I actually have memories of fingerpainting myself. Unfortunately, those memories are not made up of feelings of excitement as my artistic self was awakened, of the infinite possibilities before me as I contemplated my paper and palette. Sadly, the memory brings back a fingers-on-the-chalkboard sort of cringe as I remember how it felt when you ran out of slimy paint and the thin skin on the inside of my knuckle dragged against the scratchy dry paper. I have goosebumps right now as I’m writing this; I’m not kidding.
Nonetheless, I decided quite suddenly the other day that Ronin’s brain was going to shrivel up and fall out her ear if I didn’t get her some Craft Projects immediately. Enter the fingerpaint. Maybe she’ll like it. Maybe it’ll be a mess. I’ll certainly use better paper than they gave babies back in the 70s. Plus, I’ll make pretty colors (I also remember the paints being dark drab colors: forest green, navy blue, burgundy, brown—bringing home papers with a slurry of blended green/brown/black smeared in the middle).
I found this recipe on the internet and cooked up a batch earlier this afternoon. Cooking it was fun—sort of like making cream of wheat where you stir and stir and stir for a million years and still it is just watery milk and then, suddenly, in the span of 15 seconds, all hell breaks loose and you suddenly have a pan full of porridge. Corn starch and water is a very curious porridge indeed.
After it cooled, I portioned it out into baby food jars and added food coloring. That was fun. It’s pretty thick with the recipe above so I added more water to make it a more paint-like consistency and stirred it all up with a chopstick. Even more fun, Ronin discovered the food coloring tubes and how to twist off the caps and while I was off neglecting her, she opened up the red, blue, and purple and squirted the stuff all over her hands. I was sort of flipped out and she repeated after me as I ferried the food coloring tubes out of reach “ssit ssit” (bad mama!).
The setup. All neat and tidy with cool and warm colors separated by dinner plate. I stripped her down and planted her in front of the paper.
Ronin tests the waters. Hmm. Colors pleasing… Paper smooth…
She was a little weirded out by the Stuff! on her hands!! It can be nice having a neat-freak toddler (she is a relatively tidy eater—partly because she doesn’t like to eat) but it is also alarming to take said toddler to the beach all, “BEHOLD: THE BEACH,” and have her totally freak out when a grain of sand gets stuck to her hand. She mellowed out a bit but I got her some tools anyway.
Palette knife and paintbrush.
Paintbrushes are for lamers.
Of course, nothing is better than simply cutting to the chase and eating the paint straight off your palette knife.
I’d say it was a success mostly. I’ll do it again at least despite the fact that food coloring does not just wash off of hands (or anything else) and her fingers are now stained purple-green-pink. Hopefully this fades quickly. I have to get better at ‘letting go’ as far as smearing paint in hair and eating it is concerned but I’m working on it. Ronin seems to enjoy the painting just fine but the real standout is getting to stack and rearrange the plates (between sneaking nibbles of turquoise or fuchsia), dumping the paper out on the grass and then arranging it back on the blue bin. And I sit back and dream wistfully that her future memory of fingerpainting will be happy, cathartic, and with zero spinechills.