Living, breathing canvas: Face painting is a unique art

By Nancy Drago
Times-News correspondent

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Teens & 20s writer Nancy Drago, left, applies face paint to a customer at the Triad Polar Plunge on Feb. 24 at Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park in Greensboro. [Alexis Drago / Special to the Times-News

   There’s something special about a moving, breathing, living canvas.
At least that’s what I’ve found to be true through face painting and special effects makeup artistry.
My admiration of these arts began when I was 13. As a volunteer at the Original Hollywood Horror Show in Snow Camp, I worked on the makeup crew and would apply face paint to people waiting in line. Comic conventions, in promotion of the Horror Show, led to more face painting jobs. Through word-of-mouth, I’ve been able to do birthday parties, festivals and I volunteered at the Triad Polar Plunge on Feb 24 at Wet ‘N Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park in Greensboro.
I’ve also furthered my interest in painting on people through body painting.
Face painting requires quick thinking.
There are a lot of issues that come up that need to be solved in enough time to not bore or upset a customer. You can’t exactly mess around when you’ve got a paintbrush on someone else’s skin. It helps if you work well under pressure. It’s also important to be confident when face painting, and to go with any choice you make. One of the things that is so cool about it is that there are kids there that look up to you. I’m still getting used to that feeling.
Through face painting, I’ve encountered people of all ages and backgrounds — with their own stories and opinions. There are people who want little hearts in the corner of their cheek, and there are others who want full-faced zombies. Every person wants something different, which is what makes the job so exciting.
There are many environments in which I’ve had the opportunity to paint faces. Comic conventions are filled with people passionate about geek culture. The people there have art, collectibles and thousands of comics; the costumes are breathtaking. Fairs and festivals, on the other hand, are just as fascinating. Usually there are people selling things that they made. I rarely go to face paint at a fair and come home without something I have bought. Regardless of where I’m working, I’m met with so many new and fascinating faces.

Nancy Drago is a sophomore at Chapel Hill High School and a Teens & 20s writer.

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