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!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Brushes

I was contacted by someone who distributes a brand of face painting brushes I'd never heard of before, Artacts brushes.  She asked me to do a video review in exchange for receiving the brushes, so I agreed.

I received them the other day, and first tried them tonight.  All opinions are truthful and my own.

They really are terrific, and the next time I need new brushes, I'll be ordering them myself, from here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Purim Party

I recently got to paint faces at the Chabad Center of Passaic County's Purim party.  It was imoji-themed, and a blast.


This is the same group that had the glow-themed Chanukah party, and I really like these kids.

My one lament?  One boy had the really awesome idea of a Spidey imoji and my only photo was blurry!

Boo!  In my defense, I'd forgotten my good camera, and was using my phone for all of these.  On the other hand, his brother followed suit and got a Hulk imoji, and I got a cool shot of that.

Aren't they fun?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Well, I Heard

The response I got from the woman who commissioned the picture frame last week was that it was a resounding success!  Here's what she posted in a group on Facebook:

What a compliment!  It's reactions like those that make me smile.


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