Easy Finger-painted Father’s Day Gift


My husband was sweet enough to have his birthday in June, just about the time Father’s day falls.  Birthday gifts are hard enough, let alone father’s day gifts!  So as I was racking my brain for a father’s day gift from Little O, I saw this idea pinned on Pinterest. Bingo! I had my idea.

Masking is a technique often used by painters…usually pretty easy to do, and I figured this was a cinch. I decided to use the text “i dad” and got to work.  The first step is to prepare your surface.  You can use canvas, canvas paper, cardstock, board, watercolor paper, whatever.  Just be sure that the tape you use is compatible with your surface (i.e. masking tape will probably rip watercolor paper, but painter’s tape might not.)

I used canvas paper.  It looks like this:


Basically it is a piece of canvas already primed with gesso.  It is unmounted, so you can put it in a frame.  I used plain old masking tape to create the message, tearing it for the effect I wanted around the edges.

Then I set up the finger-painting station.  I SHOULD have put Little O in his high chair and let him paint there…thus ensuring that the paint would stay in one general location.  But because the tray was too small for the paper, I set up my station like this:


Notice how my paint tray is taped down?  I still think this is a good idea, but it didn’t keep the paint from wandering, because the kid wasn’t tied down! We did  have a drop cloth which limited the “damage” to the table. I used some inexpensive tempera paints.  I decided that I haven’t tried enough finger paint recipes to know if any of them dry well and have good “archival” qualities.  So since this tempera was non-toxic and washable, that’s what we used.  I took Little O’s shirt off so all we’d need to wash was his skin. Even though I took extra care to keep his hands out of his mouth, he still did a face-plant onto the painted surface of the canvas, so just be extra careful if you are using anything you don’t want in your little one’s mouth.

20130524_143009 20130524_143042 20130524_143131

In these process photos you can see how things progressed.  I gave Little O a foam brush, which he absolutely loved, and I had to show him how to use his fingers.  He used both for a while and then I took the brush away and helped him finish the painting with his fingers.

The finished product.  We didn’t get the top done because Little O kept trying to leave the area.  20130524_151622

The next step is to let it dry and then peel the tape off.


You can see that the paint bled underneath the tape.  There are several reasons why this happened.  1-the canvas pad surface is textured. 2-I didn’t press down hard enough on the edges. 3-the lettering was too narrow.

I decided that I liked the effect, and the more I look at this, the more I love it!  I think it goes well with the “torn” edges of the tape.  If you don’t like it and want a clean letter, there are a few things you can do.  First, don’t use a textured surface. Use heavy card stock or paper with a smooth finish, or you can use wood.  Second, get good tape and press down around the edges.  If you do those thing, I think even narrow lettering would work well.

The last step was to trim it down to fit in the frame and viola!  Little O has a cool gift for dad.

20130524_162931Materials Used:

  • canvas pad or canvas, watercolor paper, card stock, or board
  • washable paints (I used tempera)
  • water to clean your brushes
  • drop cloth or something to protect painting surface
  • painter’s tape
  • fingers (brushes also work)
  • 8×10 frame

4 thoughts on “Easy Finger-painted Father’s Day Gift

  1. Hmm, I wonder – could you use vinyl lettering to get a really well formed letter? I’ve not used it, so I don’t know how it would adhere.

    I love the finished product!

    • I think vinyl lettering would work well. Again you’d have to test it out on your surface to make sure it comes off cleanly, and press well around the edges if you want a clean finish.

  2. Love this–both the soft edges and the looseness of the paint at the top are lovely effects. Speaks to the spontaneity and authenticity of something done by a little one. Beautiful! Lucky Dad!

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