Hack That Painting – Program Outline

Hack That Painting is the slightly more refined cousin of Bad Art Night. Kids are given pre-painted canvases, and get to add whatever they’d like to the image. Do they imagine a dinosaur stomping down the mountain? A monkey climbing in the tree? Or a kraken-demogorgon hybrid erupting out of the water and eating a shark?!


Just like Bad Art Night, this program allows creative freedom and encourages extreme silliness. There is no pressure to create a “good” piece of art. Only to have fun and use your imagination.

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What do you need?

  • Lots of pre-painted canvases!
    • Paint and Sip companies (e.g. Paint Nite) are all over the place, pumping out simple landscape paintings on the regular. The art instructors paint one before the event, and then duplicate it live while teaching. This means they end up with 2 of the same paintings. Some Paint and Sip companies run hundreds of events per year – that’s a lot of extra paintings! Try contacting your local paint and sip franchisee, and asking if they would donate the old paintings for a children’s program.
    • Local artists or local art associations may be willing to donate their old paintings (and possibly their time as well!)
    • If those two methods don’t work for you, you could print out a bunch of images on cardstock, and let kids choose from those. I recommend pixabay.com for high quality photos that are free to use.
  • Paint brushes for every attendee
    • I recommend supplying a large, medium, and tiny brush
  • Cups with water for rinsing
  • Paper towel
  • Table cloths
  • Paper plates for mixing colours
  • Acrylic paint

How to Begin

I had over 30 kids at my event, so I grabbed a microphone, and explained the instructions:

  1. Pick a painting!
  2. Look at the image and decide what you’d like to add.
  3. Line up at the paint table and ask for which ever colours you would like.
  4. Paint paint paint!
  5. Raise your hand if you’d like some help and we’ll give you tips.

Then I asked if any kids had some ideas already for what to add to their paintings. Approximately 10 kids held up their paintings and shared their (amazing!) ideas. Then I asked if anyone needed some suggestions approximately 5 kids did. They held up their paintings, and the other kids in the room gave them ideas. Then, they got to work!  I was luck to have 2 volunteers who could cycle around with me, sharing painting tips and giving out paint.

This was a very social, giggle-filled event. Some ideas were contagious – one table ended up adding pigs to all of their paintings, and thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Check out some of the finished Hacked Paintings:

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As you can see, we had an awesome variety of ages. From 6 year old girls, to 14 year old boys. It was incredible to see them all sharing ideas and encouraging each other.

If you’ve run any similar programs, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let me know if you decide to run this program!

6 thoughts on “Hack That Painting – Program Outline

  1. This sounds like it was a super fun program! I see canvases from paint nights at thrift stores all the time.
    I especially liked that you helped the participants engage with each other thoughtfully and supportively. Thank for sharing!

  2. Hello

    This is very beautiful. I am also working on an NPO that is going to do a similar thing. However I would like you to help my Organisation,

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