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Rekindling your Creative Fire

This article was taken from the Spring 2021 issue of Wet Paint Magazine. We thought it was still very relevant as we approach the 2 year anniversary of pandemic shutdowns! Check out the full issue for a ton of springtime design inspiration, step-by-step’s, and more articles about getting back to work post-covid, some covid-friendly designs that work around masks and on arms & legs, and tips for ways to connect with your clients, among much more!

Spring 2021….

Has this pandemic caused you to lose your creative “mojo?” I’ve seen so many artists on social media who are down, depressed, and feeling hopeless. Many of us have not even touched our face paints since last March! I, for one, just recently passed the one year anniversary of my last face painting gig, and it was definitely not an anniversary I want to celebrate. 

As face painters, having all of our gigs canceled hits us hard in other ways beyond the financial. We have become accustomed to delivering joy, being the life of the party, and having the satisfaction of creating more smiles per hour than most other careers. When that joy that we thrive on is taken from our jobs, it is easy to get down. Money can be earned in other ways, but the joy and satisfaction that comes from our jobs is much harder to replace. Many artists are even announcing that they are selling their kits and giving up face painting. I would like to encourage you today not to jump to that point just yet!

My suggestion, if you are just not feelin’ it with the face paints, is to not sell everything, but set it aside for now. So many people out there would do just about anything to have a fulfilling job like we have, and that gift is not something we should let go of easily. It is still way too early to predict any lasting effects that the pandemic will have on our industry. Instead, whether you are taking up another way to make money or not, seek out even more creative outlets! 

But what if you aren’t even feeling creative anymore? After all, the more creativity you use, the more you have, and if you’re not painting, chances are your creative “bucket” has run dry. How do you refill it? 

The key to getting your creative fire rekindled is to not require your passion to pay the bills…at least not for a little while. To rekindle our own fires, we need to focus on ourselves, using our talents to bring joy to ourselves, not necessarily to make money. Think of it like reverting back to childhood, when you made art just because it was fun and enjoyable. Removing that pressure to pay the bills from your passion alone will light a spark.

Even the genius Albert Einstein often found himself “stuck” now and then, unsure of what to do next or how to get past a roadblock. He did, however, discover an ingenious way to open up his mind to new ideas when he found himself in this situation. He called it “combinatory play.” When Einstein was stuck, he would stop working, set aside the problem, and go play his violin for a couple hours, inevitably resulting in new ideas and a way to move forward. He defined combinatory play as “the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another.” Essentially, combinatory play means taking two unrelated things and putting them together to create new ideas. The key to combinatory play is to just do something else…as long as it is different, and most importantly, you are enjoying it and having fun! It doesn’t have to be face painting, and it doesn’t even have to be painting. It can be playing an instrument like Einstein did, working in your garden, a physical activity, or learning about a new subject. 

Why does this work? Einstein believes that combinatory play relieves some stress, for one thing. Again, removing the stress of the expectation to make money, leaves only fun and exploration. It also allows your creative mind to start connecting dots between ideas, creating totally new ideas that you may never have stumbled across had you kept forcing your way through the problem.  Combinatory play also offers a change of perspective. Doing something else gives you a mental break, and in turn, a fresh eye.

Now, many of you have found other ways to use your creativity to pivot your business, still bringing in money in other creative ways. If this is working for you, please don’t stop! I myself have been having fun and making some money painting windows and now offering virtual paint parties (on canvas)! Keep doing whatever is working for you, but if you find yourself still not feeling fulfilled, or not even in the mood to pick up a brush, give some combinatory play a try.

Besides my own creative business pivots, I’ve also been dabbling in other things, solely for myself without the pressure of monetary performance. I’ve been doing some painting on canvas and rocks, and have even started learning Spanish! In previous issues I’ve featured some ways other artists are pivoting their business, but in this issue I’d like to set aside the work aspect of our creativity and focus on play.

I started painting vintage campers in 2021 and am about to start my 11th!
I took up dot painting on rocks in 2021…so fun and relaxing!
One of my early rock paintings!

I will be the first to admit it can be hard to carve out the time for creative play, even when Covid has taken away all of your gigs. I’ve been working non stop since the shutdowns last March, exploring multiple pivots for my business and other ways to bring in revenue. It wasn’t until nearly a year later that I finally forced myself to slow down and accept the gift of time that Covid has given me, carving out some time for combinatory play.

I live in Minnesota, and we really know how to get out and enjoy winter. However, with both of our boys doing distance learning and my husband working from home as well, this winter my family and I decided to spend the month of February somewhere warmer. We loaded up the truck with our stuff, our boys, and our great dane “Wahoo,” got up early one Saturday morning, and drove 19 hours straight through until we reached our Airbnb on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi! We were set to stay there for a full month, and I vowed to pack more art supplies than clothes, and spend time during the week days making art while my guys were working. I packed up my acrylic and watercolor paints, and all the empty canvases that have been collecting dust in my studio for years.

Our route…non stop to the coast!
The snowy views we left behind
Wahoo & Sam in the truck

My self inflicted artistic sabbatical did not disappoint! With temperatures warm enough to go outside, I made myself at home on a little table on the deck facing the backyard bayou, and set to work making whatever I felt like. I even did a short Facebook Live video on my Paintertainment page about combinatory play. Whatever crazy ideas came to me, I acted upon. I loved the shape of the fallen magnolia pods in the yard, and thought they might be fun to make colorful, so I painted them. I collected gnarly oyster shells on the gulf shores and adorned them with colors using my dot painting tools. I painted countless sunset scenes on mini canvases, finishing them off with glitter on the water and real gulf shore sand glued on the shoreline. I painted sunsets with silhouettes of seagulls, egrets and pelicans on the insides of oyster shells, and on fallen palm tree fronds. I made watercolor paintings of the things we’d seen on our weekend adventures, and acrylic paintings of my favorite vintage campers in fantasy camping settings. 

Paint magnolia pods? Why not?!
A few mini’s
oyster shells are everywhere!

