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DIY Poolside Painting

Something about summer sparks an urge to create more so than other seasons. Perhaps it’s an association with summer camp arts & crafts, or maybe it’s all that sunshine fueling our creative energy. Whatever it is, I’m finding myself craving fun weekend crafting with friends and family.

This past weekend I headed out to the Hamptons with two of my college besties for a relaxing weekend by the pool. With our agenda filled with lots of nothing, I wanted to bring a simple, colorful project we could enjoy while sitting poolside. At Michael’s, tempted by displays of blank canvases and chalky pastel acrylic paint by Martha Stewart, I scooped up two packs of two 8×8″ canvases for $6/ea plus an assortment of pretty pigments. Add some paintbrushes and whatever paints I had at home and voila: an inexpensive and soon-to-be-beautiful craft project I could easily throw in my travel tote!

With the long holiday weekend on the horizon, I’m sharing this simple, stress-free and easy-clean-up poolside painting setup you can recreate while hanging out outside with your friends, family or simply solo.

the neon tea party poolside painting

paint colors: Martha Stewart Crafts Soft Gel Watercolor Acrylic Craft Paint in Hydrangea Purple, Wild Salmon, Orange Soda & Beach glass; Craft Smart Acrylic Paint in Neon Pink & Neon Yellow; Yoobi Neon Tempera Paint


  • Canvases
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes and sponge brushes
  • Garbage bag(s)
  • Large disposable plates
  • Disposable bowls or cups
  • Paper towels
  • Inspiration!

the neon tea party poolside painting


  1. Cut open a garbage bag & lay it out horizontally facing a pretty view (your home, trees, swimming pool, etc.)
  2. Fill plastic bowls or cups with water for paintbrush cleaning. (I found bowls to be better in grass than cups, which would easily tip over.)
  3. Lay out canvases, paint, paintbrushes and empty plates to use as palettes, plus paper towel to wipe brushes. Set up a station for each person – a sweet invitation for everyone to sit and paint together.
  4. Paint to your heart’s content!

the neon tea party poolside painting


Look to your surroundings for painting inspiration or pull up some reference photos from your favorite artists and designers on Instagram. My friend Allison drew inspiration from the plastic flamingos floating in the pool while I turned to one of my favorite artists, Jersey Shore-based painter Theresa Losa. This painting here is my all-time favorite of hers!

the neon tea party poolside painting


It’s easy to become intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect of putting paint to canvas. However, this setup is meant to be a relaxing, creative expression. Here are a few tips to take the pressure off of making something “perfect,” enjoy the process of painting, and likely end up with a piece you truly love:

  • Create a pre-determined color palette with 6-8 colors. I find that choosing paints that look beautiful together means your paintings will look gorgeous, no matter the subject matter or skill level.
  • Err on the side of abstract, playing with colors and shapes, rather than getting hung up on details (unless you prefer detailed painting, of course!). I used sponge brushes to paint blocks of color – a simple way to play with all those beautiful hues I picked up. It was so cool to see how differently the paint went on with each brush stroke and so fun to play with the color placement and thickness of each band. You really can’t go wrong!
  • Bring extra canvases. Ideation and creativity involves exploration – in other words, you may not be thrilled with your first attempt at a painting. Come prepared with extra canvases so that you can apply your learnings from your “rough draft” to a literal blank slate!

the neon tea party poolside painting

the neon tea party poolside painting


The beauty of this project is its relaxed nature. Paint in your bathing suit in between swim sessions. Enjoy this activity with your kids, friends, cousins, neighbors, house guests, anyone at all who’s gathered together to spend time and enjoy summer. It’s such a fun and easy way to explore your creativity while you’re already relaxing, taking it slow and being with your loved ones.

the neon tea party poolside painting

the neon tea party poolside painting

the neon tea party poolside painting

the neon tea party poolside painting

Would you try this setup at home? Are there any other craft projects you have on deck for this summer? Share all your thoughts and crafty summer plans in the comments below!

Peace, love & neon,

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