Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Henna Supplies Now Shipping!

We've just added more items to our new and growing henna selection! Check out the items below and click for links directly to the shop.

 We now have 20ml bottles of essential oils...Cajaput, Lavender and Rose Geranium!


 Amerikan Body Art's henna balm comes in handy to protect your fresh henna stain from water.

Carrot bags...a necessity for coning your own henna paste!

 Prefer bottles to cones? We now have Skweezie bottles that come with a medium tip, as well as the individual tips in small (.5mm) , medium (.7mm), and large (.9mm)
.



...and don't forget the powder! We previously only had kits, but now offer 100 gram boxes of quality Jamila henna powder as well.
Stay tuned to our blog because we have some more new glitter and stencil items coming soon!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Competition Entry for Illusion's "Cities of the World:" Tallinn, Estonia!

Today I thought I'd take a crack at Illusion's latest competition: Cities of the World! I really never expect to win competitions, but I LOVE to enter them because they always challenge me to do something I wouldn't normally do.  They also get me painting when I might normally be doing laundry or catching up on paperwork.  ;-)

Anyway, since I went on an amazing missions trip to Tallinn, Estonia over the summer to paint faces and twist balloons, I thought it would be fun to paint Tallinn for my entry!


Below are a few photos of it in process.  You can see in the lower left the reference photo I used.  I often combine photos in Photoshop when planning out a big design, especially for belly painting!

Well in the end, I just can't do Tallinn justice. I had a constant feeling that I was walking through a scenic oil painting while I was there, with so much beauty everywhere we looked! It seemed to pretty to be an ACTUAL place! :-)

Check out the Illusion contest here...it's still open for entries!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Who wants to JAM with me in 2015?!

Uggghhh...SPREADSHEETS! Spreadsheets suck the creative life out of me but I've been working on them a lot this past week, as I wrap up my 2014 bookkeeping for tax season! HOWEVER, I am also starting to build a FUN spreadsheet! A spreadsheet of those who live in or around the Twin Cities who are interested in jamming with me this year! If you live in the Minneapolis/St.Paul MN Metro area, or within driving distance of the Twin Cities, this post is for YOU!  

I originally was thinking I'd make an edit-able document in a Facebook page, but figured you may not all want your contact info displayed within a Facebook page.  So, I'm building a spreadsheet.

Want to be invited to a jam? I need YOUR info in here!

I've been doing a lot of jams this past year and LOVE them! I learn something new every time and it's always so encouraging to chat and compare notes and knowledge with other artists.  It's been so amazing to see our tight knit community of artists grow and prosper in 2014!

SO, here is my dilemma.  I love to host jams.  I'd love to jam with every artist in the area.  My loosely organized list of artists who have expressed interest in jamming has grown beyond the capacity of my house.  My kitchen table can seat 8, but when you factor in all our kits and space needed to paint, it's just not possible logistically to get everyone over at once that I'd like to, and still be able to paint comfortably!  So, this past year I've been trying to hold mini jams here and there, inviting a few at a time, so we can all get together but still have a good environment to spread out in.  (of course when it warms up, we can spread out to the deck too!)

A few photos from 2014 jams! :-)

I try to start out by inviting those who haven't been to a jam yet but have expressed interest, then those who haven't been to one in a while, then those who have, in an effort to include everyone.  But, my list of artists is getting so big that it's hard to coordinate, and hard to remember who can do what days, what everyone is interested in, etc. I need a little info from you to help me include you all!

Here's where you come in!!

IF you are interested in jamming with me in 2015, please do the following:

1. Click here to email me through my web form (this will guarantee you'll make it through my horrible spam filter...sorry about that! I'm having issues this past month with it!)

2. In your message, tell me what works for you typically:
  • weekday morning jams, 
  • weekday evening jams, 
  • or weekend jams.
(This is your CURRENT schedule...I realize it may change with the seasons but let me know what works for you now, and if your life changes, just email me again and I'll update your stats! Basically, I'll email you whenever there's a jam that fits in your chosen time frames.)

3. Tell me what type of jams you'd be interested in:
  • face painting
  • balloon twisting
4. (optional) Let me know what city you live in.  Often times I am asked if there is anyone else who lives in the same city as someone coming, so they can carpool.  But, in order to answer that I need to know where everyone lives.  You don't need to give me a full address, but if you would be interested in carpooling, let me know what city you're coming from.

This information will really help me save time, so that I'm not emailing those only interested in face painters about balloon jams, or emailing people who work full time during the day with weekday morning jams, etc!

Here's what I will then do:

I will send you an email when I have an upcoming jam that's in the topic and time frame you've expressed interest in. Please then let me know if you can or can't make it, because if you can't, I'll email someone else.  This way I can make sure we have a variety of artists, but still keep the group small enough to be logistically possible and a comfortable environment to work in.

