Thursday, October 26, 2017

Halloween Rolls Around Again!

My favorite season is back!  On Tuesday, Eric and I went to a Halloween party hosted by LEAD, at a local BBQ place.  We had a blast. 

The party was a Halloween Hoedown theme, so Eric wore his everyday clothes - Wrangler jeans & plaid shirt, Justin cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat.  Yes, I met a country boy in Manhattan; don't ask me how.  Meanwhile, I wore one of my pairs of Wrangler jeans and my Abilene cowboy boots (he got to me, Eric did!), a torn t-shirt, one of my own old plaid flannel shirts, Eric's old ratty, tattered, cowboy hat, straw, pigtails and face paint... zombie cowgirl!  Because I can't get into a Halloween costume if face paint isn't involved.

And look what I got for my efforts!

Plus, I got to give the other attendees henna tattoos!  It was so much fun, and I loved going outside the box on some - like the house tattoo for the real estate agent!

Be sure to check back for more Halloween - I've got private appointments and parties!

Monday, July 24, 2017

People Just Don't Read

I'm often complaining that people don't read.  Turns out I'm people.  I didn't read either.  Whoops!

I was contacted recently by Graftobian, a family-run makeup business based in Wisconsin and Brooklyn, to test some of their face paint products.

(All products tested in this post were received for free from Graftobian, but all opinions are mine.)

The primary focus of the inquiry was about their Disguise Stix Face Paint, which I'd honestly never heard of.

What they sent was a lot more than that...

I received a catalogue, a Disguise Stix Face Painting Starter Set with Book (top), a Face Painting Palette Primary Colors (bottom right), a Face Painting Palette Secondary Colors (bottom left), and three of the Graftobian Pro colors, in swan white, raven black, and crimson red (bottom center).

I tried out the Stix first, as that was the focus of the inquiry, which meant opening the book as well.

It's a really good book, with designs by Nick and Brian Wolfe, Donna Nowak, and Dawn Svanoe, rock stars of the face painting world, and instructions and tips for using the Stix, which I did read before starting.  I chose a design by Dawn Svanoe to try with my Stix, to see if it could really be accomplished with the product.

And I opened the Stix.

To use the Stix for this design, they are dipped in a water bin, and then a sponge or brush is used to pick up the saturated face paint from the stick to apply to skin.  I was pleasantly surprised to find how well they worked.  I'll be darned if my snowman, an anomaly in this week's constant 90-something degrees, didn't look an awful lot like the one in the book.  And the face paints blend astonishingly well, too.

The book also suggested that the saturated Stix could be applied straight to skin to achieve highly pigmented stripes, or applied side-by-side to a sponge for instant rainbows.  It works!

The one negative to the method of use for these is that dipping the Stix in the water bin makes for murky "coffee water," something every pro face painter works to avoid.  That said, it's a great product for home use, and even for kids to use on themselves or each other, where coffee water isn't such a concern because you're not spending 2-8 hours at an event with all different people.  I like 'em.

Then, I moved on to the pro colors, but we'll get to those in a minute, after I sidetrack to tell you about the part where I didn't read.

I opened the Face Painting Palette of secondary colors to check them, out, and decided on a small butterfly in pink and yellow, with purple details.

As instructed on the back of the package, I sprayed my water into the pink and yellow tubs of paint, and then dipped in my sponge to pick up the paint.  It was... weird.  The paint foamed and sounded squishy in my sponge, and I commented to Eric that it had a strange, soapy consistency.  I went ahead with my painting, and got this result.

Not my best work, but not bad.  That soapy, foamy consistency threw me a bit.  And then I went back and read the front of the package again... or rather, for the first time, since as I've admitted... I didn't read.

Oh, geez.  Soap based face paint.  Soap based.  It was right there.  For Pete's sake.  Well, that explains that!  I then went and looked back at the Stix, and wouldn't you know it, they're the same stuff!  The Stix didn't foam like the pots did, probably because I wasn't squishing a sponge down into them the same way, but it's the same stuff.

The Stix kit comes with six colors (a lot more individual colors are available on the Graftobian site), while the pot palettes are five, and each comes with the same small flat brush, but the palette kit comes with some downright amazing glitter.  It's in the sixth pot with a kind of shaker inner top.

If you've ever used the loose mineral makeup, you know what I mean by that inner shaker lid.  Man, I love that glitter.

