Creativity is often viewed as an innate gift – one that is demonstrated clearly in children. They create masterpieces in paint, build castles with cardboard, and create worlds in their minds. As Le Guin notes, creative adults retain that sense of wonder and the willingness to explore and experiment, where, for so many, it becomes an unused skill.
Artist Iris Scott is not only a “child who survived” with creativity intact, she turns to a technique commonly associated with childhood to create detailed works: fingerpainting.
Fingerpainting: Not Just for Children
Scott is a classically trained artist who specialized in watercolor and acrylic painting. However, a 2010 trip to Taiwan changed everything. In the midst of a creative burst and unable to tear herself away from her painting, she neglected to clean her brushes. Instead, she began to use her fingertips. Much to her surprise, Scott discovered that the technique enabled her to achieve incredible texture, depth, and feeling.
She describes the intense experience of paining with her fingertips: “It’s sort of like Play-Doh; I grab [the paint] and sculpt it on. There is nothing in between the canvas and me. There is no paintbrush.” Scott can interact much more intimately with the canvas. At the same time, the medium of paint becomes much like clay or that other childhood staple – Play-Doh. She sees her technique as bridging the gap between painting and sculpture. While nearly every younger is familiar with fingerpainting, it would be a mistake to infantilize Iris Scott’s work or to denigrate it as simply child’s play. Her paintings are highly detailed and sophisticated with a distinctly impressionistic feel this site.
Indeed, canvases like Scott’s cityscape series, evoke the thickly-textured, emotionally-charged strokes of Van Gogh. Her technique allows her to “feel all the tiny nuances” and render sun sparkled koi in vibrant blue water, soft spring flowers, crisp autumn leaves, and other subjects with great clarity and insight. She draws inspiration from masters including Monet, Sargent, Picasso, and, of course, Van Gogh.
Iris Scott’s art also draws on a movement calledBased in Brooklyn, New York, the city Scott calls home, this movement favors pleasant subjects, energetic colors, and a hefty dose of texture. The goal is to “delight” the viewer, to catch the eye and to leave a positive imprint.
To achieve this goal, Scott relies on her fingertips, of course – but she is elevating fingerpainting into a high art, virtually single-highhandedly. Eschewing the cheap acrylics associated with this technique, she instead uses high-quality oils – often as many as 100 different shades and hues. This enables her to create that wonderful texture and eye-popping color. She says when you “apply fancy thick oils to this technique, the sky is the limit.”
Scott is committed to promoting the possibilities of fingerpainting – and to teaching eager students to recapture their creativity and produce stunning works of their own. To this end, she authored Finger Painting Weekend Workshop: A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Brush-Free Works of Art.
In her guide, Scott gives artists and hobbiests clear, supportive instructions, step-by-step direction, lists of materials necessary for each project, and easy to follow pictures. While geared toward anyone who enjoys painting – or paint/sculpting – the book is especially friendly for beginners. Practical advice empowers people to create a work of art for gifting or simply enjoying in their own homes.
Art for Everyone
While a traditionally trained student and practitioner of art, Scott believes that her paintings are accessible to everyone – art degree or not. Likewise, her technique is accessible to everyone, if they have the willingness to give up norms and expectations and let their creativity flow. And, painting without brushes certainly reduces the cost of this pursuit!Her work draws on more than Instinctualism; it draws on the intense interest in adult coloring books and other products that harken back to childhood. Why shouldn’t adults indulge in creativity, get their hand’s “dirty,” leave their stress behind, and let their inner muse guide them just as it did when they were kids? Through accessible means like fingerpainting, like coloring books, like sculpting clay and other forms of expression, adults can recapture their innate imaginative geniuses. And even if they choose not to, they can certainly enjoy the fruits of Scott’s labors.
Her paintings are filled with joy and light; a welcome sight in a world that often borders on austere. Instinctualism is a metaphorical breath of fresh air. Creativity is a lifelong pursuit. Scott tapped into a technique associated with childhood and using it to create stunning artwork. When people stop playing by the rules, stop thinking inside the box, they can unleash wonderfully fresh ideas and energy into their art. Whether art is a hobby, a profession, or a passion, try something new.
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