Okay, it doesn't need to be messy. I'm sure if you did this with one or two kids, your table wouldn't look quite like this. But get a bunch of preschoolers and a couple of toddlers in a room together with paint and this seems to be what I get. The big puddle above is from little Stella, who I need to differentiate from the 3 1/2 year old Stella, below, who has been in our art group forever.
The bowls soaked up a serious amount of tempera paint. I kind of like the look of newsprint peaking through the colors, but I think next time I'll follow a suggestion from a fellow blogger mama (I forget who, I'm sorry! If you're reading this, please, please add a comment with a link to the paper maché post you did last week.) and cover the newspaper with a white paper towel as the final layer in the paper mache. That way you're starting with more of a blank canvas when you start painting. It might also be fun to paint these with acrylics -- something I'm not willing to do in a group situation yet.
After these dry completely, I think we'll add a layer of mod podge or other sealer to help protect the bowls. I had plans for bowl decoration (ribbons, beans, colored tissue paper, etc) in addition to just painting but this was more than enough for the morning.