Pros and cons:  The Stix, oddly, were a bit easier to use.  I say "oddly," because it was a very different sort of delivery method of face paint.  So that's a pro.  The con with the Stix (besides coffee water from dipping) is the lack of a container in which to keep them after initial use, because they've still got a lot more life left.  I personally let them dry on a paper towel, and then put them in a plastic baggie.  Meanwhile, the glitter in the palette set is a huge pro.  It's gorgeous.  So is the fact that the paints come in pots with screw-top lids, so they're easy to close up and store between uses.  On other hand, they're a bit harder to use, and getting a sponge into the small pot honestly isn't so easy.  One pro to both is that they readily came off with just water and a paper towel, no additional soap necessary.

Still, either option is great for parents to use on their kids, or kids to use on themselves or each other.  They're FDA-compliant, made in the States (which if you're here, makes for a smaller carbon footprint than brands from overseas), safe, and really just fun.  I'm also reminded of those bathtub paints they made when I was a kid, only these could be used on skin and on the bathtub walls!

Next on to the pro paints.  Having been given red, white, and black, it was nearly a requirement that I try Spiderman.  Granted, I didn't try it on a face, but on my own leg.  I don't think I did a terrible job.  And then I tried a butterfly too.  Graftobian is a glycerin-based face paint, great for blending.  It goes on very nicely with a sponge, and has good coverage.  The red is bright, and the white clean and solid.  I did, however, have issues in getting the black to the right consistency for detail work.

I just plain wasn't used to it, despite the number of different brand face paints I've tried.  So the only solution was to try again at my gigs on Saturday and Sunday.  Unfortunately, Saturday was brutally hot and humid, and I could barely get the face paints I use all the time to behave.  Sunday was an indoor event, and a cooler day.  The black, like the red and white, worked great for the creamy base of a batman face.  For detail work, I still had issues. 

So there you have it - my experience with Graftobian products thus far.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I'm Certifiable!

Or rather, I'm actually certified!  And though I may be nuts, it's not quite what you think.  I am an internationally "competency certified" face painter!  I am now accredited by FACE:  The Face Painting Association.

On July 6, last Thursday, I sat for an assessment, after completing a fairly detailed written application.  The written application asked about my supplies, my hygiene and business practices, the colleagues with whom I've worked, and what I do when someone asks for a design I've never tried (wing it!)... it was pretty in-depth.  I also had to submit proof of insurance, and a photo of my kit was sent to the panel.

The practical assessment, which took place on the 6th, consisted of me face painting three faces in a timed setting, to exhibit that I've got the core skills FACE deems necessary for competency certification.  Every applicant must complete one face with a solid white base, a two- or three-color tiger, and a three(or more)-color blended bases that results in a princess, an abstract design, or a land/seascape.  FACE is adamant that its members be able to achieve airbrush-like blended and completely solid matte bases, as well as good, sharp, varied lines, distinct edges, and good color choices.

So, here are mine...

If you check out my website, you'll know that these faces aren't entirely my style, but I crossed my fingers and hoped the judges saw what they needed to see.  Then I had to wait, and if you know me, you know I am not a patient person.  It only took 8 days to find out, but I'm in!  I found out just yesterday morning, that I am member #564.

So why did I do this, and what is FACE, you ask?  Excellent question, I say!

It's an international face painting association, started in 1994 in the United Kingdom, dedicated to promoting professionalism and skill within the face and body art community for the benefit of our clients.  To that end, the competency certification is offered worldwide.

As of this writing, I'm one of only four FACE members in New Jersey, and only fourteen in the entirety of North America!

Is certification necessary for face painters?  Nope.  However, when you hire a FACE member, you know that you've got someone who's passed a stringent accreditation test, has ensured that their work meets the benchmark set by the association, and has committed to continued learning and striving to improve those skills.  You know you've got someone who maintains high levels of health and hygiene to protect the faces they paint.  You can rest assured that you've got a face painter who is insured, and uses only products which have been approved for use on face and bodies.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Kids (or Adults) Can Get Creative Too!

On Saturday, I had the happy job of teaching a 9-year-old birthday girl and her friends how to paint a panda-themed painting in artists' acrylic on canvas!

Her mom suggested the subject, as pandas are her favorite animal.  In fact, the whole party was panda-themed, with an adorable cake, cupcakes, and decorations.

So I designed a panda painting in sketch form, and brought it along to the party with me, together with photos of a real baby panda and bamboo.  In fact, I bring everything we'll need - table easels, canvases, brushes, paint, water cups, palettes, and aprons.

