Adventures in Facepainting

This past week, Delaware Grace Brethren Church hosted its annual Fall JAMfest in the church’s backyard.  The event features inflatables for kids to play on, free food (yum!), cookie decorating, Trunk or treat, and face painting.

I’ve volunteered as a face painter at Fall JAMfest for several years now, and I’ve got quite a few fond memories from the event.  A few years ago, I sat at the face painting table chatting with the other young lady who was volunteering, and a couple bald gentlemen approached us.  They asked if we could paint spiders on their heads, and so we did.  I have to say, it was probably one of the strangest things I’ve ever done, but it sure was hilarious.  The best thing was to watch the guys run away laughing at each other, and showing their friends and kids the spiders painted on their heads.  Another time, a young boy dressed as a baseball player asked me to paint a bat on his cheek.  I thought he meant a baseball bat.  It wasn’t until the following morning that it hit me that he probably meant the creature that sleeps upside down and lives in caves.

With these experiences in mind, I drove out to the church with my little sister (AKA Batman) in tow.  Then I sat down at the face painting table for a good three hours.  Kids are funny.  Most of them will sit down across from me and stare at me, without a single inkling of an idea of what they want on their face.  I then have to search my mind for ideas, which usually end up being something along the lines of, “Butterfly, heart, pumpkin, bat, spider…” Eventually I trail off, and hope that was good enough.  It’s great when the kids know what they want, though.  One cute little red head plopped down and announced, “I want a kitty nose and whiskers, and then one butterfly on each cheek.”  Probably one of the more interesting ones I got was, “Give me a blue mustache and goatee.”  I also enjoyed joking with one of the pastors that the Steeler’s logo on his cheek would definitely look better with glitter.  Because everything is better with glitter.  You want a butterfly? Glitter.  Spider?  Glitter.  Cat? Of course you need some glitter!

As I painted a snowflake on a small Elsa’s face, I heart her parent remark, “These people must be so patient.  I could never do this.”  Which got me to thinking about it.  Like I said, I’ve done face painting for JAMfest for about five years now, and it never seemed like something that was very difficult.  Sure, I’ve butchered several butterflies and Batman symbols, and I’ve tried to paint ponies when I just can’t.  When I thought about it, the hardest thing wasn’t the art itself.  You don’t need a lot of artistic talent to paint a pumpkin or a butterfly on a kid’s face.  The hardest thing is having a steady hand, and the patience to go slowly because the child’s a moving, living, breathing canvas.  But I feel like it’s something anyone could do.  How much you enjoyed it would be another question.  I can easily understand how the time could drag by for some.  For me, those three hours always fly by, and it’s six pm before I know it. It’s a rewarding thing to do.  When I’m done painting a child’s face so he looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and he’s so excited, it’s worth it.

By five thirty, all the kids were lining up for Trunk or Treat, and it was time for us to clean up the face painting table.  Glancing over at the lines of kids, I couldn’t help but notice how adorable they were, all lined up and excited to get some candy.  There’s just something joyous and young in the atmosphere.  Everything’s all right, the world is full of wonder, and hope.  Through  the eyes of a child the world is a wondrous and fantastic place.

DGBC hosts JAMfest every October, and I speak from experience when I say it’s a great free and fun event to go to.  Definitely check it out next year!

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