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September 12, 2006

First day at clown school

I had my first session at the Clown Class, taught by a husband and wife clown team that go by the names of Snudek and Soomi. The class is more intense than I ever imagined. Over a ten week period we will cover make-up application, costuming, clown etiquette, balloon twisting, juggling, face painting, magic, performance skits, hospital visiting, parading, birthday parties and more! We will finish the course with a public clown graduation and performance where we will be awarded our clown diplomas.

There are many traditions and guidelines to follow in clowning. There are three main styles of clowning, whiteface clowns, Auguste (ah-goose-t) clowns and tramps. Each has specific make-up, costuming and character traits. There is also a clown hierarchy. Whitefaces clowns are typically the "boss man," they are prim and proper and matching. They can show no skin whatsoever. Even a sliver of skin flashing above their gloves would disqualify them in clown competition (yes, I said clown competition). There is also a subdivision of whiteface clowns called grotesque whiteface. Their makeup can be more exaggerated around the eyes and mouth or "muzzle region." We watched a clown training video on make up application followed by a slideshow of good and not so good make-up designs.

In class I made my first attempt at applying grease paint...my dermatologist is going to love me. The paint is thick and shiny when applied. After applying the paint it must be "set." This involves whacking yourself in the face with lots of special powder and brushing off the excess. After setting the grease paint you can add blush, glitter, or sequins and a nose, if desired. Grease paint holds up much better than water based paint. It will not run in hot weather. It will even stay in place if a bucket of water is thrown in your face. I imagine that this comes in handy when you are a clown.

Typically a white face clown would have white ears and a white neck as well. Here is my first attempt at painting on a white face style clown face.

Posted by audrey at September 12, 2006 10:09 AM


Auguste clowns? tell me more about these clown types!

Posted by: george at September 12, 2006 11:00 AM

I will next week when I learn more about them and try painting on an auguste face.

Posted by: audrey at September 12, 2006 11:08 AM

i had no idea!

Posted by: dr. beezy at September 12, 2006 11:13 AM

What makes the clown face more interesting is the harsh slash of light in the background.

Also: Do they ever shave off their eyebrows so it's more real when they draw on the forehead eyebrows?

Posted by: Anonymous at September 13, 2006 11:33 AM

The harsh slash of light is actually a break in the shadow cast from my fingers covering the flash. It's balanced for Tungsten light so it looks blue. I took many pictures, varying how I held my fingers. I got lucky on this one because the blue light hardly hits my face and makes it look like I intentionally splashed color on the wall. The creepiest thing about this picture is that there are no eye lights and since I have dark eyes they look like big black beads or holes.

I'm not sure about the shaving off real eyebrows. I agree that that would be more convincing. I imagine if you were a circus clown and performed multiple shows daily that you might consider it. They probably make some type of theatrical goo that smooths over your eyebrows and can also be painted over. If they don't make that then there is a niche in the market to fill.

Posted by: audrey at September 14, 2006 11:41 AM

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