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Finger paint three ways (without actually using your fingers)

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Sure we are using finger paint, but that doesn't mean we have to use our fingers or even a brush. Here are three projects that you can do with your little ones. It may look like child's play but it is a great learning opportunity. For small children, it is a tactile activity and introduces or reinforces familiarity with color. For the older kiddos, it is a means of self-expression. Let's prep our work area: drop cloth on the floor or table, smock on the child, and lots of patience from you. Right about now, accept the fact that there will be a mess to clean up, but by the time you're done, you'll think it was worth it. Make some room on that wall, because you will hang these masterpieces when the children are done.

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What you need (What, no brush?):
-finger paint or tempera
-paper (watercolor paper or plain printer paper)
-old medicine dropper
-straw
-marbles
-a plastic storage box
-tape
-smock
-drop cloth or similar to protect your work area

Let the child pick three colors. Do you want monochromatic colors? How about complimentary colors or opposites? The artwork will be messy er, abstract pieces to begin with so three to five colors are enough to make the painting still have some cohesiveness. Let's get started.

1. Inkblot in full color:
Fold the paper crosswise and open up again. Drop paint towards the general center of the paper. Right on the fold is fine too. Re-fold paper and with your child's fist, push gently from the fold and out towards the edges. Open and lay flat to dry then marvel at your child's natural artistic abilities. They must take after you.

2. Airbrush or something like it:
Lay out a piece of paper as your child chooses (landscape or portrait). Drop paint on paper and decide if this painting will be completely random or if you want a pattern to emerge. Using a straw, blow on the paint in short, forceful bursts. Try blowing it right from above and from the side. Colors might radiate out or mix and run into the other ones around it. Step back and see yet another masterpiece.

3. A brush of another kind:
Tape a piece of paper inside a shallow, rectangular, plastic tub. Drop paint onto paper. Follow with three to four marbles into the tub and start rolling them around. Make sure to stop every now and then and decide when the painting is finished or you will end up with nothing but grey. Now it's clear that your child has the makings of a young Jackson Pollock.

Before you start deciding which ivy league school from which your child should earn her degree in Fine Arts, let's take baby steps and check out local Austin art school Art + Academy. They offer classes for the young (age 4) and the young at heart (adult classes). Gallery days are always fun when faculty and students showcase their artwork. Tool around their user-friendly website to see how their classes work, find a convenient class time, choose one of two locations (NW Austin or Cedar Park), and most importantly, sign up. Check out the gallery while you're there; you will be amazed at the students' progress.

There's still time to register for one of their summer camps as well. If you would rather get in touch directly with one of their excellent artists and teachers, email Ms. Monica Araoz at info@artplusacademy.com or call (512) 415-8267.

Check out the author's suggested articles below for more art projects and be sure to Subscribe to Theda's Examiner articles. Get craft ideas each month, delivered straight to your inbox. Remember to Like it, Share it, and Pin it. Follow her blog Things My Mother Didn't Tell Me About Motherhood in which she talks about her parenting adventures and misadventures.

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