Friday, November 2, 2018

Introducing: NEW Step-it-Up Stencils!

Designing my own line of stencils has been a dream of mine for several years, which is why I am so super excited to announce the release of my brand new line of stencils, "Step-it-up Stencils!" And since I've bee on a jewelry kick lately with my new Jewelry for Face & Body Artists book and recently teaching jewelry at the Jamvention in Belgium, I've decided to launch my first line with the jewel theme!

These stencils are designed to help you step up your detail, step up your speed, and step up your game! The "step" word also comes into play within the stencils themselves, as they are designed to take you step by step through your design.

The stencils currently on the market for speeding up jewels just don't lend themselves well to realism, as they leave lines between all of the facet shapes. In real life, everything is not outlined like a cartoon...the shapes of the facets are defined by the contrast of colors next to each other. For this reason I have broken down realistic gemstones into steps, enabling you to paint the various facets' planes closer to each other and in varying shades.

Each stencil comes with a full color instruction sheet, however, the stencils themselves even have the steps numbered with useful instructions by each one. Guidelines help you line up each step of your design, and the etched words remind you which color change to make on each step.

These are great for speeding up those fancy d├ęcolletage designs, especially if they have multiple gems in them and you want to keep them consistent!

I have many more stencil design in the works, including more gem shapes, but the third and final one that is available right now is the princess eyes stencil!

I know so many artists who struggle with creating uniform, delicate eyes on their princesses and unicorn. Sure, practice may make perfect, but why struggle through these tiny details at gigs when you can create them in seconds? Part of being a professional is knowing when to rely on the tools available to you. This stencil comes with four sizes of princess eyes, ranging from about 1/4" wide to 1/2". In just two steps you can lay down the whites and the black, finishing it off with a brush to add the iris in a color of your choice.

I first premiered these stencils at the Jamvention in Belgium last month, including one free in every attendee's goodie bag! Today I'm happy to announce that these new stencils are available now in the shop! Grab yours today, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for the latest designs as more are released!

Winter issue of Wet Paint Magazine: Now Shipping!

The winter issue of Wet Paint Magazine is NOW LIVE! Congrats to our cover artist, Sabine Vogel for her amazing glitter body art!

With the season of sparkly decorations and glistening snowdrifts fast approaching, I found it appropriate to give this winter issue the theme of BLING! 

 Being new to bling clusters myself, I’ve interviewed Jewel Junkies Facebook group creator Lilly Walters Schermerhorn about how to make and use your own bling clusters. We also share an inspiring story of 15 year old gem cluster phenom Aubrey Goettlicher, and a collage of creative bling cluster ideas!

In this issue I’ve also started a new series called “Branching Out.” In this and future issues, this series will focus on the various ways that face & body artists have expanded their business to include something other than painting itself. In this issue I’ve interviewed artists from around the globe who create and sell their own bling! 

Briar Adams also shares with us a recap of the New Zealand Body Art Showcase, complete with a photo gallery of artists with their models! 

Meet our glitter tattoo cover artist Sabine Vogel in this issue’s “Pro Artist Q&A” session! 

Also in this issue, professional entertainer and safety expert Kelly Smith writes on the subject of keeping yourself safe at gigs.

For this issue's "Kid Artist Spotlight" we've interviewed the youngest graduate of Olga's International Face Painting School, Chavie Goldberger!

We also have three step by step designs...

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this amazing issue! This issue is sure to inspire! Order your copy here today!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Realistic Eyes Workshop in Minnesota!

Class is in session!

This week I hosted one of my Realistic Eyes workshops in Minnesota for a great group of local painters! I love hosting smaller workshops in my home in Mound. Space is limited to 6 students to ensure everyone has plenty of space to spread out their supplies and paint along!

All set up to go!
Today's class schedule!

Whenever I do workshops I have tons of visuals. My years of experience working in a corporate office and giving Powerpoint presentations, even in a technology company itself, has taught me not to ever rely fully on technology to work!! So, I always create an "analog" Powerpoint! Here is my little flip book that works as my notes and visuals for my students...

My analog powerpoint!
...I never have to worry about the connection being bad or having the wrong cord, and it's easy to bring along for my workshops across the globe!

Reference photos...a key piece to realism painting!

In this workshop we start by covering some of the physical properties of the anatomy of the eye...their shapes, textures, and proportions. We then "dissect" they eye, so to speak, focusing first on the "whites" of the eye, then the iris, pupil, eyelids, lashes and finally highlights.

Hands on with lots of visuals!
We learn tricks and tips along the way for how to achieve realism, what tools to use, and how to achieve certain effects. While we spend much of the class studying every component of a realistic eye painting, I also throw in some tips for creating a realistic eye quickly, sharing a few on the job design ideas, so that our lessons can be applied even to busy gigs with long lines. It is vital to start slow, studying the details of realism first, in order to understand how to best use the speed tricks we have up our sleeves!

