Painting Beyond the Canvas

A few months ago I learned about a really cool art event that was happening less than an hour from my hometown in Elmira, NY. I didn’t know a ton about it, but figured it might be fun to volunteer. This event, the Elmira Street Painting Festival, took place recently downtown and featured many local artists and vendors. Streets were divided up into areas where local artists took chalk/paint to transform the pavement into works of art. It was really neat to watch these artists paint the streets, and it was also great to see little artists in the kids’ section do the same with Crayola sidewalk chalk. Between the beating sun, heavy crowds, and working at a large scale, the artists had many obstacles in their way but finished flawlessly nonetheless.

Besides the street painting, there was food, craft vendors, local businesses, and kids’ activities. My volunteer work for the day consisted of painting; not on streets, but face painting! I attended a small training session before the festival to learn some techniques and how to work with the special paint. I was very excited to work with the professional quality paints rather than the rash-inducing acrylics people usually use. Face painting is not just about having artistic talent, but about having people skills too. Kids’ faces are not canvases that you have full control over, and you have to be flexible to work with different children. I had a great time face painting, and it sparked a new interest in me that I could utilize next summer for extra volunteer or paid work.

The Elmira Street Painting Festival was a great experience and it is an awesome way to promote the town and what it has to offer. Volunteering in general (especially as artists) is always a good experience, because it can inspire you and help extend your talents further.

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