Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

speed, age and lines

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Well… yesterday at my gig at the new public library opening we used a stopwatch and also counted faces (Mom is really handy to take along – she took some working shots too which I don’t often get!)

I put up my new display of Four Minute Designs – that is what I estimated they all were and I was keeping my fingers crossed that they would be.

There were, as usual, several requests for things not on the display but I was able to do them in under four minutes too – a wolf, a raccoon, a yellow bird…

First painting of the day - A Yellow Bird

First painting of the day - A Yellow Bird

I was really concentrating on painting as fast as I could as the library specifically requested that I “not do my usual”… I was really conscious of the amount of time cleaning my brushes was taking me, so next gig (which is the county fair on Saturday) we have decided that mom will be the “brush washer”… I’ll just put them aside and grab a clean one, and she’ll wash the used ones so I can reuse them.  That should help a lot in increasing how many I will be able to paint hour over hour.

In the end it appears I painted 72 in 4 hours so that works out to 18 an hour… According the numbers mom was keeping I got faster as the time went by… in the last half hour I painted more than in any other half hour she kept count for.

I’ve been face painting professionally for over 8 years now and I’ve only really decided this year that being able to offer speed for certain jobs would be to my benefit… if a client is worried about the volume, I needed to be able to state, definitively, how many I could paint working on my own. 

Waiting for Glitter...

Waiting for Glitter...

Many of my regular corporate clients are willing to hire additional painters, and that is great when I am able to get the help.  But, getting assistants booked is sometimes difficult.

Realistically I think 4 minutes a face for something that is identifiable is going to be my limit.  I painted a full face wolf in under 4 minutes which I was surprized at – it wasn’t as detailed as my usual wolf but it looked like a wolf and the kid was very happy.

Some of the more abstract designs took under 2 minutes – swirly things, rainbow ribbons and some butterflies.  Basically a swipe of colour and some quick brushwork that wasn’t in any particular order or form.

Princess Crowns are also very quick particularly using the split cakes to create a 3D effect.  The split cakes I think are going to be very useful for the speed designs – I just need to create a couple additional combinations and ditch a couple that aren’t really proving useful as no one is interested in the designs I intended them for.

Since I work by the hour and never paint pay per face volume has not been a real concern to me, other than to be working at a reasonable speed for a professional.  Some artists I know have been offering different levels of designs/speed to meet the need of their clients and it suddenly struck me as an excellent idea. 

With the requests from clients to work faster, and the need that I saw myself to try to get through the line and paint as many as I could, I decided it was time to put a little effort into figuring out what I could do to meet that need.

Just weeding through my existing designs and painting and taking photos of some new ones I still was able to give the kids lots to choose from – which I always feel is a huge part of the experience for them.

The library opening was in a new facility – a cultural centre – and they put me in a room all to myself.  The room is called the “Sky Room.” It is glass all around and suspended over the auditorium… you feel like you are just hanging there!  The door was one that did not stay open so we borrowed a metal typing stand from one of the staff to keep it propped open.

My Queue... it went all around the room and out the door

My Queue... it went all around the room and out the door

Has anyone ever been locked in a room with a 100 screaming kids???  Anyone?  Well I now have… my ears are still ringing.

A couple of smart mothers read books to the kids while they were waiting – a brief respite from the screaming.

I put my sandwich board sign out in front of the door – clearly stating “for 3 years and over” and at least a third of the kids who ended up in my chair were 2 or younger!!!!!! I am getting to the point of being really rude to parents who think I can’t tell their non-verbal, diaper wearing, bottle sucking child is not three!! 

It is a waste of my time, as well as theirs, when the kid is completely unwilling to be painted!!  And completely NOT my fault!  It only says in FOUR SEPARATE PLACES that face painting is for children over three years of age.  New sign for next week – neon colour – large print “IF YOUR CHILD IS UNDER THREE YEARS OLD PLEASE DO NOT BOTHER WAITING IN LINE.  FACE PAINTING IS FOR AGES THREE YEARS AND UP ONLY.”

I had one girl who was probably over three but she got in the chair and when I asked her what she wanted her answer was “I dunno” so I said, “well, if you don’t know yet then get down and I’ll paint the next kid while you make up your mind.”  Her dad says to her “You told me what you wanted, you have to tell her.”  She wouldn’t.  So… no painting.  Dad was not amused.

My rule is that the child MUST tell me what they want and be willing.  I had one mom attempt to put a vice grip on her kid to hold his head still.  I stopped painting and said “If you hold him I won’t paint him.”  Her response is “I’m just holding him still.”  So I said “I’ll hold him if I need to, but HE has to hold still on his own or I won’t paint him.”  He was still enough to get painted.

Holding still...

Holding still...

The thing is that if a child is willing, verbal to the point of telling me WILLINGLY what they want, and able to sit still, I will paint them without checking or asking their age.  It is just these very young ones that aren’t really into it or old enough mentally to understand what is going on that get me frustrated.  The parents should not put them through the long wait in line only to get mad at the kid when they won’t cooperate.

As usual, about 30 minutes to quitting time we cut off the line… and still they kept coming!!  We put out the “Line Closed” sign and shut the door to the room to stop people from lining up but there were still a few that tried to sneak in… with babes in arms!!

Luckily the last group of girls all wanted very quick designs so we were able to pack it in just a bit past closing time.  And being able to shut the door to the room stopped the “oh, aren’t you still face painting” questions!

So I am happy to know that I can paint, officially, at a couple of speeds – 12-15 hour OR 15-18 a hour…  I may work on a display selection of two minute designs – I do have some that we know are consistently under two minutes which would  enable me to work at 20-30 a hour.   Maybe next year!

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.

One thought on “speed, age and lines

  1. Pingback: I’m getting the hang of this computer « Shannon Fennell's Blog

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