#PEMfromhome \\ Drop-In Art Activities

Paint pour galaxy paintings

Galaxies are vast cosmic islands of stars, gas, dust, and dark matter held together by gravity. When viewed or captured in imagery, they appear as magical swirls of line and color. Did you know that there are four main galaxy shapes? They can be spiral, elliptical, lenticular or irregular. For example, the Milky Way, our home galaxy, is a spiral shape. In this project, we will use two different paint-pouring techniques to create beautiful images inspired by the organic shapes and lines found in the billions of galaxies in the universe!

  • Ready-mix pouring paint or regular paint (acrylic or tempera)
  • Craft glue
  • Water
  • Plastic cups
  • Covering for painting surface (plastic bag, tarp, newspaper)
  • Any thick, flat material you would like to paint on (cardboard, pieces of wood — be creative!)
  • Glove (optional)
  • Straws and old toothbrushes (optional)

We encourage this project be done outside and with a partner!

Step 1: Prepare your painting area. This project is fun and encourages experimentation, but it can also get messy. Set up your painting area outside on a flat surface. TIP: Cover your painting area for an easy cleanup. Gather the flat materials you would like to pour your paint onto. If you purchase or have ready-mixed pouring paint you can skip step 2.

Step 2: Mix your paints. To make the paint pourable, mix in craft glue and water in individual cups. There are no exact measurements for this because paint thickness varies. If your paint is a medium thickness then the mixture should be about a 50/50 ratio of glue and paint. Add drops of water if necessary. When testing the drip of your paint you want it to have a steady streaming drizzle that pools a little bit. TIP: Paint consistency should look like warm honey or melted ice cream (Yum!).

Step 3: Pick out the material you want to pour onto and begin experimenting with different techniques.

Puddle pour: Start by pouring individual circles of paint wherever you feel like on the surface of your material. Continue to pour layers on top of these circles, alternating colors. Once you are satisfied with your paint puddles carefully pick up your painting and begin to slowly tilt it left to right and front to back. Watch how the paint stretches over the surface to create beautiful organic shapes and lines that resemble a galaxy.

Flip cup pour: In a cup of your choice — small cup for small painting surfaces, big cup for bigger painting surfaces — pour layers of paint in alternating colors until it is full or almost full, depending on how big your painting surface is. Place the top of your painting material onto the cup. Keep the cup in the center of the painting material. While holding the cup firmly to the surface of your material, flip the surface over so that your cup is now up-side-down on top of your painting material. Slowly lift the cup off of the surface, releasing the paint in the cup. Pick up your painting and gently tilt it left to right and front to back. Watch how the paint stretches over
the surface to create beautiful organic shapes and lines that resemble a galaxy. TIP: The more paint the better! You may be surprised by how much paint you will need to cover the surface. You want the paint to be able to spread and run over the edges with plenty still left on the surface. TIP: Blowing the paint with a straw or using a toothbrush to splatter some more paint on the surface will create interesting galactic features in your painting.


See if you can find any pictures of galaxies online that resemble the picture you created. You might also want to name your galaxy.

Next time you go outside, try putting a grain of sand on the tip of your finger and hold it at arm’s length, pointed at the sky. That grain of-sand-sized patch of sky has about 10,000 galaxies in it! How do you feel when you try to imagine how many galaxies would be in a pebble-sized patch of sky?

Explore more of our #PEMfromHome Drop-in Art Activity video tutorials on our youtube channel.

Show Us!

We want to see your galaxy paintings. Share your photos online using #PEMpod or #peabodyessex