Thursday, 19 February 2015

Face Painting: Thoughts On Petal Pots

So there are these awesome things I call 'press flowers', where basically you double load a round paint brush, point the tip to your skin then press it down to make a petal. An analogy would be pretend the tip of the brush is a ballerina standing on her toe, then she goes down on to her heel.

And you get lovely petals that look like this.

Typically you achieve this multicolored look by 'double loading' you brush. You do this by loading up the entire brush first with your light color (in this case white) and then you load just the tip of the brush with your dark color (here I used blue). I have even been able to triple load the brush using this technique, you just have start with lights and end with darks.

Also as stated before the best way to load your brush is to go back and forth, with the bristles and avoid 'swirling' the brush in the paint. You will get a better load this way and it will be less stress on your brush (which will make it last longer).

The only down side to this technique is the issue of reloading. See after yo put that brush in the dark color, it's near impossible to load the light color again with out contaminating it with the dark color.

This problem of reloading has gotten some artists rather creative and thus petal pots were created.

The idea is simple enough. Get some dollar store paint by number style paint pots, put your dark color on the bottom and your light color on top, make a hole large enough for your brush and you are off the to races.

"How cleaver!" I thought, as it pretty much solves the issue with double loading. In fact I was almost going to make my own but then it hit me.... To load the paint... I would have to swirl my brush.

The more I thought about it, the more I didn't like it. I thought about how this would cause more stress on the bristles of the brush, and ultimately make them start to fray a lot faster. I might as well stick my brush into an extremely dull pencil sharpener.

"Feed me your art supplies!"

Then there are all the little reasons. This taking time and paint to create, it being yet another thing to carry in my kit and take up table space etc. And for what? To save a little reload time? The price seemed too high, so I ultimately came to the conclusion that this was not something I wanted to make.

If you really need to reload your brush you can wipe off the dark tip, but I find the best thing to do is just make sure you have a good load to begin with. If you have a good load that will last through all the petals you want to make then there is no reason to reload! The secret to doing this is all about having thew right brush. My older round brushes were long and thin and couldn't really hold enough paint most of the time, but with a shorter and fatter brush, the problem was solved.

I recommend the Silly Farms Petal Brushes, as they are thick and short, thus holding a lot of paint and help to make this easy technique even easier (stupid easy really).

I think having the right tools of the job not only makes the job easier, but it's a lot easier on your brushes life span as well. It's very rare that I have to reload now that I have these brushes.

Problem solved!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

5 Reasons To Hire a Quality Face Painter

1. Safety First

Professionals take their work seriously; I for one am fully insured, change my water often, use only one sponge per child, and have a 3 part sanitation routine for my brushes while I work. I am also, as far as I have seen, the only face painter in my city who even uses hand sanitizer between models. I am a professionally trained makeup artist and all my techniques are done with safety and sanitation in mind.

How many face paint artists have you seen who even use hand sanitizer while they work? Most people never really notice the face painting table itself unless you point it out to them.

But now that I have, can you spot the difference?


See that photo of the dirty water container up there? That belongs to a large company in my City that loves to undercut local artists. They have all the big contracts with the local theme park, and sports centers. They keep costs low by hiring teenagers for the summer to fill the demand. It's easy to slack off when you have a monopoly on certain events.

It just goes to show, that just because it's a large company doesn't mean they adhere to higher standards of safety and quality.

I have an entire write up on the cleanliness of face painting tables right here for further reading.
Face Painting Setup: Messy VS Dirty

2. High Quality Materials

Same goes for the products quality artists use. My materials are very high quality, and made for cosmetic use. They are also among the best brands made specifically for high quality face painting. I have seen many face painters melt down cheap dollar store face paints and re-pot them into all sorts of containers like ice cube trays. Re-potting isn't really a bad thing, but if the artist is using cheap paint, then that would pose a few problems.

Pictured: Mystery Paint

First of all a lot of the dollar store paints serve only as dumpster fodder being made by Chinese owned companies. Now, understand that lots of things are made in China, but this fact in of itself doesn't make them bad. Many of the higher quality face paints are made in factories in China, but the companies themselves are not Chinese.

The origin of the paints is important but you also have to think about quality. Most dollar store paints are made cheap and they don't have the staying power of better brands, nor the work-ability to create quality art from them. 
I have also seen face painters who use 'homemade' face paints with food coloring in them that stain the skin for days! Yikes! But even that is preferable to those who would use acrylic craft paint on your child!

I have also seen some face painters skimp on glitter and end up using craft glitter instead of cosmetic glitter, whether it be through ignorance or knowingly just wanting to save on supply cost. Craft glitter is very dangerous to be applied on the face and near eyes; the metal it's made of can cause allergic reactions, and the sharp bits can scratch a persons cornea if it gets in the eyes. 

