I love to paint. I was a fine art minor in college and studied a lot of art history. My favorite place to go in DC (before they took it down) was the Rothko exhibit in the modern wing of the National Gallery of Art. I took Aria there a few times pre-mobility and she is regularly exposed to other exhibits around DC (though I admit I’m not sure how much she takes in these days now that she literally runs the entire time we are there…). I have looked forward to days when we can sit at a table drawing or stand at side-by-side easels painting some awe-inspiring coastal view.
We introduced Aria to crayons some months ago now and she loves to color and draw. For Christmas Grandma Janie gave Aria an easel and she uses it multiple times daily. It has a chalkboard, a dry-erase board and paper, but until recently we’d only tried the paper and crayons. This was both an effort to draw out the newness of the easel and it’s many features and a little bit of stalling on my part, not sure how much “art” (read: mess) I could handle at this age and in our small space. Last week we broke out the dry-erase markers for the first time, which she loves; I love that they wash off skin quite easily (we’ll see about the clothes). We’ve also pulled out paper and paint brushes and water and practiced painting with no color. She’s very interested in that process.
Today, though, I was up for a challenge and being a bit bored with the typical cold-weather routine, decided to embrace the impending toddler mess and try finger paints for the first time. I admit that I’ve been a little intimidated by these thus far, having visions of multi-colored walls and baby and books and mama and rug and floor and ceiling (i know, i know, she can’t reach it…but she could throw it…) each time I’ve considered using these in the past. Today was different. Armed with a much-too-big smock and drop cloth, I carefully opened 4 jars of finger paint and set them on the cloth.
Side note: I had NO IDEA that finger paint was gelatinous! Is this common knowledge? I have no memory of using anything like this before. Was I deprived as a child? Or is this a new development in finger paint technology? I may have pulled them out a bit sooner if I’d only known. Anyway, back to the story…
Pulling out one sheet of finger-painting paper at a time, Aria and I sat down on opposites sides of the drop cloth and slowly began experimenting with the paints. Now, I am not a neat painter. I am messy, with little drops of spattered paint falling like rain all around me in the art studio. I like to get it on my hands, clothes, etc, and to really experience the paint. In my mind, it’ll wash off eventually, so no worries. Aria, on the other hand, has not enjoyed any foreign matter on her hands/fingers. She will get the tiniest speck of something on the very tip of her finger and will point it at us and ask over and over and over to get it off until we comply (or at least pretend to if we can’t actually see anything). So, she was a bit wary of the fingerpaints and started off slowly, just the tip of a finger dipped into color then wiped off on the paper over and over again. She watched me, though, and after requesting a few apples and letters and bananas, she began to get into it and eventually was painting with gusto. Her favorite finger to use was the thumb. She dipped each thumb into a jar of paint (one on each side of her for different colors) and instructed me to do the same with my thumbs. Yes, it had to be the thumbs. She would then say “Ready, Set, GO!” and we would paint with passion for several seconds, using up the paint before starting the entire process over again.
All in all we had a great time, with minimal mess. The few drops on the clothes and floor have washed up easily. I learned that “art” can in fact be art and not just mess for Mama to clean up. Aria learned that it isn’t always bad to have messy hands. And though it may be a bit premature, I don’t think it’s over the top to say that I think we’ve seen the birth of the world’s next great artist.