Do you remember the last time you dipped your fingers into a tub of paint and used your hands as the brush? Maybe you’ve sat down with your child to do some finger painting but what about for yourself, as an adult? Why do we keep finger painting reserved for children?!
It’s ok! There’s no judgment here! I only recently began engaging in finger painting again, both for its therapeutic benefits as well as for its “funability.” Finger-painting can be just as therapeutic for adults as it is for children! It’s all about being mindful and grounded by using our senses: touch, smell, and sound.
So what makes finger-painting therapeutic? Sometimes, we use our bodies as vehicles and forget that it exists as a part of us. Using our bodies to paint, we can help reconnect our bodies with our minds; helping us to feel more grounded and present in the moment. According to a research study (2016) from the Creative Research Journal, finger painting can help increase our tactile sensations and assist us in mindfulness, emotional expression, as well as our focus/attention.
In this article, Bryan Carey (practitioner and teacher of the finger-painting technique) shares the therapeutic nature of finger-painting with his clients. Reverend WonGong So of the Won-Buddhism Meditation Temple attended one of Carey’s finger-painting workshops and reflected upon its potential for spiritual and psychological healing. She believes it to be a “good activity to boost self-esteem to fully express yourself. You can do it over and over again and see what different things come out. It’s a very good way to see how you’re feeling about yourself and about your expression of it.”
In the same article, the author speaks about the intuitive nature of finger painting. When we allow ourselves to paint with our fingers and accept the limitations of detail, we are free to create whatever our inner and intuitive self wants. We allow ourselves the freedom to exist outside of the boundaries and restrictions of our everyday lives, which lends itself nicely to the next point of meditation.
In a world where we are constantly on the move and onto the next, it can be challenging to connect with our bodies and senses. When finger-painting, we are directly engaging with our senses of touch, smell, and sight. We can ask ourselves to focus solely on what our senses are telling us as we touch, smell, and see the paint being spread by our hands across the page. Allowing ourselves to fall into a flow of: dipping fingers into paint, smearing across the paper, wiping fingers clean, and repeat. Finger-painting creates an opportunity to silence and let go of other stresses by focusing on the senses that make us feel alive!
What you can do!
You really don’t need many supplies for finger painting, just some paint and a medium to paint upon. You can think of materials with varying textures to increase the engagement of your sensations: canvas, paper, cardboard, wood planks are just some options to finger paint on!
Gather the paints you would like to use and either pour them onto a painter’s palette or simply drop paint onto the paper directly. It can help to tape down your paper so it doesn’t move around as you paint. Ensure the environment you are in allows for maximum focus: ensuring that your senses are being enhanced and not distracted by anything besides the painting. Consider this article by the ASANA International Yoga Journal for steps on how to create your own meditative environment.
Remember to check-in with your senses and ask them what they are seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing as you engage with your painting. Take a deep breath in and out. Allow your hands and arms to do the thinking for you…just jump right in and let your intuition take over!
Video image description: Sabrina Basaria demonstrates finger-painting for mindfulness
Music in the video by Ashot-Danielyan-Composer
The most important thing is for you to have fun and to enjoy the process! I love assisting my clients in demystifying art and its aesthetic pressures. As adults, we are so quick to judge ourselves, especially in art-making when we are exposed to art in galleries and museums. Art is not only about aesthetics, but about the evolution we encounter through the process of creating. Allow yourself to non-judgmentally evolve through your finger-painting!
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