Mermaids vs. Scary Spiders aka Happy Birthday, Charlotte

So I learned some things yesterday:

1. 4-year-olds are exhausting just to be around
2. 4-year-olds are wiggly and you have to paint fast
3. 4-year-olds are the best possible clients. 

::dab some paint on wiggly small person; hand wiggly person a mirror::

"What do you think? What are you?" Artist waits for approval.

Client bursts into sunny smile.

"I'M A _____________________________!" Mermaid, Spider (requested by girls), Octopus - yep, I sold that to a 2-year old. I went in with this as a plan.

Octopus Kid worried me, because he cringed just slightly as he watched the brush approach, like it was a needle. Dad was squatting nearby and giving encouragement, so I wasn't convinced the kid was doing this willingly.  But then he pursed his lips in a way that seemed not apprehension but complicity  - like "go for it" - so I went for it. His slow smile as he looked into the mirror was the best possible answer.

"No, adults don't get face paint," Dad was saying to Octopus Kid.  He hasn't met me.

And then a lady with gorgeous burgundy hair got my attention.

"Excuse me, but can you paint an adult's face?" Of course I can. "Do you think you can do peacock feathers?" I loved her so much.

"I can try," I said.  Before this afternoon I don't think I'd painted a face other than my own, and I just took out a half dozen preschoolers. Bring it.

She liked my answer, and she liked the work. I'm waiting for permission to use her photo on the blog, and then I'll show you.

But I'm going in chronological order, and this was Charlotte's day. Charlotte was on Team Mermaid, and her bestie, Alia, was in the Spider gang. Alia wanted to be a Scary Spider, and she growled at me to prove it. Fierce.

I've known Charlotte's family for something like fifteen years, but I hadn't seen her since she was only a few months old.  She's a lovely lady. I wish her and Alia many shenanigans in the future.

Everyone seemed to have a great time, even when the bouncy-castle started to deflate.

"Hey," said one of the moms, "Is that thing falling?" It was. The moms deployed. Two of them ran to the back of the contraption and switched it off, which made it start sinking faster. They found and reconnected a detached tube, and switched it back on. Alia's mom dove into the sinking castle to make sure no-one was left behind.  I held the door up to make sure everyone was aiming for it. I felt like a stewardess.

"Oh, no, Alia's Mom," said Caty, our hostess, as Alia's Mom crawled out behind the last child.

And I laughed, because my daughter has the same name. THIS TIME IT WASN'T ABOUT ME! I was not the Alia's Mom at this party. Just holding the door, ma'am.

I'm hoping the kids took away from me that it's totally okay to view yourself from a different perspective, using props if it helps. Don't let anybody steal that magic from you.

The 4-year-olds taught me something very important about art, something which I'd been taught before but is slippery to keep in grasp.

Art is all about what it does to your insides. People can parse  your spatial intentions all they like, but if they don't catch feelz they'll never get it. As the artist, you know how to do that. You  have to give up your own feelings. Served on paper, plastic, canvas, or tiny faces, it doesn't matter.  Your ego doesn't matter - get it out of the way and go do some vomit. 


  1. :-) The Force is strong in this one.

    1. TOTALLY :) I want the besties to have a TV show so we can watch them grow up.


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