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Glorified Finger Painting.

This is a simplified technique I use in some of my actual paintings that sometimes sell and sometimes end up hanging in my hallway forever; so if you want to try it, that means you get to get dirty. I'm a messy painter. I also get angry at brushes (usually it's part of the fun), so I completely left them for this friendlier type of project. We're using fingers and q-tips to paint, but don't worry - it really does look good when it's done. Plus it gives you the opportunity to exercise your inner creative child.

What You'll Need:
-A variety of acrylic paints (cheap at Walmart).
-A heavy (thick) piece of paper bigger than the back of your tank.
-Something to mix the paint on like a paper plate. I used a frisbee.
-Whatever else you want to decorate with.

Pick a good spot. Seriously! This is for the fish, so near the fish would be a good spot. Get into an artistic mood, because this is for fun as much as it is for usefulness.

Apply The Colors:
Lay out the paper towels under the paper and prepare your palette. I picked white, black, gray, silver, and blue for colors because they've always worked well for me in the past. I used black construction paper, but be aware that there will be some wrinkly warping if you don't use something heavier than I did.
Now, dig in. Don't just use one finger, stick in the middle three and shovel some paint onto the paper. Spread it around and pat it with your fingers. Make several "spots" of the same color on the paper.
Repeat with other colors, allowing a little bit of mixing and mud to occur. Keep mostly the original colors, especially if you used colors that don't mix well together, but use your fingers to dab colors into other colors' "territories," so to speak.
If your colors do mix well, you can smear your entire hand around in your palette until it mixes completely and do the same with that color as you did with the rest. It will help tie the rest together. This works best with neutrals and one other color.
Pretty much, a lot of dabbing, some smearing. Don't get the paint too thick, it should just be a thin coating. Leaving some blank space around the edge is okay.

It'll turn out something like this:

Do More Stuff To It:

That finger texture never really appealed to me. I crumpled up a papertowel and pressed it against each section, spreading the color and changing the look/texture of the wet paint surface.
Now make sure you have plenty of one color of your choice (the darkest works well, black works wonderfully even if you didn't use it before) on your palette. Cheap paint is okay to pile on there without hurting your wallet. Get your thumb involved if you haven't yet and actually try to "pick up" a big glob of paint and drop it onto your paper. Make three or so big globs of that color.
Take the q-tip and put lines through the thicker globs of paint, add squiggles around them and through them, and spread them out a little by dabbing with the q-tip. You can use your finger a bit too if you liked that texture from earlier. It's better in small doses like this.

If you'd like, you can do the same thing on a smaller scale with a light color. I threw on some silver to pull the black back into the paper, but I didn't make lines or squiggles with it. I just dabbed it in with less mixing than the earlier step.

Finish Up:

It needs to dry. I was impatient, so I hung mine up in front of a fan and played Donkey Kong for awhile. Since my tank's theme (fish names and such) has to do with Shakespeare, I was going to add quotes with Sharpies, but I decided against it. If you want to put pictures or something else on top of this cool background of a background, take whatever liberties you want. Or you could just use it as is after trimming it to fit your tank. It just tapes on to the back. Obviously it can't go inside.

As for me, the colors didn't match. I like how it turned out and I like the colors, but they don't' go with the colors in my tank. Just check out the first picture to see. No way. I'm so used to creating stuff with dark colors, but my tank is bright and colorful... even the rocks. I don't want emo fish, so I'll be redoing this some other night with different colors.

There you have it. Glorified finger painting.

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