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17 top tips for looking after your back



Road trip alert!

Face painters love nothing more than a Jam, an excuse to party and paint together and this year felt more like being let out of boarding school, aged 15, for the first time!

3 hours up the A1 (M) on Friday found me in a cute little B&B near Pontefract (remember those little liquorice cakes?) followed by a lovely meal reconnecting with loads of my lovely painty pals within the face painting industry.  What a friendly bunch they all are!

If you had been in a drone over the car park of Featherstone Rovers in Yorkshire on the Saturday morning you would have seen the massing of the face painters cars, gaping boots disgorging the paraphernalia of this arty world into festival trollies, towing them into our exhibition space! Folding tables, director’s chairs, bulging cases full of paint, split cakes, brushes, bling, airbrushes, glitter, stencils, water pots, buckets, tablecloths and mood boards – just a small part of our varied kit.

Heather Saxon-Porter, Gillian Child and I stepped on the stage to do our demonstrations – Heather did a stunning realistic green witch, Gill a pretty and delicate Christmas design and I did a half reindeer/half snow princess – (on the hoof with no planning!  I forgot the antlers…).

Ergonomics – 17 Top tips

Most of my demo time was spent time explaining and demonstrating the essential ways to maintain good back health.  Back pain is the most common complaint for face painters and I care deeply about helping us to prevent it.

Over the years, I’ve watched face painters sitting down, hunched forwards arms outstretched to reach the child in the chair opposite who is leaning back.  I’ve seen painters standing directly in front and leaning just slightly forward over the knees of the client for hours and then complaining of pain.  I’ve watched others sitting sideways twisting round to paint the child beside them.  They are surprised when they can hardly move after 2 hours or more.  I have painted for 30 years and almost never get any back pain – I truly believe this is due to my stance, creating good habits and being aware of it.





  1. STANDING. The recommended way to paint is to stand with a high chair AND a high table.  Use a cushion to raise the child if necessary or adults can sit on a standard chair.
  2. Position the chair so you can stand to the side – if right handed, stand on the left as you look at the client, with your kit on your left (reverse this if you are left handed).
  3. Stand close to the client and get them to sit upright nearer the front of the chair, not leaning back, and close to you.
  4. Turn their head towards you to paint each side of their face.
  5. Keep good upright posture – train yourself to be constantly aware.
  6. Don’t stretch your arms too far, try to keep your elbows close.
  7. Keep moving all day – take two steps towards your paint and two steps back to the client.
  8. Avoid twisting or leaning sideways.
  9. Stretch frequently – make a habit of doing this each time you clean your brushes or get a new sponge. Stand up on toes, bend your knees, stretch arms upwards or touch your toes.
  10. Find methods and strategies to help yourself achieve these so it becomes a habit.
  11. SITTING If for any reason you need to sit you should take extra care as you will be stationary for a long time. Get the child to wriggle to the front of the chair and sit upright – this will avoid them leaning back.
  12. Have your kit on your dominant painting side and keep everything as close as possible.
  13. Bring the two chairs as close together as possible.
  14. Sit at the front of your chair (on a cushion perhaps) – if possible with one foot on something higher and their knees between yours.
  15. Learn to gently turn their head to suit your painting rather than YOU turning and twisting.
  16. If they lean back, immediately stop painting and encourage them to sit forward again.
  17. Make sure you stand up frequently to change position – perhaps to paint the taller clients.