I set up everything for the kiddos and my own easel and table, and proceeded have them paint the background in their own favorite colors, then go step by step with the shapes.

We had such a great time, and everyone was so into it, the kids and their parents alike!

And everyone got to take a masterpiece home!

I knew I liked teaching, but some of the fun at this particular party came from going beyond the borders of the canvas, and talking about how bamboo grows, how pandas are mostly vegetarian, and how perspective works.  We also discussed the placement of features on faces, and how adult features are located differently from baby and child features.

I left that party feeling just exuberant, knowing everyone had fun, including me.

If you want to know more about canvas painting parties or book one of your own, be sure to contact me!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Which Service is Best for my Event?

When discussing her daughter's party with a client recently, I found that she was having a tough time deciding which services to choose for the event.  Do you know which are best for yours?

Face Painting

Face paints are actually a water-based makeup, which wash off easily with just soap and water.  They can be used on the face or body without issue.  I've painted children as young as 4 months, all the way up to really fun grandmas and grandpas.

It's the most temporary of the art forms, which is great if parents want their children to have clean faces right away, if they've got school restrictions against body art, or just because everyone loves it!  Things to think about are that it does sweat off in extreme heat, rub off on things, and come off in the pool.

Temporary Tattoos

Most of the temporary tattoos, whether ink or glitter, are alcohol-based and water resistant.  Glitter tattoos are done with a skin-safe medical adhesive and cosmetic glitter; ink tattoos are done with skin-safe temporary tattoo inks.

Temporary tattoos don't rub off easily, and last from a few days to a week.  More teens and adults are likely to want them too!  They're great, therefore, at parties with an older crowd, pool parties, and dressier parties, like Sweet 16s, graduations, and even weddings!  These won't come off on the bride's gown, and if she loves hers as much as I did mine, that's a definite plus.  The alcohol-based tattoos cannot be done on the face, so they're great for hands, arms, legs, backs, and shoulders.

On the other hand, I have an additional adhesive that's safe for use on the face.  This one washes off easily with soap and water, so it doesn't have the longevity of the other tattoos.  When at an event, I bring both types of adhesive, so they're always available.


Teens, adults, and even some kids love henna!  It's a traditional art form that goes back thousands of years, and with it, a multitude of designs are possible.  Henna is not applied to the face, so it's better at events and during seasons when arms, legs, hands, and even shoulders will be available.

When applied, henna is a viscous paste, and can rub and smear if the wearer isn't careful, resulting in a messy stain on the wearer, so it's not recommended for small children who can't keep track of their tattoo until it dries.  It's also not recommended for events at which there will be water-based activities, such as pools or sprinklers.

A henna tattoo will last for one to three weeks, depending on the skin and area to which it's applied, and cannot be washed, rubbed, or scrubbed off.  That's both a benefit and something to consider.


Everyone loves balloon twisting, from the youngest child to the most mature adult; they're just irresistible!  It's entertaining to watch, and at the end, each guest has received a favor.  However, if your guest list is primarily under the age of three, consider that balloon art may not be the way to go.  Once a balloon pops, it's a potential choking hazard, and for that reason our artist will hand balloon creations only to the parents of your under-3 guests.

While our artist has a menu of balloons he knows well, from which he will work when at a more populated event, if he has time, he's happy to try "winging" new designs, like this adorable bee, which was a first for him.

Canvas Painting

Are all your guests at least 5 years old?  Perfect!  Our canvas painting parties are different from the ones hosted at those static painting locations.  For starters, we come to you!  As long as you have table and seating space for everyone, you're all set!  I bring my own floor easel, a table easel for each guest, and all of the supplies needed.   Also, I don't have a set menu of paintings from which to choose, because I'll paint to any theme with you.  I'll need a couple weeks' lead time to get set up, but in that time, we'll discuss the guest of honor's favorite animal, place, or activity, and jointly design a one-of-a-kind custom a painting to create, geared toward the age group of the participants.

I'll teach your guests about color, and about how to see the shapes in things to create paintings on their own too.  For an idea of the steps we take, look here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's All About the Kids - Working with Special Needs

When I was in 8th grade, there was this girl, Mary.  She wasn't in our school the year before, and no one knew much about her... except that she was different.  She didn't get social cues or sarcasm, and didn't recognize when some of the other kids were joking at her expense or messing with her.