I fully realize that not everybody has the luxury of being able to run away to another state for a month. But in the process of fighting the pressure to once again monetize my passions, I did learn a few tidbits that can be applied to just about any artist in some way…

Carve Out The Time

This can be the toughest part…making the decision to be intentional about rekindling your fire by setting aside precious time to do so. Start with what you can, even if it’s just one hour a week. Maybe try to set aside one DAY a week to work on something fun and new. If you can swing it, look ahead at your calendar and carve out an entire weekend! It was scary for me to set aside 4 weeks…so I was flexible with myself. The weekends would be dedicated to family fun, and I would still set a goal to complete my most urgent business to-do’s every morning and run needed errands, but any other time while my family was working would be spent making art. Even with all of the fun vacation-y things we did on weekends on the gulf, I still found myself actually looking forward to my art time during the week and whatever I was going to make next!

Shrimp boat
I referenced a photo I took for this one.
The little backyard deck table I spent most of my days at in February 2021!

Change your scenery

Changing your surroundings can really help to give your mind a break from the day-to-day, and allow creative ideas to come into view. Even if you are still strictly following stay-at-home orders, you can change your viewpoint by going to a local park and setting up space at a picnic table, or even changing what room of your house you’re in or rearranging your current creative space. Perhaps you can even find a family member or friend in your Covid bubble and visit each other, or swap houses for an afternoon! Eager for inspiration beyond your immediate surroundings? Try immersing yourself in another culture with some visual research, or seek out virtual online tours of beautiful places. If you’re able to take a weekend or day trip, that’s even better! You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world, the country, or your state. Just put yourself in a different setting, look around and take it in.  Just don’t forget to allow yourself to creatively respond to your change in scenery in some way, or you may miss out on the new ideas it brings. When I wasn’t sure what to “make” first on my trip, I painted random colors on found objects, and scenes from my surroundings. Each Monday I would scroll through my camera roll from the weekend, and paint some of the pictures I found Instagram-worthy!

Painting on fallen palm tree fronds
Tiny paintings are fast & fun!
I love my traveling watercolor set!

Unplug

Our worlds exist online more now than ever, which means we need to have analog experiences more than ever! Yes, there is a LOT of inspiration to be found online, and social media can be a great place to kick start new ideas. However, especially when you’re feeling down or depleted, it can also be a great source of procrastination, distraction, and unhealthy comparison. If you suspect this is the case for you, try turning off your computer, or closing your social media apps for a while. I’m not suggesting you go on a year long Facebook fast…just try spending even one hour, hopefully more, doing nothing digital. Listen to some music. Read a hard copy of a book or magazine. Go outside for a walk. Try a new recipe. Step outside and visit with a real, live neighbor or two. Take a nap! Whatever it is, give your brain a rest from screens and interact with the physical world. Keep your creative eyes and ears open, and try to act on the first crazy idea that pops into your head! Which brings me to my next suggestion…

Swinging on vines
Going for a walk at a park
immerse yourself in nature!

Say YES to crazy ideas!

The best part about making art only for yourself, is that you don’t have to run anything by anybody, or convince anyone else that your idea is worth trying!  I mentioned that I painted on magnolia pods while spending time down south. I had no idea what they even were until some Facebook friends told me. I thought they looked neat and had a unique shape, and my first thought was “this might look cool painted with bright colors!” So, I picked it up, got out my paints and tried it! 

The more often you act on those funny little ideas that come to you, the more often they will come to you, and the easier it will be to find that natural flow of new ideas. As business owners with busy schedules, we tend to set aside many of the ideas that pop into our heads, because we have other more pressing things to do. But by giving your idea some legs as soon as it comes to you, you are telling those ideas that they are welcome, that they can come any time, and that they will be heard and acted upon.

Discovering magnolia pods
Painting shells
Gluing sand and shells to canvas

Restrict Yourself

Perhaps the possibilities are just too endless when you think of ways to “play.” There are just too many books you want to read, or too many blank canvases in your studio to know where to begin. Instead of completely freeing yourself to do anything, try the opposite, and restrict yourself! Make yourself paint with your non-dominant hand, or using only one or two colors. Give yourself a limited task, whether it’s materials, time, or subject matter. Sometimes limiting your resources can force yourself to get creative in ways you never would have thought. You can even limit yourself to subject matters you would like to improve upon! 

I decided to force myself to paint clouds, which I feel I am not good at. I spent some time watching a few YouTube tutorials on clouds, and while I still wasn’t totally happy with my result, I learned some new techniques, added more tools to my shopping list, and had a lot of fun in the process! I also limited the size of most of my work, bringing along canvases as small as 2”x2” square. This forced me to complete pieces in less time, focusing less on the tiny details. Some days I only allowed myself 5 or 10 minutes to paint something in my watercolor sketchbook. I found myself loving the style that came from a time restriction!

Ugh, I hate painting clouds!
Tiny canvases only!
Tiny watercolor sketchbook

Consult a Kid

Remember when I mentioned how combinatory play takes us back to childhood, when we made art just for fun? If you have trouble taking your mindset back to childhood, consult an expert: a kid! Pull aside your own kid, your grandkids, or neighbor kids, and ask them what they think about what you’re working on. Ask them what you should make/paint/do next. Ask them to show YOU how to draw something. Or better yet, get out the finger paints and just play right along with them! Kids have that innate ability to think outside of the box, because they haven’t yet moved into one. They don’t carry with them all of the preconceived notions and limitations that adults do, which makes them particularly great at allowing limitless creativity to flow.

Fight the urge to monetize everything

Ironically in this pursuit of painting just for my own enjoyment last month, as I shared my work on social media I found myself having to fight off requests for commissions and people telling me “you could sell these!” I had to explain to several family members and friends that I had spent the majority of my life trying to monetize my art, and I was currently just trying to paint for myself, for fun! I may explore some of those opportunities down the road, but for this one month, my art was off limits!

My only goal during my time in Mississippi was simple. Make art. Make more art than I ever do at home, only for fun. Fill as many of the blank canvases I’ve been hoarding as possible in the time I had. There were no quality requirements…only quantity. And that, I believe, is what revived my own creativity, and sent me home with loads of new inspiration and ideas!

If you have the means to create some art just for fun, while paying the bills in other ways, I encourage you to do so. Setting aside your creative endeavors all together can quickly result in your ideas drying up as much as my festival glitter did over the past year…it’s rock hard! However, neither your festival glitter nor your creative juices are too far gone. In the case of my festival glitter, adding water brought it right back to it’s original splendor. Keeping your creative juices flowing, even through a dry spell, will help you stay skilled and clever, and make you all the more ready to jump right back into the profession that you love, just as soon as we come out the other side of this pandemic!

