Finger paints are formulated to be applied and manipulated by the hands. Rubbing the paint on the paper is varied by using different parts of the hands (fingertips, nails, knuckles, palms, wrists, etc.) and arms (forearms and elbows). This process is called fingerpainting, typically done on a large sheet of glossy white paper, strong (60-pound is good), coated on one or both sides, and non-absorbent, having a smooth, bright surface that resists running and bleeding. finger-painting little girlAlthough done by artists of all ages, today fingerpainting is commonly associated with painters at the early-childhood level.Finger paints can be purchased (thickened, in jars, and washable), or they can made from other ingredients. If you have tempera, all you need to do is to thicken its consistency by adding cornstarch (also known as cornflour) ? better in powder (cooking ingredient) than in liquid form (laundry supply). A pint of paint is improved with the addition of a half-cup of cornstarch. A glossy finish will result if you add a tablespoon of glycerine per quart.The painter above may be oblivious to the paint she gets on her face and clothing, so someone might have helped her roll up long sleeves, and put on a smock. If she is accompanied by a group of other painters, assistants might also prepare for cleaning up when they're all done by spreading old newspapers on the floor near a sink, placing a bucket half-filled with soapy water on the papers. Painters can clean some of their hands and forearms in the bucket before finishing up at the sink. Plenty of towels should be accessible too.Fingerpainting probably originated in pre-historic play with mud and other sorts of muck. It was done in 8th century China, as well as in ancient Etruria and Herculaneum. Ruth Faison Shaw (American, 1888-1969) developed a modern fingerpainting technique (sometimes called the "Shavian technique") in the 1920s, likening it to dance, and popularized it in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Shaw never began a painting with an idea in mind, preferring to let her subconscious imagination take over. Shaw was also an advocate of progressive education and a pioneer of art therapy.Example:Gao Qipei (Chinese, 1672?1734), Qing dynasty, Quail, c. 1730, leaf from an album of finger paintings, 11 3/4 x l3 3/4 inches (30 x 35 cm), Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell U, Ithaca, NY.Related link: The Shaw School & Studio, Durham, NC. Bryan Carey teaches Ruth Faison Shaw's fingerpainting technique.Also see body art.