October 29th, 2005

Sarah's painting

Painting Faces in Ypsi

Yesterday downtown Ypsilanti had a "Beggar's Night" event, where they closed Michigan Ave and kids could go trick or treating around to the businesses from 5-8. They had a costume contest at 6, and Monkey Rampant performed a few short shows. Bill went and juggled the whole time, in his Jester's cap. I got there around 5:30 and did face painting until the line ran out, which was a little after 8.

It was a lot of fun. The kids seemed to enjoy getting their faces painted and I enjoyed finding out what I could paint. I'd bought a bunch of $2 tubes of face paint from Fantasy Attic and had a cup of water, some paper towel, an egg carton, and two brushes. The egg carton was the best idea I had. It was perfect for keeping paint in the cups. That way the kids could see what colors I had, and I could use the flat lid to use up one color of paint on a brush in order to switch to another color. I could also rest the brushes on the lid when I wasn't using them.

If I were to do it again I would take more brushes - at least 6, I think. It was hard changing colors on brushes and took a lot of time that could have been spent painting. You could switch from red to orange without cleaning the brush, but not from that to green, say. I would also be prepared with more colors. Especially white and pink.

When I bought the colors, I was looking at packaging that had examples of white faces all painted, and I was thinking of my own face, but this was Ypsi, and more than half the faces I painted were some shade of brown. A bunch of the colors I had with me barely showed up on black skin, especially as it got dark. If I'd had white I could have done ghosts and skulls and white wiskers, and mixed it to come up with a lighter blue, though the blue I did have looked great on medium dark skin. A lot of girls requested pink, too, and I didn't have it; another problem that could have been solved with white, since I had red and could have mixed them. and I didn't get out the gold, 'cause it didn't show up on my skin, but it might have shown up on black skin.

It was physically challenging. When I got there the adrenaline of getting going combined with not having had a snack meant my hands were shaking. That was troublesome, but I'd brought peanut butter crackers and a few of them shortly solved the problem. I had chosen to dress as a witch without thinking of the fact that a mixture of adults and very small children meant that I stood most of the time and had to kneel down some of the time. A witch's costume with a skirt was not ideal for this. Luckily my right knee is still extra tough from the two years I spent going down on one knee in the Caravan Shop to get jewelry out of low cases (always on the right knee- I injured my left knee a while back and it can't take the weight at all). It's a little pink now, but it doesn't hurt much. It was also tiring for my right arm, which I held up almost continuously for painting. That shoulder still hasn't fully recovered from the torn muscle of over a year ago. I didn't really notice any of this much, until after though. You get busy and just think of the task at hand.

I was lucky I chose an alcove in front of a store that stayed open - the bookstore was behind me and I would have run out of light as it got dark, otherwise. That was just dumb luck. Well, dumb luck and the fact that they had chairs out, which I used to put my stuff in.

Things I painted on, in order of popularity (most popular at the top):
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Some things I did with my fingers because it worked well and it let me do things without changing paintbrush color. It did make my fingers a little slippery for holding the brush though.

One woman asked me if I was an artist. "Actually," I chuckled, "I'm a design engineer. But I used to teach drawing." It's really fun to do something like this from time to time. Bill says if he's back from hiking the AT in time, maybe we'll do it again next year.