One Year Later…

So, this article above was published nearly a year ago now, and as I look back I can still see the positive effects of my “forced creative sabbatical.” While I am certain I made more “just-for-fun” art in my one month in Mississippi than I had in 10 years prior combined, I didn’t stop once I got home, as I feared I might. Realizing how much joy just making art brought to me, and how much it fueled my creativity in my business as well, I made it a point to keep carving out time for art with other mediums. On this trip I created my first vintage camper painting, and 1 year later I am not working on my 12th camper painting. I’ve continued to enjoy rock painting and share this new hobby with friends, and this winter have taken up paper quilling as well! My hope is that now that we are coming up on year two of this pandemic, that you too have been able to re-evaluate and re-prioritize how you spend your time. And if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late! Look back at what has brought you the most enjoyment over the past two years (not necessarily the most income), and figure out a way to work it back into your schedule. You just might discover an entirely new passion, make new friends who share that passion, and see the positive creative effects trickle down into your business as well!

paper quilling!
One of my camper paintings
A christmas camper painting!

Gretchen Fleener is the editor of Wet Paint Magazine, and also runs Paintertainment.com, and online face & body art supply shop and source of oh-so-much free instruction and inspiration. Find her on Facebook and Instagram  @PaintertainmentDotCom, @GlitterGlamper and @GretchenFleenerArtist.

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Happy New Year! 2021 Year in Review

Okay, I totally admit this post is more for myself than anything…I had a monthly photo collage pop up in my Facebook memories today and thought I’d do another one on this, the first day of 2022! I love to look back and reflect on my business over the past year, and this is as good a day as any to do that! I always find it uplifting to look back at the new experiences I’ve had, skills learned, friends and memories made, especially now in the midst of a pandemic that can get us all down! If you are feeling like you didn’t accomplish as much as you wanted in 2021, first of all, so what! It’s okay to rest!! But, try taking a look back at your past year, whether it’s scrolling through your calendar or looking back at the year’s social media posts. You just might find that you’ve done way more than you thought…I know I certainly did!

Here are just a few highlights of my past business year!

January 2021

In January I held my first ever paint party…”Starry Night Camping,” through the Glitter Glamper! The subject matter was a perfect one to bring together glitter, glamping and painting. It was a great success, and I really hope to do more of these! I also tried to get more into Facebook Live’s in general, and had a blast doing a couple fun tutorials. I showed people how to make a glittery brush holder, and how to make over a Dollar Tree camper decoration!

February 2021

In February, on one chilly day with a -50 degree F wind chill, my distance-learning and remote-working family and I loaded up the truck and drove south, non-stop, until we ran out of road, where we spent a full month in an Air BNB within walking distance to Gulf of Mexico! We will likely never again have that chance to do school & work entirely via the internet, and I’m so glad we carpe’d that diem! I brought nothing but blank canvases and art supplies, and this kicked off a year where I created more “recreational” art than any other year of my life…definitely more than I have in the past 15 years combined. It refueled my creativity and refreshed my soul!

March 2021

In March we waved goodbye to I had fun doing a Facebook live tutorial for Smile Creators of a St Patrick’s day themed gem design! It’s also the month of my birth, when I turned 40-something…I honestly can never remember my own age. Maybe because age doesn’t seem to mean much to me these days, or maybe I’m getting senile already.

April 2021

In April I landed my first repeat business window painting customer, a chain of local Dunkin’ Donuts stores! I did a similar design on all three store locations, scaled to fit their windows. Since then I’ve been painting these three stores seasonally all year, each one with a unique image, and this month will be painting “coming soon” and “now hiring” messages on their newest location! It has been SO much fun working with Dunkin and creating unique windows to fit with the seasons and their business!

May 2021

In May I held my 2nd successful zoom paint party, in response to a previous student’s request to paint birch trees! It was great fun!

June 2021

In June I got back to doing henna again, masked of course, for my fabulous agent friend Lori’s business, A Touch of Magic! It felt great to get back to celebrating in person, and it’s always so fun to work with the new graduates and feel their excitement for the future! I had a great time updating more Dunkin’ windows, and also used water resistant face paints for the first time ever at a mermaid themed country club pool party!

July 2021

July was a big month for the Glitter Glamper…it was her gig debut! I spent all spring and early summer getting the Glamper trailer ready to be used on the job, and the 4th of July was her maiden voyage! With my husband and boys’ help, I got her set up at Interlachen Country Club and almost immediately people were drawn to the trailer and wanted a peek inside! It was unbearably hot, windy, and a supreme example of organized chaos, but was SO exciting, fun and a HUGE hit! I can’t wait to do it again! This was also the debut of my latest offering, “Sparkle Sleeves!”

August 2021

August is always the busiest time of year for my business, with the exception of 2020 of course! It was so great to get back to the county fair painting faces, and the state fair as the Glitter Glamper! The county fair was my best year ever, and despite the state fair’s huge drop in attendance, our business did not drop nearly as much and we enjoyed countless return customers who vividly remembered their 2019 experience and came straight for us this year! The future is very bright for the Glitter Glamper Booth at the MN State Fair!

September 2021

In September I had the joy of spending a day working in my friend Tricia’s awesome new “Sparkle Fox” business operation at Severs Corn Maze, affectionately known as the “Sparkle Shed!” We were super busy and I had SO much fun!! I am SO proud of the amazing work she did pulling it all together in so little time and can’t wait to see what she does with it in 2022…much like my own journey with my hurried start to the Glamper!

October 2021

October was a fun, full month between my seasonal window painting refreshes, and Halloween events coming back! The Glitter Glamper was quite busy applying Halloween bling at fall events, Halloween parties and birthday parties! I also brought out my balloons again and did some Halloween twisting at country club event!

November 2021

In the fall/winter of 2021 I was so excited to have the Glitter Glamper featured in my favorite magazine, Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine! How fun!! I shared photos and the process of transforming it into a business vehicle, and also photos of our first weekend actually camping in it as a family!

