Beautiful Bleeding Tissue Paper Art (with pictures)

Have you tried bleeding tissue paper art? Create this beautiful tissue paper painting once and you will be hooked! The very simple process of applying water onto the tissue paper makes it bleed its magical colours onto the paper underneath. It requires very little in the way of materials and it seems to be well-loved by everyone who tries it. This project is suitable for toddlers, pre-school children and primary aged kids.

The great thing about creating bleeding tissue paper art is that you can personalise it and use your own unique creativity to turn it into anything you want. You can make marks on it with pencils and textas or turn it into a card for someone special.

If you have a canvas you can use that in place of the watercolour paper. Why not create a collage over the top, adding new elements like pompoms, stickers and torn up pieces of paper to give it a 3D feel?

child holding two finished pieces of art
Canvas with collage items and watercolour effect


Quick Tip graphic

Making an art project look inviting is a really important part of the process and will get the child/ren excited about it and eager to participate. When you set out the materials think about arranging them in a visually appealing way. Could you set out loose parts in small baskets that both look inviting and help to keep things organised? Setting out just a few materials beforehand will help to spark curiosity and encourage the child/ren to begin to explore independently.

Table with spray bottle, paper and bleeding tissue paper in container

Materials you will need

Bleeding tissue paper

Paper (watercolour, heavy card stock or a canvas)


Paintbrush or spray bottle filled with water

Additional: canvas and collage materials

Step 1. Rip the bleeding tissue paper

First protect your surface by covering it, then encourage the child/ren to help select the colours they would like to use and begin to tear the tissue paper together. You could cut the bleeding tissue paper into shapes, or simply enjoy the process of tearing. Children always seem to love ripping. Get them on board to help if you can.

Step 2. Spray down or wet the surface

Place a cup of water, paintbrush or spray bottle along with the paper near the child. Making sure everything is within reach will help encourage natural exploration and independence.

If you’re working with pre-school or toddler aged children encourage them to apply a little water over the entire surface first before laying down the bleeding tissue paper. This will help the bleeding tissue paper to stick to the surface with ease.

Child using spray bottle to wet bleeding tissue paper

Step 3. Arrange the bleeding tissue paper

Encourage the child/ren to arrange the bleeding tissue paper onto the paper in any way they wish, then apply water over the tissue paper with a paintbrush or spray bottle.

Step 4. Cover the entire surface area

Encourage the child/ren to cover the entire surface of the paper or canvas.

Step 5. Remove the dry bleeding tissue paper

Next, let the bleeding tissue paper dry. The paper should peel off easily or fall right off. This step seemed like lots of fun for my toddler aged child.

Toddler boy peeling tissue paper from paper

Step 6 Collage or add embellishments to your bleeding tissue paper art

You can leave it at that or, you can take it a step further by adding collage elements. Think feathers and leftover scrap paper from other projects, stickers, recycled cardboard that has been cut up, anything you have on hand. You can make marks on it with felt tip markers, crayon, pastels or texta.

The following day we used the bleeding tissue paper on canvas (we couldn’t get enough of this project). The colours appeared slightly lighter on the canvas compared with the watercolour paper.

We then used a collection of collage items including gem stickers, tissue paper, button and feathers and glued this ontop once the surface was dry.

overhead shot, child's hand reaching for pompom
child's hand placing pompom onto canvas

The importance of feeling success

Children will get a chance to experience feelings of success and confidence during the different stages of creating this bleeding tissue paper art. Each step allows for lots of experimentation and decision making. There is no right or wrong way to apply the bleeding tissue paper or collage items, in that way everyone’s is unique and different. Each child will experiment with their own unique creative process.

Child applying glue with paintbrush to button, canvas on table in background

Final thoughts

This project reminded me that toddlers and kids are so curious, open to exploration and love connecting with new materials. Children can teach us how to be present and enjoy the moment. The simple action of spraying the water and arranging the tissue paper looked like pure joy!

There is no right or wrong way to create this project, remember to follow your child, help them to discover the materials first and if they use things in novel or interesting ways just go with it. Sit on your hands and see what happens.

Playing around: Trying other techniques

Using your bleeding tissue paper creations.

Your creations are wonderful just as they are. You can hang them up to display and enjoy them and you can do some other things with them too.

Some ideas:

  • Make a drawing on top, using felt tip markers or a sharpie.
  • Try turning it into a collage with materials you might have on hand, experimenting with things like shape, texture and form.
  • Write a letter on top to someone special.
  • Tear up your creations and piece it back together in a new and exciting way.

I would love to see what you came up with!

Wondering what project to complete next why not give this seashell collage a go.


About Emma - Founder of Art Play Heart and passionate advocate of getting as many children as possible to enjoy art making in their lives! There is nothing more magnificent than watching a child or anyone for that matter flourish and discover themselves and the world around them through being creative and making art in all its glorious forms.

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