I’ve recently emerged from my older son’s 5th birthday celebrations. I try to keep things on the simple side, so we invited several children (with siblings and parents) to our place for a house party. The machinations were few, featuring mostly a caterpillar cake I made and a homemade pinata.
The one thing I threw in at the last minute was face painting. I had bought a basic set of face paints a few months ago and had used them exactly once before the party. With a certain reckless abandon, I decided to offer this service to the little guests, and all but the one year old took me up on it.
Necessary point of departure: I have no visually artistic tendencies. I don’t draw well naturally and have never learned how to improve. There is no false modesty here. I’m not a bad dancer; I can carry a tune. But my freehand pictures are two-dimensional and blobby.
Before the guests arrived, I had reassured myself thinking that at the worst I could at least paint a star on a cheek or something. I thought the kids would be easy to please. And they were, kind of, but kind of not too. I was not prepared for the requests that came in, including Batman, Ironman (who?), a panda bear, a dinosaur, a dog, and a butterfly. I did, however, have the sense to set up the paints in front of the computer (yes, the computer), where I googled images of every single request. Then I looked for the simplest image that also satisfied the model.
Then I copied.
I’ve asked no one at the party for permission to feature their kindie beloveds for this blog post, so I won’t show the pics, but they’re not bad. As with just about anything, it’s possible to get very fancy with facepainting, but even my amateur version was a hit.
Given how easy it was, I’m here to sing its praises to anyone who is looking for a fun activity with the kids. Because while it’s an obvious bonus, you don’t really need to know how to draw, just to copy. Basically, if I can get away with facepainting/facecopying, you can too.
I bought Snazaroo face paints (something like this (but not a gendered version) at Mastermind Toys), as this brand was recommended to me by a couple of face painters I’d met at local festivals and parties. They’re non-toxic, no one who had used them ever had a kid react to the paint, and being water-based they rub off easily with a wet cloth. Some people like paint pencils, but the palette I bought is so simple to apply, I can’t really imagine anything easier. At about $20 for a basic set, which will paint many, many faces, they’re an inexpensive way to have a lot of creative fun.
And of course our children can wield the brush too…