Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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I’ve gone a little snowflake crazy this winter (and by “winter” I mean Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec… and it will continue until probably April…)

I’ve always done snowflake designs in the winter – when you have snow on the ground, typically, six months of the year it is a common motif.

I’ve usually done them freehand which can be a bit time-consuming, or done the cheater type with just flicks of the brush so they are more of a six pointed star.  This year I got smart – with inspiration from a friend (well, more like completely copied her idea with her help, I might add) I made stamps for snowflakes.

The actual reason for this was Frozen.

All of those little girls wanting “Frozen” or “Elsa” designs… which in face painting circles means a blue base and white swirls and snowflakes.  I was booked, back-to-back, in October for Frozen themed birthday parties… the snowflake stamp saved my life.


And we will NEVER mention “Olaf” again…. EVER!

My crew loves the snowflake stamps too!

Using the stamps also guarantees all snowflakes are PROPER snowflakes with SIX arms… not eight, not four, not ten… SIX!  As shown here in this gorgeous photo a friend and local photographer, Marilyn Grubb, took and captioned:


I got stuck in the rut myself when painting myself for jobs – it is just so easy.  Just vary the base colour, change the layout…





This is one of my winter masks with my “old” snowflakes – I’ve been doing it lots with the stamps instead.


And I have several different snowflake shapes – I just have the one in my stash that I paint myself with – I should probably change it out for some variety.






I am, as they say, gobsmacked

This morning I checked my email, as I do every morning (as one does) and there was a message forwarded from my website contact page.  I assumed it would be an inquiry for a job as it usually is.

However… no, it started off:

Hi Shannon.
I was browsing the web and found your lovely blog.

Oh, how nice someone is complimenting me.  I do get message like this on occasion…  but then it continued

I am a face painter in the UK, I am currently building my online profile and was hoping you might be intersted in writing about me with a link to my site on your interesting blog! Here is a little onformation for you:

Um… er, what?  She goes on about herself and her upcoming tutorials and closed with

Thank you hope that’s OK and I’ll get in touch when I have started my tutorials.


Ah… right.  I don’t know who you are, I’ve never heard of you, never seen anything posted by you on Facebook anywhere that I know of, and yet you want ME to write about YOU and promote your currently non-existent tutorials to the world?

Did I miss something?

I checked her Facebook page – she only created it on September 14th of this year.  She has 16 likes.  Website is nicely done but pretty newish,  Work is mid-level – competent but nothing amazing or original.

What made her think I use my blog to promote random unknown painters and their search for fame and fortune?  This is my blog and, yes, it is about ME!

You would think that if she had looked at my “interesting blog” she might have noticed the type of content I post…

I share stuff, sure.  I do occasionally review new books, etc. but it isn’t done on someone’s request.  I chat about what I’ve been doing, show how I do it, post photos to share face and body painting work, theatre design and productions, bore you with  my everyday life and challenges, etc.

I have never used my blog to promote any products except those I actually use and like in context of really using them – like certain colours or brands of make-up, sponges, etc.

I drafted an email .. then deleted it.  I am not going to acknowledge her presumptuous request with a response.  If she happens to read my “lovely blog” again I think she’ll get the message.

I’m also curious if she’s been blasting this all over the place to other bloggers/face painters?  Is it a new approach to using social media that I’m missing?

I am still shaking my head over this one…


Here’s a picture so you have something nice to look at after reading my tirade – It’s time to get ready for Halloween!


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Lots of ideas and inspiration

As Halloween nears lots of people are searching for ideas for make-up and costumes.  I know my Halloween clients send me images they’ve found on the internet of what they want me to paint on them.  Many are actually the work of artists I know!  Once… they actually sent me a photo of my own work!!!

We all know you can search the internet for anything – and end up spending hours going through thousands of images to find something that appeals to you.

If you are looking for make-up or face painting ideas I highly recommend the Snazaroo USA Photo pages.  These collections of images are a compilation of well over a decade of contest submissions from artists from all over the world… all sorted and categorized by subject and themes!!

There are quite a few photos of my work included as I have been sending entries in since 2002.

There are pages for Zombies, Skulls, Classic Monsters,  Pumpkins & Haunts, Clowns, Monsters & Demons, Pirates, and lots more!!  The Photo Index Page lists all the galleries.

If you are looking for ideas check it out!!

Halloween Ideas - Past and Present

Halloween Ideas – Past and Present


May I present…. My new, filled, palette!

I couldn’t wait until the weekend to start filling my preciousness.

I spent three hours working on it last night and only got part of it filled.  I had to wait until I put mom to bed so I could go downstairs to work on it.