December 2021

I was just SO happy to get back to painting Christmas designs again this year, after a year with no Christmas gigs! My son Sam, now 14, let me do another Ugly Christmas Sweater body paint on him for my business holiday cards. I had several fun Christmas gigs, and my first ever New Year’s Eve gig! What a fun way to close out the year!

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!!

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Finding Productivity in Your Routine

This article was originally published in one of our free e-newsletters! If you’d like to be among the first to receive articles like this, along with free step-by-step designs and coupon codes for our store, you can click here to subscribe and to download past issues!

At the beginning of 2020 I started a habit of organizing my weeks and days that was really working well for me. Sadly, Covid eventually interrupted my momentum and my new routine fell by the wayside as I focused on the struggle to simply put on real pants and juggle a spouse and kids all working from home! These things happened to many of us, but when you’re your own boss, you eventually realize that nobody is going to hold you accountable for accomplishing anything except yourself. I have come to the realization that, even though I might not feel like my daily tasks and goals are as numerous or lofty as they were pre-covid, simply having them and laying out a plan plays a big role in my overall well being, my family’s well being, and my business’s well being! SO, as I look forward to our post-covid future, I’ve decided to go back to what was working before! 

I’m going to share just this one piece of my organization and accountability process, in hopes that it might inspire you to create your own! Feel free to use my method, or twek it to make it more personal to you!

I use my phone and electronic reminders for everything, but I still like tactile things like paper. And stickers. And color coded tabs, markers and pencils! So I organize myself in an old school, 3-ring planner binder. But I start with an empty binder…not one with pre-made pages…so that I can truly make it MINE!

Here is a link to my exact binder!

The Repeated, Every Day Tasks

First I identified what things EVERY day needed. On top of every page I have a space for that day’s commitments, where I write in meetings, events, and other stuff going on that day. Then I have my “Do-NOW’s” which are tasks that are urgent and can’t wait for another day…such as packing up a customer’s online order, responding to quote requests, etc. On the bottom of every page I have personal tasks I want to remember to do every day. For me those are my devotions, and some sort of physical activity or workout. You can make these be anything you want! Time for yourself, time for rest, time to feed your own soul and body. I know I want to aim for exercise and devotions every day, so those are printed on every sheet, but I also have blank lines for non-daily personal tasks I want to do that day.

The Different, Changing-Daily Tasks

I have SO many to-do’s flying around my brain at any given time, but I know that the key to productivity is to FOCUS on single things at a time. For this reason I try to dedicate each day of the week to a particular “bucket.” When I think of a new to-do, I find whichever day of the week it fits best with, I add it to that day’s list of tasks, and then I can rest knowing it’ll get done that week. I like catchy alliteration, so I came up with some sort of theme for each day of the week. Here are my daily themes:

Media Monday

Mondays are my day to focus on my website, creating social media content, newsletters, etc.

Tackle it Tuesday

On Tuesdays I ask myself, what random tasks can I get crossed off my to-do list today? I start with quick, small things and work my way up so I can cross off a lot and feel accomplished. And yes, I’ve been known to write down things I already did just so I can mark down that super satisfying check mark, haha!

Weight Lift Wednesday

Wednesdays I focus on chipping away at a task that is heavily weighing on my  mind that week. It can be a huge project, a personal thing, or just something I really don’t want to do but want to quit thinking about!

Think Big Thursday

Thursdays I dedicate to big ideas and future goals and large projects. These might change from week to week, but I always have something that fits! The back of my planner has divider tabs dedicated to my big projects.

Financial Friday

Last year Fridays were “frazzled Fridays” where I tied up random loose ends. This year I decided I need to be more regular about keeping up with boring financial stuff (because I hated the pile of work that awaited me come tax season!), so Fridays my goal is to catch up on filing receipts, reconciling bank accounts, and checking in on the status of invoices. Which brings up a good point about all this…if you are going through your week or month or year and discover that a particular theme day doesn’t seem to be working for you, or like me, you find that there’s something you’re not getting done that you’d benefit from fitting into your regular routine, change it up! I designed these planner sheets on my computer so I can change them up easily. I also don’t print out an entire year at once…I print out maybe a couple months out, just in case I want to make a change.

Say-NO Saturday

What you DON’T put on your calendar is just as important, if not more important, than what you do! On Saturday I write down the things I said no to that week which would have drained me, and write down what else I was able to do with that time that filled me up instead!  Don’t feel bad about what you turn down…celebrate what saying “no” gave back to you! 

Start Again Sunday

Sunday is my day to reflect, restore and re-focus. I reflect on the past week, take time to rest, and look ahead at next week’s plan.

My Other Binder Accessories…

There are a few other little things I have in my binder to help organize things…

While I don’t print out daily pages for an entire year up front, I do still want to have a place to jot down gigs, conventions, and other events that are farther out into the future, and be able to see a month at a glance. So, I got these blank monthly planner refills. I put each month’s spread right into my daily pages, so they work as dividers for my daily pages as well.

I like to be able to quickly flip to TODAY in my planner, so I also purchased a pack of these little snap-in bookmarks. I labeled one “TODAY,” and each day I move it farther into my planner to mark the day I’m on.

I purchased these little pockets that are great for stuffing small bits of mail, to-do lists, receipts, etc that I want to put with a project or month or day, but don’t want to hole punch.

“But I don’t think like this!”

Many of you are probably thinking, “But I’m an artist! I don’t think like this…I live in an organized chaos and bounce around from task to task. I could never live this organized!” But I’ll tell you, I’m the same way! I can get SO easily distracted by shiny things (literally and figuratively), and am always bouncing from thing to thing. I love crossing things off my list, but after a while, that bouncing can get mentally exhausting. One minute I’m working on one thing, and the next I am distracted by a new idea, or I remember something else I need to do that day/week. Having this method to my madness has removed a lot of the madness from my methods!! Now when I’m working away and an idea or task comes to mind, I don’t have to worry about forgetting it or it not getting done. I simply stop, and think about the urgency first. Did an order just come in and it needs to ship asap? Then I write it down on my “Do-Now’s” for the day. Can it wait a few days? Then I figure out which theme day it fits within best, and write it on THAT day’s “Do-Now’s.” Is it a new appointment or a family activity to schedule? I write it down under the commitments on whatever day’s page it is. The act of writing these things down gets them OUT of my head, so that I can cut off the distraction without losing the task, and more quickly get back to what I was focusing on that day.

