Finger painting ideas for adults

Written by mary johnson-gerard, ph.d.
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Finger painting ideas for adults
Finger painting can be aesthetically satisfying for adults. (painting image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

Finger painting is typically thought of as an activity for children but adults can often reap creative satisfaction through the art form just as their younger counterparts do. Multi-sensory because the brain is receiving information through sight, sound, touch and even smell, finger painting for adults can take on many forms. Depending on the type of paint used and where the paint is applied, finger painting for adults is limited only by the artist's imagination.

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Painting on Canvas

The Backporchart finger painting style is a unique approach to finger painting on canvas using acrylic paints. Artist William Boyer describes his technique as simply "pouring the paint on the canvas and moving it around with your fingers." Creating this specific kind of finger paint art requires purchasing acrylic paints as well as either a canvas that has already been stretched on a frame or one you can stretch yourself. Before starting this finger paint project, keep in mind that acrylic paints dry quickly. If you are unsure of what you want to do with the paint before you put it on the canvas, you may not be able to paint fast enough. One helpful trick is to spray water lightly on the acrylic paint after you put it on the canvas. This gives you more time to play with the paint before it dries. You may also choose to add water to the acrylic paint before placing it on the canvas, which allows you to make a conscious decision about how thick the paint will be. Acrylic paints are also quite "forgiving." Although they tend to dry quickly, you can actually paint over a colour to fix any areas you're not happy with.

Painting on Paper

Adults may enjoy being creative but it's often with a specific purpose in mind. That purpose might be to create a work of art to be hung and admired or to finger paint items such as wrapping paper or gift bags. If you're interested in making your own gift wrap or decorated bags, you'll need paper sheets large enough to wrap the gift of your choice and blank gift bags in any colour. Specific paper made for finger painting comes in several sizes and weights and it's coated so the wet paint doesn't seep through to the other side. Many types of paint work well including acrylic, tempera, casein, oils, oil sticks and finger paint. You can also choose to paint on newsprint, which is large enough to use for wrapping paper as it can be cut into larger sheets.

Painting on Fabric

Fabric is another medium for adults interested in finger painting. Canvas bags, hats and aprons are readily available at craft stores and fabric paints can be purchased in all kinds of basic colours as well as opalescent and metallic colours. Finger painting basic T-shirts also tends to work well. To begin, cut a cardboard square that's the size of the front of the T-shirt and insert it in between the front and the back of the shirt so the paint meant for the front doesn't bleed through to the back of the shirt.

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