Last week I was looking online for a different outside activity to do as part of my spring break art camp, and ended up finding sidewalk paint. If you haven't heard of it before, essentially its like sidewalk chalk but in paint form. After looking at various recipes to make your own, one comment that kept coming up was that the paint could stain clothing as well as the sidewalk. These recipes all used food colouring to create their paint colours, but I also found mention of using liquid tempera paint instead. I decided to experiment a bit and see if this activity was indeed feasible for my campers to do.
To make your own sidewalk paint you need the following ingredients:
- Food Colouring OR Liquid Tempera Paint
- Measuring spoons or cups
- Containers to put the paint in
The original recipe I looked at had a 2:1 ratio of water to cornstarch. The resulting paint was way too watery and did not have the chalk like finish that I was after. Instead I ended up doing a 1:1 ratio of water to cornstarch, and you could probably even do 1 1/2 cornstarch to 1 water.
To fill one of the yogurt containers in the picture above I ended up mixing 4 tablespoons of water and 4 tablespoons of cornstarch. I felt that this would be enough paint of 1 colour for 1 kid.
To address the issue of the sidewalk paint staining, I decided to try one version with food colouring and one with tempera paint. I didn't have liquid food colouring but instead used the gel kind. I decided to use blue for each, thinking that it would be a dark colour and more likely to stain.
For the food colouring I used a toothpick to scoop a small amount.
For the tempera paint I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons.
These were the 2 paints that I ended up with. The one on the left is with the food colouring and the one one the right is with tempera paint.
Tempera Sidewalk Paint YES! Food Colouring Sidewalk Paint NO!
I found that in terms of colour the tempera paint was a lot softer and gave a better chalk like appearance while painting as well as when it dried. The colour of the liquid food colouring version had the artificial look of food colouring, and didn't really seem like paint.
After they had both dried I hosed down the concrete, and sure enough the blue from the food colouring left a slight stain. The tempera paint in contrast washed away completely.
I also got some paint on my clothing, but it came out.
Overall, this paint is probably used by parents who wouldn't necessarily have tempera paint but would have food colouring. For the art educator I would definitely use the liquid tempera. I also like that your students could make the paint themselves, which might be a nice tie in to learning about ratios and could lead to a discussion of how artists in the past had to make their own paints too.