The mention of finger painting might conjure happy images of childhood creativity: happily spreading colors without regard to “staying in the lines.” Painting professionally with fingers might sound like a dream come true, and it certainly is for lifelong artist Amanda Wathen. She began her artistic journey as a child, working beside her father, a free-spirited entrepreneur who pursued his own passion creating tiles. Along with her sister, she began painting murals on tiles, which her father then fired in a kiln and sold.


The youngest of eight children, Wathen was born to “hippie parents” who valued traveling, experience, and the development of their children as individuals.  Homeschooled and self-taught, Wathen was born in California, raised in Arkansas, and married in Kentucky. She had two children in her early 20s, and although raising them and teaching them at home put art “in the background” for a while, she always kept that integral part of herself alive – only hanging art in the home that she had made.


When her children were old enough, she and her husband decided they wanted to experience life overseas. As Wathen observes, “Because of my upbringing, no part of the world was off-limits. I wanted my children to embrace the opportunities to develop their imaginations and determine their own individual pursuits.” To embark on this adventure, they liquidated their possessions down to two suitcases per person and took off. Wathen had acquired the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification, and it was while teaching young children English words as they painted animals with their fingers that she realized how magical the style is. Following the sojourn in China, they went to Thailand, Hong Kong, and Korea, but when her mother became ill, they returned stateside to Springfield, Missouri, in 2019, then home to Waycross in 2020.


While Wathen traveled, as well as during the time in the states, she was studying finger painting techniques along with the works of impressionist masters. She hit the books and searched online. She liked the work of finger paint instructors Iris Scott and Kimberly Adams. A special focus for Wathen was learning how to work with brilliant, distinct color patterns to depict the lovely landscapes that inspire her. Mostly, she learned by “hitting the studio and painting and painting.” Wathen admits that the oils (water soluble) she applies to canvas “completely obsess” her and she’s “in love with the intimate, sensory connection of painting with her fingers, no mediating brush coming between” her and her canvas. The painting is rewarding for her in more ways than one, both financially and as therapeutic experience. She has found success quickly, selling pieces to private clients as well as in gallery and retail settings.


Wathen’s collection entitled “Coastal Birds” has been a been a joy. Taking a portable sketchbook and watercolors with her to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island provides her with an immediate way to capture its beautiful palate en plein aire. She also takes numerous photographs to view for inspiration, catching birds as they drink, the foliage as it blows, and the sky as the clouds change its color. She maintains an annual membership at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. Recently, she sold two large sea turtle paintings, one titled “Sunbathe” and the other “Summer Wave.” One unique aspect Wathen shares about her studio work is the prints of her paintings she produces and embellishes herself for clients. These continue to be available for purchase after the original painting has sold and are popular items.