From paintballing to finger painting

September 11, 2019 — by Anna Novoselov

A few weeks ago, I agreed to go paintballing with a group of people who had been several times before. I knew that I was going to be demolished, but. However, I was still excited to experience the adrenaline rush of running around and trying to shoot opponents (non-fatally, of course). 

Unfortunately, the plan failed to become a reality due to conflicting schedules and the inconvenient location of the paintball field.

I had expected to write about my paintballing experience for a newspaper story, so I began anxiously searching for another activity to try as the deadline loomed closer. Upon consulting a few friends, I received some blank stares and a couple ideas, one of which was finger painting. 

Paintballing … finger painting. Close enough, right?

During a family trip in Panama a few years ago, I remember stopping to marvel at a series of beautiful paintings featuring ocean scenes and sculpted cliffs lying on the sand. Seeing my interest, the painter motioned with his hand and began performing a demonstration of his technique.

My mouth gaped as he dipped a finger in blobs of paint and then transferred the colors to a small piece of paper, dabbing here and there. In only a couple minutes he had produced an intricate masterpiece that looked like it had taken hours to paint.

I’ve been painting since fifth grade, so I hoped that I would achieve similar results. I was expecting the paint on my fingers to appear in predictable splotches and magically create defintite forms. That didn’t happen.

After choosing a photo of greenery framing Stevens Creek Reservoir that I had taken on a hike for a reference, I squeezed out paint on a paper plate and found a rectangular piece of cardboard. Then I pulled on a glove onto my right hand and began experimenting.

Blotting paint onto my “canvas” without caring about how the end product would look gave me a sense of freedom that  took me back to elementary school, where we created handprint turkeys and thumb Santa Clauses. 

Sadly, my painting did not take the five minutes that it would have taken the man on the Panama beach. Neither did the blotches produce the illusion of meticulous strokes and detailed precision. My work gradually improved, yet I was no Iris Scott, who is a professional finger painter (yes, I looked him up).

While I still find paintbrushes much easier to use, I now have a new painting tool at my disposal: my finger. 

Exploring this new technique introduced me to a creative way of painting and took me back to my childhood. Through attempting a this new activity, I am inspired me to search out more hobbies that I could try. 

Who knows, maybe I’m secretly a master knitter.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.


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