It’s been over a year since we last used fingerpaints, which means that I had enough time to block all of the memories of attempting to clean a slimey, gooey, multi-colored, covered head-to-foot toddler without turning into a slimey, gooey, multi-colored, covered head-to-foot Mommy.

And, the weather has been so gorgeous this week that Ali and I have been looking for any excuse to get outside.

So, we decided that today was the PERFECT day to explore our creativity.

Well actually, all she knew was “we’re going to do something really fun!!!”. But it was enough to get her to be patient while I gathered up the LONG list of supplies that one needs to create a toddler fingerpainting experience.

I got it all set up, including, of course, dressing her and I in pre-stained clothes, and then pulled out the paints.

Apparently, a year is long enough for her memory to fade, too. She just sat there, next to the paints and the canvas, as if she were waiting for me to hand her a paintbrush or something: IMG_3962
I was determined to give as little instruction as possible to see where her creativity would lead her, but I finally had to give in, after staring at her, staring at ME for at least 5 months in toddler years.

“Just use your fingers and paint.”

And so, one finger daintily dipped in,IMG_3963
And began a very minimalist picture.IMG_3964

She would stop and survey her work, then put a make a few more specific lines:IMG_3965
It finally occurred to her to use both of her index fingers,IMG_3973

And then all of the fingers had to jump into the fun.IMG_3975
No More Miss Dainty. IMG_3978


But art was still serious business: IMG_3982
And, apparently, something that is quite rude to be photographed. I’m not sure if she thought I was going to copy her work or what:

Happy with her progress, she applauded her own achievements:
And then very quickly regretted it.

Which caused her conscientiousness about making a mess set in:IMG_3994


But she got over it and jumped back in with both fists:IMG_3999
It didn’t take as long as I thought it would. She abruptly picked up her hands from the canvas, looked up proudly, and asked me to please put all the tops back on the paints.IMG_4001

“Are you all done?”

“Yes, I’m all done.”

“Okay, but you need to do one more thing first: You need to sign your name.”

“Okay….A…..L….I. I signed my name!!” IMG_4025

Yes, it MIGHT look like a hand shooting the bird at me.

I suppose it COULD be a subliminal message (especially since she’s always been quite prone to using her middle finger).

Or maybe it is just a result of our short-sightedness in naming choices. We went through every rhyme for her name to prevent bad nicknaming, but the SHAPE of her name – we never considered that…

At any rate, I’m sure you’re ready to see the complete finished picture.



OH! And the painting!!IMG_4026
Yes, the birdy-hand signature is nice and central to the entire art piece. Nice, huh?

And finally, a short clip of the artist hard at work:

And THAT is how masterpieces are created. Oh – and how slimey, gooey, multi-colored, covered-head-to-foot toddlers are made.

17 thoughts on “Art Class 201

  1. That looks like fun, and you do a wonderful job of telling your/her story, both in your writing and your pics.

    Thank you for sharing.


  2. How cute! I loved the squeaky, high-pitched, "Oh, my kneeeeeeeeeee". I love her reserve that gradually changes into pure, sweet fun.

    Hearing the bird in the background made me think you were at the beach painting.

  3. LOVE IT! Such a great idea. Do you hang these proudly in your house? David has painted (with some help from me) before, but I'd love to see what he can do completely on his own. I might have to try this one out. Great idea.

  4. Haha the video is great! Especially when she can't figure out why when she wipes her knee to get the drop of paint off, she ends up covering her whole thigh. Love it! I see no finger paint fight ensued though! :o)

  5. I'd say she did a decent job keeping the mess to a minimum! I've found those "washable" paints aren't always so washable.

    LOVE her art piece. She has great symmetry going on.

  6. I'm anal enough to admit that part of what bugs me about fingerpainting (aside from the godawful mess) is that my kid ends up smearing so man colors together, everything either looks like mud or tar. I mean, I get why that's fun, but there are no discernible COLORS and every picture looks pretty much the same. I am such a lame mom, aren't I?

  7. Wow, you guys must be having some really nice weather! We are officially into fall. I put all the summer clothes away. I meant to let K do finger paints this summer but I forgot all about it. Oh well, maybe next year. It's nearly time to pull out the snowsuit up here. :(

  8. That is a great post. The picture looks like the woods in a Harry Potter movie to me. It might sell for a lot. It looks like she had a great time.

  9. Yes, that totally looks an inappropriate hand gesture.

    How funny that y'all thought of picking a name based on the inability to make bad nicknames. I was obsessed with initials since mine growing up spelled gas. :)

  10. Thanks for the lovely comments on my blog. But on this occasion I have to question your sanity as a parent… This kind of messy activity is clearly something that only a mother of one would encourage. and I worry for your own state of mind.
    For your on going education. It is a CARBOOT not a garage or yard sale… If you would like pics am happy to oblige!
    Pram is what a stroller is called here where Prams come from! We also have buggies (what do you think that is!!!)
    Tea is the meal that we have in the evening and we eat crisps (not chips / fries!).
    Corgettes are zuchinni and Lost is Lost whereever you may be lost!

    Love you Rach! Really hop you do come to NY Blogher next year especially with my cutest blogfix babe little toddler Ali. She reminds me so much of my girls – so watch out and get her one of those birthday skirts before they sell out!


  11. You demonstrated exactly how every child progresses through it. LOVE it!

    That bird in the video had quite a bit to say about the experience as well.

  12. That's a really great painting, I think it should hang in Ali's room!
    My favorite part of the video was when she squealed "kneeee" when she got paint on her knee :)

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