In my Transformations Facepainting company, we’ve set a goal for ourselves this year to match the way we paint faces to suit events with special themes, working to alter both the imagery we use and the style of the facepainting. It’s a way to be more supportive to the goals of these events and also a way to push ourselves into new directions. Earlier this October, we painted at the Summit Medical Group Sports and Healthy Living Fair ( http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/about/ ), which is designed to get kids inspired to do sports and other physical activities to stay healthy. Jennifer, Britt and I decided we’d ask the kids and adults we painted about what physical activities they enjoy doing, what kind of active games they play outside or if they play any sports ‚ and then we’d turn their answer into their face design. It led to a lot of new, off-the-cuff designs. We had fun, we tried new things and learned from each other’s experiments, and we had people standing around to watch and see what new idea we’d come up with next — which is a large part of what we want to achieve with our approach to facepainting as a performance art, to make it as exciting to watch as to participate.
I was particularly taken by the work that Jennifer and Britt did. There’s a playfulness to the designs they painted that perfectly matched the “active play” concept of the Health Fair, and which seemed so appropriate to the kids we were painting. Whereas I was too concrete in my use of figures, both Britt and Jennifer let their figures bend and float on the face for a lyric, “childlike” effect — in the style of the illustrations of Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold ( www.faithringgold.com/ ), or the floating figures of a Chagall painting. Although the individual faces were quite beautiful, especially as they both use colors so well, the impact of this playful approach was best seen over the collective effect of the day’s faces, so I’ve put some of the fotos together as a slideshow.