And speaking of "up our sleeves," check out the awesome eyes on the arms of these ladies during class!

 I always love to get a photo of everyone's arms during and after this class! I always tell my students to take pictures of their work, along the way and especially at the end...and especially if they don't like it! Chances are, when you go back and look at it on the screen later, you'll be amazed at how much better it looks than when you were working on it. Sometimes all we need is to step back from the design, and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. ;-)

What we all painted today!

At the end of class we had a little time to paint a couple animal eyes, and I demonstrated a dragon eye and a tiger eye. 

This week's wonderful students!
Huge thanks to all the ladies who came out for this week's class! I had a great time and hope you did as well! If you're interested in attending an eyes workshop in Mound, Minnesota, or would like to have me come to your town to teach workshops, check out my workshop page to learn more and contact me to discuss your needs! If you live in the Twin Cities, be sure to follow us on Facebook and check out my events page for local jams and workshops

SO Many NEW Products!

We've been adding so many products lately, I haven't kept up with sharing them all on my blog! Here are a few of our latest additions to the shop!

We now carry Pros-Aide! Be sure to stock up now before the winter months hit...remember we are located in Minnesota, and this product will be rendered useless if frozen! Definitely check out the new Pros-Aide II...while the original is great for glitter tattoos and things we want to last for days, Pros-Aide II is preferred by artists for more temporary items like bling clusters and unicorn horns!

We also now carry Art Factory's Glitter Glaze and Festival Glitter!

Glitter Glaze!

Festival Glitter!

Don't forget to keep an eye on our Pixie Paint assortment as it's still GROWING!

Pixie Paint...we keep adding more, more more!

Did you miss the latest issue of Wet Paint Magazine? Grab yours NOW for some really great and timely inspiration and information! In the fall issue we've interviewed Shawna DelReal about sugar skulls...what you need to know about their history, and what's appropriate and NOT appropriate to include in their design! Also, you'll really enjoy our Q&A with Nancy Wu, our feature on blacklight artist John Poppelton, and we'll invite you into the magical world of Elfia!

Wet Paint Fall 2018 - a MUST have!

We have a lot of fun things for bling cluster making...

We now carry stamen in assorted colors, perfect for antennae in your butterfly body bling clusters!

available in yellow, pearl black and white!

We now carry big backs of red ribbon roses! Snip the tops off with a scissor or wire cutter, and affix them to your bling clusters!

ribbon roses
Getting into the unicorn horn craze? We now carry Foamies brand air dry clay, which is perfect for making unicorn horns! The clay dries slightly flexible to stand up to kid play, and weighs virtually nothing!
air dry clay; perfect for making unicorn and monster horns!

We have also expanded our assortment of fabric paints for bling clusters, including glitter and iridescent sets!

Iridescent slick paints

Speaking of bling...we've added so many new gems it's hard to list them all! Here are just a few of the new, fun Halloween bling we have in stock! These are a special buy, with limited stock, so get them before they're gone!!

Here are few more of our new bling sheets...find these and all of our bling on our bling page!!

Two sheets of adhesive backed epoxy eye pairs, and several google eye pairs!

If you can believe it, we've actually added even more items, but this is all I have time to share with you this morning!! Be sure to visit our shop regularly as we're always expanding and evolving! Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting!!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Approaching Events that use Craft Paints on Faces

As professional face painters, especially with kids of our own, we've all been there...entered your child's school carnival only to find our worst nightmare: a "face painting" station that doesn't have a single skin-safe product in sight.  Classic warning signs of a dangerous face paint station include bottles of tempera paint, tubes or jars of acrylic, crusty brushes and metallic craft glitters.  Of course to the average parent, nothing is alarming about this, and that is one of the scariest parts.  Parents have no idea that they are standing in line, sometimes paying money to have somebody put something dangerous on their child's delicate skin. When we attend kids' events, we tend to assume that those putting on the event know what they are doing. The first reaction of most of us is to confront the event coordinator and give them an earful.

[Now, say this is NOT a school or church fundraiser event...say you are at a festival and have paid good money for a booth, only to find someone giving away tempera face paints for free. This is different, and not what I'm discussing in this post this case I would go to the fair coordinator right away. They are not volunteers, they are getting paid to coordinate vendors, and their butts are on the line if their fair gets sued, especially if they've been informed and warned by you, the professional painter. I've had to do this several times...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't work on the spot, follow up afterwards with the same person and then someone higher up if you're still ignored. I may try to do a blog post on these situations down the road!]

