Freshen up with contemporary patterned pots

Freshen up with contemporary patterned pots

Get excited for spring and explore color, shape, and pattern with this fun terracotta pot-painting activity. This project is inspired by Thomas Downing’s painting, Grid 5, which features a circle, repeated in variations of color and subtle patterning within a grid-like structure.


  • Any old terracotta pot, just make sure to clean it well first
  • Acrylic paint (try house paint if you don’t have art acrylics)
  • Paint brush
  • Water cup for brush cleaning
  • Something to use as a paint palette (paper plate, wax paper, etc)
  • Paper towels and newspaper to manage mess
  • Masking tape or painters tape (not required)

*Note that acrylic paint is not washable. If you are collaborating with a young child, dress for a mess, and supervise at all times. Or, try a similar process with washable materials on paper, instead.

Brainstorm what colors and patterns you want on your planter. Think about using repetition of line and shape to create patterns. Explore how different colors interact with one another.

Map out your design onto your pot. Use a pencil to lightly draw your design onto the pot. Lay out strips of tape if you want to create stripes or clean lines with your design.

Paint your pot. Start with the large designs, and work your way to the more detailed areas. Be sure to let areas dry between coats. If you make a mistake, you can simply let the area dry and then come back and paint over it. Try to leave areas of your pot unpainted. This will help the soil and pot to dry out between waterings, and mimics Downing’s use of unprimed or raw canvas.

Exhibit your artwork. Once you’re satisfied with your creation, find somewhere special to display it at home.

The Mint Museum From Home is Presented By Chase.