The first hour or so was spent sorting through my stock and laying out my colour choices on the table.


Then sorting them, rearranging, switching, realizing I had no Kryolan UV Pink and that my Wolfe Red was almost empty, did I need dark purple or light purple, how many shades of blue did I need, was that colour that I only really use for one design necessary or could I use something else, and if it was necessary what else could I eliminate… then realizing after I started to cut the first cakes that there were two essential colours that I use that I hadn’t included so then I had to remove something in order to fit them in…

I made myself a template of the square to trace on the cakes for cutting.


I used a non-serrated steak knife and my dental palette knife to cut and work with the cakes.



The Wolfe white was really difficult to cut though – it was a 90 gm cake and very thick and hard.


The Kryolan was the easiest to remove in a solid block, particularly the Interferenz colours.


First one down – Snazaroo White, for bases.


Second one down – Wolfe White, for detail work.

First Row

First row complete!  This was hard work.  After the white I have Snazaroo Black, TAG Pearl Black, Snazaroo Brown, Snazaroo Bright Red, and Wolfe Red.

Second Row

Second row was mostly Kryolan Interferenz – don’t they look LUSH against the black palette?

First night

I got two rows, plus one, filled before my eyes started to glaze over and I went to bed.

Tonight (oh, I guess I mean last night, just realized it is 1:30 a.m.) I returned to try to finish filled the palette.  Got mom to bed at 8 p.m. and then spent over four hours working on it.

Even with all the sorting and rearranging last night I still had some colours I needed to switch out. It dawned on me a couple of my most popular designs used colours I had decided not to use, so I put them back.  I also decided to make a couple of two-colour splits – Snazaroo Electric Purple/Sparkle Lilac and Snazaroo Yellow Ochre/Sparkle Yellow.  I also cut my Grimas Rainbow cake to put it in – and then stuffed in the bits of red left from an old rainbow in to fill in the hole so it was a tight fit.

I also spent an inordinate amount of time going back and forth about the light yellow.  I use if for two designs but they are popular – zombie teeth and the moon on my Bat-mask.  I ended up leaving it in.  If I had a Dark Orange I may have changed my mind.  I don’t use orange much, Sparkle Orange, yes, but not regular orange so I didn’t bother with one.  I’ve got the Sparkle and the UV if I need to punch up the colour.

I also put in Snazaroo Electric Blue – I don’t use it a lot, BUT, it is the only colour for Optimus Prime IMO, plus it is great for winter scenes and night skies.

I wrote the colours down on the template of the palette design if you really want to know what they all are:


In order to fill the holes I had to use the following:  Kryolan colours I used part of one cake, the Interferenz are whole cakes (smooshed down!), Funky Foxes were two cakes, Snaz were mostly 1.5 cakes, the TAG was two cakes, the DFX was part of one cake as was the Wolfe.

So… all done!  And in all honestly I have to say… it is bloody heavy!  But isn’t it gorgeous?


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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #12 – Incident Reports & Risk Assessments

December 1st means it is time for the twelfth, and final, 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.

If you have found the twelve excerpts useful… Be sure to check out our special offer for the month of December – details at the bottom of this post.

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 soon.

If you are in business and dealing with the public you are at risk of a claim against you for a variety of reasons.  Documenting incidents and assessing the risks is very important – you may require the information if there is ever a claim made against you (see last month’s excerpt on Insurance) and some clients require risk assessments to be submitted for their insurance purposes.

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


Incident Reports

If something should happen while you are working and is reported to you, document it.  Having your own record of what happened, witness names and contact information, etc. could prove to be invaluable should any claim be made against you.  An Incident Report Form is provided in the document templates [the form is available in the e-book.]  Personalize and print off a form to carry with you in case something happens.  If someone trips over your kit box and hurts themselves, or your water spills and someone slips.  Use it to record things that happen even if the person involves says “oh it is okay, never mind”… they might change their minds later and make a claim against your for damages.  Things like… a child saying the paint stings, so you wash it off with a baby wipe.  Or, you accidentally drop black paint on the rug.  Those things should be noted so that you are able to provide details from your side to the insurance company if you have to call them about a claim.

Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is part of the business plan where you note the risks involved in your business, but also, you could be asked to provide one by clients or potential clients for a specific job. That sort of Risk Assessment would list all the potential risks that could arise on the job and list the measures taken to mitigate them and the actions to be taken should something happen.  The requirement for a formal Risk Assessment tends to be more common in the United Kingdom than in North America, but larger companies and organizations that may be considering hiring you may require them.