My schedule fluctuates a lot, as I'm sure yours does. Right now with preschool schedules and other commitments, I can only host Friday mornings and maybe some Monday mornings.  But, I know that will change in the summer when my boys are out of school.  So, please let me know what works with your current schedule, and if things change, just send me another email and I'll update your info.


Before you do that, here are the details about the jams I hold, so you can decide if you'd like to join us:
  • They are held at my home in Mound, MN. (west side of the cities)
  • Weekdays we typically start 9 or 10 AM, and can go as late as 3:00 pm.
  • Evenings & Weekends I will very rarely...only when my husband is out of town. (He is insanely supportive of my business, so he gets first dibs on any & all evenings & weekends that are not booked with gigs & family events!) But they DO still happen maybe a couple times a year, and I know some other Twin Cities artists host these as well!
  • Everyone brings a food item to share...appetizer, dessert, whatever!
  • There are no strict agendas ...we are very loose! Visit, eat, re-organize your kit, paint yourselves or each other, etc! You get out of it whatever you strive to. If you have questions for everyone, ask! We love to share, teach, exchange ideas, vent, laugh, etc!
  • Don't forget to bring your supplies! I have a couple extra practice heads too that you can use!
  • Other things to bring: camera (or phone) to document ideas, any photos from your "inspiration file" or pinterest boards you'd like to try, questions for other artists, etc...
  • Kiddos are totally welcome as long as you're able to juggle your kids and still enjoy yourself! (Especially if they'll let us paint on them...ha!) I have 5 yr old and 7 yr old boys, and 2 large dogs.
  • Yes, if you would like to buy stuff from my online store, you are welcome to pick it up at a jam (or any time) to avoid shipping, or even "shop" at my house! I do NOT ever expect people to buy stuff but it often happens just because it's convenient. So just let me know if you'd like me to "bring you downstairs" and I will...I won't push it because these are not Tupperware parties and I'm not inviting you to sell you stuff!! ;-) Remember, my store is internet based and run out of my house, so it's no retail paradise, but I've tried to make it more shop-able in person over the past year for my local friends!

Thank you SO much for helping me get organized and enabling me to invite you to more jams this year! I am so excited to meet some more local artists and hope to see you in 2015!

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Balloon Dog Necklaces!

Happy Friday, friends!! Every year I wish I had done more acrylic painting, so I started out this year with a little mini painting of a balloon dog! It's about 6" square.


Then I figured, hey, this would be really fun to wear as a necklace at balloon twisting gigs!  We now have these necklaces available in the shop for $15.00. The dog is covered by a domed glass piece, and it is hung on an 18" sterling silver snake chain.


Now I'm dying to book my next balloon gig to wear it! I also hope to make a few more in the future...maybe a balloon flower next?

Happy twisting! :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Do THIS, Not THAT: How to Achieve Speed AND Detail in Cheek Art Designs!

Over the years I have had so many artists come to me asking me to teach them how I do such clean, crisp cheek art so FAST.  It's one of those things I've just been doing for so long, I never really could pinpoint what exactly to teach.  But, over the past year I've really tried to watch how others paint vs myself, and try to really stop and look at what I do, and whether it could be broken down into something useful and "teachable." SO, here are at least a few tips I've come up with for improving your cheek art speed!

Cheek art?!  


*GASP!* (Can I say that word on the internet among PROFESSIONAL face painters?!)

It seems that "cheek art" is almost a naughty word these days.  Volunteer face painters do cheek art because they THINK it is quicker than full faces.  Clients request "something small" because they THINK smaller means faster.  A myriad of professionals avoid cheek art because they know it actually is NOT quicker than full faces, they're afraid it's too closely associated with amateurs, and they think the amount of detail in a small space is just too time consuming. Unfortunately some of those artists then resort to trash talking cheek art to minimize the fact that they don't offer it to their clients, rather than working to perfect it.

Truthfully though, does it hurt to expand your repertoire to include some cheek art designs?  Think about it...eye designs, nose designs, and most full face & forehead designs are dependent on a specific body part.  Not every child's face will be suited for a full face design.  For example, a forehead design might not be the best choice for a girl with big bangs.  A nose design may interfere with a child's glasses.  A full face design might not be a good idea for a sloppy eater about to indulge in birthday cake, and you most certainly do NOT want to see your nose design end up on the kleenex of a kid with a cold!  I've been offering the whole range of full face, half face, eye designs & cheek art for the last 5 years, and I've still had events where every guest chose cheek designs over full face.  So, it is not even a matter of customers' preferences.

Really good cheek art stands alone...it looks just as good on the arm, hand, or leg as it does on the cheek.  Let me just say that I think the whole term "cheek art" is a little silly...it really doesn't matter where you are painting on a face...it's still face painting. The fact that you offer cheek art does not make you an amateur. The forehead is part of the face.  The nose is part of the face.  And last time I checked, so is the cheek. The difference between "eye designs" and "cheek art" is basically like 1/4 of an inch.  So, what we're REALLY discussing here is achieving a level of detail without compromising speed.

