This week we are doing a classic with a twist. We are fingerpainting! I bet when you think of finger-painting you picture a bunch of 5-year-olds with runny noses wearing dirty smocks standing in front of easels and making giant hand prints on blank canvases. I know you do because that’s what I pictured. As it turns out, finger-painting is not for sissies!
Before we begin, let me tell you what we need:
That’s really all you need. As usual, I used the Mix Media Paper. I really love that stuff because it works for so many projects and comes in that handy tablet. As for paint, you can use what you like. You don’t need to buy specific finger paints. I used the tempera paint that we have. If you haven’t purchased tempera paint, it’s really inexpensive and lasts a long time. It’s about $2 for a large bottle. The bonus of the tempera is that it washes off easily. The old towels are so you can wipe your hands in between colors. It helps to have a wet one and a dry one. You can get away with just one. However, I have extremely finicky small people. It’s probably because they have an incredibly particular mother, but that’s unimportant. What mattered was that they needed to have both the wet and the dry. It actually worked out nicely for all of us. That’s why I recommend it.
The very first thing you need to do is cover your work area. Cover it completely. We’re playing with paint here. Things get messy fast. Then squirt your paint into the cupcake tin. I promise you will not regret using one of these. It has removed so much mess (and therefore stress) from our art projects. It’s really fun here to mix paints into any color that you want. Then hand out the papers because you are ready for the fun!
Now dip those fingers, and just start painting! This is the best part if you are not afraid of getting messy or are naturally in touch with your creative spirit. My children didn’t hesitate for even a moment. They dipped and just started painting. I sat staring at my paper for a long, long time. Basically, I had no idea what I should do with my fingers.
My struggle was so obvious to the children after several minutes that after they had a giggle at my expense, they began to pity me. I could not figure out what I was supposed to paint with my hand. Nothing was coming to me. I started asking my children about their pictures, hoping for some inspiration. I got some!
My daughter told me she was painting her interpretation of a scene from a book she was reading. Then it dawned on me. That’s what I should do! Then the next problem was before me. I am only reading non-fiction books right now. No matter. I did it. That’s my challenge to you as well. If you are an adult or just older than a child, I challenge you to take some paints and finger-paint something that is standing out to you in a book you are reading or have recently read. It is exhilarating.
I won’t lie. It was difficult for me to do. I would rather sit with paper and pen and concoct fantastical stories than do what I did for 10 minutes. However, the finger painting I did was incredibly insightful for me. That might sound crazy, but it really isn’t. Pablo Picasso said, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” I had to find a way visually represent what was inside of me. It was an excellent exercise for my mind and my soul. After I did this, I found a lot of research online about the therapeutic qualities of finger painting for children and adults. Apparently finger-painting’s cathartic qualities help people express themselves when words are not enough. Isn’t that fantastic? In a world where eloquence is prized, communicating without words can be difficult. It can also be extremely good for you.
I was excited that my attempt to do something simple and fun for my children ended up being such a useful exercise for me. It was especially thrilling to discover that there are actual therapies based around this. You don’t have to study the therapies, however, to begin reaping the benefits of finger-painting. You just have to try it! Perhaps you won’t struggle the same way I did. I hope you do, though, because coming out of the other side of a struggle builds confidence in a unique way. Also, from the viewpoint of a mother, it was really validating to see that my children had so little difficulty expressing themselves this way. We put so much stress on “using your words” with our children as they grow, that it’s no wonder we struggle with anything else as adults. Don’t be afraid of doing this with your kids or grand-kids. Let them see your efforts. Good luck!