Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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My new book The Business of Face Painting is LIVE!  It is available as an e-book to download or you can order it on CD if you prefer.

Book Cover

Book Cover

You can order by contacting me using my Contact Form.

I’ve been working on it most of this year and it is 132 pages about the business side of face painting.  There are lots of photos but it is not a how to face paint manual.  There are a couple of step-by-steps included at the end as a taste of what is coming in my next book.

Based on my experience in the business the book covers a lot of material from set-up to marketing to health and safety issues to resources available.  Here is the table of contents so you know what is covered in the book:

Chapter One:             Starting Out

Basic Business Operations

Tools of the Trade

Learn How to Paint

Getting Work


Document Templates

Full Face Template – Full Face

Full Face Template – two per page with notes

Chapter Two:            Money Matters

Your Investment

Setting Your Rates

Hourly versus Pay-Per-Face

Other Options for Payment

Rate Sheet/Pricing Guide

Travel Expenses

Dealings with Requests for Donations

Method of Payment


Getting an Accountant and Business Advice


Document Templates

Sample Rate Sheet

Sample Letter of Agreement

Sample Service Agreement

Chapter Three:         The Business Plan

Document Templates

Business Plan

Chapter Four:           Marketing Your Face Painting Services

What is Marketing?

Your Marketing Plan

Creating a Brand or Corporate Image

Business Cards

What is Your Target Market?

Soliciting Work

Direct Mail Marketing on a Small Scale

Using Postcards for Marketing

Generating Publicity

The Internet


Printed Material


Promotional Items

Keeping Your Name Out There

Document Templates

Your Marketing Plan Worksheet

Introductory Letter for Face Painting

A Sample Restaurant Letter

New Year Letter

Festival Email Solicitation

Press Release

Sample Email to Media

Sample Coupon

Sample Back of Flyer Coupon

Sample Prize or Gift Certificate

Chapter Five:            Daily Business Operations


Booking Records



Deposits and Cancellation Policies


Billing and Invoicing


Arrival and Departure Etiquette

Client Follow-Up


Office Space

Your Reputation


Professional Courtesy and Networking



Getting Going

Document Templates

Inquiry/Booking Form

Invoice Form

Job Quote Letter

Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire

Chapter Six:              Health and Safety


Incident Reports

Risk Assessments

Photographic and Model Releases and Permission


Personal Safety

Taking Breaks

Physical Set-Up

Dealing with Illness

Maintaining Your Equipment

Document Templates

Incident Report Form

Risk Assessment Form

Model/Photography Release Form

Chapter Seven:          Kit and Equipment

Basic Starter Kit

Chapter Eight:          Resources for Face Painters

Business Information


Associations and Organizations

Conventions, Conferences, Festivals and Training Opportunities

Online Directories and Listing Services

Networking Online

Face Paint Brands

Tools and Equipment

Signs and Printing

Shop Around


Step-By-Step Designs



I’m sharing everything I know and have learned about this business in this book so hope that people will benefit from it.

The next project is all about the Art of Face Painting… with hundreds of photos, as many step-by-steps as we can get done, practise templates, creativity and designs exercises, tips about products and tools, techniques for all sorts of effects… as you can imagine it is a massive project and we are working hard on it.

A Painted Family

A Painted Family



home from living canvas

I got home this afternoon after a fantastic trip!!

I left for San Francisco last Friday morning on Air Canada and connected in Edmonton with a United flight to SFO… my backpack, which has fit in the overhead compartments on ALL my other trips did NOT on this plane… so I jammed it under the seat in front of me… unfortunately that left no leg space AT ALL for me! 

The flight attendant came and yanked it out and said “I’ll find a seat for it” and strode forward towards the front of the plane leaving me looking forlornly after my pack.

I thought she was just going to slide it under a seat where no one was sitting but she went up and found two empty seats, put the backpack in the aisle one and did up the seat belt.

Bumped up to Economy Plus

Bumped up to Economy Plus

After she came back to the rear of the plane I asked if I could go sit in the seat next to my backpack… her answer was… “No, that’s Economy Plus.”   So I asked if I could have its drink then…  

I arrived at SFO about 3:30 and my friend Nina aka Twinkie Dee Star picked me up.  We went directly to the Kryolan store where Joe Korts had pulled my order in advance for me… unbeknownst to me there was a 30% off sale so, of course, I had to buy 30% more stuff!!!   I am well stocked now for quite some time!!