Of course life happens, and many days the “theme” gets overridden by an event or something else more urgent. And that is totally fine! Remember, these theme days are just a guideline to help you get things done by focusing more each day on a particular task or bucket. You’ll always have “do-now’s” that jump in at a moment’s notice, and you’ll always have big ideas that you’d like to remember to work on someday. But I find that sorting my days by theme helps me to focus on one thing without fear of the others getting forgotten, and in turn, be more productive. In general I try to at least get all of my “Do-Now’s” done every day (the things that truly can’t wait), and the day’s commitments. Everything else I count as extra productivity. If I have to spend half the day running errands and don’t get to one task I had written down for one day, if it’s urgent I’ll move it to the next day’s “do-now’s,” but if it’s not super urgent, I’ll move it to that same theme day next week! Give yourself some grace and flexibility in the process!

I hope that you are able to find some method to the madness in 2021 that works for you!

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Glitter Glamper Becomes a Reality!

The ONLY thing photoshopped here is the logo decal…I’ll likely order a decal like this for now (I already have them on my storage trailer), but hope to have a real neon sign made down the road that can be hung on the outside while “open,” and then stowed away when driving!

If you’re a fan and follower of our Glitter Glamper on social media, you’ll know that on September 25th I took a huge leap of faith and purchased the REAL, live Glitter Glamper! Why was this such a huge leap of faith, you ask? After all, the Glitter Glamper was a raging success it’s first year at the Minnesota State Fair, and my concept had been proven beyond my wildest dreams without even having a physical Glamper yet! Well, as we all know, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, which has put a screeching halt to the event industry, and in turn, nearly all of my income, making it a big financial risk to take on the hope that “someday soon” we’d be back to “somewhat normal” life! Here are some of the factors that nudged me just far enough to put what’s left of my money where my now slightly shaky confidence was:

  1. With virtually all of my events cancelled since March, I had a little more TIME on my hands to work on a big project.
  2. With no income stream in sight for most of 2020, this may be a good year to create tax deductions!
  3. We WILL eventually get past Covid. Events WILL eventually come back. But in the meantime, even if they don’t come back with the volume they once were for a long time, having the ability to go mobile and set up “shop” outdoors at an event, where I can easily control the number of people within that 6′ radius at a time and sanitize as needed, is a huge plus! People may not be able to book a large indoor gathering for a while, but being able to spread out outdoors opens up unique covid-friendly opportunities.
  4. My current space at the state fair is inside a “cage” type booth, but even if they don’t have an outdoor space for this trailer in the near future, it can still be utilized at events around the Twin Cities. And, it MIGHT actually fit INSIDE my current “cage” space…hmm…I’m exploring possibilities. 😉
  5. I can’t leave out the fact that my husband has a much more stable job than I, which sustains us and our cost of living even during a pandemic…so I fully realize that I am incredibly fortunate and privileged in that respect. If my business fails, we won’t be on the streets (or crammed in the Glamper), and that is the one thing that gives me the ability to do these crazy things!

Essentially, I had decided even while working in an awesome and successful state fair booth last year, that I didn’t come this far only to come this far.

While I moved very fast on this purchase as soon as I saw it on Facebook marketplace, it was not an impulse decision. I have been researching and searching steadily for probably over 2 years. I knew from the beginning that I wanted a Shasta Airflyte. This is evident by the business cards I created, and Photoshopped rendering of what I wanted my booth to look like for the State Fair’s application. I knew I wanted one that was manufactured between 1961 (the year that Shasta started their iconic “wings”) and 1964 (when they moved their body design from the classic “canned ham” shape to a more boxy design). At least 12′ long would be ideal, and under 20′ for ease of pulling and squeezing into festivals. A bathroom would probably be impossible, but would be a major plus if I ever were to sleep over in it at a weekend event. I had seen plenty of vintage trailers that “would have worked,” but held out for that elusive dream. I spent countless hours killing time, scrolling through Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. I knew what was out there, what they were going for, and how much work I’d be getting into.

I got a little more serious when Covid hit, but still was starting to get to the point where I didn’t think what I had in my mind’s eye would ever become available, at least in my state or budget. But, just as things always work out the way they should, the wrong deals fell through and along the way made it so that I knew this was THE one when it turned up. Just when I was ready to settle for something other than a Shasta which also fell through (no title), and then let the whole idea go entirely and move on, I found it! The day before I went to pick it up I even got a call from a prospective client who was wondering if I really had a real camper that I could park at their curb for a covid friendly party. Um…please hold for just one day, haha!

Yes, I’m wearing tiny earrings with tiny red & white campers. Hehe!

I have a LOT of catching up to do on the progress of this thing on my blog, so I’m starting with some of the bigger things I’ve worked on so far, and will be sharing a lot more in upcoming posts!

So, back in September I purchased this 1963 Shasta! It really had everything I was hoping for, even an elusive bathroom! The bathroom is suuuper teeny, but it was a wish list item in the event that I ever take this trailer to a weekend festival or fair somewhere and spend the night in it, enabling me to work at an event out of town and save money on lodging. The goal here is to have a camper that embodies my “Glitter Glamper” brand, that functions for the work I want to do in it, and still remains camp-able. Another huge plus with this one was that it wan’t totally falling apart, the floor wasn’t rotting and in need of total replacement (we already went through that with our family camper and I did NOT want to tackle a floor again), it was clean and cute and mostly original! The exterior does not match my imagined turquoise on my business graphics, however, I have decided to stick with red and white. Red is my favorite color, I love how much bolder and eye catching this combination is (which is important for a business), and it gives me future potential to rent it out as a photographer’s backdrop for holiday photos! Later on I’ll show you the history of layered paint jobs on this thing, but for now, here’s where I started…

Interior the day I bought it! The tiny bathroom is in the back right corner closet.
This is the front dinette, which will become my main work space.

After some research in my vintage Shasta Facebook groups I learned that what I have here is not actually an Airflyte, but a Shasta 16-SC. (Ariflytes apparently didn’t come with the bathroom!) The 16 I believe refers to the length, as it is 16 feet bumper to hitch. No worries though…I wasn’t married to the Airflyte model as much as I was married to those WINGS! (Which I don’t believe are original on mine…I’ll tackle that later!)

