Monday, May 3, 2010

A bit of progress

A few months ago, I set a goal to learn how to facepaint.  I've been slowly making progress, and I figure if I post some results here, it will help keep me on track.  This hobby has turned out to be an unexpected learning process.  I've found many aspects of this process are very similar to Asian art.  There is a certain canon of subjects, which are arranged in sequential difficulty.  There are a few key techniques and tools that are layered together to create really attractive works.  Finally, it all has to be done in a very short period of time, with very little allowance for error.

Leave it to me to turn facepainting into a zen philosophical exercise =)

Anyway, here are my current results.  Below is my effort at a partial cat face.

For daughter #2, she wanted a Dalmatian.  I didn't want to put down the white base layer, so I went au naturale.  This turned out to be a good idea as she was feeling a bit jumpy and I had to do the whole thing in about 45 seconds.  For what it is, I'm pleased, but there is quite a bit of refinement needed in my technique.

As a side note, I discovered that if the kid can't stop laughing during the process (which is understandable due to tickling issues), the best solution is play a 'who can hold their breath longest?'  Then you have a few seconds with a stable facial expression to make your move. 

Thus far, I've got basic and fancy butterflies, and a dragon of my own design in my repertoire.  Hopefully, by the end of the month I will have animal faces mastered.  After that, I'll try Celtic knots and tribal designs.


  1. How fun for the kids! The paint isn't cheap is it! It's one of those "hobby" professions that looks simple and easy, and yet, when you try it discover that it isn't. A friend does it professionally and is fantastic! She can make quite a bit of money doing parties and festivals, but it's also hard work, as you're finding out. Looking forward to seeing more!

  2. I will be impressed when you can do a full spiderman job

  3. the Dalmatian girl looks so cute!
    i like face-painting as well, and i have the complete set, but don't have the courage to try it on my son!
    now i'm encouraged and can't wait to start...
    but how can i practice that? directly on the face? my face? maybe my husband's face? lol

  4. @Kate - Very true. At this point, I'm not using airbrushes and such tools, which really drive up the cost.

    @Jason - Funny, you should mention this, because a spiderman face is on the list... =)

    @Jinan - Thanks, I've found the kids really eager to do it, and very happy about them. The thing is, you really do have to practice in advance so you can apply the design quickly and safely (know how to handle eyes, noses, mouths, etc.)

    Of course, with the basic shapes you can just practice on paper. Moving on from there, I recommend using your forearm to practice (I did this when learning how to do wings). Then, move up to doing more complicated designs on your bicep. This gets you used to dealing with weird angles and keeping proportionality on not-flat surfaces.

    Once you have that down, you can safely move on to faces with enough ease and skill to please a six year old =)

  5. I once tried to face paint and entire girls scout troup...not a good estimation on how long each face takes and these girls were older and able to hold still!

  6. Of course, you have very advanced artistic skills (which I do not), but I have really noticed how artistic ability alone is not going to bring success in face painting. You really have to be able to create the image with just a few brushstrokes and on an un-even, multi-textured surface. Eyebrows are my enemy right now.

  7. Super cute. I like the tongue.