Praying with finger paints

May your creating be your prayer, writes Ashley Mason Brown.

Photo contributed.

I found fingerpainting as an art form by accident. I had placed too much acrylic on my canvas and threw my hands into the globs of paint and smeared it around, creating colorful splotches. The more I smeared, the more the colors married until the canvas was covered in a muddy brown.

It was pretty ugly.

I didn’t care. I had fallen back into a moment of childhood. The confines of adulthood were removed as my fingers smashed the paint into the scratchy white cloth.

Since 2019, I’ve fingerpainted over 400 canvases. A system began to evolve naturally, and I began to visualize and pray as I painted. Prayers for the world, for the recipients of the paintings, for myself.

The more I painted, the more the prayer would guide the process.

The pieces were works of prayer, never works of art.

The pieces were works of prayer, never works of art. They were memorials, living altars, untold stories and broken promises. Some, like that first attempt at fingerpainting, were horrifically lackluster in color and technique. Others pulled my fingers and guided my hand. Each carried a piece of my heart with them, and to the outside world, none of them mattered.

At times, dark memories would emerge while painting. I would allow myself to release the memories into the canvas in the form of crude drawings. Memories of trauma, grief and crisis sank their ugly edges into the soft cream of my canvas. As they dried, I felt released.

These pieces of art later were covered with artworks of forgiveness, healing and release.

There is a grave misunderstanding within our rational minds. We believe that to produce art, we need to be artistic and to be seen as successful. That simply is not true. There is no prerequisite that validates any creator. Yet, that hurdle seems to be incredibly common in our highly self-critical brains.

There is no prerequisite that validates any creator.

When we give ourselves permission to create art privately, we are able to remove focus on the final product. Connecting to God comes through engaging in the creation process. Is it good? Is it worthy? Who cares? No one will ever see if unless you want them to.

Photo contributed.

It is never too late to use art to experience the divine and experience spiritual healing. For those who are yearning to release pent-up creative energy, I recommend reading It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron. She is also the author of the best-seller The Artist Way. In It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, Cameron crafts a three-month creative journey for anyone who dares to engage with their inner child and explore the inner workings of their heart through the creative process. Art excavates the deepest caverns of our souls.

We are each artist in the world that God has painted us into. We forget that we have a brush in our hand and can leave of own paint strokes of divine grace.

For anyone interested in meditative fingerpaints, I suggest a quick trip to the local art supply store and purchasing low-end acrylic paint and a large canvas or mixed-media art paper (which has a high absorption rate and can handle the thickness of acrylics).

Allow yourself to grow in relationship with the canvas through a series of paintings on that canvas. Pray as you create, blast music that makes you feel happy, light a candle, let in the cold winter air, dance and drag your fingers through the paint and see what God produces through your hands, which he so wonderfully made.

May your creating be your prayer. Amen.

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