Finger Paint

Painting with only the hands and fingers is an ancient form of art, but modern finger paints, which are commonly utilized by young children, were developed by Ruth Faison Shaw in the 1930s. Shaw, who ran an elementary school for English-speaking students in Rome, was inspired with the idea when she sent a student to the bathroom to clean a cut with iodine, but found him instead spreading the colored substance on the walls. Deciding that painting with the fingers would be a creative outlet that even the youngest students could enjoy, Shaw set about creating a rainbow-like array of non-toxic child-safe paints, which were eventually marketed by the makers of Crayola crayons. Shaw was also instrumental in promoting the idea of art therapy, beginning as early as the 1930s to promote finger painting as a means of expression for the mentally ill.


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