In 1983, none of us had ever heard the word autism.  Sitting here 33 years later, though, knowing what I know now, and having the experiences I've had, I'm fairly certain Mary was on the spectrum.  We just weren't told.  It wasn't discussed.  I'm pretty sure my parents weren't informed either.  While my parents taught me always to be nice to people as a general matter, we were never taught in school about differences, acceptance, and working with other kids' special needs.  We weren't educated.

I'm so glad we are now.  I'm so glad that now, special needs are recognized, diagnosed, discussed, and made known.  Today, I have a family member on the autism spectrum, and multiple friends with children on the spectrum as well, including one who's a terrific face painter in Minnesota.  Today, I've gotten fairly savvy at recognizing when a child has special needs, and know that the child's not just being entitled or bratty, that something else is going on.  With the help of those friends, especially the Minnesota face painter, I've learned so much about what it means and what I need to do to work with and around it.  Sometimes it's got to be the quickest, simplest version of a design.  Sometimes it needs to just be cheek art or arm art, not full face.  Sometimes the face painter will need to describe what's being done as it's happening, or warn the child when his or her face is about to touched.  Sometimes, the painting has to go unfinished, even if it's an unrecognizable blob, just because the child is done and can't sit for more than that.  It's all OK, and it's all about the kids.

I also know that compromise can be difficult for a child on the spectrum, and we as face painters need to work with that.  I was part of a group face painting at a NY Jets event a year or two ago, and the sheer number of people there was insane, so we were limited by the organizers to only a few face paint options.  A boy who'd waited patiently on line with his mom got to me and asked for Batman.  I told him I was very sorry, but I wasn't permitted to paint Batman as this event.  And then I realized, when I saw mom's face and the storm brewing behind the boy's eyes, that there was something more to this boy.  It wasn't his fault, of course; he had special needs, and I needed to work with that.

"Well, here's the thing.  I can paint swirls, since that's on the list, but I'm not a very good artist, and sometimes my swirls come out looking like Batman.  I hope that's OK with you."

It was!

Last June, I face painted at a Fight 4 Autism walk in Hawthorne.  Despite the intermittent downpours and resulting low turnout, it truly was an amazing event and experience.  I got to meet the nicest people, paint a bit, and have some fun.  What I remember most, though?  Not what I painted.  What I painted honestly wasn't relevant that day.  My best memory of the day was a boy on the spectrum who found his favorite music Youtube videos on my phone, and hung out with me, dancing and having a blast.

That event led to the grand opening of We Rock the Spectrum gym, in Waldwick.  I painted there for five hours, and it was terrific.  And because my friends have given me such great information, and because I've gotten to paint these children before, I know.  Although I have, somewhere in the back of my mind, delusions of grandeur that I'm an "Artist" and want everything I do to be "Art," it's not about that.  So at that grand opening, while some of the kids had the patience and ability to sit for their requested Venusaurs and Laprases,

not all could.  Some weren't into painting at all, some needed something really small and quick, and some were very, very specific.  One girl requested a balloon with several strings on it in all different colors she chose as I painted.  The resulting simple, hairy-looking balloon with clashing-color strings may not have been artwork that made me proud, but the big smile on her face when she saw the mirror sure was.

Because in the end?  It's all about the kids.

And now, awesome news!  The gym has rebranded itself, and is now 1 Gym 4 All!

Their mission is to spark children's curiosity to explore new activities and social relationships, and in addition to the gym itself, they host art and music programs, summer and holiday camps, and private parties!

The best part?  I'll be painting at their new grand opening on December 3, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.!  Please come check out 1 Gym 4 All, like them on Facebook, and enjoy!  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

More Other Artwork

A friend in Virginia posted a drawing on Facebook, done by a young artist a few years ago, of a hornet kicking a soccer ball, as the girls' soccer team is the Herndon Hornets.  She asked, "I have this image.  I want to use it as the basis for a graphic that can be used for t-thirts for [my daughter's] soccer team.  Any ideas on an inexpensive way to work on the image?"

When she clarified, I realized she wanted it redrawn, but based on the original image.

So I offered.

Interestingly, the artist made the same mistake I've always, always made - hexagonal black areas on a soccer ball!  It made me not feel bad for doing that all these years.  I realized when I looked up photos of actual soccer balls so I'd get it right for this drawing.  And by the way, soccer balls are really hard to draw!

The results...

And then I had some fun adding color...

Go Hornets!


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