A sample Risk Assessment form is provided with the document templates and it lists common risks and actions to take [the form is available in the e-book.] You can use this form and personalize it or design your own.  The type of risk these cover are things like tripping hazards, reactions to products you are using, staff safety, fire and emergency equipment locations, etc.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #11 – Insurance

November 1st means it is time for the eleventh 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.

Protecting yourself and your family assests is something a business person must consider.  If you are in business and dealing with the public you are at risk of a claim against you for a variety of reasons.

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



If you are planning to face paint as a business you should have personal liability insurance for your business.  This protects you against any claims made by others against you or your business for things such as damage caused by you or your staff (like stains on carpet, etc.) or for claims of personal damages such as reactions to products.  Not all insurance policies are the same so do a little research.

Decide what you need for coverage, how much you want to pay and then shop around to see what is available.  Personal liability coverage protects your personal assets and those of your family against claims made against your business operations.  If you do not have insurance there is the worst case possibility that you could be bankrupted should someone make a claim against you for damages and they win a court case.

Some painters feel that having liability insurance is not necessary, but, I personally believe that if you are dealing with the public and accepting payment for your services that you are putting yourself at risk so you need to protect yourself.  Once you have made the decision to start your business you need to think like a business person and protecting your personal assets from business claims is a major issue.

You can also insure your kit and equipment against theft and loss.  In most cases kit insurance has a deductible of $500 to $1000 so it is really to cover the complete loss of your kit due to theft or accident as replacing individual items is considerably less than the deductible.  But having your kit insured is worthwhile if you are transporting a large amount of supplies and equipment as it does not take much to make up $1000 worth of face paint and brushes – if someone picked up your kit box and walked away with it the cost to replace could easily be more than the deductible.

The cost of getting liability insurance is not excessive – $150 a year and up depending on the amount of coverage you want or need.

Some homeowners’ policies will let you add home based businesses to your coverage, make sure to inquire as sometimes operating a business in your home may invalidate all or a portion of your coverage if you don’t let your insurer know.

What are the risks you need insurance for?  Here are some examples:

  • Damage caused by you or your staff or equipment – such as spilling paint on a client’s white rugs or leaving water rings on wooden furniture or damage caused by your vehicle to lawns or structures…
  • Reactions to products applied by you onto people – rashes, itching, scarring in extreme cases.   Not usual, but possible…
  • Injury caused by you or your equipment – say you accidentally poke someone in the eye with a brush, a small child grabs the edge of your table and it topples over on them, your mirror breaks and cuts someone…
  • Claims against you or your staff for inappropriate behaviour…
  • Theft of your kit or loss in an accident or fire…

… these are possibilities that people could claim you are responsible for and your insurance should cover you for any legitimate claims and fight those that are not valid on your behalf.

Some large events and companies require you to produce a “certificate of insurance” for their event/organization.  This is a certificate that your insurance company issues naming the particular event as being covered under your liability insurance.  It provides proof that you have insurance and that the event has been specifically noted for any claims that might arise.

Insurance is a business cost and therefore a legitimate business expense for tax purposes so please cover your business and your personal assets against the risks.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #10 – Client Follow-Up

October 1st means it is time for the tenth 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.

One step to make your clients repeat clients is to make sure to follow-up with them after the event.

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


Client Follow-Up

I use a Customer Satisfaction Survey that I will give to the client with the invoice, or will mail to them after the job if I did not give one to them at the event.   I always provide a self-addressed stamped envelope with the survey for them to use and this usually guarantees that they will send it back to me.  I have included my survey with the document templates for your use.  The survey is helpful to provide feedback on what people like or dislike about my services and gives me a source of references or testimonials that I can use in my marketing and on my website.

If there is a negative comment on the survey I will telephone the client to discuss the reason for their comment as I need to know what happened and if it is something I can fix or was it beyond my control.  Depending on what it was I will provide further information to them or apologize, perhaps sending them a discount coupon for a future event.

Customer satisfaction is very important as so much of you work will be word of mouth so you need to address any negativity immediately and offer a solution.  If the problem was a reaction to a product for example, offer product information, fill out your incident report form, ask if they had sought medical attention or took photos… be sympathetic and document everything.

I try to send a thank you card to the clients within a week of the event.  I use my postcards and simply say “Thank you for having me at your event!  Please keep me in mind for your upcoming functions.”

With regular clients I send reminder emails or postcards to confirm the next booking – annual events such as company picnics and Christmas parties.  If I haven’t heard from them I will say “Just double checking with you about this year’s dates.  Let me know the details and I will send the confirmation to you right away.  I am looking forward to seeing you again.”  Email is very good for this type of reminder.  I have regular corporate clients that do not call me but when I send this reminder they respond with the date and time and the booking is confirmed.

