It’s true that we’ve had some pretty cool categories of The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards over the years, but Finger Painting was probably one of the coolest.

Binney & Smith, the makers of Crayola Crayon, had an office in Easton, Pennsylvania, and sponsored several categories of The Awards including General Design and Finger Painting. During the 1940s, winners were awarded First, Second and Third Prizes for painting with their hands.

Though the Finger Painting category of The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards has been lost to the canvas of time, this noble art has a rich history that goes back to early cave paintings. As early as the 1930s, Finger Painting has been widely used by art educators to introduce young artists to color and painting, and by art therapists in their treatment of patients. Tricks of the trade include using arms, hands, sponges and even toes to paint on a variety of surfaces. A number of artists, including Chuck Close, have even incorporated their own fingerprints into their works. And in addition to being expressive, Finger Painting has been developed as a method of painting for the blind, set world records, inspired an iPad app and can even be edible – just add Jell-O!

Photo credit, above left: AP/Ajit Solanki. Largest Finger Painting in the world, December 2009. Canvas: 100′ x 140′.

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