We then went to pick up Twink’s friend Diane and then searched for parking.  Had a nice light dinner at an Irish Pub and went to see Beach Blanket Babylon!  I LOVED IT!  The wigs and hats inspired me and I had an almost uncontrollable urge to build something.

The next day I did a little shopping while Twink did a gig.  Then we went to dinner in Chinatown and closed the place… It was this restaurant’s 90th anniversary and we ate… and ate… and ate… and then I stopped… and Twink ate… and ate… 🙂 We finally got the leftovers put in a container and went to leave and realized the place had been closed for half an hour!!

The next day we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Ghirardelli’s where I had a gorgeous banana split for lunch…



Then we walked back to the car while stopping to look through art galleries – saw some original Dr. Seuss art and amazing bronzes. 

Got photos of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate and sea lions and cable cars and Coit Tower…

Pier 39... arf arf arf

Pier 39... arf arf arf

Then we headed to San Jose for Living Canvas.

We got in and headed for the hospitality suite where those who had arrived introduced themselves and had some snacks.  Then Twink, Arla Albers, Paula Moors and I went to dinner at a very nice restaurant at another hotel…

And… we closed that place.  We were having such a fun time that we didn’t notice them clearing all the other tables off and mopping the floor!

Twink, Arla and I were roommates and I think we were a pretty good fit… everyone was tidy!  Although with two of us being ex-military you would expect that…

The convention got going the next morning and I was able to take quite a few classes myself and was I blown away!!

The first class I took was Andrea Chillemi’s Tribal Class… this was amazing.  Andrea is going to be a star I think.  She had prepared a presentation that was so complete and well thought out that it couldn’t help but inspire anyone there.  She broke down common designs to their core and then built them up again as tribals… and her visual aids and demonstration really made it so, well, simple to do!  I was immediately inspired, dug out a brush and black paint and doodled through the rest of the class coming up with my own “designs”…  I can’t wait to see more of Andrea.

Gen Keller’s class was also great – she had prepared full colour handouts of what she called “recipes” for the designs she was demonstrating (the class was so full that there were not enough to go around but she will email them to those who want them…) Her use of colour is really striking and the way she uses it and black for details is really very unique and different.  Definitely worthwhile for anyone!

Valerie Polega’s classes on “cheek art” were interesting and a great demonstration on how it actually can be quite fun and more than we often think it is.  Her method and explanations were great and the full-colour handouts were greatly appreciated.   She breaks designs down to simple core shapes to construct and makes even what appears to be complicated look easy and straightforward.

Rebecca Tonkowich’s Split Cake classes were great too… I took both of them.  I am hopeless with roses and since I was determined to get them right I figured I might as well go back and try again!!  She handed out cakes to those who didn’t have them and even loaned everyone HER personal brushes to use!!   Unfortunately I did NOT master the rose but I have to say my peacock feathers ROCKED!!

One stroke peacock feathers with embellishments

One stroke peacock feathers with embellishments

I also was able to be in Jodi Carr’s Fantasy Faces class… and was her first model.  She turned me into a witch… I wonder if she was trying to tell me something??

Jodi Carr's painting on me... I dunno... it it "Me?"

Jodi Carr's painting on me... I dunno... it it "Me?"

Those were only the classes I was able to attend myself… but the chatter on all the other instructors was great too!

The three classes I presented went pretty well (at least according to the feedback so far… ) and I have to say I have never had so much fun “teaching” as I did in my “Not another Butterfly” class!  All my role-playing “children” were absolutely fantastic and the “mothers” and “friends” were priceless!!  I will never forget the “Three Year Old” and the “Five Year Old”… you guys were simply amazing. 

I was laughing so much I have no idea how I still managed to paint the designs in a reasonable time.  The designs were all in the 2 minute range with the exception of the “Three Year Old” the “Twelve Year Old” with the cell phone and friends, and the special request but all were UNDER seven minutes which is a good average for a face painter.

