How to Set up an Art Cart

I irrationally loved my art cart - even as it overflowed and threatened to topple over! I used to work in a hospital setting with older adults. I included a wide variety of pre-prepared projects on my cart, as well as materials for spontaneous art making.


Following is a list of items that you may want to use when setting up an art cart for institutional and medical settings such as hospitals and care homes.


Some elders with dementia needed a great deal of assistance and enjoyed one-on-one painting. Some liked to paint within pre-drawn lines.


Others liked to work utterly spontaneously. Your art cart will look different than mine did, but I share some of the materials and projects that I used with you.


For more information on how to run an art program for older adults, I have written a book about it here.

Art Supplies and Projects

Cart and Accessories


- Commercial carts can be purchased such as this

- Plastic bins and containers to hold art supplies. 

- Walker baskets, wheelchair bags to hang on front and sides.

- Large plastic trays for paints and brushes.


Art Supplies


- Acrylic paint, watercolor paint, fabric paint in plastic containers with lids

- Pencil crayons, oil and water-based pastels, pencils, permanent black markers for pre-drawing designs for painting projects.

- Brushes for water-based paint.


Art Projects


Spontaneous Art Projects


- Sketchbooks and paper for people who like to draw.

- Watercolor paints and circle template for free-form mandalas and spontaneous paintings.

- Collage materials: magazines, color photocopies, scissors, glue sticks, card stock for backing.


Structured Art Projects


- Cardboard covered in brown or butcher paper to mount projects on – to use a makeshift lap easel.

- Pre-drawn paper and fabric designs such as geometric mandalas or still-lives.

- Small wood projects and terracotta pots to paint with acrylic paint.


Paint Protection


- Plastic table cloths from the dollar store.

- Paint aprons to protect clothing.

- Plastic, custom “sleeves” can be sewn to protect the painting arm with an elastic at the wrist.


Miscellaneous Art Supplies


- Masking tape

- Scissors

- Glue sticks and white glue

- Tissue paper for collage

- Art and picture books for inspiration

- Stamps and stencils

- Large envelopes for collage ephemera and bits

- Sandpaper to smooth out wood projects

- Varnish to clear- coat terracotta pots and wood projects

- Small ruler 

- Small paint trays and palettes

- Chunk of wax for resist paintings and to apply to wood projects for easy sanding between different coats of color

- Spray bottle for wetting paper and paint

- Tablespoon and paint scraper for cleaning up paint spills

- Small notepad for attendance and client progress notes

- Plastic water containers for washing brushes