Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

Leave a comment

It’s that time again

It is renewal time for FACE members.

I spent part of today painting myself for photos to submit with my renewal application.  Every year, as an advanced member, I have to submit the three required photos that everyone has to do when they apply to become a member of FACE, The Face Painting Association – those are a tiger, a three-colour blend (NO split cakes permitted) and a white base.

In theory one could simply have photos on hand from the previous year’s work to submit, but, as I don’t take photos when I am working at regular gigs, I don’t.  It would be nice.  Sometimes I have some from theatre gigs as I do tend to take lots of photos when doing designs for a show, but this year we didn’t do any big face painting shows.

So, seeing as I procrastinated (the forms and photos are due TUESDAY) I had to paint myself three times today, take photos of myself, get all the forms completed, scan the forms and insurance documents, find a recent photo of my kit set-up at a gig, then send them all off to the renewal coordinator.

Some days I suffer from a lack of imagination, but thankfully, originality is NOT a requirement in these photos… they are just to prove your technique is still of an acceptable standard.

I was using Snazaroo black and realized when looking at the photos that some of my brushwork is a little “fuzzy”.  Not sloppy, just not as sharp as it could have been with, say, Wolfe but I didn’t want to have to clean that off my face repeatedly.  As it is my eyes are really irritated.

So, here is what I painted today…

A Tiger:

Decided to do pink this time… all my other tigers have been orange.  Kryolan white, Snazaroo pastel pink and black, and Wolfe UV pink.

A white base:

Had no plan at all, just figured I would get the base done then see what happened… we were watching “Catch Me If You Can” on TV and this is what I ended up with.  Kryolan white and royal blue.  This cleaned up like a breeze!

And a three-colour blend:

Didn’t start with a plan… just thought I’d use these colours and see what it looked like.  I should really have used a flat teal instead of a pearl teal  but, once it was done, it was done… The base is Grimas burgundy, yellow and pearl teal with Snazaroo black.


Squeaky clean!

My friend Larissa makes soap.  She and her husband run several home based businesses and soap is one of their really great products that they make under the name Reef Botanicals.  I’ve been using her Purity soap for a couple of years now… it is pure soap and is great on my skin AND practically a miracle cleaner for my brushes and sponges.

I blogged about the Purity when I first got some from her (you can read that old post here).

Well, she has now started packaging Purity especially for us face and body painters!  In a big tub that can sit on the side of the sink ready to use!  So I just have to tell everyone about it again.

I was leaving a bar sitting on a yoghurt container lid sitting there… have to admit this looks WAY better!

I am not leaving the lid on… but thought I’d show it for illustration purposes.

And this what my new tub of Purity did for me this morning:

It is much lighter.  Some colours just soak into the taklon fibre and green is one of the worst.  As long as I can lighten them to the point of NOT looking dirty/unwashed, I am happy.

But looky what Purity can do for sponges!!

Now, in order to get these kind of results you need to handwash and work the lather in, sometimes repeatedly … just saying.  Some people can’t be bothered to put that much effort into having their sponges looking new, but if you are willing you WILL get results like this.


I am so excited!!

Today I was surrounded by wolves!  REAL wolves.  WILD wolves.  It was so cool!

We took Lynne on an overnight trip to Jasper National Park.  Left Monday morning and headed back home this afternoon.

On the trip there last night the only wildlife we saw was one herd of mountain sheep.  One decided to stop dead centre of the highway to lick something… the big rigs were driving around him and he wouldn’t budge.

We stayed at the Sawridge Hotel which was excellent! Only complaint was from mom as she heard noise from the room next door – mostly bathroom, not talking.

Here is mom in front of the hotel – wearing the red shawl my sister made her for Christmas.

It was pretty chilly there this morning…

We took a drive up the Icefield Parkway as far as Sunwapta Falls.  The access road to Athabasca Falls was closed so people had to hike in to the lookout, and at Sunwapta they hadn’t even cleared the snow from the access road.

