The Art Room: A Beautiful Mess

beautiful mess

Being an art teacher is tough. There are unpredictable schedules, overcrowded classes, PD that doesn’t apply to you, and that one persistent recess duty that just keeps coming back year after year. On the flip side, there are enthusiastic students, packed art shows, and the feeling that you are actually changing lives on a daily basis.

One situation that depicts this duality is the beautiful mess. Maybe that sweet little kindergartner tripped and her painting fell face down on your new carpet. Perhaps those charming 9th graders forgot to wash their brushes and left them all over the sink (again). Whenever something unexpected happens or there is a mess to clean up, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, if you step back and look objectively, you may be surprised to see a masterpiece in front of you.

Here is a collection of some of our favorite beautiful art room messes via our amazing Facebook Fans from last spring. To see all of the submissions click here!




paint trays







I think Facebook fan Danielle said it best when she saw the original post: “I needed to see this today. I was looking around thinking what a mess! But it is beautiful, too!”

Thanks to all of our fans that chimed in. Post a photo of your “best mess” in the comments below! And, be sure to follow AOE on Facebook for even more news and stories curated just for art teachers!

What is the biggest mess you’ve ever had in the art room? 

Are there any art room cleaning tasks you actually enjoy?

Amanda Heyn

Learning Team

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • Jennifer Carlisle

    these photos just make me ridiculously happy! Thanks for the awesome reminder to see the beauty in all our messes!

  • Tonya James

    Today I was thinking “What a disaster! And the semester in only 8 days in!” Thanks for the happy moment.

  • I love that so many of our readers paused to snap a picture of a beautiful mess.

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  • Becca Barger

    I love this! I am not an art teacher yet, but this post makes me wish I was already in my own classroom! The art room really is messy, but it is always beautiful :)

  • Karen

    I make sink prints when students leave a beautiful mess in the bottom of my sink. I press scrap paper gently into the paint then lift and let it dry. The paper can be used for collage or as a drawing surface.

    • What a brilliant idea, Karen! Thanks for sharing!

  • Marion McIntyre

    My most memorable mess was made by a student who accidentally tipped a container of blue edicol dye all over him. I had to call his mother to come and take him home as it was impossible to clean him up at school. She told me that his clothes went in the bin. I had to use bleach to clean up the floor as the dye activated as soon as I tried to mop it up. I never got a photo as I was too busy dealing with the class and the mess.

  • Lynne

    Amanda, I love this acknowledgement of our beautiful messes! I have snapped many photos of messes
    in my art room!