Creating intuitively has always been my style, and people were amazed at my translation of their emotive requests into visual representations. Birthing special pieces of unique customised art was such a pleasure and learning curve. I spent 6 years working in this way and became well known for it.
Although there was some contact and interaction with my customers, much of the time I worked in solitude whilst my young daughter was at school. Even before lockdown, both my daughter and I became increasingly isolated. Being alone had always felt like the safest, most comfortable option because of a traumatic childhood, but it had begun to feel like loneliness instead.
When personal circumstances changed, and I had to stop travelling out to paint murals full time, face painting presented itself to me as a way to maintain my creative output. In many ways, it became a gateway for a new confident version of me to immerge.
My mum had died of cancer in 2016; her death left a big hole in our lives and threw up many hurdles. Clearing the family home for new tenants revealed excessive hoards of memory infused clutter. My younger brother moved out, and we did a three-way mutual exchange. A lovely family in need of a larger space moved into mum’s house. Social media kept me connected to the family, and sometime later, the young mum made a face painting enquiry with me for her kid’s birthday; I said yes. As the party date approached, the realisation dawned that I would soon be a guest in my former home. I recognised that I was scared of revisiting my past.
Even with this anxiety, I was determined to go ahead with the party and I set out following the spiral road to the end. Confronted by mum’s house and loads of kids from the party playing outside just like we used to in the 80s, second thoughts overwhelmed me. I waited for a few minutes in the car, deeply conflicted, then, on impulse, I started the engine and drove off hoping no one had seen.
An inner voice stopped me, and I suddenly slammed to a halt mustering all my courage. I thought to myself, “Go back, or regret it, treat it just like any other party; It’ll be fine once I get painting; I HAVE TO go back”.
Full of people and with different decor, the house was a very different place from the one I’d known. Children gathered around as usual, galactic snow wolves being the request of the day, sparking a familiar joy at youthful imagination. Upon returning to my two-bed maisonette later, the relief was well earned, beaming, with a sense of pride, that “I’d done it”.
Now I wear an extra shiny badge of courage. Confronting each challenge of the unknown, face painting continues to guide me to explore different social situations and places. I love it, connecting with people confidently, knowing whatever arises I can handle whilst leaving a glittering trail of wonder and joy.