I’m always looking for ways to breathe new energy into a common medium. This painting project did just that - better than I had hoped!
To loosen up our approach to acrylic painting, I asked students to come up with 20 different things they could paint with instead of a paintbrush. I asked them to think as far outside of the box as possible. Although they made excellent lists (toothbrushes, Q tips, sponges, erasers, bottle caps, etc.) most of them chose to paint with…their fingers - the most handy tool available to them at all times and at no cost!
At first, I was a little disappointed because I really wanted them to see what other items could do. But as the project progressed, I was thrilled with their complete and utter absorption in this process. For the most part, they had not finger painted since early childhood. Working from resource photos, they very enthusiastically jumped in and smeared, blended, dabbed, and smoothed the paint onto the paper. They still had to pay attention to highlights and shadows, but the effect of their fingers loosened up their work and gave it a flow that can sometimes be missing in beginning painters' efforts. I'm now considering adding a true "finger painting" project to my curriculum.
Don’t you love it when students take your idea in a completely different way than you were imagining and just run with it?