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
[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!
Thanks so much for reading!