We stopped along the highway to take photos of the Rockies.  The sky was overcast with a few flurries, but really nice and the roads were great.

I’m sure these peaks have names but I don’t know them… that is the Athabasca River in the foreground… it was flowing well which means the glaciers up at the icefields are already melting… and it is only the first day of Spring.

Spring appears to have been very early up there this year.

On the way out-of-town we saw two herds of elk, all laying down ruminating… Lynne got some photos.

Then we ran into (NOT literally) the same herd of mountain sheep from yesterday… this is, I am positive, the same one that stopped traffic for 20 minutes yesterday!

He strolled out, stopped in the middle of the road, posed for photos, then  moved off.  I only got my camera out at the last-minute so missed the posing.

Then… the highlight!  As we were driving along two wolves ran across the highway right to left and into the brush on the other side, I cried “WOLF!” and then two more ran across.  I pulled over and Lynne was scrambling to try to get photos out the window… they were running along the railway tracks behind some trees so I was creeping along the shoulder of the highway with my hazard lights on, when, the second two came back onto the highway – they were big.  I think maybe they were chasing the other two, which were different colours and smaller out of their territory – it is a theory.

The first was the largest and was very light coloured almost white.

The other, more aggressive towards us, was darker and smaller.  They came right at us… and I got nervous!  Almost … ALMOST… shut the windows, but we wanted more photos!

The larger one ignored us, but the smaller one came directly at us and those eyes were really intimidating!

I made eye contact with a wild wolf!  Then he and his buddy went back the way they came, and made themselves comfortable in the grass.  At this point other vehicles had pulled over behind us to look at them too… that’s how it is done in Jasper.  If you see someone stopped on the side of the road it is because there is something to see!

Honestly, this was more thrilling than the grizzly bears!!  No way we would have got that close to a grizzly.

Then we continued on our way and were telling Lynne about how rare, how EXTREMELY RARE, that was, and how you usually see coyote… when what was either a coyote or a fox ran across the highway in front of us… too fast for a photo.

Then we saw more mountain sheep.

Took some photos of the mountains as we were heading to the East Gate of the Park.  Notice the heavy traffic?

The lake was really pretty – frozen with snow in patterns made by the wind.

The rivers were pretty thawed at this level, but the real run off hasn’t started yet.

Did I mention… WE SAW WOLVES!!

1 Comment

Some St. Patrick’s Day photos

Last night I was back at the club that hires me to paint their staff for their theme nights pretty regularly.  It is a fun gig.

The staff are always excited to see me and get painted.  One of the bartenders pretty much has his shirt off the minute he sees me…. He’s featured on another post from when I painted at their Mardi Gras night last month here.

He always has a specific idea of what he wants.  This time it was a large off centre shamrock with a white outline and the Notre Dame logo… which I didn’t know off-hand so I did an angry leprechaun.  I think that worked, don’t you?

They are the Fightin’ Irish, right?

He then came back later on a break and wanted something on his arm so I did this:

And this one I call a Shamrock Animal Print… I was sort of going for leopard spots that resemble shamrocks, but not connecting them so it didn’t just look like lots of shamrocks… I quite liked it.

And this one I call an “organic” design as I had no idea what I was doing… I just start adding colour and picking up brushes and it just happened:

And this one I was trying for a celtic knot feel… not sure if I succeeded but I like it.

Now that I look at it, it looks more like my old Army cap badge – the crossed paperclips, LOL.

And this gal told me that I am the only person she lets put make-up on her face… awww.  And she models a lot up here for photographers so does all her own make-up.

The next two are pretty standard St. Paddy designs – a leprechaun and rainbow with shamrocks:

This last one makes me laugh…. Black Irish…

So that is some of what I did last night.


Giving credit where credit is due, or, oh brother she’s on a rant again.

Let me start this off saying that I am expressing my own  opinion, feelings, and personal experiences.  It may amuse some, annoy others, some may think I need to chill out or seek help, but I have a need to rant and perhaps make a point.