There is nothing wrong with sending a past client an inquiry about upcoming work.  You are being proactive about securing work and often the client just hasn’t got around to the details of their event.  Once you have made contact they respond and they can cross you off their To Do list.

I keep a Client List on my computer of all client’s names, contacts, addresses, telephone and email addresses and dates booked and rates I gave them.  This is a quick reference for when I get a call from a new contact for the client so I can verify all my information on the client and update as necessary.  And I can check if I provided any discounts or special deals in the past and why I did so.  Keeping this list saves me having to dig though my dairy and contract files to see what I did and who I spoke to.

I also use the client list to prepare regular direct mail reminders and notices.  It keeps all the information on your clients easy to access.  This is for MY USE ONLY.  Never ever share, trade or sell your client information.

The Arm Shark

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008


Sleeping Butterfly

We were face painting yesterday at the Wembley Demolition Derby and this little girl dozed off completely while I was painting her.  Can I get an “awwwww”?

My newly recruited assistant face painter (a new co-worker at the day-job) came along as my second painter and for someone who is a complete newbie she did great!  Her work over the course of the six-hour day of painting improved immensely. And her speed was impressive considering most of the designs she had never painted before.  She is a keeper!

I had the kids stand between my legs to be painted while I sat this time.  Mainly because the ground was so uneven – we were set-up in a ball diamond dugout and my chair was on the cement but where I would put the other chair was off the edge and into a hole with no way to stabilize it.  So I set it aside and had the littles stand between my legs and I would stand up for the taller people.  Amazingly my back feels fine this morning rather than killing me!  Might have to do that more regularly.


Elegant for adults

I love painting adults!

I paint at a local night club several times a year – they hire me to paint the staff for theme nights –  and I really enjoy it!  I also do galas and stagettes – generally painting mask and eye-designs on the women.  Men are more hesitant but after a few drinks usually go for moustaches or aviator shades.

I have also painted at adult birthday parties which are hugely fun!  The guys at these parties usually jump right in and get the designs they didn’t get as kids.  I’ve painted 30 somethings as Optimus Prime and the Joker and they love it.  Bald guys are fun too and usually willing to go with off the wall stuff like giant spiders eating their brains.

It is actually quite liberating to paint willing adults.  They usually let me be creative and aren’t specific in what they want.  I get to match clothing or jewelry or they want specific colours or a vague description of an animal print or pattern they like.  Many just tell me to paint what I would like.

Adults are more patient, sit still, and follow instructions – such a nice change from painting a never-ending line of spideys and butterflies hour after hour (not that there is anything wrong with that!)

Here are two photos of the same painting – we changed the hair between shots.  This was for a mask contest a few years back on my favourite model Naomi.

I love painting her!

This type of design is very very popular with adult women – pretty, elegant, striking and looks great on anyone.

And here are a couple of plays on the same theme – a red, black and gold butterfly.  More intricate than I would do on a typical face painting job, but nice to do on adults and older teens.

If you get the opportunity to paint at adult parties and events, take it!


Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #9 – Soliciting Work

September 1st means it is time for the ninth 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.

So, now how do you get those face painting jobs?

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


Soliciting Work

Use the information you have compiled on your target markets to determine those potential clients that you want to get your information in front of.  You want to make them aware of your services and why they should hire you over anyone else.  I tend to choose one specific group to target each year based on my current interests or potential for business in that area.  By concentrating my efforts on one narrow area I can keep my costs reasonable and am able to easily track the success of the campaign for any given period of time.  One year I targeted daycares and schools, the next restaurants, then nightclubs, then festivals, etc.

Some events may require you to submit an application and pay a fee to set-up at their event.  At these types of activities you would most likely be charging pay-per-face.  Decide if these are the type of events you want to go after and then inquire about the vendor application process.  Be aware that some events may let anyone who pays their fee set-up so you might end up in competition with a dozen other painters.  Try to negotiate exclusivity so that you are the only face painter.  Location is also very important to your earnings.

Choose how you want to approach your potential clients – by letter, with a postcard, with an email, in person.  Then prepare your materials.

I’ve included some sample letters and emails [these are included in the ebook] that you can use to solicit business.  These are the actual letters that I have sent to potential customers.  The one called “Introductory Letter for Face Painting” is a generic letter that I sent to organizers and associations that hold events in the region.  “Restaurant letter” is self-explanatory.  And “New Year Letter” went out to all my customers and selected potential customers – I got a lot of bookings confirmed for the next season by sending out the New Years letter in January every year.  The “festival email” is an actual email I used to solicit a gig at large local event.  Feel free to use these as examples to make up your own versions.

Using Kryolan Interferenz Bach Blue with other colours

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008