The Joys of Fingerpainting

Adam - Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Entered on December 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity

“This I Believe” by Adam Seipel

There’s a popular book titled All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and although I have never read the book, I whole-heartily agree with the author’s message. I feel this way because I believe in the amazing result of good friends, a shower curtain, creativity, and most importantly, finger-paint, which is a skill that I mastered around the age of five). I love the feel of reds, blues, greens, oranges, and all the rest squishing between my fingers and the curtain. Yes, I believe in the magic of finger-painting, no matter how old you are.

I first discovered the high-art of finger-painting during the spring of my sophomore year at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Fifteen of my friends and I sprawled out on the terrace behind our dorm and created– together. Throughout the day tour groups of high school students walked by with their parents. The teenagers were enthralled and the parents aghast.

Feet, hands, faces, and sticks were our instruments. Shower curtains and bodies our canvasses. Poems, songs, and one 8’x8′ painting were the beautiful results of our afternoon (along with the several concerned parents touring the campus). My grand experiment in collective creativity was a resounding success.

The following year I repeated the experiment, but this time is was more cathartic than celebratory. The one year anniversary of our creation fell several days after a Cho Seung-Hiu killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. Needless to say, our campus, along with every campus around the country, was experiencing several conflicting emotions. We were thankful as we contacted our friends at Virginia Tech; suspicious of our classmates; and, terrified of any copy-cat threats that typically follow these events. Vigils were held, memorials planned, and campus officials reevaluated campus security plans.

As for me, I bought three shower curtains and paint and went to the busiest part of campus, College Green. That afternoon over fifty students (and one inflatable crocodile) stopped by to paint, escape their worries, relive childhood bliss, and forget about life for a while. I know that this act didn’t bring back the 32 innocent victims of Virginia Tech or create any greater safety at my school, but for three hours finger-painting’s magic made life livable again and perhaps that is all any of us was truly looking for.