As a make-up artist, face painter and body painter (and artist, craft person, cook… etc.) I admit there is nothing completely new and original that someone, somewhere probably hasn’t already done at some point in human history.  I mean… there are only so many ways to paint a tiger, right?

But when I create something from scratch – meaning that I had an idea, thought about it, planned, researched, designed and executed it – I feel possessive.  That is MY creation, MY idea…

A lot of inspiration comes from other media – paintings, photographs, literature, patterns in the clouds, book covers, Aloha shirts, cartoons… pretty much anything really.  That is the trigger that gives me the idea that I then work on, sketch, and sometimes follow through on successfully to produce something that I am really proud of.

I have a lot of ideas that don’t work.  Most artists do.  Those are the canvasses you paint over with something else, sketches that end up being note paper, photos that get deleted as no one is going to see it, ever.

The ones that do work, however, I am excited to share … I enter contests, art shows, display on my website, blog and Facebook page, share with friends.  I want to exclaim “Look what I did!  Isn’t it great?”

I don’t believe people who say they don’t feel like that when they do something good and I’m not a fan of false modestly or fishing for praise by criticizing their own work.  Sure, we are our own worst critics but you KNOW when you do something really good… that’s why we share it with others!

Now… the point of all this is that I am getting FED UP.

Completely and utterly fed up with people taking ideas and designs that were originally done and posted or otherwise published by other artists… taking these designs and creating their own step-by-steps, making You Tube videos showing the masses how to do these designs without acknowledging that they are using a design that is NOT their original concept, and they then accept all the praise and fawning remarks about how great and original the design is!

It has been going on for years.  People are caught doing it  quite often.  This is different from using a design out of a book and doing your own version, making small changes like using different colours, etc. – that is usually fine with me and most of my peers.  We’ve all used the work of others at some point or another… but try to make the design somehow our own.

And when we’ve put out our own designs as step-by-steps in books or online those designs are fair game for anyone to copy, of course.  They were published for those purposes so those are excluded from this rant.

What I don’t approve of is COPYING EXACTLY then pretending it is your work.  I see designs all the time that have been copied dot for dot, line for line, colour for colour.  They are posted on websites, Facebook, forums, EVEN entered in contests, etc. without any sort of acknowledgement to the person who actually did a little bit of creative thinking to come up with the design in the first place.  Why?  WHY?

It isn’t illegal, I know.  It isn’t copyright infringement because they did actually paint the design for their own photos.  BUT… it feels like theft when you are the originator of a certain unique design – which may or may not be based on something else that inspired you.

And what’s with all of these people making You Tube videos anyway?  Why is it necessary to show everyone how to do what they, I assume, wish to be hired to do?  And when they take MY design and decide to show people how to replicate it… what is the upside to doing this??  Are they using my, and other artists’, designs to increase the face painting public’s perception of their originality and ability?  How are they profiting from this?

I am not the only artist that gets angry, and HURT, when this happens.

What appears to be the source for many of the designs that show up is the Snazaroo USA Photo Contest Pages.  Seems like all of the new people deciding to face paint in the last several years have no idea of this goldmine of designs but the people “using” these ideas without crediting the original versions obviously have.

Have a look… there are THOUSANDS of great, ORIGINAL ideas and well executed designs there.  All available for anyone to use as an inspiration.  Feel free to paint them when you are working but… please, respect the original artists and at least acknowledge that you found the idea somewhere else.

ESPECIALLY if you are ripping them off to increase your own profile.  That would just be the polite thing to do.  And it would make me happy… you wouldn’t like to make me angry, would you?

1 Comment

Butterflies and visitors

I’m sitting here after changing all the clocks, still wearing my face painting 12 hours after I did it for a birthday party I did today.  I like it and don’t want to wash it off!!  LOL  Mom said “So don’t wash it then.”  But I’d get Wolfe Black on my pillow case.

