How to Handle Wiggly Canvases: Face Painting Basics

Woman painting on a boys face

Kids always stay perfectly still while they patiently wait for you to paint a masterpiece on their face, right? Wrong!! The truth is that kids are squirmy, giggly, wiggly, little balls of energy. Here are some tips on how to deal with your moving canvases. 

How to Handle Wiggly Kids When Face Painting

#1. Just Ask

Some kids are just so excited to be at a birthday party or festival that they don't realize that they are moving! Sometimes, politely asking them to stay still works perfectly. Kids also don't know what to do with themselves while getting painted, so they'll often get distracted and start looking around. In these cases, I ask the child to gently close their eyes like they are going to sleep. Other times, when the child is hyper and I know they won't want to close their eyes, I ask them to look right at my face. It keeps them focused and relatively still. Don't be afraid to ask! 

2. Simplify

If you are painting on a kid that will just not stay still, make sure to simplify the design. Avoid line work whenever possible! One stroke designs are generally great for wiggly kids because you will get a nice effect and beautiful colors without having to do as much detailed line work. Another design that I have found works the best for wiggly kids is a tiger design. Tigers have wiggly stripes anyway, so it is the perfect design for wiggly kids.

3. Stay in Control

With wiggly kids, it is easy to mess up on their design. Just one turn of their head can turn your beautiful design into a disaster. To avoid disasters, it is your job as a painter to take precautionary measures. This means positioning yourself so that you have the most control over your brush. Personally, I place my non painting hand on top of the child's head as a way to "secure" them and so that I can anticipate any movements. With my painting had, I use my pinky as a sort of anchor point to keep my hand steady and in control. 

4. Don't Stress!!

I used to stress out when I had a wiggly kid in my chair. I thought, "Oh no their design is going to come out horrible! Their parents are going to hate me!" This is certainly not the case. Most parents are very understanding and realistic when it comes to their expectations. It is just not possible to make a design look its best when it was painted on a child that was jumping off the walls the entire time. The best thing to do is just relax and do your best. Follow the rest of the tips above and you will be fine! And the child will love the design, too. 

I hope you found this post helpful. Happy painting!