We had a family camping trip planned for the same day that I bought this, so it was tough to bring it home, park it, and then scramble to head out of town and leave it behind! Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get back home and get to work! The first thing I did was curtains! I know, probably the least important thing…but this is something I knew I could do quickly and make a big visual impact for very little money! I found the shiniest fancy fabric at a local fabric warehouse, and crocheted overly dramatic tiebacks using glittery yarn and hanging crystals! Do you expect anything less for the Glamper? I think not!

Crocheted tiebacks, as blingy as possible, haha!
New, shiny curtains that scream “Glitter Glamper!”
Of course I have my “Friends of the Fair” decal on the window!

Since September I’ve been working on it a little almost every day, racing against the clock and Minnesota’s impending winter to do as much as I can before it has to be put away for winter! The most immediate things that had to be done were really just sealing up cracks and crevices to keep mice out over winter, however, I really wanted to get it looking like the GLAMPER and not your average camper, as much as possible, so that it would be as ready as possible for events come spring. In order to actually physically WORK out of this camper though, I really needed to make space for a work station and chair space for customers.

We got a freak October snowfall this year…it’s gone now, but this shot was enough for me to agree that she must remain red & white…this is just SCREAMING to be set up for Christmas photo shoots!!

Time to start some of the dreaded DEMO!

I decided to remove the dinette to make my work area. While I originally figured I’d have to buy a camper in much worse shape and gut it, this one is really beautiful inside and original. SO, my goal has now become to make this camper be what I need it to be for my work and deliver the full Glitter Glamper experience, but still preserve as much of it’s original design as possible. For this reason I very carefully removed the dinette and have saved all of the original pieces, should I want to ever convert it back to a camper just for camping. (I currently have my state fair booth components tucked away in a storage trailer, so I was able to squeak these parts into the trailer for now)

Pulling out the dinette served another purpose though, to remove the front wood panel which had some rot to take care of, and access the front left corner where pervious owners had hit a deer. This corner was pretty beaten up…not too bad looking from outside but once I removed the booth I could see daylight through the floor, could crumble pieces of the framing with my fingers, and could actually reach my hand down to the ground if I wanted to. Not a hole I would want to leave open for winter! It also greatly compromised the structure itself.

These old Shastas were constructed surprisingly poorly back then. The framing is not one nice, solid, curved piece of wood, but rather, these are made with a bunch of little pieces of wood stapled together to form the curves. If you were to pull the siding off of the outside of a Shasta, what you’d see would look much like something pieced together from the scrap bin. I learned this, among many other things, from the vintage Shasta owner Facebook groups I’m in! So, between the rot and the deer damage, there was really nothing attaching the front left corner of the trailer to the walls or floor. The front panel of aluminum was actually flopping loose as well, once I took the booth out!

Removing the booth, piece by piece! I saved all the original wood facing, cushions, platform and tabletops in my Glamper storage trailer if I ever want to put it back.
After removing the whole booth and the front wood panel which had rot in the corners. Luckily the rot had not spread to anywhere else!
Removing the damaged and rotted wood. I didn’t even have to cut anything here…that is how long the original piece was.

Gah! This part is ugly! Time for a “pretty” break!!!

Okay, so far this is probably the ugliest piece of the whole project…and was a little daunting. I admit that to keep motivated and keep my eyes on the prize, I had to occasionally turn my gaze back to the other side of the camper, look at the parts that didn’t need replacing, and sprinkle in a few more creative mini-projects. I do this a lot in work and life in general…I often bounce from one thing to the next. It helps me get through the boring parts of business ownership like accounting and paperwork while still keeping motivated with the creative, artistic side! 😉

I painted and blinged out several small mirrors to hang in the Glamper!
Hanging mini LED lights, and setting up some fun accessories from my state fair booth! The afghan my grandma made and happens to match perfectly, and I found the mermaid sequin pillow at a thrift store!
I bought this wood sign at a thrift store years ago. It fit perfectly above the door (after removing a little spice rack that was not original to the camper), so I coated it in glitter and stuck it up there!

Okay, let’s go back to the dirty work….

So, I set to work pushing out the dent as much as I could, cutting new wood to replace the rotted and crumbling pieces that had broken in the collision, re-attaching the aluminum siding from the outside, re-attaching the framing to the floor itself, filling up any remaining cracks with rodent-resistent spray foam & caulk.

Removing old wood
Replacing with fresh wood
Closing up the wall after filling gaps and insulation

Removing the booth, of course, left me with a patch of unfinished floor. I’m still thinking about what I want to do with the final floor surface, but in the meantime I needed to at least bring the newly exposed floor up so it sits flush with the rest of the newer sub floor that the previous owner had put in. This involved scraping off the original tile to expose the original subfloor, and putting in a new piece.

Removing old, loose, curling tile with a chisel
After I cleaned the subfloor and cut a new piece, I laid down some construction adhesive.
New floor laid down and ready for screws! Now the floor matches up with the rest of the floor, so I can decide what to do with tile.
Now to find a fresh piece of birch paneling to close up the front wall!

Now that the deer hole/dent is fixed and everything is secure and stable, and the floor is all level, I just need to find some 1/8″ birch paneling or plywood (tougher to find than you’d think!) to close up that front wall, and can get to work finishing the floor and building a work station that will sit over the water tank! So this left corner is where my customer will sit in a tall chair, and the right corner is where my paint/glitter kit will sit!

Honestly I’m thankful that this was all I had to pull out…so many of these trailers seem to have a little rot, then when you pull off a panel it reveals a major problem requiring a complete frame-up rebuild! My husband is going to help re-attach the water pump and re-route the water, and we’ll do a bunch of electrical work. Now I just need to land on a flooring solution…fill in this space with the existing tile, or replace the whole camper with something…GLITTERY?

Okay, this was a long post with a bunch of things I’ve been working on earlier on in the process…next time I’ll share some more of the fun cosmetic things I’ve done! Stay tuned!!

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Are You A Potato or an Egg?

Are you a potato, or an egg?

One of the best things about being my own boss, is that for the most part, I get to decide what I want to do, and when to do it. I can choose to take a gig or pass it on to someone else. I can decide to do more of what fills me up, and less of what doesn’t. Most self employed artists embrace and understand this, though when times get tough, we tend to forget some of our superpowers. Like we can choose to pick ourselves back up, or choose to wallow in self pity.