Tomorrow morning we’re off to the airport to pick-up Lynne McKay… she’s just finished teaching face painting workshops in Vancouver and Calgary and is coming up here to visit me.  She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to be modelling for me so I can get my FACE renewal paintings done!

We are planning to take her on an overnight trip to Jasper… Pretty much just site seeing as nothing but skiing is open right now.  I am hoping for some wildlife at least.  The weather has been really mild and the snow is almost gone here, but that means the roads are good for driving.

And as I have a show opening this week too – The Real Inspector Hound – she gets to come to dress rehearsals and the shows with me to watch or help me… depends on if she wants to.  AND we will both be face painting at the Shark Club on St. Patrick’s Day which will be fun.

When I was in Scotland in 2006 Lynne was welcoming and a great hostess – showed us around, put us up, showed us a great time!  And finally she’s able to come visit me in Grande Prairie!


Something new and something old

Last week I got my very first ever gel nails!  This is quite an event in my life.  I’ve only ever had one manicure and that was on a cruise in 1988 and it was a bit disappointing but I had really short nails so there was only so much she could do.

A co-worker at my day-job used to operate her own nail tech business and had just done her own nails.  I was really sick of my nails, which had always been crappy – they bend, peel and crack, and break at the slightest impact.  Lately the sides were breaking off and tearing down to the quick.  Hers looked really cool so I asked if she still did nails and how much it would be.

We arranged for me to go over to her house last Tuesday after dinner (I had a mom sitter booked already.)

I’m really pleased with the result – I did two days of solid heavy housework this weekend and didn’t break a nail!!  The only problem is getting used to picking things up… it is hard!  And they don’t scratch itches all that well being so blunt.  But I am planning to get them done again.

So that’s the new.

Now for the old.

On some of the groups/chats/forums I participate in people have been sharing their first face painting photos… I went on a search for some of mine.  In the process I was going through all my make-up scrapbooks and found some other work.

I worked on a film that was a Planet of the Apes parody – the chimp make-up photo I use on my business card was the test make-up for that job actually.  I found my photos from the shoot and thought it would be something to show everyone … a real movie set!  Which, by the way, is really boring to be on… hurry up and wait… and wait… and wait…

This was the location for Car Wash of the Apes which was in the Kits area of Vancouver, just up from the beach.

I didn’t actually find the face painting photo I was looking for but this one was actually THE FIRST face painting I did using Kryolan Aquacolours – so technically, my first face painting because the other things I had done before then were with regular make-up.  I copied the cow design from the Grimas book Make-up Voor Professional en Hobby.  It was one of two face painting books I had bought simply because they were make-up books for my collection.  The other was Making Faces by Sian Ellis Thomas.  I learned everything I knew about face painting from those two books… and that lasted me until 2003 when I was able to take some training with “real” face painters!

Actually, this isn’t all that bad really.  I have improved over the last 15 years but…  I still don’t mind saying “I painted this.”


Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #3 – Daily Operations

March 1st means it is time for the third excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Using the telephone effectively is a huge part of your business.  You have to collect information and provide information efficiently and clearly. The telephone is one of the most useful tools you will have.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Five of  The Business of Face Painting.



Answering the telephone is a huge part of our efforts to secure work.  When a potential client calls us we need to know exactly what we have to say to get the booking from them.  There are questions to ask and information to provide in order to get to the close of the deal which is a confirmed date and rate.

Some people, as we all know, are just shopping around to find out prices or looking for the cheapest.  Others are calling as they got your number from a friend or have your card that they picked up at an event and want to inquire about a specific function.  Some are agents or possible corporate bookings wanting to get specifics for possible future events.   You need to be ready to answer the questions these people will all be asking and also do a sales pitch to make yourself the most attractive option.

The best tool for dealing with telephone inquiries is an Inquiry Form that you keep handy to the telephone.  A sample form is included with the document templates at the end of the chapter. On this form you have all the questions you need to ask with spaces to write the answers and you can include points that you should bring up for your sales pitch.  So what are the things you should be asking the potential client?

