Zentangle®, Art Activities, & Mindful Resources for Kids

Blow Painting With Straws to Calm Emotions – Anxiety Art

Blow painting can be used to help a child who is wound-up or experiencing big emotions like worry, anger, or fear. 

When children are in a heightened emotional state, it is often difficult for them to communicate effectively. When Chanel is upset, having a deep conversation with me about her emotions is the last thing she wants to do. Rather than prodding her to give me a detailed explanation of why she is “acting out”, we try to help her regulate her feelings by validating and naming her emotions. 

One way I’ve helped Chanel name her emotions is through a feelings chart. I ask her to point to the picture on the chart that best describes how she’s feeling. Then I use that feeling to springboard into a conversation or, if she’s up for it, we create something using the colours on the chart, like a blow painting. I’m not an art therapist, but I am the proud parent of an anxious child and these are activities that I’ve had the most success with as a parent and an educator. 

You can download a free copy of the feelings chart used in our YouTube video. I’ve also included a black and white version of the feelings chart, so your children can choose their own colours to represent certain emotions. Once children can identify what they’re feeling, they can use that colour in their blow painting to communicate what they are experiencing. Here’s a picture of Chanel’s blow painting using shades of green, purple, and blue; which to her, represents gratitude, happiness, and excitement.

Benefits of Blow Painting – Deep Breathing

The process of blowing the paint across the paper is a great strategy for getting children to focus on their breath instead of their worries. Asking them to take slow, deep breaths as they blow the paint, can have a very calming effect. Deep breathing helps their body return to a restful state where their muscles are relaxed and their heart rate is normal. This activity is most effective if kids take deep belly breaths. When they breathe in, their belly should expand, and when they breathe out, their belly should contract. Taking short rapid breaths can make them feel light headed, so encourage deep, slow breaths.

Here’s our YouTube video that will show you step-by-step how to create beautiful art using blow painting.

Looking for more ways to nurture the mental health of your kids? Erin Taylor has a beautiful series of eBooks that are more than just words on a page;  they are pathways to understanding, compassion, and emotional growth. Click HERE to learn more.

Anxiety eBook

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclaimer here.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Appropriate for all ages

For today’s art piece you’ll need:

  1. Liquid watercolor paint or watered down acrylic paint
  2. Paint Palette (we used these ceramic bowls)
  3. Watercolor paper/cardstock or any paper that you have available
  4. Straws (Tip: longer straws can be cut in half. For younger children, you can poke a small hole in the straw to prevent them from sucking the paint into their mouths accidentally)
  5. Medicine dropper
  6. Feelings chart (optional)

Step 1. Get Out Your Feelings Chart

If you choose to use a feelings chart, have your young artist choose a few colours to describe how they are feeling at that moment, or you can skip this step and have them choose any colours that they radiate to.

Step 2. Set Up Your Work Space

As children blow the paint across the paper, some of the paint might get on the table that they’re working in. You can place your piece of paper in a tray or baking dish to avoid this from happening. 

Step 3. Prepare Your Materials

  • Place your watercolour paper (or whatever paper you have available) on the surface you’re working on.

  • Get your straw ready 

  • Pour your liquid watercolour paints (or whatever watered down paint you choose) into small dishes and get out your dropper. 

Step 4. Add Drops of Paint to the Paper

Step 5. Blow the Paint Across the Paper Through the Straw

Taking slow deep breaths, blow through the straw at the paint drops and watch the paint dance across the page.

Step 6. Repeat With More Paint – Repeat steps 4 and 5 until they are pleased with their painting. You can create multiple paintings if your child is inspired to.

Step 7. Display Their Artwork

Blow paintings can be folded and used as cards, wrapping paper, or can be incorporated into a collage. You can even frame them! 

I hope that you have fun completing this activity. Please let me know how your masterpieces turn out by leaving me a comment.


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