Fun with Face Painting

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…


6 thoughts on “Fun with Face Painting

  1. I did this at our daughter’s 4th birthday party last summer! But I was nowhere near as artistically ambitious as you, just drawing randomly (uh, abstract art). It didn’t take long for the kids to take over themselves; they turned one of the moms into their canvas, and she went home with painted face/arms/legs. Maybe I’ll follow your lead this year.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I think drawing abstractly would be beautiful – in my mind, that’s harder because it takes me out of my copying comfort zone. I love that the kids at your party got to bodypaint a willing mother… something I aspire to myself… maybe this summer?

  2. Did you see the article in the Globe this week about differentiating between abstract art ($$$) and art made by children and chimps? They did a study. People are more attracted to the “real” artists’ work. Me? I only guessed which was which.
    Carol, there is a great set of books called If You Can Draw a Triangle/Square/Circle, you can draw anything. The kids love it because it’s step by step copying.

    • Like you, Nathalie, I can’t identify “real” art from children’s art (I haven’t seen chimp art – I bet I’d be impressed though). I’ll look up the set of drawing books you mentioned. Before now my lack of drawing skills didn’t bother me much, but now like being able to put down a decent train or monkey on paper for the kids.

  3. I love the face art in your picture! It is fantastic and now I have another idea for my daughter’s birthday party in June…Thank you!
    Kudos for the beautiful art work!

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