Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Big Decision

This painting is called Exposed Profile (2012, spraypaint and oils) and it effectively describes how I am feeling at the moment. It shows someone facing one way, their mind directing them another, and their roots growing in yet another direction. I have so many things that I would love to do, so many paths to follow, and not enough time in which to do everything successfully. That torn feeling has led me to make a big decision about my life.

As some of you know, I recently made a huge choice that will result in a big change in the way I have lived for the past 10.5 years. I gave my notice to Craig's Cake Shop that I would like to be taken off the schedule once the busy season ends (late October, early November). I won't be totally disconnecting from the shop and will go in to help once in a while.

The shop has been part of my life for a long time; I have been there for over a third of my life! The people I have worked with have been like family and I am proud of the product we make and love making people smile with all the cool cakes I get to decorate. The decision was not at all easy and I know I will miss being a part of the everyday activities of the cake shop and the lovely people.

I made this choice for a couple reasons. The first and biggest reason is that my personal business (art, illustration, face and body painting) has been growing a lot and to take it to the next level, I need to give my full attention. It has been draining and a bit stressful to juggle jobs, especially when the busy time for both is in the summer, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays. Those days are also when my husband, Mark, would love to hang out, go camping, travel, see a movie, etc. As long as he has known me, our free times have not coincided very well. After four years of dating and another four years of marriage, it is time to spend more time together! Another reason is the fact that squeezing a pastry bag for as long as I have can start causing repetitive motion injuries. My fingertips have been going numb after work and then have continued to go numb as I am painting at home or during a face painting job.

Though it is a huge change and I am a little anxious, I am also very excited about the future of all my pursuits. It is really a dream come true to be able to make art the center of what I do for a career. I can only hope that I will be successful and be able to make a living from the things I do and what I create. This choice was made possible by my wonderful and supportive husband who works very hard and just wants to see me smile. Thank you, Mark; I love you!

There is a lot more to say but the busy life beckons. I plan to write more about my plans for my business and I intend to write a blog post devoted to how I started at the cake shop and my experiences there.

I am about a week away from a RAW show on Thursday, August 15th, featuring my visual art and I have been busy making new pieces for that. I'm so excited to share my work! If you are interested, I would love to see you there! Please make sure to purchase paperless tickets online and in my name before the show. You can purchase tickets here: or view my Facebook event page here:

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beginnings : How I Got Into Face and Body Painting

It all started at Craig's Cake Shop (which will be another story for another time) in 2006. I had been working there for a few years and was learning to decorate cakes under the wing of a kind, bubbly, talented woman named Kim. Other than working at the cake shop, Kim had a home daycare and did face painting and caricatures. She encouraged me to try both caricatures and face painting. Kim told me to get a basic palette and to go home and experiment.

The night I bought my first face paint palette, I was covered head to toe in practice paintings! It was a good thing I lived alone at the time! It was a different medium, more slick than acrylic but it did not layer like acrylic because of the properties of water activated paint. I pulled from my knowledge of what face painting looked like in my experiences (hearts, flowers, smiley faces) and from my own artistic background. I definitely started out trying to paint specific objects like they would be stickers on the skin. It took me a while to learn how to expand on the designs and fit them to the shape of the face or body.

Starting with cheek and arm art:


Soon after I messed around with the paints, Kim told me about her friend, Tami, who might be looking for people to do caricature and face painting gigs for her. Tami is an amazing woman who has a past in clown school, can twist balloons, paint faces, and more! She started her own business called Funny Faces Family Entertainment and does a fabulous job! I met Tami for the first time when shadowing Kim on a caricature gig. She was a warm and welcoming woman and greeted me with a smile, encouraging me to dive right in and draw caricatures right next to Kim! After that, Tami would call me once in a while to do a gig for her in between my work at the cake shop and my graphic design work.

My mom, Lucy, was probably the lynchpin to me getting further into face painting. She sees opportunity and possibility and trusts in my talents and my ability to learn quickly. My mom is the one that encouraged me to make little business cards with examples of my work. She told her friends about me and word slowly spread that I was available for these fun services! Proud mommy! More birthday parties, work picnics, and Halloween makeups meant more experience for me and allowed me to expand on how I could use the paint. I went from simple cheek and arm art to fuller designs.



I continued face painting for various events and in 2012 got another push forward. I read about RAW: Natural Born Artists in Craig's List and then saw that a friend was doing a show. I got in contact with the lead of the Madison RAW at the time, Molly Waseka, and she liked my artwork and got me in to do a show the following month. Molly passed the torch to the current leader of RAW Madison, Samiera! I mentioned to Samiera that if she needed anyone to do fun eye or face designs on models for a runway show, she should let me know because I would love to help. Samiera had bigger ideas! She mentioned body painting! Before then, it had just been an idea bouncing around my head for a future endeavor, but one in which I had very little prior experience, so one that I was previously reticent to try.  However, I put on a brave face and agreed to body paint for the show!

The show was a challenge but it pushed me creatively and socially! I needed to work quickly so I bought an airbrush and some airbrush body paint. Samiera had the concept of spelling out "I AM RAW" across the stomachs of six models and for the rest, I should just be creative. I came up with concepts for each of the models provided by RAW and even worked with some of them to include ideas they liked. The models were so kind and excited (thank you!) and I formed friendships while working with them. While the work was rushed (lots of models in one afternoon), it still had impact and I was (and still am) happy with how it all turned out, especially given how new I was with body painting using an airbrush!