Lately I have seen so many of my fellow artists in one of two camps. One group is doing everything they can to remain positive, in the face of crippling financial hardship. They are using their newfound free time to do good and spread positivity, controlling what they can and letting go of what they can’t.

The other is curling up into a ball in their hole of despair, making comments like “well, I guess I’ll never paint again.” or “everything I’ve ever worked for is now completely worthless.”

I know that the state of the world is absolutely devastating to the core of us who rely on a thriving event industry for our bread & butter. My business of 25 years has come to a 100% screeching halt just like the rest of yours. What puts me into group #1, however, is that I have not given up my I’m-my-own-boss power. I am using it to not only decide whether to work in my pj’s today, but to decide that my circumstances don’t create my joy.

No, I’m not happy that I have no gigs in the foreseeable future. I am not happy that nobody else does either, and as a result nobody is ordering supplies from my shop. No, I’m not happy that my credit card debt is going to grow, and my income will not fund any family fun this summer. I’m not happy that my birthday was spent in quarantine. I’m not happy that my dad had a stroke right before the “stuff” hit the fan, and nobody is allowed to visit him in the hospital. I’m not happy, no, but I am joyful and that is what keeps me going.

I love this definition of happiness vs joy that I found via Google search:

Happiness may dwell on materialistic, worldly pleasure while joy is derived from soul satisfying, emotional well being.”

-diffen.com

What satisfies your soul? For me, it is absolutely my faith. I can’t imagine how people can get through things like this without it. For a lot of us, especially artists, it is also doing what we love to do…what we were created to do!

If you’re having trouble finding any positives in your current situation, try gratitude…yes…in ALL circumstances. Challenge yourself to find something to be thankful for every day. Sometimes a perspective shift is in order.

  • I’m thankful that I’m now forced to snuggle my boys & watch movies on my couch, while so many health care workers now can’t be close to or hug their own kids.
  • I’m thankful that I still have my talents, and can use them for so much more than my income.
  • I’m thankful that I don’t live in an abusive home
  • I’m thankful for Amazon, and my full cupboards.
  • I’m thankful for a home with multiple rooms, and a yard to play in.
  • I’m thankful for our health.
  • I’m thankful that I’m able to work from home.
  • I’m thankful for the technology that lets me see my family & friends’ faces and hear their voices.
  • I’m thankful for puzzles, perler beads and Neftlix.
  • I’m thankful that winter is on it’s way out.
  • I’m thankful for memes that make me giggle.
  • I’m thankful for our many parks that allow us to get outside while social distancing.

What are YOU doing?

“Well, I guess I’ll never paint again.” To this I say, why not? Sure, we face painters may move from painting on kids at parties to painting on practice heads, boards, and our own kids until this all passes. But the beautiful thing about painting is that you can do it anywhere! If the only reason you painted faces to begin with was to be paid at parties, it may not have been your calling after all. We don’t create our own circumstances, but our circumstances can reveal the person. Yes, even positive people are entitled to their own occasional pity party. But don’t let that be the new definition of you! Get your cry out and get back to creating!

You have control over whether you keep doing art or not. You now also have control over what you create, when and how you create it…no clients to satisfy, just yourself! Take advantage of that! I’ve seen artists sharing their huge, new design boards they’ve created this past week. I’ve seen artists painting designs to reflect their current struggles, depicting our current world through their eyes. I’ve seen artists sharing their gifts with others. Sewing masks. Decorating sidewalks. Making cards for the elderly.

What I’m Doing…

I can’t control the timing of when my income will return. But I can choose to make the most of this thing I ALWAYS seem to wish I had more of but money can’t buy: time!

The irony is not lost on me. So often I wish I had more TIME…the thing money can’t buy…because I’m so busy spending what time I do have trying to earn the money that can’t buy it, and spend what little extra time I have well. Now that we have no source of income, we find ourselves almost drowning in this elusive, priceless gift of time. Will we spend it well or waste it, only to long for it again when our work picks up?

For now I’m just taking it one day at a time. Having kids really helps because you HAVE to be positive for them. They are watching. All. The. Time. And learning from their parents how to react to tough situations. Right now we are on spring break, so I’m trying to let it be just that…a regular spring break with no strict schedules. They’ll get back to that soon enough when our district’s e-learning plans start. For now, they spend the week with mom, having fun and being creative, just less going out to movies & playgrounds…

Over the weekend I took advantage of the chance to give a little art lesson to my boys! Art imitates life, so I decided to do a still-life project with the subject being a roll of toilet paper!

Still life art lessons with Mom!

We are each creating 9 little pieces, using 9 different mediums, on little squares of paper that are exactly the same size as a sheet of TP! The boys learned about drawing cylinders, how ellipses change with perspective, how to shade, and use some fun tools they’ve never used!

We now have a puzzle table set up, which we’ve really never done. My boys are helping me cook more…

…we’ve gotten out our huge stash of perler beads and are creating a growing honeycomb art piece. My boys have even been helping me sort and organize my gem stash!!

As for my work, I’ve been able to start some projects that have been waiting on the back burner, like creating new stencils for my shop that are designed to be used with my new tutu bling, and painted tutus with 3D fairy wings! (Follow our Facebook page to find out when these stencils are available in the shop!) I’m remaining hopeful that the MN State Fair will happen, and preparing for the Glitter Glamper‘s 2nd year! And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be super prepared for 2021!!

I’m also already working on the next issue of Wet Paint Magazine. Not because it will make me any money, because it has yet to make any profit for me…it’s purely something I create because I love to do it, and it’s mission is to uplift, inspire, and encourage my fellow artists…something we ALL need right now!

Will you let this change you for the better?

I was in a wonderful Zoom call with over 20 other artists around the country last week, put on by Lori Hurley. My favorite quote from the call was when Steve Klein said, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

The Big Question…

So, I ask you again…are you an egg or a potato? Will you choose to let your circumstances turn you into mush, or will you allow them to make you stronger than ever before? Whether you use your talents to uplift your family in quarantine, or your greater community, show the world what you’re made of! Your circumstances can’t take away your talent, or even your joy, if it comes from the right source! Stay strong painty friends! Hope and joy are just as contagious as fear! What are YOU choosing to spread?

