Although many people consider finger painting just a fun activity for kids, it can be a fantastic way for adults to create beautiful art with just as much skill and dimension as traditional paintbrushes.
So, what do you need to know about finger painting for adults? To get the most fun out of finger painting for adults, you should know the supplies you’ll need, ideas for what you can accomplish with finger painting, why you should choose finger painting, and more.
Some artists, such as Iris Scott, have created incredible art through finger painting. Finger painting allows you to paint by feel, giving you more control and understanding of your paint as you work to create your desired image.
Let’s learn more about finger painting for adults below.
Adult Finger Painting
You may be asking yourself, how is adult finger painting any different than finger painting for children? So before we go on, let’s review the basics of adult finger painting.
Adult finger painting is done methodically and skillfully, just as you would paint with a paintbrush. Some artists even sketch out their painting on the canvas in pencil before putting fingers to paint on canvas.
It’s a concentrated art form that will cause you to consider how best you can achieve your painting, the same way you would with a brush.
It still requires a fundamental understanding of color theory, spatial awareness, and size manipulation to achieve correct (or intentionally incorrect) proportions.
This isn’t to say that adult finger painting can’t be fun! Certainly, adult finger painting can be a great way to relax and unwind after a long day at work by creating something abstract and fun.
You don’t always need to sketch out a particular image and work hard to create it. Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel the paint on your fingers and have fun throwing colors together.
Why Choose Finger Painting For Adults?
As we mentioned above, finger painting for adults can be a great way to relax and unwind. When the adult coloring books feel stale and you’re just not up for a yoga routine, you can try finger painting instead.
It can also be extremely freeing. For adults who work demanding jobs and have to follow very strict sets of rules, policies, or procedures, it can be freeing to dig their hands in some paint and just let their creativity flow.
Finger painting is a unique activity to use to relax because it adds the sensory component of feeling the paint.
With coloring books, you’re simply holding a pencil and coloring in the lines. With finger painting, you get to immerse yourself in the paint and let your mind unwind in the feeling of the paint.
If you’re already an artist and are wondering why you should try finger painting, one great reason is that same experience of feeling the paint.
When you can feel exactly where the paint is going on the canvas and how it’s blending, you have more control over your colors and can better manipulate the paints on the canvas to produce the image you’re working to create.
Supplies For Adult Finger Painting
Before you can begin you first adult finger painting, you’ll need to pick up some necessary supplies.
- Painting surface (such as canvas)
- Drop cloth
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby wipes or paper towels
- Optional: hair dryer
We recommend using acrylic paint as it seems to work best since it’s easy to work with. However, be sure to check the label for the ACMI AP seal.
The ACMI is The Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc., and they work to certify paint for safety standards.
The AP seal means it is an Approved Product, so it does not pose a toxic or injurious threat to humans. This means it will be safe to work with bare handed, though we still recommend wearing gloves.
The CL seal means Cautionary Labeling. A product with the CL seal means it has an accompanying cautionary label that details the toxic or injurious threat it may pose to humans.
Paints bearing the CL label are not safe to use with your bare hands.
Regardless of the seal, we highly recommend wearing gloves while you work. It will keep your hands cleaner while still allowing you to feel the paint through the thin material of the gloves.
Before purchasing a drop cloth, measure the space you plan to use for your finger painting and ensure that the drop cloth is the right size. The product we linked above has a range of sizes to help you cover your space properly.
Hand soap is great for clean-up, but if you’ve been painting with your bare hands and notice that you still have some paint sticking to your fingernails, try using hand sanitizer.
The alcohol can do a better job of dissolving and getting rid of the paint than just soap will. Baby wipes or paper towels will come in handy when switching between colors. Just wipe off your finger on a paper towel or baby wipe, then dive into the next color!
Finally, a hair dryer is useful for drying your paint in between layers if you want to work quickly. If you’ve got some time to wait, you can skip the hair dryer and allow your paint to dry naturally.
What Paint Is Best For Finger Painting?
We mentioned above that acrylic paint is best for finger painting, but others may have differing opinions.
For example, some people choose to use oil paints for finger painting instead of acrylics. If you do this, be sure to wear your gloves while you work.
We recommend acrylic paint because it’s so simple to work with.
For one, it has a smooth consistency that not only feels good on the fingers but spreads easily on the canvas. You can blend the colors smoothly because the paint has such a soft consistency.
It can also be used without any water. You won’t have to worry about mixing your paints with water to get them working right. They can just go straight on the canvas.
They also come in an incredible range of colors. You can use each color straight out of the tube, or quickly mix your desired color either on a painter’s palette or directly on the canvas.
Although this would require a little extra mixing, it would be no more work than blending on the canvas. Because acrylic paints are so smooth and require no extra additives like water, they’re easy to use with just your fingers.
As we stated above, just be sure to get acrylic paint with the AP seal so you know it’s safe to use with your bare hands.
