Finger Painting: Not Just For Kids

I love to paint. I love to mix, blend and work with color. When people see my paintings, they are often surprised to learn that I do a good deal of my background painting with my fingers. This is not to say that I never use a paint brush. There are so many fantastic effects you can only get from a brush. One thing you can’t quite get from a paint brush, however, is direct connection with the art. When you use your fingers as a tool, you are connected to the paint and connected to the canvas. The work flows directly from you, with no barrier.

Recently, I demonstrated some of my finger painting techniques at a library art program. I really enjoyed showing off this method, and showing adults that they, too, can use their fingers to paint. They, too, can have fun, get messy, and act like a child again. As soon as we teach kids how to hold a pencil, we assume that they will hold a brush to paint. We assume that finger painting is only for those who lack the fine motor skills to use a more refined tool. Instead, we should look at our fingers as the ultimate tool, attached to us, free to use, and highly maneuverable.

Finger painting is a great way to reconnect with your inner child. Your inner child is holding your creative energy, keeping it safe for you. The only way to access that energy is to connect with your inner child, to let go of some of the blocks and resistance that adults hold on to, quite unintentionally, often leaving us separated from our creative selves.

Below, you’ll find a twelve-minute finger painting demonstration video that I’ve created for my Teachable course. The video shows you how I use finger painting to create some of my art. Hopefully, it will inspire you to get your hands dirty and create something uniquely you. My techniques are just examples. You can do anything with a little paint and your fingers to guide you. This is a fantastic creative exercise. Experiment with blending. Experiment with color. You don’t need canvas. You need a little paint, some paper, and your hands. That’s it. See what happens. See if you feel like a child again. See if you feel joy. See if it makes you smile.

Field Trip: Using Museums To Inspire Our Creative Brains

A few weeks ago, I profiled the creative confidence picture books of Peter H. Reynolds. Did you know that in addition to writing and illustrating his own books, Peter H. Reynolds also illustrates for other authors? He has done the illustrations for multiple picture books written by Susan Verde. One of those books is called The Museum. It’s a fantastic book that follows a young girl through her visit to an art museum. We see the way she feels as she moves from exhibit to exhibit, allowing the different art to change her moods, her thoughts, and even the way she moves her body.

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A visit to a museum can be a powerful lift for our creative confidence, providing ample inspiration and opportunities to exercise the creative centers of our brain. The obvious choice is an art museum, which allows us to study different forms of art, from ancient to modern, from two-dimensional to three-dimensional. An art museum surrounds us with color, emotion and scenes from the past. It’s bound to get your sketching fingers itching to grasp a pencil and work those muscles.

You may find the visuals enticing, but prefer to express the thoughts and feelings that are evoked through your words, rather than images. In that case, you can try jotting down words as you walk through the museum. This can be much like jabberwalking, which I discussed in my post on poetry. Writing down your observations and emotions while walking through an art museum can lead to fantastic poetry…or at the very least, some interesting introspection.

We are lucky enough to have an outdoor sculpture garden and walking path as part of our local art museum. This means that we get the chance to interact with the art. This can make for a fun experience that brings art out of the stuffy museum and right into the playground.

Art museums are not the only museums that can lead to creative exercise. Pretty much any kind of museum, from history to science, can inspire and lead to creative expression. We took a trip to a local science museum to see what kind of creative mischief we could get into. While exploring rooms filled with science and nature, we found plenty of opportunities to practice drawing, write poetry, brainstorm story ideas and work on photography. All of this in one museum!

When we came home from our museum day, we had new sketches to admire, inspiration for future art, a great brainstorm for a story idea about a turtle, fun photos and the beginnings of a poem or two. Not bad for an afternoon on the town.

Below, you’ll find our video all about our museum visits and the creative fun we had:

Don’t have a museum near you? Don’t despair! You can create a museum-like atmosphere right in your home. Dig through your book collection for drawing or writing inspiration. Check out some books from the library on famous paintings, sculpture, dinosaurs…anything you want. Lay the books out like a museum display and have fun looking through the pictures.

The internet is also a fantastic resource. Many museums offer views of some or all of their collections online. My daughter really enjoyed this virtual tour of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. It makes you feel like you’re right there in the museum. You can take a look at some of the Louvre collection online, as well at the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These are just a few examples. The internet is full of resources to help provide that museum experience when a museum might be hard to come by.