How I got started
I started The Painted Pixie to support myself through school. I had watched a YouTube video of a face painter who did birthday parties and went to business school debt free. I had been co running a home day care with a dear friend of mine and was transitioning back to school to study Child and Youth Care at Algonquin College. The idea seemed perfect. I had a bag of face paints and access to little faces in front of me. In my transition, those day kids got face painted every day!!
I loved my daycare kids. It felt like I grew up with them. I mean it when I say that. I was 21 when I started working with them. My formative young adult years were spent playing with children. It was in that growth that I learned the power of friendship with a child. As I aged I knew I had to step into another role, as an advocate to the child. I needed to learn how to navigate the system so that I could be a better ally in the adult world, a friend on the inside. I knew if I didn’t start school then it would much harder to jump after.
I started school at 26, the year after I got married. I married a Metis man in a Sundance arbour. Our rings were passed and prayed over by everyone in attendance before they reached our hands. I invited many of the children I’d looked after over the years. I invited the kids first and their parents were the plus one. It was a potluck wedding so in my mind at the time everyone could come. I wanted this ceremony to be witnessed by people from all parts of my life, especially my little friends
Off to school I went. My first class was spent in a field playing games with fellow Child and Youth Workers (CYW’s). I left exhilarated. This was going to be an awesome three years.
When I wasn’t studying, I was learning how to face paint. I practiced every day. I had a creepy mannequin face that took twice as long to clean as it did to paint. The foam face stained and I would burn my hands with magic eraser to clean it. Eventually I learned how to paint on my own face and that my legs were excellent canvases to practice line work while watching a movie. In that first year, no one could come to my house without accidently stepping into a face painting modelling shoot. I offered free babysitting in exchange to practice new designs on kids. It was lots of fun.
In November of that year I went to my first face painting convention. I had been painting for about six months. I’d done a few festivals and had just started to do birthday parties. I’d applied to a scholarship to the convention and received it. It was there I met face painters, magicians, body artists, balloon twisters, and clowns from around the United States and a few from Canada. I couldn’t believe it. These people were actually making a living doing something they loved and being a part of a child’s memory. That was pretty cool!
I didn’t quite go to school debt-free but I managed to steer relatively unscathed. Overall, I had done well for myself. Since graduating I have continued to do both, practice child and youth care and run The Painted Pixie.
I take my role as a face painter really seriously. I am touching little people’s faces and I get the opportunity to turn them into something magical (or scary, or cool or whatever adjective they prefer). I have the opportunity to meet so many children. Over the years it is lovely to see the same faces come into my chair and fill me in about their little lives. It is really beautiful.
Last week, I was a little grumpy… actually really grumpy. I came home that day and said “I was the crusty clown at the fair today. If I get a bad review I deserved it. I didn’t like myself today.”
On a personal level, I am going through a divorce. It has hit me harder than I anticipated, especially because I was the one that initiated it. The separation process has been one for the books though. It has been beautiful, peaceful, supportive, and loving. It truly is painful to let go of someone lovingly. I am so grateful for the kindness that is present within this separation as I recognize our experience is uncommon.
It didn’t feel good to be the grumpy face painter. I don’t like feeling like I made someone feel unimportant because I was in a hurry or annoyed. If I did that to you or your child, I am sorry. I want you to know that I reflected on that and will work on that in the future. I am trying my best to be a better human.
Like I said earlier, I do take my role as a face painter seriously. It’s a pretty special opportunity to connect with a child in a magical way. It bugs me when I don’t completely show up to that responsibility with full integrity.
With that, I would like to make a public acknowledgement that I recognize that in my business practice and in my continued success I have been in a little too much of a hurry, particularly when you may come across me at a festival. On a personal level I am learning to slow down and cherish the little moments more. When I have a line that’s 50 people long though it’s hard not to speed up and go in a hurry. That said, I promise to keep trying to make those special moments count so that you can have that shared memory of a magical day with the family.
I look forward to seeing many of you through out the summer. Thank you for all the shared memories throughout the years.
PS- At the Powwow this past weekend when chatting with a teen while I was putting feather hair extensions in her hair, she asked how I was doing. I was honest and told her I was having a pretty difficult day. I was struggling with the wind knocking over my case and just wanted to go home but had a line up. I was surprised at my honesty (although simultaneously not, because that is a quality quite close to me). The adult with the teen began to talk about another subject entirely and we moved on without discussing this further. Five minutes later, the young girl came back and said “thank you for your honesty and I’m sorry that you are having a hard day. I would like to put tobacco down for you and wish you a better day forward.” The young teen blessed my space and reminded me that it is okay to be human. Meegweetch