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Never Settle for Being the Best: My Journey from Cheek Art to Full Face Painting

I’ve been in the face and body painting business for 20 years now.  I still have so much to learn!  I’m determined NOT to settle on thinking that I’m the best at anything…I always have something to improve upon and learn, and hope to keep it that way as long as I’m around!

17 years into it I felt that I had pretty well mastered cheek art, so I thought I’d finally branch out into the world of full face designs. (Yeah, I know…took me long enough, right?!) The art of face painting has really grown drastically over the years and I didn’t want to be left behind!

A full face made of cheek art?! I did a little experimenting with what defines a full face vs half face vs cheek art…

I still remain a huge advocate of the benefits of offering cheek art, strive to help others learn how to do cheek art just as amazing AND fast, and even run a cheek art face painting group on Facebook.  Cheek art still remains the #1 request at my county fair.  However, I am always trying new techniques and tips, and had to give full faces a try.

In 2011 I began offering full faces in my pay-per-face county fair booth, along with my cheek art! Now that I look back on the photos I had put on my design menu, I can really say I’ve come a long way!  I have a LONG ways to go and have learned so much from my peers.  Heck, before Facebook came along I really had no idea how far face painting had come and could go!!

Here are some pics of my journey from then until now.  You can see my awkward attempts to transfer my cheek art versions into full face versions at first…

Butterflies and tigers are still my nemesis! I used to try to cover the whole face with butterflies that just looked awkward.  I have since lightened them up a bit, and I think they look better. I still am not happy with my butterflies’ bodies and antennae, but hey, we all have stuff to keep improving, right?!

I actually put that one on the left on my banner.  MY BANNER!! Ugh, bless the heart of this little girl who loved her tiger, but oh my, I’m so much better now! Tigers are SO tough for me and I’m still working on them to this day! This one on the right I just did a few weeks ago on my little boy…also still new to Starblends which I used for the base!

My first full face spidey on the’s Spidey on the right with a little extra “pop” of graffiti eyes stencils!

I still have a LOT to learn and improve upon with my full faces and will probably never look at a picture of my work without critiquing myself!!  But I think the desire to keep improving is what makes artists great.

Besides improving my full faces, in my attempt to branch out beyond full faces has also taught me:

– Ways to improve my speed on ALL designs by adding more brush sizes and shapes to my tools
– the value and wow factor that stencils can bring
one stroke techniques
– double-dip techniques
– teardrops!!
– the pro’s and con’s of using Starblends
– How awesome bling, google eyes, and feathers can be 
– that I prefer large brushes & lollipop blenders to sponges

My drive to learn and improve has pushed me to learn and now offer balloon twisting and henna body art as well, and those have been some incredibly fun learning experiences!!

Are you stuck in a full face rut and frustrated with cheek art? Practice it!! Are you stuck in a cheek art rut and frustrated with full faces? Practice them!!  Maybe you’ll find they’re not you’re thing, but the journey of trying and stretching yourself will teach you so much that can only improve your work!

Stretching yourself can be tough because it means admitting that you are not the best; that you have room to grow.  My hope is that I never settle on my talents as they are…that I will continue to make myself learn and grow. Sure, along the way I may find that the latest technique is not for me, but at least I can say I’ve tried it and can speak from actual experience. That’s all people really want to hear about anyway, right?

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