DIY: paperbag paintings

by Bar

DIY Paper Bag Paintings for Kids Watercolor Fall Craft Mixed Media

If you are anything like me, you have at least 20 reusable grocery bags in your car….that you forget to bring into the store almost every time. Which leaves us with massive amounts of paper bags busting out of whatever space we have designated for paper bags. Well, now you’ll have another use for them! This art project is perfect for the little ones because there is no “right” or “wrong” way to make them. There is even a bonus handle to neatly hang them up. The colors are also just right for this time of year. Fall is my favorite season and it’s officially here!

DIY paperbag paintings |


Paper bags
Liquid Watercolors + paint brush
Oil pastels

DIY paperbag paintings |

DIY paperbag paintings |

Making your paperbag art:

Cut your paper bag down the side along a fold. Cut off the bottom. Open the bag up and get the creases out as much as possible by folding the folds in the opposite direction.

Set out the watercolor paints, brushes, damp sponge and glass of water. Let the kids paint, covering the whole page. When they are finished, let the paintings dry a bit before adding the next layer. (They can either be just about dry, or completely dry, but if they are too wet the paper might tear when adding the next layer.)

Next, set out your chalk and oil pastels and let the kids add to their paintings. If they like their paintings the way they are, then encourage them to add maybe just a wee bit of layers. One of my daughters really didn’t want to touch her painting. We talked about how sometimes, when making art, simple and quick does the trick. But since this was about making mixed media art, and about the richness of layering, maybe she could try and see where to add without messing up her design. She decided to draw a few lines across the page. And it turned out that she liked them! (Phew!).

DIY paperbag paintings |

DIY paperbag paintings |

That’s really all there is to it. These paintings are low stress and fun for the kids. They can make many in a short time, and it’s also a great project to do with a friend. My son thought the handles were really cool and decided to take a trip with his painting (carrying it like a suitcase). Hmmm…I see more possibilities for this project!

xo Bar

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cassi September 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Oh my gosh, I love these! I’ll be sharing this on The Crafty Crow :)


2 Bar September 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thank you Cassi!! I appreciate the share ♡! Bar


3 Holley Campbell September 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

Great project!! lovely results. Idea: Coat with Mod-podge to protect and stiffen, longer shelf life possibly!


4 Holley Campbell September 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

Oops- I didn’t read it all very carefully. I was thinking you left them as sacks.


5 Bar September 27, 2013 at 8:52 am

I like it! Mod podge is never a bad idea :)


6 Dianne September 27, 2013 at 4:19 pm

LOVE this idea. I would leave them as sacks, do both sides (put newspapers inside while working on each side and let dry completely before doing second side). After they get the look they like, mod podge it with one or two coats, and you have a recycled, reuseable grocery sack they can be proud of. Or can carry stuff to school, grandparents’ houses, etc. Even gifts can be put inside. Just add tissue paper. Awesome, amazing idea. LOVE IT!!


7 Bar September 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Wow, I love that idea. If you do this, let me know how it turns out!! Very clever. Thank you for the suggestion! xo Bar


8 Cindy September 29, 2013 at 8:10 am

I love this idea. A question, though. You mention in the supply list sponges and water. At what part of the process are you using these – when you add the chalk?


9 Bar September 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Hi Cindy, sorry for the confusion! Our technique for painting is always setting out a glass of water for rinsing the brush, and a damp sponge for drying the brush. So those supplies are just part of painting (you can see them in the photo of my son painting), not used on the paper bag in any way. I hope that clears things up a bit and that you try this project!! Thank you for the feedback :) Bar


10 Rachel September 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

Oh wow- I LOVE this idea! They’re so fun and colorful! I would love to link to your how-to if you didn’t mind, these are so great!


11 Bar September 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Thanks Rachel! Yes, of course you can link back. Hope you have fun with this…xo Bar


12 Cathy Pascual October 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

Gorgeous art project! I love it!


13 HollysHome October 10, 2013 at 11:28 am

I really loved this idea. I have linked into this from my site. I can’t wait to try it with my grandchildren. On my site I show how I reuse store bags and customized them with printed designs. Here is the link:


14 Allison Banerji October 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Came across your site after finding your neighborhood houses which I love and am saving to do with my granddaughter. This project reminded me of the our 3 boys’ birthday party activity which was a hit every year. After a child dissolved in tears because she didn’t win at any of the traditional party games, I vowed never again. Henceforth our birthday activity, which held the attention of even the most hyper active XY child was to make paper bag masks. Crayons, markers, colored construction & tissue papers, glue, scissors and of course the brown grocery bags. The kids would each make a mask, complete with eye holes, then parade them out on the street, photos all around, cake and ice cream, and time to go home. Two to three hours of controlled chaos!


15 Lindsay June 27, 2014 at 8:19 am

Thanks for such an awesome idea!!! I added these cool bags to my kids’ art summer bucket list! I think we are going to fill the finished bags with water bottles and snacks to give out as blessing bags to the homeless in our area.
Can’t wait to try these out!
Lindsay – Homespun Sprout


16 Betty Wilson July 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I love the idea of turning these into gift bags. I thing I would reinforce the connection between the handle and bag with clear packing tape. I might even reinforce the inside of the entire top with packing tape. These would be especially good for holding gifts for grandparents and aunts and uncles.


17 carli February 18, 2016 at 10:23 am

This is going to be a project for big kids like me too! Thank you so much. I get so many ideas from children’s art projects. After all, they don’t know all of the ‘rules’ so their work is so much more intuitive.


18 mari February 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm

It’s so true, isn’t it? I’m always inspired by kids works.


19 Lindsey January 18, 2018 at 8:33 pm

Love this! I teach a 2-5 year old Spring into Art class and I think I will follow your directions, but secure the sides and bottom again with just hot glue or even staples on the bottom and use this as a little portfolio for them to keep their projects and drawings and special things in! Thanks for the idea!


20 christine March 15, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Love the water colors with the pastels! I’m a special education teacher and this year my students will be participating in the Earth Day Grocery Bag Project ( and I was looking for creative ways to decorate paper grocery bags for Earth Day. I think I found my idea, thanks to this blog!


21 Margie May 20, 2018 at 9:54 pm

So cute! Love this idea!


22 lucy wetzel October 20, 2018 at 3:26 pm

can you just paint the bag and use as a gift bag?


23 Muhammad Hashir June 18, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for sharing such helpful content.

I was eager to know about Paper Bags

A paper bag is a pack made of paper, more often than not kraft paper. Paper sacks are generally utilized as shopping packs, bundling, and bags.


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