As a cheek art veteran, I am here to say that it IS in fact possible to achieve a high level of detail in your work (cheek art or otherwise!) and STILL maintain your speed.  For the first 15 years of my almost 20 year face painting career, I did nothing BUT cheek art.  So, yes, I will also tell you that you will be fastest at what you practice the most and what you're used to.  Luckily practice time is something we all have control over!  But there are more ways that you can speed things up.  Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you create DETAILED designs, FASTER!

Careful Brush Selection

Choosing the right brush for a particular part of the design and using each brush shape to it's fullest potential can play a huge part in your speed!  This is probably my biggest and best tip for detail + speed.  Honestly, I had no idea this was anything special until I started watching other artists work, and realized this is one thing that I apparently do differently than many artists.


 
Another VERY important thing for achieving clean lines and fine details is making sure your brushes are well cared for and have nice tips! If they are splayed out and not the shape they are intended to be, they will add time, not save time.  Keep your brushes in good condition and as soon as they start showing wear, replace them!

I'd also go as far as to say that not having too many brushes can play a role as well.  These days there is a tool for everything, but it isn't always faster to dig out and load up a new tool just to make a quick dot or what have you.  More brushes means more weight to carry, more tools to sift through to find what you need, more expense, and more to clean and maintain.  I can really do everything I need with 2 round brushes, but found that having 2 sizes of filberts and flats actually speeds up things like the checkers & petals shown above.  I even have a 2" wide flat brush because I think it's so much faster to load and rinse than using sponges for wide split cakes!

Have fun trying the latest and greatest tools, but do an honest evaluation of whether it's worth carrying around and if it really does make your work easier.  It's okay if every tool you try doesn't make the cut in your process of trial and error! (at least that's what I tell myself with my FatMax full of seldom used tools!)

Paint Consistency & Load Time

If your paints are wetter, they'll load quicker on your brush.  Most of us use water based face paints.  So, it's okay to get them really wet as they do eventually dry back out.  Back in the day I only used Kryolan, and I only bought red, yellow, blue, black and white. I mixed every other color myself...orange, pink, green, brown, teal, etc.  I'd get them to an almost liquid consistency for good, even color mixing, then dry the back out into solid cakes.  I've painted with some artists who add so much water that their paints are like the consistency of pudding.  This makes it easy to just dip your brush in without all the swishing and twirling, and you're instantly ready to go.  While it's true that different brands and even different colors among the same brand react differently (ie. Global's yellow  and Wolfe white gets really gooey & sticky, Kryolan's dries out really fast, etc), if you can become familiar enough with your paints you can utilize the water-to-paint ratio to improve your speed.

I now use several brands and treat them all differently.  I make little pools in my Wolfe black and white to have a more liquid-y area.  I am constantly adding water to my Kryolan to keep it the right level of moisture.  Some I just leave alone and mist with water when I begin painting.  If I know my paints are going to sit open and flat on a table for days, I'll make them more wet.  If I know I'm going to have to fold up my kit in an hour to transport it, I won't get my paints so wet.

Whatever you do, figure out what works for you.  I find that keeping my paints wetter increases my speed, by decreasing my loading time. It's definitely a science, especially when mixing brands!

Rinse Time

Rinsing between color changes is another point where speed can be increased.  First, I try to paint my designs in such a way that I am not re-loading the same color twice during one design, whenever possible.  If I can paint all the red parts at once, then I can be done with that color.  Of course sometimes I re-load white at the end for highlights, but with good planning you can avoid unnecessary repetitive loading & rinsing.

Of course you can increase the speed with which you swish your brush in your rinse water and that can shave some time off too.  I also really like my Loew-Cornell Brush Tub because the ridges in the bottom really clean the paint off my bristles with just a couple swipes. When I need to paint fast, I'm a super fast (and sometimes splash-y) rinser!

Some artists even have a brush for every color, eliminating the rinse time alltogether!


Planned Spaces

Just planning out the steps of your design better can really increase your speed.

Whenever possible, if I know a design well enough I try to leave negative spaces rather than just paint over the top.  Eyes are a great place to utilize this.  You don't have to worry about painting the perfect eye shape because you're defining it by the overlapping background color.  And, the white stays super white because it's not layered over other colors.



Strategic Overlap

If you painstakingly outline every detail of a design, it's going to take a while.  If you can take even a few elements and figure out how overlapping with a neighboring color can help define or refine a shape, you can really speed things up.




I hope some of these tips and tricks are useful for you!  I'll try to add to this post as I think of more.  Got any of your own tips for speedy and still detailed cheek art? Please do share!

Happy painting! :-)

Here are a few links that you might find useful:
Easter cheek art designs
Christmas cheek art designs
Cheek Art Facebook Group