For the purpose of THIS blog post, I am going to discuss these purely volunteer run events that claim to have zero budget, taking in whatever warm body will sit in their chair to man the face painting booth. ;-)

Focus on Priority #1

The problem with confronting the event coordinator is that we are professional face painters who are paid well for our talent and safe practices...therefore, we run the risk of event planners assuming we just want their business.  Of course, the best case scenario as we all know, would be for them to hire you, give you an opportunity to wow their guests, and then wonder why they didn't hire you years ago!
yes...but let's set that fact aside for a moment!

You can go for this goal if you wish, which may actually work for some events! However, for the purpose of this blog I am going to set aside my wish for them to just hire me, and focus on my #1 goal: to keep kids safe by educating the general volunteer event planning public.

For just a moment, set aside your frustration at the fact that so many people think "anyone" can do what you do. Set aside your anger that adults are being trusted with your kids' safety and in turn could be hurting them. Forget the bad taste for face painting being left in the mouths of children when their designs begin to dry, crack, itch and flake off. Take a breath, and TRY to...

Step into their shoes.

Let's take our first bit of advice from Lincoln: Have mercy on them.

It is important to remember that, while it can be infuriating for us to see acrylic on kids' faces, the majority of these event planners simply have no idea that it isn't right. They've seen their kids paint with tempera and get it all over their hands without an issue, but don't realize that prolonged contact with skin is bad. They read "non-toxic" on their kids' art supplies and assume that means it's completely safe for faces. They've even seen it used for face painting before...shudder...and this is what we're striving to correct.

We let our kids get in line for the bouncy house, not knowing if it is made of the strongest nylon or if it is sufficiently anchored to the ground. We assume they are inflating it with plain old air and not toxic gas. After all, if it were dangerous, would they be allowed to be there? Would there be such a big line of responsible parents waiting for it? Who really knows?! I'm not trying to make you fear everything...just step into the shoes of a typical, trusting parent who has had no experience with professional face painters.

The people who put on these events are typically volunteers (hence the lack of a budget to hire painters)... parents, accountants, plumbers, teachers, police officers, or whatever...they are not living and breathing body art on a daily basis like we are. They are just parents like us, looking to give their kids a fun time, and it is our job to help them understand. Sure, I could go on a rant right now about how they do have budgets, how professional artists is just as worthy of that budget as the bouncy house and popcorn machine...hopping off my soap box and back into their shoes...

We live in a DIY world. You could literally spend all day watching DIY shows on cable if you wish. Pinterest will generate an endless, scrolling list of awful homemade face paint recipes (ugh, just don't even get me started!), and make us feel like less of a mother if we can't make something ourself rather than buy it. Most people's instinct is to first try things themselves. My dad is a carpenter and he can tell you how many jobs he has done where he had to fix DIY projects gone wrong!

We've hired many-a-plumber, AFTER trying several bottles of Liquid Plumber and a cheap home improvement store snake that wasn't long enough. It's just in our nature. It doesn't mean I think the world doesn't need talented, educated, professional's just that I'm not sure I need one myself just yet. We want to try, and succeed while saving money in the process, but it doesn't always happen. And I'm pretty sure having that plumber scold and ridicule me for wasting my time and money on the wrong supplies would not have helped the situation.

So What Do I Say?

So how do you effectively raise your concerns in a way that they will be taken seriously, not seen as a bid for business, and not offend them to the point of blowing you off? I've gotten this question so many times, that I have taken it upon myself to write up a sample letter below.  Please feel free to copy and paste this into your own letterhead or email and edit it to suit your own situation, or use it as a script for phone conversations! I'm a little long winded, so feel free to take or leave whatever pieces suit your situation. My goal here is to educate without coming across as a solicitor trying to get hired, or an angry accuser.

This letter is written for situations where I'd contact the event coordinators AFTER the event. I know this sounds like too little too late, but in the middle of a busy event when the planner is overwhelmed with a crowd is really not the best time to be heard, and is too late to make any real changes. As much as I'd like to see this happen, I've never heard of a painter convincing them to shut down the entire operation, deny painting to all the kids in line, and announce to everyone who's been painted that they should immediately wash it off for their safety.

Take it from Ben.

I've always loved Benjamin Franklin's quote, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." One of the difficulties with changing how these events operate is that the people operating them can change entirely from year to year or event to event, and the valuable lessons learned in that bitterness are lost. I'd venture to say, "The bitterness of poor quality is forgotten the moment the baton is passed on to the next volunteer." Unless you become a consistent member of the planning team yourself, be prepared to educate, and re-educate year after year.

But don't give up! Take a word of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson!

