Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

Not another butterfly


As most of us who face paint know, once you do one butterfly you get asked for a whole lot more!  The first child always sets the theme for the job – and butterflies are very popular.

To combat this I have devised a cunning plan to keep myself amused!  As you know, they all want the “exact same” that their friend just had.  If it was pink, they all want pink, if it was purple, they all want purple… yes, we’ve all been there.

"I want EXACTLY what she had!"  But not the tiny differences that keep me sane!

"I want EXACTLY what she had!" But note the tiny differences that keep me sane!

My first step is to say “would you like it another colour” and indicate my many colour options sitting on the table beside them.  Usual response – “No, I want it pink like hers.”  So, on to Plan B.

Plan B involves me exercising my superior intellect and using psychology… “Would you like me to use this pretty sparkly pink?  It’s really beautiful.”   This gets about half of them.  So at least I’m able to use variations of pink.  If they refuse, then I get sneaky.

A Pink Moth - note the fuzzy antenna!

A Pink Moth - note the fuzzy antenna!

By now, of course, I am painting the butterfly… they can’t see what I’m doing, so I am in control!  I do many different things once I’ve started and the base colours have been decided.  Remember they watch which colours you’re using, so as long as the base colour is right, they don’t usually – there are exceptions, of course – notice if you switch colours for the detail work.

I have well over a dozen versions of butterflies that all start the same – with white and one colour option.  I blend these well together with a sponge.  Now comes where I have MY fun.

Basic Butterfly base

Basic Butterfly base

Plan C.  This is when I start switching colours around – instead of white in the center fading out to pink, I flip it and do pink in the center fading out to white!  I might throw in another shade of pink as a transition colour.  Or maybe, I alternate blocks of colour.  Who knows what I’ll decide to do…?

I alter the shape of the wings.  Depending on the child’s face you can make narrow long wings, wings with ragged edges, wings with smooth rounded edges, scalloped edges, wide flat wings, lacy wings, sharp wings, square wings… the options are endless.

Quick Butterflies - Two minutes or less

Quick Butterflies - Two minutes or less

With my brushwork and details, I do butterflies with narrow lines and segmented wings.  I do all teardrops.  I do an outline with teardrops.  I do dots and lines.  I do teardrops and dots.  I do top and bottom different.  I add coloured spots (ask first, they will usually say yes!), I make the bodies and antenna different.  I use different colours for the details – black is most common, but switch it around with electric blue, electric purple, red, dark green, etc. use a colour that contrasts and makes the base colours pop!  Use flowers, squiggles, ovals, angles, etc.  Get creative.

Super quick butterfly for little wigglers

Super quick butterfly for little wigglers

Then ask if they want sparkles!  I’ve had a few refusals, but most say yes!  I have choices there too – gels or loose; white, pink, blue, purple, green, etc.  Often butterflies have one colour on the wings and another on the body! Sometimes, a whole wing will simply be glitter gel!  That is quite spectacular by the way – but usually on older children.  And if I’m using glitter gel I don’t put any paint under it as it will smear.

Butterfly with Flowers

Butterfly with Flowers

As I do butterfly after butterfly, I get more and more creative… the last butterfly is usually the most spectacular!  I keep trying to one-up myself and make the best one ever.

And even though they wanted EXACTLY the same butterfly as their friend, I have NEVER had a child look in the mirror and seem disappointed – usually it’s a huge smile and a thank you!

Mutant Bunnerfly - Rabbit/Butterfly

Mutant Bunnerfly - Rabbit/Butterfly

So, keep yourself amused by making each butterfly different.  Whether it is simply adding a few more dots on a wing, or, changing colours and shape, it all will keep you on your toes and keep the creative juices flowing.

Author: Shannon Fennell

Multidisciplinary artist, world traveller, make-up artist, and cheese lover. I follow a low carb lifestyle to keep my diabetes in remission. Canadian expat in the UK.

3 thoughts on “Not another butterfly

  1. Pingback: While we’re on the topic of butterflies « Shannon Fennell's Blog

  2. Hi Shannon. I belong to a forum dedicated to Planet of the Apes. I found your blog and am now intrigued by the films you made and would love to be able to see them. It takes me about 3 hours as well to put on the ape makeup and blending the edges is the toughest as well but if you get that done well, then the makeup is transformed to artwork.

    Thank you, Jessica.

    • I would love to see them too!! I never found out if they made it out of post production… I have lots of photos of the set and scenes that I took (non-digital) but I unfortunately never heard anything from the production company after the shoot. My cheque cleared… that was the main thing!

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