"Not Another Butterfly" Group Photo

"Not Another Butterfly" Group Photo

I actually think I pulled something laughing at the “Three Year Old”… it still hurts.

I enjoyed the jams and hope that my “lessons” helped the beginners who asked for them… and that the monsters in the tiles don’t get them (careful Sandra… there’s a clown behind you!!!)

The first jam I painted my hand with a crocodile which I like a lot…

Feed me!!!

Feed me!!!

I tried to be strong in the Vendor’s room… I got a few books and a couple of cakes… (after dropping a few hundred at the Kryolan store in S.F. there was no room for more!)

Kudos to Judy Luthy and her family and the team she put together… there were some kinks, a few fires, but it was overall a wonderful learning and educational event.  I’m sure she would welcome any constructive suggestions for the next one.

There are some extremely talented “newbies” out there… some just blew us away with their ability.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing them again quite soon!

I loved the Moroccan dinner a large group of us went to on Tuesday night.  Truly amazing belly dance performances from some of the instructors and participants… There is VIDEO you guys… I hope it doesn’t surface…   🙂

I have one photo of Arla Albers belly dancing… bidding begins at $20….

I really enjoyed the food and the whole experience… I hope a “cultural” dinner becomes an annual part of the event.

I really enjoyed the flowers of San Jose… and took a lot of photos.

Flowers of San Jose

Flowers of San Jose

Just more inspiration!!

Twink dropped me off at the airport this morning.  Thank you for taking care of me!!  I would perish if I had to drive there… it is scary!

I want to say that I found Living Canvas to be a great convention – it was small and personal, great instructors and a fun group of attendees.  I came away with more inspiration and useful information from this one event than I have picked up at any other single event.  I have always learned something at every event I’ve ever attended, but this one… well, there is so much I want to incorporate into my work and get down in my design book that I’ll be sketching for weeks!!

Thanks to Judy for getting together a group of talented and inspiring instructors, and for discovering some wonderful new talents!

So… what are next year’s dates??

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100 articles October in just 10 days

I have been invited to be one of the 10 contributing authors to this interesting endeavour.  Dale Obrochta of is publishing this project starting October 10 at 10:00 a.m. and 10 new articles will be posted everyday for 10 days. 

The announcement of the project is here 

My 10 articles will be all new material and focus on my area of expertise… what is that you ask??  I still have to decide… 🙂  But probably face and body painting.

Timing is good as I can write them while I am traveling to and from San Francisco – I leave tomorrow morning for Living Canvas. 

I arrive in SF at 3:15 and am going to the 6:30  show of Beach Blanket Babylon!  I am SOOOO looking forward to that!!

Be sure to check back on the 25th… I will be getting home late the 24th and will post about my trip with lots of photos from the convention!

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Getting ready for my trip to CA

This time next week I should be jammin’ at Living Canvas!  Hard to believe time has gone by so quickly.

This morning I was sorting out the kit I need to take with me… I travel VERY light, but I need to have enough with me to do my demos. I am presenting three different classes: one is all dragons/dinosaurs, one is going to be all pink/purple butterflies, and the third is on the design process.

So I spent several hours this morning making a palette of split cakes to use in my demos.  And marking all the brushes I’m taking with green glitter nail polish.  And selecting a nice bunch of sponges to take.

I dug my back-pack out of the basement and checked my travel alarm – battery was dead so I replaced it and set it for Pacific Time.

Still not sure what clothes I’m taking – I travel VERY light.  The slacks I usually travel in are a little too loose now (since working on my feet 8 hours a day I’ve lost a little butt!) to wear – I usually thread my “wallet-on-a-string” through my belt loops at attach my camera case to it too.  But now the combined weight pulls my slacks right off!!  So, I’m trying to figure out what to wear! 🙂

I was checking the weather for San Francisco and it is way cooler than here!  We were 30C yesterday and SF was 17C…

I fly down on Friday and get to see a little of the area, go to a show and hope to partake of Chinese food and chocolate!!  And hit the Kryolan store!!

I made a list of colours/brands I need…well, okay not NEED… but would like to buy to re-stock.  And I want to pick up a couple of books and … well, maybe a few other things.