RAW Solstice show 2012, photo by Angela Voell of Green Paint Photography
Models (left to right): Laura Venechuk, Erin Thomson, Sarah Wirth, Tess Wirth, Brittany Baye, Emma Dehlinger

Propelled by this show and my new interest in body painting as an art form, I started to look into it more. I did research, watched videos, joined Facebook groups, got new kinds of body paint, found my favorite kind of brushes, etc. Through this process, I met Dawn and Michelle of Glitter to Gore. Dawn and Michelle started a body art and special effects company together and are very skilled and passionate with lots of experience!

Through Glitter to Gore, I was connected to classes that they hosted where they brought in famous and super talented (and funny!) face and body painters like Pashur and Jay Bautista. I learned a lot in these classes and improved my speed, line quality, and design ideas. Glitter to Gore also brought me into body painting competitions like 2012's Greater Midwest Body Paint Competition, 'My Dark Valentine'. I painted my good friend Amy-Jo, placed second, and won crowd favorite!

2012 My Dark Valentine - 'Bitter Ballerina': 
Photos by Peter F. Castro

During this time, I also experimented by mixing my artistic skills with body art and had some of my friends sit still for an hour or two while I painted their backs. I also painted friends and models for art shows.

[first row] Erin Thomson, Stef
[second row] Anonymous, Tory, Becky

[first row] Ariel, Stef, Yenney
[second row] Amy-Jo Hagen, Aja Heuss
[third row] Meggen Heuss, Brittany Baye
[fourth row] Joey Broyles, Erin Thomson
Photos 4-7 by BMB Graphics

So, that brings us to right now. I get asked a lot how I got into face and body painting as it is not a "normal" career choice. As you can tell, it was brought about rather organically. My creative personality helped but so did the influence of all the wonderful and encouraging people I have met over the years. This goes to show how important it is to value and cherish connections and friendships. It proves that a kind and encouraging word can go a long way and that we should nurture the creativity in each other. I am so grateful for all the people I have met and with whom I've interacted along the way! Thank you for being a big part of why I do what I do! I am looking forward to continuing this creative path and am excited to see what the future brings with my face and body art!

Thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First Entry / Expression

Hi! My name is Christy Grace. I am an artist, cake decorator, and face and body painter. This blog will be about those pursuits.

There are so many things that I could write about but I will start by explaining one of my recent pieces. Apologies about the quality of the photo - it was taken quickly with my iPhone before rushing off to display it in local coffee shop, Fair Trade Coffee. I chose this piece to write about first because it explains a lot of the thoughts and feelings that go into the creation of my art.

This piece is called 'Expression' and it represents ideas bursting forth because they can not be contained any longer. If I don't paint or draw for a while, I get what I call an 'itchy soul'. Life is busy so sometimes I go for quite a while without creating any personal art and I start to feel uncomfortable. Once I get a chance to create, it is like air being released from a balloon that was stretched to almost popping. Ahhhhh.

The rainbow vomit represents ideas spewing out. Right away, there are so many concepts and they are all twisted together so sometimes I work on multiple projects at once. The colors go from warm as they come out to cool as the ideas form and solidify. The person in this painting is left pale and colorless with the knowledge that the color/ideas will soon return.

I had a lot of fun creating the texture in this lava-like shape. I used a thick paint medium that has tiny glass beads in it. I also used my good ol' glue gun to add drips and to secure each of the objects into place.

The objects are all ones I had in my 'junk' bin - a large container where I keep found objects and memory pieces that I think I will someday use. I am sure a lot of my art friends know the struggle against becoming a pack-rat. A lot of items that might be tossed out bring the thought of a possible project so it has been a growing up experience for me to have a more discerning eye.

A lot of the objects that I hot-glued to this canvas have pretty literal or obvious meanings. Some carry more personal meanings.
• The cork at the bottom represents an uncorking of ideas. The tiny watch represents time management and the measurement of life responsibilities to personal needs and goals.
• The light blue inside an old soda screw-top says, "sorry, try again", and speaks of failures, road bumps, closed doors, closed minds - all things that you might run into while creating in a field that is based a lot of personal tastes and opinions.
• The round piece that looks like a big hole is actually one lense from a pair of childhood sunglasses. When seen in the right light, the glasses show a hologram-like effect of snake eyes. I included this because of a lot of my art calls on memories and the emotion of those memories. I wore these sunglasses while on a childhood vacation that contained events that shaped who I am today, both good and bad.
• The computer piece says 'Ctrl' and represents either giving up or demonstrating control in both creations or situations.
• The little cardboard box is the cliche of thinking in or outside the box. Though it is a common representation, it still is something to be aware of when you are a people pleaser (like me!). I over-think what I am making. I wonder if people will like it, if they will judge me or relate to me, if they would buy it, if the idea is good or bad, if the execution is poor or acceptable... all boxes I am trying to put myself in when art is what it is and should be left at that. Creating my own art should be a freedom that I rejoice in and if others enjoy or relate to what I create, that would just be the cherry on top!
• Though you cannot see them, there are two little buttons. One button is for pushing buttons, challenging minds, pushing boundaries and expectations. The other button is for securing myself and protecting myself because no matter the brave face I put on, I am still a sensitive and somewhat insecure artist.
• Also not seen very well in this photo is a little twisted wire. The wire is from telephone wire that was meant to be thrown away that my sister and I found when we were little. It is the same kind that you can make into twisted rings and bracelets. This wire represents the connections made through art, old and new. I cherish the links I have made and the wonderful relationships that have begun because of shared creativity and love for anything artistic!

Thank you so much for reading my very first art blog! Hopefully it is the first of many! It took a while for me to get the courage to write but I had some very encouraging friends and family members <3 Thank you and I love you!