Spin Art How-To

Spin Art
Spin Art

Become an Artist Instantly With This Easy Painting Technique

Even if you’ve never taken a single art class, you could paint spectacular abstract paintings with the spin art technique. Kids and adults can both have success with this method. It’s easy enough for anyone to master.

Art Supplies Needed:

  • Spin paint machine or turntable
  • Paints
  • Squirt bottles and / or paintbrushes
  • A surface to paint on (canvas and heavy paper both work well)
  • Drop cloths, old newspapers and / or plastic for protecting your work surface

Spin Paint Machines and Turntables:

In the past, I’ve seen bunches of different spin paint machines, turntables, and spin art toys come and go in the marketplace. It’s usually pretty easy to find cheap spin art games or toys for kids that you can buy.

If you just need the machine for a one-time event like a birthday party, you might be able to rent a spin art machine. If you’re interested in having it around to use for a longer period of time, you may wish to buy one of the larger and nicer machines available.

It’s also possible to make your own spin art machine if you prefer to do that. That’s what we did.

What to Paint on

The surface you choose to paint on will greatly affect the look, and also the value, of your finished painting.

If you want to paint on paper, I suggest buying a heavy paper that’s appropriate for the type of paint you plan to work with. Bristol board is a good choice; it is suitable for use with many types of paint.

If you would rather paint on canvas, you can use either canvas boards or stretched canvas with gallery-wrapped sides.

In my experience, those are the easiest surfaces to paint, but there are plenty of other possibilities as well. Anything that can be both painted on and attached to your turntable could be painted using this technique.

Some other things I’ve spin-painted include bubble mailers, mailing boxes, envelopes, and an art journal. The art journal was difficult to attach and hard to paint, but the other things were reasonably easy to work with.

Squirt Bottles vs Paintbrushes:

Unless you plan to use finger paints, you need some sort of tool or device for transferring the paint onto your canvas. The most popular tools for this purpose are paintbrushes and squirt bottles.

I prefer to use paintbrushes and also sponge brushes for making spin art. Sponge brushes are great, because they are cheap, widely available, and not easily destroyed by the painting process.

Paintbrushes are tricky to use in spin art, because they get destroyed so quickly. I don’t let that stop me, because I love the fine, detailed effects I can achieve with a paintbrush.

Squirt bottles are easy to use for spin art, and they are a great choice if you want to make designs that have lots of splatter and splash effects. My experience has been that squirt bottles are slightly quicker to use, but that you have a little less control over the paint placement when you use them.

The splatter and splash effects are actually created by the paint itself running, and you can achieve that effect using either paintbrushes or squirt bottles. In my opinion, the squirt bottles are slightly more splash-friendly, but you can get great results with either type of paint applicator.

Paints For Spin Art:

If you want your finished paintings to have abundant splashes and splatters, use a water-soluble paint and experiment with watering it down to the consistency that gives you the effect you want.

Acrylic paint is a safe choice for spin art. Acrylic works well on both paper and canvas, and it can be watered down, or not, whichever you prefer. If you will be applying the paint with squirt bottles, you should mix up some paint and test to make sure the paint flows out of the bottle freely.

There are plenty of other interesting paints you can use: metallic paints, gouache, watercolors, oils, etc. If you’re going to use oil paints, you’ll also need solvents for cleaning up afterwards.

If children will be taking part in the spin art activities, it’s advisable to use child-friendly paints of the non-toxic variety. It also helps if the paints are easy to clean up; in that case, you’ll definitely want to use a water soluble paint.

Adhesive:

It’s possible that maybe your turntable features some sort of mechanism for attaching your paper or canvas to itself. If if it does, there’s no need to worry about adhesive, just use the built-in feature.

If not, you’ll have to figure out how to attach your painting surface to your turntable.

In the past, I’ve used bunches of different adhesives for this purpose.

If you’re using paper to paint on, try using a repositionable adhesive to see if it works well with your setup. Some repositionable adhesives work well and some may not be strong enough for this purpose.

If you’re painting on canvas, you need a much heavier-duty adhesive, something like duct tape, Velcro or double-sided foam tape. Those are the three adhesives I’ve had the best success with for attaching canvas to my turntable.

Preparing to Paint

  • Gather your supplies
  • Put on your painting clothes, because whatever you wear might get spattered with paint. This technique can get messy at times.
  • Go outdoors with your painting setup if possible. If not, protect all nearby work surfaces with drop cloths, newspapers and / or plastic.
  • Right before you are ready to get started, mix up your paint to create the colors and color combinations you want to use for your paintings.

Get Started Painting

Before you begin the spinning process, you may wish to paint a background onto your surface.

If you’re painting on canvas, I highly recommend covering the canvas completely with a painted background before you begin spinning.

With a canvas painting, ideally, you don’t want to have any of the canvas visible when you are finished; the entire canvas should be covered in paint. However, the spin painting process alone isn’t always enough to give you full background coverage.

I’ve found that it’s much easier to achieve this goal if you purposely start the work by painting a background first. Then you can do the spin painting on top of the background, without having to worry about whether you covered every last inch of the canvas with paint

It’s up to you whether you want to let the background dry before you start painting your spin art overtop of it. In some cases you might want to, and in other cases you might not, depending on the effect you are trying to achieve.

If you’re painting on paper, it’s your choice whether you want to paint a background first, or not. With paintings on paper, I don’t know of any compelling reason that you’d have to paint a background first.

Next Comes the Fun Part: Spin Painting!

From here, the rest of the process is pretty easy. You turn on your spinning machine, and when it’s spinning you put paint on your paper or canvas. You can splash the paint on with your squirt bottles, or you can apply it with your paintbrushes or sponge brushes.

Whichever way you choose, it won’t be long before you’ll see circles, spirals and arcs forming as you apply the paint. You may also achieve interesting splatter and splash effects, depending on the supplies you’re using, how fast your turntable is spinning, and other factors.

For less splashing and splattering, use thicker paint and a lower spinning speed (if possible.) For more splashing and splattering, use waterier paint and faster spinning speeds (again, if possible. Your turntable might or might not allow you to pick the speed at which it spins.)

If you want your painting to be colorful, remember to change colors from time to time.

If you’re using a fast-drying paint, you may wish to let the paint dry before you remove the painting from the turntable. Otherwise, be careful when you remove it, and put it in a safe place where it can remain undisturbed while drying.

Spin Art Project Idea: Small Spin Paintings Make a Lovely Focal Point for Collage Art.

Spin Art Embellishments for Scrapbook Projects

Spin art can be the focal point of your art piece, but it doesn’t always have to be. Sometimes spin art is handy to use for making embellishments that enhance an unrelated theme or idea. For example, spin art gives you lots of interesting opportunities to embellish scrapbook pages. We invite you to check out the following examples:

Things to Do With Spin Art:

  • Decoupage with it.
  • Decorate your fridge, bulletin board, locker, etc.
  • Frame it and use it to decorate the walls of your home, office or business.
  • Sell it.
  • Use small pieces of spin art in other paper crafts; you can incorporate them into greeting cards, scrapbook albums and other paper craft projects.
  • Incorporate it into collages, art journals, handmade books, or other mixed media projects. Little spirals make beautiful focal points for these sorts of projects.
  • Give it to the kids (or grandkids) to use in their craft projects.
  • Make it into gift tags.

Related Resources:

Get More Free Painting Instructions: How to paint a still life