Whilst some people might associate face painting with long queues, impatient whining and stained green faces (not to mention the bed sheets and pillow cases!) face painting is actually about so much more than this. I wanted to explore the meaning of face painting as I believe it’s so much more important than we often give it credit for (myself included).
For the children who love having their faces painted, it is a wonderful, magical experience that allows them to stand taller and transform into somebody else for an afternoon. Face paint can literally create a veil between real life and fantasy, enabling even the shyest of children to come out of their shells and be bolder, wilder and more confident! It’s as if they are wearing a mask which dissolves their fears. Anything becomes possible.
One of my personal favourite face painting memories was seeing two tiny tots I’d painted as tigers roaring at their reflections, together, in a bathroom mirror. They had truly transformed into tigers and they were so happy! Another tiny tiger I painted loved his face painting so much that his mother had a giant canvas made of the photograph, to preserve the memory forever!
For the face painters, it is often described as food for the soul. To create everlasting memories and bring such joy to children’s lives is a true gift. We all thrive for that ‘mirror moment’ – the moment we hold up the mirror for the first time and see the child’s face break into a huge grin! It’s truly priceless.
Face painting can also be highly therapeutic and meditative too, as being ‘in the zone’ (whether practising at home or painting on the job) requires considerable focus and concentration. This intensity can often melt away stresses and worries in a heartbeat, which in addition to painting smiles onto kids’ faces, can be a really healing process. I know many artists who have attributed face painting to being massively pivotal in their own personal recovery from physical and mental health problems, as with practise it demonstrates growth, and the vibrant colours exude pure joy. Watching your own journey as a face painter is hugely rewarding, as perseverance really does pay off and your skills develop enormously over the years. Artistic growth and personal growth are often synonymous.
Never underestimate the power of face painting! This is much a note to myself as it is to others. Face painting is truly a magical art form and it is an honour and privilege to have painted thousands of children over the last few years, creating indelible memories with temporary paint.