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Exploring Finger Painting
Painting : Explore Finger Painting

Creative Painting Techniques

Explore Finger Painting — the Quintessential 'Artistic Touch'

When you hear the words "finger painting" do you immediately think of smock-wearing preschooler's with paint-stained fingertips creating multiple mess-terpieces destined to be hung under alphabet-shaped magnets as parent-proud refrigerator art? If so, you're not alone.

But did you also know that this creative art form has been used with both children and adults for artistic expression and therapeutic and developmental purposes and has been around for centuries? According to Cathy Downs in her article, Finger-Painting: It's Not Just for Kids Anymore, "Finger-painting was a long-forgotten art form used by ancient people's in North America, China, and Europe, when a Ruth Faison Shaw reintroduced it to the world in 1931. Born in 1888 in Kenansville, Shaw taught school in the U.S. and Europe and opened the Shaw School in Rome in the early 1920s."

You can learn more about Ruth Faison Shaw and the artistic potential of finger painting for both children and adults from the following information, articles, and Websources.

Finger Paint Example

Your Top-10 Finger Painting Questions Irreverently Answered

Art Humor by Chris Dunmire

1. Do I need to be an artist to finger paint?

No, but you do need to have fingers. At least one — two are recommended. If you don't have any, ask a friend, family member, or classmate if you can use theirs.

2. Isn't finger painting more for kids than adults?

That might make sense if our fingers fell off as we aged. But since they don't, and because of the existence of grown-up artist's who make a living with this medium, it appears finger-painting is okay for all ages.

3. What's the point of finger painting?

To try something new? Make a mess? Stain your finger nails? Play with color? Make art? Spend quality time with others? Have fun? Whatever meaning it has for YOU is the point of finger painting. Or it could just be your index finger.

4. What materials do I need for finger painting?

Paint and paper. Small containers to portion out paint. Newspaper underneath for mess control. A sink with running water and a wet rag to clean-up.

5. Can I finger paint with other types of paint like acrylic, tempera, gouache, and oils?

You can finger paint with any kind of paint you wish — even finger paints made from foodstuffs like pudding or whipped cream mixed with food-coloring. However, if the paint is not labeled "non-toxic", I recommend taking care not to allow it in direct contact with your skin (wear gloves). Read the paint's ingredients and then decide if you want to take the risk of poisoning yourself with chemicals.

6. Where can I get finger painting supplies (paper, paints)?

Anywhere finger painting paper and paints are sold (like Amazon)! Actually, if you're looking for some free finger-painting paper to download and print from the Internet, try my special brand. Just be sure that your home printer paper tray is full so you can print it out.*

7. Are there books that teach you how to finger paint?

Actual books that stand at a podium and lecture on any art topic are few and far between (unless Kindle now has that technology). However, books containing pictures of finger painting examples and general guidelines and instruction are plenty.

8. Is there really a "right" way to finger paint?

Not if you're left-handed or if you pursue the creative path that aligns with "unlimited possibilities." You may want to stay on your canvas though, in whatever form that may be.

9. What should I paint with my fingers?

Start with your paper canvas. Need more ideas? Move on to whatever slips out from your imagination.

10. How long will it take my finger painting art to dry?

It depends on how much paint you've gooped on. Here's some guidelines:

More goop = More drying time
Less goop = Less drying time

I hope you've found my finger-painting answers helpful. •

© 2009 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

* Yes, this is a joke. But you really can print it! 04/11/09

Finger Painting History & How-to Websources

Crayola Finger Paint Art Techniques
Learn how to make waves, wiggles, symmetrical designs, texture with tools, etching, dot art and more in Crayola's colorful illustrated art technique section.

Finger Paint History and Information at Wikipedia
Online recyclopedia articles include: Finger paint for education and therapy, fingerpaint technique, and materials.

Ruth Faison Shaw (1888-1969): First Lady of Finger Painting
Article by Darwin Marable on World and I: A Chronicle of Our Changing Era discusses educator, art therapist, artist, and writer Ruth Faison Shaw who "accidentally rediscovered the ancient technique of finger painting in 1926 in Rome, Italy, and integrated her technique into education and psychiatric therapy."

Finger-Painting: It's Not Just for Kids Anymore
Article by Cathy Downs published on WRAL.com discussing how "North Carolina native Ruth Faison Shaw developed a finger-painting method that provides an environment where people of all ages and abilities can experience the joy and freedom of self-expression."

Finger Paint Art by Mary Ann Brandt (1921-2007)
Features an inspiring gallery of art by finger-paintist Mary Ann Brandt who issues this invitation to visitors: "Whether or not you have similar misgivings I hope you will look at examples of my work and will agree that Finger Painting can be more than 'kid stuff' which belongs only in the kindergarten classroom and on the refrigerator door. Most of all I hope you will try it for yourself — you may discover something wonderful in the medium and in yourself as well."

Updated 12/17/13