July 12, 2010

Painting Faces

This year at the family reunion on my husband's side, I was somehow volunteered to paint faces.  Great Aunt Bonnie called and asked if I'd do it.  She also promised me I'd have a whole posse of help, but somehow it was just little old me at the face painting table.

At first no one dared to come over, so I went up to one little girl and asked if she wanted her face painted, it was free after all, and suddenly I had a line of about 50 kids.

I was borrowing the paint set I was using and the artist who owned it had done three pages of ideas for the kids to choose from.  I was able to copy all the ideas just fine until one girl chose the unicorn.  I decided I'd outline it and skip filling it in with white to avoid smearing the two colors together.  She kept looking in the mirror as I was working and saying, "When are you gonna color it in?  I think it needs to be colored in.  Are you gonna color it in now?"  I finally colored it in then had to re-do the outline.  The design included three flowers with leaves and an orange horn with black twists.  She kept comparing her cheek to the picture and making corrections whenever necessary.  I think I spent more time on her than on all the rest of the kids combined.

My theory is that the ergonomics of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel painting has nothing on the awkwardness of face painting on a vertical, moving, fleshy target.  But they're oh so much cuter than a ceiling.

I had two requests that weren't on the idea sheet.  One boy came up to me and said, "I want a skull with flames."  A skull with flames.  First of all, that's disturbing, and second of all, I've never drawn a skull in my life.  I hesitated for a long time while parents waiting in line with their kids were snickering.  I finally dove in and ended up with an image way more evil and disturbing than I planned.  Oh well.  He was happy.  He said, "My dad's gonna be so jealous!"

The other request was for a symbol from a kid's t-shirt.  He pointed at his shirt and said, "I want this."  I said, "What is it?"  He said, "It's the logo for my favorite football team."  Not knowing anything about football, I was like,"Okay.  Which one?"  He said, "Steelers."  It was written really small and on mesh material so it was missing letters.  I ignorantly asked, "And how do you spell that?"  He enjoyed knowing so much more than me, but my newly-learned spelling skills didn't get me anywhere because the black letters just turned into a hideous smear.  But later his sister wanted the same thing, being a Steelers fan herself, and her cheek was big enough to fit a larger logo complete with actual letters (spelled correctly too).

My last face painting job was on great Uncle Parker who was wheeled over by his younger brother.  His brother said, "Paint a red star on his cheek.  I'm getting him back for all the times he sat on my face as a kid."  I didn't really want to be in the middle of a sibling rivalry that's lasted over seventy years but Uncle Parker seemed happy enough about it so he got the star.  It was the only time in the day that I had to paint around whiskers.

Anyway, even though I was alone at the job and have very little artistic talent.  I had a great time.  It made it all worth it when a little girl looked in the mirror at a sorry attempt at a flower and said, "Oh it's perfect!!"


  1. ha, that's what you get for being talented! steelers are pittsburgh's team you know. if you face painted at a family reunion here that's all you would have done all day. boring, but easier than unicorns though, i would guess. way to please the kiddos jenny. :)

  2. so creepy skulls with flames huh? i want to see how that one turned out. i love the "my dad is going to be so jealous!" i'm surprised you didn't have to paint around more whiskers after their dads were coveting their kids cheek designs. btw - how huge was this family reunion??

  3. Katie, Joe is the second youngest of eleven kids and so there's tons of people at these family reunions.

  4. Jenny, I can't get enough of you. You are the best. We stood in line for 45 minutes at the 4th of July celebration for a face painting job. That's always the longest line. Next year I'll paint their face myself before we get to the park! Unless you are doing the painting and then we'd love to wait for that.

  5. I'll take a skull please, with a unicorn on the side.