Action Art

Action Art is a lot of fun! It’s great for children as it combines moving and creating, two things that they love!

What is Action Art?


Action Art – A style of art originating in the abstract expressionist movement, emphasizing the expressive power of the physical act or process of creation over the finished work itself; specifically = “action painting”. Oxford Living Dictionary

So what does that mean? Action painting refers to the dribbling, splashing or otherwise unconventional techniques of applying paint to a canvas. The physical act of painting is an essential part of the finished creation. So painting with fly swats, water pistols, catapults, pendulums, rubber band painting etc. are all action painting techniques. See, I told you it was fun!

It sounds messy!

Are you panicking about the mess your children will make if you let them fill a water pistol with paint? There are less messy options. In fact, many Squidgydoodle craft boxes include action art. In the Superhero Adventure craft box you ‘bash the baddie’ by splat painting him.

You create a Winter Wonderland by shaking a snowscene in the Winter Wonderland craft box. In the Holiday Fun craft box you paint with a car and in the Spooky Art craft box you wibble, wobble a spider’s web by marble painting.

Spin art

Using a salad spinner, is a great action painting technique. It’s great fun, is a good arm workout and all the paint is contained. Put a piece of paper in a salad spinner, stick it down with blu-tac, pour some paint into the spinner, put the lid on and spin the spinner. Open the spinner to discover your creation. Add more paint and spin again if you wish.

Bubble wrap printing

Use a rolling pin, or toilet roll, covered in bubble wrap to paint with. It creates great patterns and is a less messy form of action art.

If you’d like to try some of the messier options you could always paint outside. Here are 5 outdoor art activities which your child will love. You might also be interested in my 10 top art tips for parents.

What are the benefits of action art?

  • Boosts self confidence as there is no right or wrong way. Action art, like all process art is fantastic for children, as the focus is on the process of creating the artwork.
  • The movement involved in creating the artwork develops gross and fine motor skills.
  • Action art helps develop problem solving and decision making skills, as your child needs to work out how much they need to stretch the rubber band to achieve the effect they want to. Or how much paint to pour in the salad spinner and how fast to spin it.
  • Creative opportunities benefit  neural development. Depending on the activity art can use all the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Children’s brain synapses develop as they swing the pendulum, squirt the water pistol, and whoosh the fly swat through the air, discovering, exploring and creating.

By encouraging creativity and imagination, we are promoting children’s ability to explore and comprehend their world and increasing their opportunities to make new connections and reach new understandings. – Bernadette Duffy, (2006), Supporting Creativity and Imagination in the Early Years, Oxford University Press.

If you’d like to know more about action art, here are some links:

Jackson Pollock, Franz KlineWillem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky were Action Painters.



  • Helena Posted February 25, 2018 10:15 am

    I’m sure my eldest would love to do action art. She quite often asks for paint and dough. #mmbc

    • Debbie Denyer Posted February 26, 2018 2:51 pm

      Thanks Helena, Action art is a lot of fun! Don’t forget to tag me @squidgydoodle on Facebook or Instagram, or SquidgydoodleHQ on Twitter if you try it with your daughter. I’d love to see her creations.

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