The first thing is, of course, to answer your telephone professionally.  This is easy if you have a dedicated line for your business and can answer the telephone by saying “Annie’s Funny Faces this is Annie.”  If you are using your home telephone then make sure that everyone who answers the telephone knows how to answer with a smile, how to take messages, knows how to tell people nicely that you will call them back and when that will be.  If you have only adults or older teens answering the phone you can attempt to train them to use the form to get as much information as they can and then tell the caller that you will call them back as soon as possible.

Get the caller’s name and telephone numbers right away… then use their name during the rest of the conversation.  This is something that successful sales people do – ask you your name and then use it repeatedly while trying to sell you that BMW! It is a successful technique and really easy to do.  By using their name you are forming a connection with them and most people will respond positively.

It is really useful to keep track of all calls and inquiries you receive by phone and email.  Even if they do not result in a booking you will be able to assess the success of any marketing or advertising you are doing.  Ask everyone where they got your information or heard of you.  You could list all the options on your form and simply circle or tick the method off.

Most people will have stated right off the top what services they are calling about, so mark that off on your form to refer back to.  A tick list is a simple way to do that as it is very quick to do.  If they have not mentioned what they want right away ask them what services they are interested in.

Find out the date they are inquiring about, the time, the location.  You do not need to confirm your availability at this stage – go through the whole form and get all the information before you “check your calendar”.  You want to take the opportunity to sell yourself and your services so do not cut the conversation short by saying you are not available as the person on the other end of the phone will then not want to continue the conversation.  They have called you so take advantage of this opportunity to tell them about your services.

Ask about the type of event, number of people expected, venue, and the other questions.  If it is a birthday party, ask the name of the birthday person, their age, favourite things and colours – this is useful if you want to take along a birthday card or provide a little something extra for the birthday child.  If it is a private party or a public event is very important too as you can determine your set-up requirements and explain them at that stage of the conversation.

So by now you should know their name, phone number, the type of event, the place, the time, how many are expected, the type of service they want and you should have been able to work in your requirements about space and set-up.

Now is the time for you to do your spiel and provide them with your information.  Explain your business services related to their inquiry.  You could say “I provide professional face painting services offering full face designs.  I follow a strict code of conduct using a clean sponge per child and do not paint anyone who appears to be sick… etc.”  Phrase this statement to suit your business.  This opening statement can be pretty standard and if it helps you to say it write it out on your form so that you remember it and say it in the same way every time but be flexible enough to adapt to the event that they are calling about.  Having a prepared “script” is perfectly acceptable.

Explain your rate structure.  Many have a bit of difficulty with this so my suggestion is to prepare a Rate Sheet to refer to and keep that handy.  I have one that is four pages long that covers every service I provide and options such as a day-rate, etc.  I don’t publish or distribute it just use it to keep myself consistent.  A sample rate sheet is provided in the document templates in Chapter Two.  If you are prone to discounting your rate make up a chart to refer to so you can remember your terms for qualifying for a discount.

Explain your terms.  A contract will be sent to them by mail to return with a deposit or emailed deposit paid by PayPal, etc.  Whatever your terms are such as a seven-day hold pending receipt of deposit or that you do not paint children under the age of three; basically anything that is important for them to know before they confirm the booking.

The last thing is to get their mailing address.  If they are booking you it is for mailing out the contract, if they didn’t, it will be so you can mail them some information about your services.

Keep a smile in your voice even if they decide not to make a booking and, if they say it is because they are actually looking for something else refer them to someone and ask them to say you gave them their name.  It never hurts to help out others in the business as referrals work both ways.

There are different ways to set-up a form to use – you can make them small like telephone message pads or full-sized hole punched to go in a binder.  Figure out what will work best for you.  If you use your mobile phone more than a landline, keep a supply of forms with you in your car or kit so that you have them with you when you have answer the cell phone.

All inquiry forms should be kept, even for the calls that don’t end in a booking, as you can use the information you have collected to assess things like the success of advertising or marketing activities, etc.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008