Easy as 1, 2, 3: A class you won’t regret
Students in Art 100 will create visual masterpieces, such as the one showcased above, which was painted by a 21-year-old mechanical engineering major named Steve. Photo by Kristina Soetje.

Easy as 1, 2, 3: A class you won’t regret

UMBC welcomes specialty instructors with open arms. Coffee lounges are stocked with a  variety of juice boxes, goldfish and animal crackers to show our appreciation. In honor of Retriever spirit, the administration decorates art studios with high chairs poised in front of every canvas and easel. The Visual Arts Department is pleased to announce its new fall course, “Art 100: The Craft of Finger-Painting,” will be lead by children between 7-10 year-olds.

Art 100 introduces the visual arts major to the dynamic fun of creating with the most fundamental tool they possess: their hands. Majors, as well as non-majors, will be able to experiment with color mixing to develop and strengthen their creativity skills. Through free and rhythmic movements from the shoulder extending to the fingers, artists can create an ooey gooey masterpiece.

One of our new faculty members is eight-year-old, Kaitlyn Harris. Ms. Harris enjoys finger painting because “I can make a mess without getting in trouble for it.” Ms. Harris and her third-grade classmates will be embarking on a college experience earlier than their parents thought. UMBC’s Visual Arts department has begun partnering with each adolescent to produce a lesson plan that students will not only enjoy but learn to love.

Most students major in the physical and biological sciences, engineering or information technology. But all students can benefit from the most basic activities. “People think finger painting is for babies but I’m not a baby and I think it’s fun,” said 10-year-old Malik Thomas. To ensure everyone is engaging in a safe and productive learning environment, the curriculum encompasses a recipe for non-toxic finger paint. Students must carefully follow a procedure that requires mixing cornflour and cold water to make a smooth paste. Next, they boil this mixture under low heat to prevent lumps and divide easily. After cooling, natural food coloring or powdered dyes are added to generate their own supplies.

In addition to developing materials, students must conduct their own evaluations for each piece of artwork. In early childhood, playing with parents or friends served as the best way to build a foundation for future learning. The psychology of most arts and crafts may be easy to study by lecture or research but the first-hand experience trumps all. Freedom of expression prepares the youth to interpret their vision through a beautiful combination of vivid colors. They have the ability to cover issues of symmetry and design, and students are first exposed to the wide range of possibilities accessible by the imagination.

“Sometimes I paint rainbows,” Thomas began, “but then I add a boat and the rainbow becomes a bridge.”

As students manipulate their hands instead of using brushes, their motor skills improve. Furthermore, as they experiment with materials, they also dabble in scientific discoveries. Most importantly, when students of all ages watch their creation come to life in such a messy manner it boosts their confidence to make artistic choices. Both a sight to see and a feeling to embrace, make no mistake, finger-painting extends beyond the classroom. “And at the end of the rainbow,” Thomas continued with a smile, “my family and I move out of the shelter and into our brand new house.”