Monday, December 6, 2010

Paint Me a Picture...But use different paint, please.

We used to use finger paint. When Vance was a baby, Fifi loved to mush it between her fingers and coat full sheets of paper with it. But then the finger paint turned. And by turned, I mean the rancid odor paralleled only by forgotten eggs rediscovered months later. We said our heartfelt goodbyes to the finger paint and moved on to other washable paints that used brushes or sponges instead.

Ever since then, however, my daughter has often asked about finger painting. I've heard her regale her little brother with wondrous stories of this magical paint she once had and when she used it, Mommy actually let her touch it with her hands and relish in its squishy colorfulness. The far-away look in her eyes caught hold of Vance's imagination and as I rubbed him down with a baby wipe he looked at me as if to say, "You've been holding out on me!"

And so I decided if I were to indulge my kids, I would go whole hog. Not only would we paint with finger paint, we would make finger paint.

I wisely chose a day when Daddy was home--and then made him find the few surfaces around our house upon which the finished products could dry. I really hate that part.

I followed a recipe from The Please Touch Museum that calls for 1/4 cup of cornstarch mixed with 2 cups of water, boiled until thick. After the white viscosity cooled, we poured it into jars and added food coloring. The kids probably enjoyed mixing the paint more than actually painting with it. And once I added glitter, the children explored the paint more like scientists than artists.

I give the project big points in the sensory department. The kids loved mixing the colors and slathering the paint, and given the "with calcium" corn starch I used, I would have been okay with them eating the stuff. But as an art project, it was less successful.  The paint was clumpy and fairly thin and when it dried it left the paintings looking more like sculptures than two-dimensional works on paper.

Will we finger-paint again? Oh, I don't know. But I will let my kids have other opportunities to get messy, don't you worry.

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