A WEEKEND IN THE LIFE OF A FACE PAINTER
It’s an after-school kids’ party at a restaurant that has a soft play area, the place is closed to the public and the mums sit at the bar drinking wine, the children are excited and queue up for their numbers, I get to the promised 20 expecting an extra 2 or 3 but today it’s ok, no surprise additions. The 2 hours pass quickly, Spiderman, Batman and unicorns get painted fast and sweated off even faster. I’m not offered a drink but never mind. I paint all the kids, close my converted bass guitar case and leave on the dot.
is a wedding Reception at a fancy hotel. I arrive during that weird lull between the food and the disco, I look for the bride and can’t see her but find a bridesmaid who screeches in excitement and leads me to an incredibly dark corner to set up. Little girls in cream dresses circle my table. Its too dark to see and I ask for a light, someone appears and turns an overhead spot in my direction, it does nothing but cast a sharp shadow on peoples’ faces. I find my headtorch and pull it on. I look like an idiot but at least I can see. I paint all the kids and do some glitter and with fifteen minutes to go start to think about packing up, I’m tired and everyone’s now drunk. Then a guy in a grey waistcoat appears, weaving his way towards me, tie around his head, pint in hand, mates in tow. I wait for it. One of the men puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out his wallet, he sways and nearly falls backwards, everyone laughs. He lurches forward waving money in my face “I’ll pay you 30 quid to paint a penis on this guy’s forehead.” As usual I decline his kind offer. Long ago I accepted out of embarrassment and inexperience and when I’d finished the blokes fell about in hysterics then told me they didn’t have any cash.
Kids birthday parties. Straightforward. A few kids sneeze in my face, some of it goes in my mouth. Hosts are nice, ask if I’d like a coffee or tea, offer food and cake. A good day’s work done.
Saturday night is a house call to paint a masquerade mask – I always get nervous doing these, I’m not overly confident with intricate line work especially when it has to be symmetrical and the person is depending on you for a great end result. So I do what I always do, get stuck in and hope for the best. Thankfully she likes it and I even get a tip. Phew.
My regular lunchtime restaurant job, I love Sundays, it’s a great gig and I’ve been doing it about 3 years. I do 12.30-2.30pm and on special occasions like Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday I do double shifts. Sometimes it’s non-stop with the same children asking to be painted between courses, other days I may paint one unicorn in 2 hours but I get free coffee and the ocean views are beautiful all year round. Today I paint my regular customers and some new ones too. During quiet moments I practise roses on my arm, I paint rose after rose, they all look the same and I don’t like any of them.
3-4pm. A rare bump paint. I hardly do any of these, don’t know why, it’s just not really taken off here. I work on the floor, knees folded under and get pins and needles after about 2 minutes. The only other position is to paint with my legs open wide. I choose pins and needles.