3. Let Their Work Speak For Itself
That is actually that 'artists' card, and yes that's what it actually said.

I don't claim to be the best, and I don't need to put anything like "the cities best face painter" on my card, I let other people say it for me. But since I have to write something in this section allow me to talk myself up a bit.

I've been painting as long as been able to hold a paint brush. My mother and aunt (twins) were both mural artists. I grew up on scaffolding filling in blocks of color on walls like a giant coloring book. I first stated face painting when I was 12 years old and was hooked (that's 15 years ago). I also went to college to learn special FX makeup for TV and film, though it's my face painting that pays the bills believe it or not. I'm always looking on how to improve and become better at what I do.

The public can see I'm one of the best just by looking at my work, and from looking at my setup on my table.

I know people can find a cheaper face painter, but it won't be near the level of detailed art that I offer.

P.S. That 'Rainbow Cat Beard' was made with homemade food coloring 'face paint', and also note the table confetti and craft glitter stuck on the childs face. Yikes!

4. Speed Is Important!
I do designs in under 5min that take other artists 20min to do, or they simply can't do them at all. I some times work at a local farmers market to fill my off days, and i switch off with another face painter. Parents have told me that they simply don't stop for face painting on days when she's at the market anymore, because she's just too slow! They admit that she does very nice work, but they all tell me it just takes too long. After seeing me bust flowers in mere seconds, or do a full face rainbow cheetah in 3 and a half min, they just don't want to wait in her slow moving line ever again.

5. Do You Really Want 'The Cheapest'
I know there are cheaper face painters in town; there are also more expensive face painters then myself. I know of one lady in my city who charges $140/hr with no discount after the first hour (unlike myself). The last time I saw her she was asking me how I got my line work on my art so thin, and how I did it so fast. She literally grabbed my arm in amazement to see the butterfly I painted on myself. She also used craft glitter until I set her straight. Nice lady though.

There are also companies with face painters that only charge $50/hr (though they have many hidden fee's like travel, added Tax, and charge extra for basic costumes). Take a guess what their work looks like at that price.

I'm not cheap. I offer high quality service in all aspects. For instance all my costumes are handmade and look real. They are not something bought out of the discount bin at Wal-Mart the day after Halloween.
When you want the best, you are willing to pay for it.

   Thank You For Reading!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Face Painting: Cleaning Faces and Hands

There is much debate among face painters about what is best to clean models chocolate/booger encrusted faces, and also what is best to clean our own germ riddled hands after touching each model. Here are my thoughts on both issues.
A parent plops down their child in your face paint chair and the kids face is covered in what they had for lunch, and their nose is one breath away from blowing snot bubbles. Eww! What can be done?

Most face painters go with the option of using wet wipes to solve this problem. It's such a common thing to see on face painting tables and most people assume it's the best option, but it's far from it. In fact there are so many issues with using wet wipes when face painting that it actually has it's own page.
4 Reasons Wet Wipes Are Bad For Face Painting

If you've read it then you understand why I feel wet wipes are not the answer, and not recommended.

At the end of that blog entry I do offer what I feel is the best solution, but I didn't come to that right away. There were many other alternatives I looked into as well. Here are some of them.

Not Recommended: Homemade Wipes

This is an interesting idea, and it was actually one I was playing around with in my head before coming up with my paper towel square/spray bottle solution.

I once a found a blog from a mom who made her own wipes using soaked paper towel, baby oil and other things in them (that's her photo up there). To be honest it made me cringe because with out the preservative chemicals found in regular wet wipes (which are at the same time their very issue) you have just created a ticking time bomb for bacteria. Don't kid yourself, this WILL mold; you can't keep something like that wet and not have bacteria or mold start to build and form at some point.
Also it's a time vampire, because you have to make them yourself, and they don't last very long, so you'll be making them all the time.

So it's just safer to keep your wet solution in it's own dispenser until you need it.
Not Recommended: Reusable Cloth Squares

Thought about this too. Cut up little fabric squares and use them with my soap/water atomizer! At first it seemed like a great eco/green idea, because I could wash them at home and it would be less waste over all, and I could even dye them black to avoid visible stains!

But after some more thought I realized that there are just some things the public just doesn't want you to reuse, or be the 2nd hand recipient from (even if it's clean!!). This is one of them. The public understands you can't throw out your brushes, or your sponges etc but with something as simple as a cloth wipe it feels 'dirtier', even though honestly it's probably cleaner then the brush! Nope, doesn't matter. The public doesn't see it that way. They want you do use a wipe just for them, and them alone. Doesn't matter if you take it home and wash them in the washing machine or whatever. It's the same reason there's not really any 2nd hand underwear for sale at Value Village. It doesn't matter how clean it actually might be, because the very thought of it makes us cringe.