I’m looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making some new ones too!  And hope to learn lots of new stuff – Rebecca has promised to show me how to do roses with split cakes (mine look like they have been flattened by a steam roller…)

I always take a note book with me on my trips and keep a journal of the trip – just my observations or notes about things I’ve learned or seen.  And of course 3 gigs of camera storage!! 

I’ll try to post once more before I leave – I probably won’t be able to post while away.  I leave on the 18th and home on the 24th… I’ll have a big post when I get home all about Living Canvas with lots of photos.

Bright Butterfly

Bright Butterfly

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Sweet compliment

I have had a few of calls over the last few days wanting to book me for parties on the 13th… unfortunately I’m working that day.  It never fails… when I’m not available I get multiple calls.  They were short notice too.

I decided very early in my make-up career to not be available on short notice… I do make occasional exceptions, but generally I am not available on less than two weeks notice.  I always tell people inquiring that they should book at least a month in advance.

I have bookings out over a year in advance and my schedule does fill in, and I need family time… and usually if I’ve got an open day in the next week or so the family makes plans or I have projects to work on.

One of the calls was from a mom calling to see if she could book me for her son’s 8th birthday party.  They had been at the County Fair on August 29th and I had painted her son as a tiger… she told me he was so excited about that tiger that he would not wash it off.  He took the pillows off his bed and slept flat on his back, woke up with it still perfectly intact, and she couldn’t get him to wash for days!  Said all the kids in the neighbourhood were very impressed. 

It is nice to get feedback like that!  I remember him too… he said he wanted a tiger and I asked him if he wanted a realistic one, he nodded enthusiastically.  So I painted him with a version of my Shere Khan design (show in an earlier post)… when I showed him the mirror his eyes got huge and he leaped out of the chair and practically ran over to his family… I was busy with the next child then.

I find that about 60% of the kids give me a huge smile and thanks, another 30% stare wide-eyed and nod when asked “do you like it?” and the final %10 I can never tell… no response, no eye widening, no smile, nothing… I assume they like it, at least they aren’t crying…

It was really nice to hear after the fact how much a kid enjoyed his face painting!

Oh… the final draft of my e-book on “The Business of Face Painting: A Business Guide for Face Painters, How to set-up, operate and market your business” is done!  We are just reviewing it again for those pesky typos and getting it set-up as a download – and discussing the cover.

The second book “The Art of Face Painting” is well underway… it is going to be chock-full of photos, techniques and step-by-steps.

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Halloween plans

I love Halloween.  It is in only another  57 sleeps away!!  The last few years I have “worked”… or been away in the U.K. over the date.  This year I will be home AND it falls on Saturday!

I am taking appointments all day to do make-up/face painting for people and already have had five people book their spots before the end of August.

I really enjoy matching costumes and coming up with neat stuff on the spot. It is a lot different than painting out on a regular face painting job – more time, costumes to match up, lots more adults.  Some people want more than just a face painting so I get to have some fun with gore or special effects or tying in body painting to a costume.

I have trunks in the basement full of costumes and props.  It is so much fun to create new characters or even complete new creatures out of all the things I saved “just in case.”


Are you my mummy?

Are you my mummy?

I’ve got masses of Star Trek props and costumes, various monster costumes, clowns, cowboys/girls, bikers, faeries, various animal bits, a decapitated head (of Dracula I made as a prop for the play,) severed limbs, spiders, bats, fish, seaweed, ivy, period costumes… and I’ve forgotten a lot too!  I probably can make something to fit any period of history and any genre out of my store of stuff!


Space, The Final Frontier (see the Starship hanging off the hood?)

Space, The Final Frontier (see the Starship hanging off the hood?)


My Space, The Final Frontier costume won me first prize at a local event in 2004… I used UV and glow-in-the-dark fabric paint and tons of glitter paint and I was quite striking in the dark!  Took a lot of time to do and a LOT of fabric paint!  I’ve got the moon on my back and Jupiter on my a**!!!

I’ve no plans for myself this year but am looking forward to helping my clients do their best to win some contests!!

I am planning to make a few posts leading up to Halloween on painting monsters and matching costumes, and maybe some easy special effects stuff.  Things that the average person can do without spending a ton of money on specialty items.  I’m open to suggestions and requests – if I can do it with what I have available.