Easy Michelangelo Art Project (Paint the Sistine Chapel)

I have to confess, I’m not an artistic person. When it comes to doing art projects with my kids, I feel like a fish out of water. Not only am I not very good at drawing, but I personally don’t like to do it (really because I’m not very good at it). The only thing I feel like I can do is color.

My personal insecurities aside, it’s still a good idea to do art projects with your kids. So how do I solve this problem (because surely I’m not the only dad out there that feels this way)? We take a simple activity that I can do (coloring) and change how we do it to turn it into a fun activity. Today, we’re going to paint the Sistine Chapel like Michelangelo.

The Sistine Chapel – (With Surprising Michelangelo Facts!)


Chances are your kids have already done some sort of a coloring project already, so the good news is that you most likely already have everything you need for this project.

  • Coloring page
  • Your choice of coloring implements: crayons, paint pens (my personal favorite for this activity), markers, paint, etc.
  • Tape
  • Table
  • Smock (optional)
  • Goggles/eye protection (optional)

Setting up the Activity:

Finding a Suitable Table/Desk:

First things first, we need to find our “ceiling” to work with. Depending on how many people are involved and how different their arm lengths are, you have a couple choices. One option is to use a single long table that everyone can participate under. This makes sharing much easier and gives a sense of comradery. 

The other option is to give everyone their own work surface. This is good if you need to have your kiddos separated to allow for a little quiet activity time (sometimes we just need to get the kids into their own corners for a bit). It’s also a good option if you have kids of different ages (and therefore sizes). Younger children can work under a shorter table/desk while older kids can work under a bigger table/desk. 

You have your own set of circumstances, so you will know what works best for you and your family. I decided to go with a table in my sunroom, because I wanted to keep us all together (and we only had one set of paint markers).  

The problem I encountered was the difference in arm lengths. I have two young boys (6 and 8), one with short arms, the other is quickly becoming a bean pole, and then me (and I’m rockin’ the dad-bod pretty hard. I need some room). The table we used gave us plenty of room, but it was a bit too tall for the kiddos. 

To help with the different sizes (and to help make the experience more “authentic”), I decided to add some “scaffolding” for us to work on. I made a quick trip to Lowes and picked up two 8 foot 2×10’s and four concrete blocks. 

Picking out a Coloring Page:

The coloring page can really be anything you want it to be. You can be super extra and buy a paint by numbers kit of the iconic image of Adam from the Sistine Chapel (more on using paints in a bit), or you can use crayons on a coloring sheet you brought home from IHOP. It doesn’t have to be Sistine Chapel-related. 

My advice is that you choose something not too intricate. Trying to get those details while you’re on your back with your arms stretched upward is going to get old. Especially if you decided to use crayon. It’s better to keep things simple. 

Coloring Implements

While it’s tempting to be “authentic” and use paint, remember that you’re on your back and you have to contend with gravity. Since you’re going to be doing this with kids, you’re likely to use acrylic paints (if you decided to go with paint), which will be runnier than oil-based art paint. When you include a cup of water to clean brushes, this suddenly gets complicated. 

But if you’re up for the challenge, then you do you! Be sure to have a smock or other protective clothing because you will get messy. Also, get some safety goggles or other eye protection so no one gets paint in their eyes. 

A simpler option (and my favorite) is to use paint pens. Crayola makes a basic set, or you can go fancy and get the big set (we stole these from my wife for our activity. But it’s ok because she was participating too.). This gives you the feel and look of using a paint brush but without the fuss. It’s super easy to use lots of colors, pass them around to each other, and clean-up is a cinch (The exact brand is not available anymore. It wasn’t a fancy set to begin with. I included a link to a comparable generic brand). 

Of course you can also use crayons or colored pencils (you really can use whatever you have on hand), but just realize it’ll be more difficult to use because of the angle you’re coloring from and the distance you are from the coloring sheet. 

Time to Paint Like It’s 1512: Painting the Sistine Chapel

It’s time to get started! Tape the coloring sheet to the underside of your table.

Be sure to keep everything you need for this activity handy. Once you climb under the table, you don’t want to have to climb out every time you need something (I swear I’m hearing more and more cracks every time I stand up…).

Now dads, this is an activity that everyone needs to participate in. Everyone gets under the table, and even if you’re artistically changed (like me), you’ll have a great time bonding with your kids. It’s during activities like these that I end of having the best conversations with my boys. Be sure to take lots of selfies with the kiddos. 

Don’t feel like you need to do this activity in one go. Chances are your arms are going to get a little tired, so take some breaks. The good news is that your coloring sheet is on the underside of the table and not in the way of anything. You can get up, take a break, have dinner, and not need to clean all the art supplies off the table because it’s already out of the way. 

Gregory Grabowski

Greg Grabowski is the principal creator of DadStuffSite.com, a website for dads by dads. Inspired by his two boys Ben and Sam and his wife Dianna, Greg loves to make things, learn things, and loves doing fun stuff with his family.

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