face paint fail 4

‘How Hard Can It Be’ Does Not Stand Up To Face Painting

Over the last year my kids have had their face’s painted at a variety of places and twenty minutes later look amazing.

face paint
This is from last year and set the stage for begging to look like a cat or a fairy or something equally awesome every time a face painter was near.

So with a set of overinflated egos, Scott and I decided to buy face paint from CVS. Armed with our motto “How hard can it be?” we set the expectations high and the paint palette on the kitchen table.

My daughter begged to be a puppy dog. My artistic husband did a little googling and set to work. A man-beard later, we were at an impasse. Daughter-not-looking-at-all-like-a-dog-after-sitting-for-quite-some-time impasse. Scott threw in a tongue.

face paint fail 1
And Groucho’s eyebrows?

The first time she looked in the mirror, I was shocked how strongly my 4-year-old could suppress disappointment. I thought that was a teenage-I-don’t-really-like-the-guy-my-best-friend-is-dating skill. I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or to start therapy. Instead, I promised to sew dog ears on her sweatshirt, she barked at me, and we moved on to my son.

I was smarter with him. I said: “You can’t know what I’m drawing until I’m done. It’s a surprise.” (possibly to me) Meanwhile, my daughter guessed and guessed and guessed wrong.

face paint fail 2
It’s a football going through an upright. Because every child wants to be a field goal kicker when he grows up.
face paint fail 3
I’m better with words.

To compensate our failures, we let them paint us.

face paint fail 4
N painting Scott. Also, the tongue didn’t really help matters, did it?
face paint fail 5
Scott looks pretty good. He’s the …. ocean?
face paint fail 6
E was more upfront: Mom. It’s a red blob. You like red. Bam!

I guess we can’t run away and join a traveling Halloween store. Maybe those face painters do deserve emptying my wallet every time.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents an 2 elementary age children, 4 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

28 thoughts on “‘How Hard Can It Be’ Does Not Stand Up To Face Painting

  1. I love this!! And I can’t even tell you how much I needed that laugh and to see a family having fun together. My family is fine… I am studying psychology and doing a research paper on bullying… I used you as a work cited :) (not this post but an older one)

  2. I have often thought those exact words…psisshawwww looks easy! How hard could that be. Now I’m terrified to ever try face painting because oh my! So many great one liners in this piece too. Had me giggling. So very smart of you to let them paint you. I bet that made up for everything and your husband TOTALLY looked like the ocean!!!

  3. That’s hilarious! My school did a health fair and the Nursing students were assigned to the face painting booth. Nurses aren’t trained in the wonderful world of art (sadly). We did not receive any training. Nothing. There were fairy designs, tigers, and spiderman. You can safely assume there were a lot of disappointed parents/kids and a lot of embarrassed Nursing students. Face painting is NOT easy.

  4. “Scott and I decided to buy face paint from CVS…”
    First mistake. And, sadly, fatal. The right supplies make all the difference. The right face paints allow even first timers to have success. I know this from much experience. Go to Premiere in Carytown. They have the technology. They can help you. :-)

  5. Scott looks kind of like a painter who got overexuberant and got paint on his face while creating a masterpiece. I like it.

    Also, several Halloweens have taught me that I am terrible at face painting. Apparently, I am slow to learn.

  6. I am so glad I chose to come over here instead of finishing up some work tonight.

    1) The red blob!
    2) It IS hard. I’ve tried it. I am so lucky I never wanted to work at a festival booth.

  7. As a professional face and body paint artist, I want to thank you for posting your results. Many people don’t realize how hard it can be to do what we do and get consistently good results. Those in the business who are good at what we do make it look easy, but as you have seen… it is not always so simple. Thank you.

  8. Like anything you want to get really good at, in some ways it gets harder to do as your standards rise. :-)

    Even though I’m a professional face painter, I no longer try to face paint at my own parties. It really does take total concentration; you are not only dealing with the art challenges, you are relating to a person one-on-one. You really don’t have to do everything!

    Also I’m fairly sure from the packaging that this article’s writer used oil-based cream face paints, as opposed to water-based. They are much harder to apply, they smear, and they are harder to remove. Spend a little extra and go with water-based for best results. The Halloween store or discount store face paints are really disappointing.

  9. Good attempt at your face painting, but I have one suggestion/comment. You need to buy quality name brand face paints. You would be surprised at the difference and the price is worth it (even if your only painting for fun). Google Snazaroo, Ben Nye, or Wolfe Bros. face paints. You will even get great tips on face painting for beginners.
    Hope this helps on your next attempt.

  10. This is so funny. When my husband was in college he went to Marine World and got a job as a face painter. He lied on his application and said he was an art major because…how hard can face painting be? He had kids crying and parents complaining because his whales looked like amoebas. He was fired by his boss, who was a clown.

  11. Yea but they have fancy tools and your kids are more apt to sit still for a stranger with sharp objects near their face than you. True story.
    I think that with a couple more applications, you’re kids will look awesome…under a paper bag. Kidding. They can rock anything.

  12. Thank you so much for writing this. Firstly because I wasn’t quite awake and now I am and with a smile on my face from the laughs you provided in this cleverly written piece. Secondly because, as a professional face and body artist, I have been on the receiving end of comments well meaning parents make to their kids about being able to do what I do easily. 9 years of training and muscle memory development have made me the painter I am and it does sometimes sting when people say things like that within earshot. We charge what we do because of the costs involved in being a professional: thousands of dollars for training and materials (one of our colors can easily cost more than the quick DIY kits at Wal-Mart and Halloween stores), insurance, and travel. Thank you for validating what we do and for sharing your adventure with us! CJ

  13. Face painters DO deserve everything they are paid. They work hard and spend a lot of time practicing. To encourage these parents…your main problem is the cheap paints, not your creative abilities. Buy some better paints and a couple of good brushes and try again…I guarantee your kids will be smiling about your creations next time.

  14. I could KISS you right now! I just posted a link to this on my FB page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Cheeky-Chipmunk/643387299047493

    Thank you SO much for understanding how hard we work! I seriously want you to know that if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods (NYC), you and your kids (hubby too!) are going to get FREE face paintings from me! One for each of you! On the house, as a huuuuge THANK YOU for this amazing awesometastic article. You rock! :D Thanks again!

  15. 20 mins they come out looking amazing? i can make your kids look fab in a few mins each! Im so glad someone acknowledges the skill needed. the “i can do that attitude” really grates on me. Thank you

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