted in pale yellows, pinks, reds, and browns.
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