Have this conversation or send this letter right after the event while it is fresh in their mind. Find out when they start planning the event for the next year and who to contact at that time, and mark your calendar with a reminder to re-connect. Do a follow-up the next year, before it's too late. If you can come to them as a parent willing to help in that planning process, you will be much better received than coming at them in attack mode during this huge event that they've volunteered their time for. If you can come to them as someone prepared with solutions, rather than just a pile of complaints, you'll be much more well received!! Take it from Teddy Roosevelt!!

Okay, here is my working draft of things I'd like to say to these event coordinators...


Dear Event Coordinator,

My name is Gretchen and I attended your event last week at the XYZ Elementary School.  My family and I had a wonderful time! However, something really left me concerned for the safety of the kids in attendance, as well as the potential for parents to take legal action against the school as a result, and I wanted to bring it to your attention to protect the kids and school district. 

I noticed that the face painters, while I'm certain well meaning and unaware, were using products that are not safe. Acrylic paints, tempera paints, and other craft paints, while marked "non-toxic," are actually not safe for prolonged contact to the skin.  Metallic craft glitters can and have in the past caused serious damage and even blindness when caught in the eye.  [For more information, images of allergic reactions, and a list of the dangers of using these products on skin, check out ...if emailing you can send a link!]

I realize of course that you would never intentionally hurt the kids, it wouldn't have occurred to you that craft supplies could pose a risk, and that your volunteers were simply doing their best to make a fun event for the kids on a limited budget! The only reason I'm aware of these things is because I happen to have 20 years of experience as a professional face painter.  Being immersed in this industry I am more aware of all the amazing and safe products out there that are made for skin, and unfortunately have seen many horror stories of face painting gone wrong when the wrong products are used!

Of course I realize that my warnings may be clouded by the fact that I am a professional painter, but I assure you that I am not just trying to gain your business.  I know that you have a very limited budget and rely on volunteers. We love our school and would hate to see it caught up in any lawsuit, but of course the safety of my child and his/her classmates is my #1 concern! I would love to help you a couple simple ideas to help make next year's event safe and still within or under budget!

1 - I would be more than happy to make suggestions as far as what safe products to purchase, and where!  Most event coordinators don't realize that you can actually get high quality, safe, professional face paints for even less cost than the craft paints!! For example, you can get a 6-color mini set of basic paints with a brush for as little as $6.00! [see Wolfe's mini basic paint kit] Or for a fraction of the cost of one hour of a professional face painter's time, you can go to and get a kit full of high quality, professional paints and even instructions that your volunteers can use for years to come [] Paintertainment is even offering an additional 10% off this already discounted set and anything in their shop with coupon code SAFETYFIRST.

[Yes I'm including my own "Smile Painter Set" here and website, but feel free to suggest other retailers!! I am more concerned with people using the right paint than purchasing from me personally!! But if offering a discount will help people to use safe paints, I'm going to try it!! My whole shop started with this...volunteer painters asking me for help with what to buy, so that is why I put together this kit and started selling paints...for people I knew couldn't afford me, but needed something safe. Another idea, if you're so inclined, would be to offer to even purchase paints yourself and donate them...this can go a long way and really prove that you are doing this for the safety of the kids, not your own profit!!]

2 - Another suggestion is something I've seen work well for many charity events, and that is to find local businesses to sponsor the face painting! This makes it free to you, the sponsor gets some exposure at the event, and the kids get professional paints and/or painters! If you still have trouble getting a sponsor to fund professional painters themselves, you can also see if they would be willing to donate some funds towards the cost of proper supplies. You don't incur any costs, kids get painted with safe supplies, the kids' faces look and feel better, parents can actually wash it off easily, nobody gets a rash, and sponsors get's a win all around!

[If you really want to go above and beyond, offer suggestions of local businesses to contact, or even offer to contact some of them yourself. Put together a flyer or pdf that they can share with local businesses explaining what you offer, levels of monetary support they can participate with, etc! It is highly unlikely that they will turn down a willing volunteer, vs a request for more expenses!]

I hope that this letter offers you some helpful suggestions for next year! If you wouldn't mind letting me know when you typically start planning this event and who to contact to get involved, I would love to help out in any way I can next year! Or, please do feel free to pass on my info to the event coordinators and give me a call or email with any questions.

Thank you for all the hard work you do to make our kids' events fun! As a parent I truly appreciate your gift of your time!


Professional Face Painter


I hope this helps to at least give you some ideas for effective ways you can approach events like this that will result in some sort of positive change!! Have you found yourself in a situation like this? What did you do? How did it turn out? We'd love to hear your stories! I definitely am still learning myself and don't have all the answers, so let's use this comment feed to encourage, share our experiences and make our industry better!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy (safe) painting!