Syringe Painting

Great news! I’m back to posting more in-depth therapeutic activities now that I’ve completed my certification and have started settling into my new job. In celebration, the activity this week is one of my favorite medical art, Syringe Painting!!! If you’re new to the concept, I hope this will give you a great starting point, and if this is old hat, perhaps I can give a few new pointers on how to make the most of the activity!

Syringe painting itself is a fairly simple concept, instead of using a brush, you squirt the paint out of a syringe. Those who haven’t heard of the activity before, please note that you don’t use a syringe with a needle! Instead use the smallest syringe you can find, oral syringes work well, but the smaller the tip, the more control you have on how much comes out. What’s therapeutic about this activity is the participant is being desensitized to the syringe, learning that not all syringes are used to poke and create an owie. It also gives the participant control over the syringe and let’s him or her learn how it works, giving them the opportunity to feel empowered. Depending on how you paint with the syringe, the participant can also use it as a release of anger or frustration by squirting it all over the paper (works great if the paper is hung up and the paint is squirted like a gun! Though keep in mind that this way is super messy!!!)

What you will need is paint, paper, water, medicine cups, and syringes.

Syringe Painting

The water is only if the paint is thick and you need to make it a bit thinner. For my example, I used the washable paints and I mixed white with my blue and purple to make a lighter color. Then I added water and mixed it together.

Syringe Painting 2

Using the syringe, pull some of the paint into the tube, and then either drip the paint or squirt as you “draw”. I drew a star for an example!

Syringe Painting 3 Syringe Painting 4 Syringe Painting 5 Syringe Painting 6 Syringe Painting 7

So here’s an example of a finished painting. Kudo points if you can figure out what it is.

Syringe Painting 8

Note that this activity can get really messy real quick. I recommend wearing a smock or clothes that can get dirty! Also play around with the paint consistancy. If you add too much water, the paint will dry funny, so keep that in mind. Test your paint consistency on the paper a few times before you get started on your painting, especially if it’s an older participant. The younger ones won’t care as much how it turns out, the benefit is more in just being able to manipulate the syringe in a non-threatening way and normalizing the object. Also if you’re trying to draw actual shapes or words, push the plunger slowly, which gives you more control and less comes out all at once. You can also squirt the paint onto the paper and then use the tip of the syringe like you would a pencil or brush and spread the paint out in the direction you want it to go. That’s how I achieved the thin lines on the final picture.

This activity is super great with kids who have a phobia of syringes. Or kids who want to find another medium to make art with! I do this activty quite a bit in the hospital since kids of all ages benefit from this activity. Questions or comment? Share with me! Or if you want to share tips or tricks!

Syringe Painting Activity Notes

Age group: 3 and up

Materials needed: Paint, syringes, medicine cups, paper, and water

Therapeutic Value:
Promote normalization
Encourage expression of emotions
Encourage creativity
Promotes control

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