10 Grossest Items To Buy Second-Hand

Sadly you can't do much to change the public's impression on this. :/ And to me at least a clean image is just as important as an actual clean setup.
I did think that perhaps it while it might not work in other places, it might work in my city. I live in Vancouver which (claims to be) one of the Greenest cities in all of Canada, and the people here can be pretty smug about it too lol. I thought I might try it, but again, some times you have to cater the the lowest common denominator. Also I know that in Vancouver Canada at least, not many people would actually 'voice' their concern if they had one. They would be more likely to just keep it to themselves, as to do otherwise might be considered 'rude'.

So, I chose not to risk it and went with the option I knew had a definite success, rather then a 'maybe'.

Save this one for personal at home use instead.

Highly Recommended: Paper Towel + Soap/Water Spray
All things considered, I went with the small paper towel squares and to keep them dry until I spray them with my atomizer soap/water solution. Sure it's not as fast as pulling out a pre-moistened wipe, but it's only like 2 seconds more for a better result so I think it was well worth it.
Read more at the bottom of this page.

Every season is flu season. At least that's what it seems like lol. Let's face it, kids are germ factories, and this is one of many reasons it is highly recommended to sanitize your hands between each model. In the makeup industry this is a must. You can't even touch your hair or other 'non-tools' with out sanitizing your hands again after. So with face painting, to me it's reasonable to, at the very least, sanitize your hands between models.

But what to use?

Not Recommended: Hand Washing Station

If you can manage to haul a large multi-gallon water container, and set up a make shift hand washing station, then by all means if this is what has worked for you. But to me this isn't the most practical thing do be doing for most face painting gigs.
  • First of all this doesn't sound practical do be doing indoors, or say at a private birthday party in someones living room. 
  • It's also not practical to be doing this between every single model. It simply takes too long to properly wet > soap > rinse every time.
When push comes to shove, soap and water is better hands down for cleaning. But it fails for being practical for your average face painting setup. I could see it being used at a large outdoor event where you are painting for many hours, but little else.

Not Recommended: Soapy Spray

Long ago I tried the soapy spray thing for my hands when I was face painting because I knew soap was ultimately the best and my hand sani was starting to dry out my hands. Having a hand washing station would be best, but as stated above it just wasn't practical to bring in peoples homes. So I opted for a soapy spray for my hands, however my retired nurse Mother-In-Law set me straight on that one, with SCIENCE!

See the problem comes when it comes time to rinse off the soap, and this is the step which is missing when we simply have a soap water mix.

Soap contains surfactants (surface active agents) and on one end of the molecule is attracted to water, while the other end is attracted to dirt and grease. So the surfactant molecules help water to get a hold of grease, break it up, and wash it away. BUT the problem is this; if you aren't rinsing it off then dirt and grease filled surfactants just stay and hang out on your hands (this is why there is a "20 second rule" when it comes to washing your hands).

So the grime and bacteria are still there, and aren't they really sanitized at all, just stuck on the surfactants which are still on your hands.

But doesn't the same problem occur when using a soap/water mix with paper towel for cleaning a models faces? Yes. So along with the soap/water spray, I also use my regular water atomizer (used to wet rainbow cakes) to wet the other side of the paper towel and wipe away any soap left over on the area if needed. While I surmise I could do the same thing for my hands, it would require larger pieces of paper towel and more water, AND I would have to do it between each and every kid. :/
Highly Recommended: Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer for the win.

Hand sanitizers are are gels that contain alcohol in order to kill the germs present on the skin. My Mother-In-Law told me to simply get a hand sanitizer with an added moisturizer, and recommended one with added aloe. That way this kills any bacteria on your hands and makes it inert for minimal cross contamination. When choosing which one to get, choose one that has a min 65% - 95% alcohol content. Any less and it's not enough to effectively sanitize. I also opt for one with a pump on top.
  • Convenient, portable, easy to use and not time consuming.
  • Several studies have concluded that the risk of spreading gastrointestinal (stomach) and respiratory infection is decreased among families who use hand sanitizers.
  • The alcohol works immediately and effectively in order to kill bacteria and most viruses.
  • You don't need a lot! A dime size amount is all you need.
Just remember these are not meant to be a replacement to soap and water. If you have grime and dirt etc on your hands, then you need to wash them with soap and water.

Face paint on your hands is a different issue. As it's not itself dirty, and is usually just transfer from a sponge or brush, I actually do keep some wet wipes in my kit (hidden away so parents don't grab them) to clean paint off my hands (and my kit). The cool thing is that the oils in the wipes also help to coat my hands (and my tools) so that the paint comes off them even easier!

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this helpful!