Paint Dispensing for Dummies

There are so many methods and containers you can use to dispense paint in your art room. I gathered together a wide variety of ideas, including some of my favorite tricks, to share with you in this video today.  Some are cheap, and some are not, but chances are you will find some of your favorites listed, and even some that might surprise you!



What are other ways you dispense paint in the art room?

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6 years ago

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Erin Wetherbee

    Jessica this is just an amazing site and I am in awe of your creativity and professional logos, etc.  I wish you all the best in this venture.  Wishing you nothing but the best!!! ~Erin

    • Thank you, Erin. Blushing….As an artist, I am always looking for ways to “Create” even if it’s not a piece of art!

  • Great ideas! I use the plastic cups with lids.  I can save paint in them for the entire length of a project and sometimes longer! I also use plastic/foam plates. I will cover them with tin foil though. this way when I am done with them I can simply throw out the dirty tin foil and save the plate. I will even cover them with tin foil to save them from day to day.  I have never tried the magazine idea yet, I will have to try it! Thanks! :)

    • Glad you could learn something new. The foil is a handy trick, thanks!

    • Dcerretani

      I use all kinds of plastic containers with lids.  You can save all kinds of unique mixed colors!  Plastic plates never stand up to daily abuse the way styrofoam meas trays  do.  I’m all about saving and reusing mixed colors.  I cover trays with plastic wrap for a few days. esp. weekends.

  • I am a big fan of egg cartons! I love them because I can customize them by cutting them to different sizes. I use the cardboard kind on the days I don’t have time to wash, and the Styrofoam or plastic kind on the days I have more time, or want to save my paint. Families and teachers donate them, so they’re cheap too. :)

  • Rebecca Mazzella

    I love to recycle anything… with my bucket in hand at breakfast I collect plastic juice cups -turn a cup upside down to keep from drying out. Plastic milk bottles with lids works great for mixing colors that you need a lot of … and tiny perscription med bottles for paint to glue to bead storage.
    Love all of your ideas!

    • Dcerretani

      Save and recycle!  Great!

  • Kristyn

    I love using the plastic baby food containers with lids. I just ask the kids if they have any little brothers or sisters. One student brought me a container almost everyday. They seem to store paint better then the small cups I would by at Gordon Foods.

    • Yes, those plastic ones are nice. I made my own baby food or I would have accumulated a lot too. Those babies like to eat! 

  • I’m so happy someone else uses magazines for paint mixing, love it. I also like thru dixie cups with lid idea. Great video.

  • Saramacdavis

    My new favorite container is the gum dispenser. You can pour a little out with the tiny hinged door on top or unscrew the lid. They are ergonomic to fit your hand or little hands and you can take the labels off to have a nice white surface ready to be written on.

  • Sarah Dentlinger

    I use egg cartons on days that I don’t have time to wash (ex. back to back classes painting) and ice cube trays on days that I do.  After a class uses them, I set them on end in a bucket and fill with soap and hot water to soak.  By the end of the day, most of the paint has run to the bottom of the bucket, and the rest rinses easily.

    • Yes, soaking paint containers are happy paint containers. SO much easier to wash. I learned this in my undergrad and never forgot it!

  • Muffin liners and magazines!  Great ideas!!

  • Cboggs73

    I use many of the ideas in the video and below. Another useful container is the plastic container from powdered coffee creamer. These are the kinds with the little pour spout in the lid. I put paint in those so that students can easily refill their own paint dish or cup without going to the gallon jugs. Too many students squirt themselves or each other with the pumps and there’s less waste when I can control the amount of paint in the coffee creamer containers. It’s also a good way to make special colors ahead of time for projects, like my “slime green” for Halloween projects.

  • Kszwahl

    When I taught HS we used larger plastic tubs like Cool Whip. The lid would be the palette and the tub for water. When class was over, dump the water and cover the paint lid to keep (looks upside down) the acrylic paint ready for the next day. It was great. Hardly any waste and every kid could bring some type of container. 
    In my elementary class room I use the cheap-o paper plates that have the bumpy edges. Then we let them dry and use them like painted paper for collage etc.