Finger Painting


abstract finger painting in multiple colors

Your Art Kit came with 2 large sheets of paper. We used the 1st one for Automatic Drawing, and we’re using the 2nd one this week for Finger Painting. Your Art Kit also came with 3 small pots of paint. That’s the materials for this week: paper, non-toxic, washable paint, and some water.

We’ve spoken about Abstraction a couple of times this semester, and this is our chance to try some abstract painting. Why no brush? Brushes can be pretty cheap (and they can also be pretty expensive!) so I could have included one in your Art Kit. I didn’t because I think a brush more easily puts your mind in the space of Paint Some Thing. Representational painting is great of course! But it’s not the only way to work. And for those of us who are beginners the skill we don’t have can really get in the way and be frustrating.

In this Abstract Painting activity I’d like you to be free to “feel” the paint. To feel the rhythm of the marks you make on the paper. No worries about it looking like something, just feel the temperature of your hot reds and cool blues. Feel the mass of the areas of color you make. The lyricality. The cadence. The flow. The texture.

Installation view of Alvaro Alvarez' installation at the CSULB School of Art, Werby Gallery. Installation includes a large floor-covering abstract canvas and a video showing how Alvarez used his body as a "living brush" to "paint" the canvas.
Alvaro Alvarez, CSULB Werby Gallery, September 2016

If you recall, back in September in the Werby Gallery we saw Alvaro Alvarez installation where he had a video of himself “painting” a large canvas. He used his own body as a sort of “living brush” to paint with.

You might not be surprised to learn that a number of artists have used the human body as a “paint brush”. And since I said “living brush”, I should probably mention that in the late 1950’s / early 1960’s French artist Yves Klein created a series of “living brush” paintings.

Black-and-white photo of a person as a Yves Klein "living brush" spreading paint around a large canvas on the ground
First experiment of the living brushes in Robert Godet’s apartment, rue le Regrattier, Paris, June 5th, 1958.

You don’t have to do anything as adventurous or large as Alvarez or Klein, but you might find a bit of inspiration and energy in their work.

Your Blog Post

As always, try the activity and blog about it.

  • What was the experience like?
  • Was it easier, harder, or different than you expected?
  • How was the experience of making a painting with no subject? Confusing & Frustrating? Liberating & Inspiring?
  • This painting activity is pretty different from our previous painting activity, Graffiti Writing. How are they the same? How are they different? Can you find any kind of connection between them as different ways of using paint and creating visual experiences?

Zaria Forman in front of a painting in progress


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