Finger Painting Ideas For Adults
Although it may seem like the only thing to do is finger paint on canvas, that’s just one place to start. There are other ideas you can do with finger painting for adults, so let’s dive in and explore them!
Of course, the first idea is to simply finger paint on a canvas. This is the most traditional surface for painting, and it may be the easiest place for you to start out.
A canvas allows you with a clean, white, blank slate that you can use to create anything.
Finger painting lends itself particularly well to creating flowers or landscapes. There are many simple “brushstrokes” in nature that can be imitated using only fingers, knuckles, and nails.
For example, your fingers would be perfect to create individual petals around a flower, or swirling waves in the ocean. Don’t let nature limit you, though. You can create any image you want with your fingers. A good inspiration to look at is Iris Scott.
Iris Scott is a painter who creates stunning paintings using her fingers instead of a brush. She has some videos you can look at online, but the best place to start with her work is to go directly to her website.
She would be a great source of inspiration if you’re looking to do more than just simplistic flowers or landscapes. You can also branch out into abstract art, if you don’t want the stress of trying to create recognizable images.
Abstract art can be anything you want it to be. You can throw your whole hand on the canvas, or use just the tips of your fingers to create small brushstrokes.
On Home Décor
If you want to paint on something other than a canvas, try adding a personal touch to a piece of home décor!
Wooden bowls are often used as decorative holders for things like keys, fake fruit, and potpourri. Why not dip your fingers in some paint and take that plain wooden bowl to the next level?
You can paint on ceramics, too, to elevate a simple vase or a ceramic holding bowl and give it your own special twist. Just remember to use appropriate paints for the surface you’re working on. If you’re going to paint on wood, you’ll likely need to sand it first.
If you’re going to paint on ceramics, keep in mind that they’ve already been glazed and may not take simple acrylic paint well. You can also try your hand at finger painting on a throw pillow, but be sure to get fabric paints for that.
A surface that may not be obvious to finger paint on, but can lead to great possibilities, is your furniture. You can transform an old wooden dresser from worn and dated to a beautiful, new piece of décor that doubles as functional.
Adding your own paintings to your furniture can give your home new life and make it feel more like yours.
Your guests will be impressed to walk into your home and see a console table by the door with a finger painted masterpiece of wildflowers along the top.
Finger painting on furniture will require a bit of prep work, just as it would if you were simply refinishing the furniture with a new coat of solid paint.
You’ll need to wash the furniture item and sand it before you can begin.
Even though the finger painting will be a more fun and free creative process than simply covering the furniture in a solid coat of paint, you’ll still need to take the necessary steps to seal it when you’re done.
Some great furniture pieces that do great with finger painting masterpieces are dressers, bed headboards, console tables, coffee tables, dining room tables, and picture or mirror frames.
Another unconventional place to add a finger painting creation is on your walls!
Many people choose to have murals painted on the walls of their child’s bedroom, their own bedroom, or even their living room or kitchen.
Instead of painting a mural with a brush, try using your hands! It’s important to note that when creating a mural on the wall, you may need to use interior house paint, which is not safe for use on bare hands.
Be sure to wear gloves, an apron, and even a mask while working to prevent any injury from toxic fumes or chemicals.
You can even combine your finger painting with brush work, using both your hands and a set of paintbrushes to achieve a beautiful look on your walls.
Tips And Tricks For Finger Painting For Adults
One of the best tips for finger painting with adults is to remember that you’re still working with the same acrylic paint you might use for brushes – so give it time to dry!
Painting in layers will help your colors come to life and prevent them from muddying by blending together.
Give each layer time to dry before you begin on the next one. If you’re pressed for time, it can be a good idea to use a hair dryer to dry the paint more quickly between layers.
Another tip is that finger painting lends itself well to blending, so try to create images where blending is a main aspect of the painting. Blending with finger painting is easier because you have more control over the paints, and you’re able to move quicker.
You won’t have to use one color on your brush, clean and dry your brush, then switch to the next color. Instead, you can quickly wipe off your finger with a paper towel or baby wipe to switch between colors.
Finally, if you’re stuck on what to paint or how to get started, try using a video tutorial. There are plenty of great video tutorials online that walk you through how to create stunning paintings using the art of finger painting.
Video Tutorials For Finger Painting For Adults
If you’re looking for some great video tutorials to get you started, we’ve got three that we would highly recommend.
The first is from Iris Scott. In the video below, Iris takes you step by step to show you how to create a stunning koi painting using just her fingers.
The second is from Art by Kimberly Adams. In the video below, Kimberly gives you a tutorial on how to create a painting of hydrangeas using finger painting. While it may not look like much as you’re going, the painting really comes together at the end.
The third is for someone looking for a challenge. In the video below, Debasree Dey Art provides a time lapse of a finger painting she did to create summer blossoms. This video is not a tutorial, so you will not find guidance or steps.
However, it’s a great visual tutorial that you can use to recreate your own version, if you’re up for a bit of a challenge and looking to test your skills.