Today is the birthday of Ruth Faison Shaw.

Whether or not you know her name, you know her work. She’s the founder of fingerpainting.


Shaw grew up in North Carolina and trained as a teacher, and worked in Europe during World War I.

In the 1920s and early 30s she set up her own experimental art school in Italy.

One day, she spotted a kid doing a very kid-like thing: he was taking iodine and making big yellow smears on the walls of a school restroom.

Being the head of an experimental art school, Shaw didn’t see a troublemaker trying to make a mess, she saw a kid making art, a natural form of expression.

She decided to spread the technique: in 1931, she developed and patented a formula for child-friendly finger painting, and she spent the rest of her life and career promoting the technique and ways to make it easier and more fun for fingerpainters.

Not just kids, either: she gave finger painting demonstrations for members of the military during World War II, worked with patients at psychiatric clinics, even gave mini-lessons on TV.

Shaw saw finger painting as something nearly everyone could do and enjoy.

As she put it in the title of her book: a perfect medium for self-expression.


Art is alive and well, at least when it comes to cats.

The new book from photographer Andrew Martilla is full of candid shots of cats going wild for – and sometimes on – catnip.

Think of the new internet celebrity cats that are going to emerge out of this!

Ruth Faison Shaw (A Woman To Know)

A Photographer Takes Pictures of Cats “High” on Catnip, and It’ll Be Your New Favorite Thing (PopSugar)

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Photo by Christine Jackowski via Flickr/Creative Commons