What have YOU been doing to keep your sanity in quarantine? How are your kids keeping entertained? How are you using your art to spread hope and joy? Please share in the comments! We all could use some more ideas for the days and weeks to come!

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Use your DOWN time to UPlift: Flood your Friends’ Accounts with Positivity!

Hey entertainer friends! Let’s use our “down” time to “UPlift” our fellow small business owners! Chances are you’ve worked with many artists who have their own business. Let’s use this time we have to lift each other up by leaving positive reviews!! Not made up ones of course, but share your positive experiences working with or for your peers. Lets flood our social media and business listings with great reasons for people to hire each other, once this all blows over and people start planning events again!! I’m planning to go through this list of sites and find all my friends over the coming weeks and lift them up! Who’s with me? Please feel free to share this jpeg and include any links needed for some sites that require them for reviews! We got this!

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Coronavirus and Face Painting: Tips for Artists and Event Planners

Keeping the face painting process hygienic has always been an important concern for artists and parents alike, although it’s getting a lot more buzz lately on social media with the latest outbreak of Coronavirus.

Whether you are someone who is living in fear of contracting the virus, someone who thinks it’s all media hype, or are somewhere in between, is really irrelevant. The fact is that however real the risk is, and whether we personally react to it at all or not, it IS affecting our business as entertainers. I live in Minnesota and recently started hearing of artists having events cancelled due to Coronavirus, when we hadn’t even had a single confirmed case yet. A lot more of this is happening in other parts of the country, so it’s a topic worth discussing. I am no doctor or infectious disease expert, but here are my thoughts on this and any virus this time of year, as they pertain to our industry!

Advice for artists & entertainers

Several artists have asked me what my common sense opinion is on this current situation. I actually wrote about this topic 5 years ago, and it all still applies for artists today, and really every day. If you are a face painter, I highly recommend reading this post and evaluating your practices. Make any changes you feel are needed, and let your clients know what you are doing to prevent the spread of germs. Here are just a few simple ways you can help stop the spread of germs:

  • If you use sponges, use only one per child, whether they are disposable or you wash/sanitize them later, & don’t double-dip. (I avoid sponges almost entirely)
  • Don’t paint over lips with your brushes. There is no need; there are plenty of disposable lip application tools out there. (see my older blog post)
  • Keep your rinse water clean by changing it often. Use multiple basins to keep dirty water and fresh water separate.
  • Rinse your brushes well between kids. For an extra precaution, bring a little jar of 70% alcohol to swish them in between faces.
  • Use hand sanitizer between customers & wash hands well whenever possible.
  • Keep disinfectant wipes/sprays on hand to clean your equipment periodically.
  • Allow your paints to dry thoroughly between events.
  • Wash and sanitize all brushes, sponges, towels, etc between events.
  • Don’t paint over open wounds or on visibly sick kids.
  • For an extra precaution, wipe the area to be painted with 70% alcohol wipes before you begin. I already do this when attaching bling, so wiping a larger area is no big deal.
  • Do what you can to boost your own immune system with whatever healthy foods and supplements are available that you like!

Advice for event planners looking to hire entertainers

If you have hired a professional artist who takes hygiene seriously like I do, then I would venture to guess that kids are at greater risk interacting with each other waiting in line for painting, than they are sitting in my chair. Any time a large group of people gather in one place, the spread of germs is a given. However, here are a few things you might consider when lining up entertainment for your event:

  • Ask the artists you hire what their hygiene practices are. If anything is lacking or bothers you, ask them what they can do to alleviate your concerns.
  • Hire a real professional. Someone who’s livelihood depends on happy, healthy clients is way more likely to invest in sanitary practices and the expensive, FDA compliant products we use that contain antimicrobial properties.
  • Hire enough artists for your crowd size. Long lines means more bodies in close quarters. The quicker you can get kids through the line and back to the event, the less time they’ll be bunched up, potentially coughing on each other while they wait!
  • Provide hand sanitizer for your guests. If you are providing a volunteer line manager to help the kids form a line and choose designs, this is a great job for them!
  • If face painting still makes you or your guests really uneasy, try adding on something else that doesn’t involve touching the face, like balloon twisting or glitter tattoos. Or, request that your artist only paint on arms. Our bling bar is another great option that can be done with no brushes or sponges involved!
  • Know that we care. As artists we want all of your guests to have an awesome experience! And trust us, this is a subject we are concerned with all the time, not just during a widespread public outbreak. It is in our own best interest to keep things sanitary too! We drop ourselves right down into the center of crowds of kids on a regular basis. Kids cough and sneeze directly into our faces often, so we are always vigilant. We don’t like getting sick either, so you can rest assured we are doing everything we can to keep our stations healthy, for you AND ourselves! 😉

With any virus outbreak, you have to use your own judgement depending on your location and your own event’s setup. But, if you are an artist, I hope that this post has given you some ideas to step your sanitary practices up a notch. If you’re an event planner, I hope that this helps to ease your mind to know how hard we work any day of the year, not just cold & flu season, to keep your guests healthy and safe!

More Resources & Information

World Health Organization: The WHO has issued an event planning guide. Check it out here. It is meant to be read in conjunction with their Key Considerations for Public Health for Mass Gatherings.

The Center for Disease Control: The CDC has also issued a statement about mass gatherings as they relate to coronavirus.

They also have posted the best household cleaning recommendations for killing the virus here, and have a list of EPA approved products here.

Interactive Map: For an interactive map of the spread of coronavirus, check out this map by Johns Hopkins.

Got some of your own tips and tricks that I didn’t cover here or in my more extensive post on hygiene? Please feel free to comment and share!

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How much paint do I need?

One of my most frequently asked questions that I get from my customers is, “how many faces can I paint with this set?” or, “I’m painting [x number of] kids; how much paint do I need?”

Many other online retailers will give you a number of how many faces their palette will do.  I totally understand, as I know it helps you to estimate how much you need, and they would probably get this same question over and over if they did not assign some sort of number. However, realistically it is impossible to give a real solid estimate for many reasons.  There are many factors that affect how long your paint will stretch:

Size of the designs. 

Are you doing small “cheek art,” partial faces, or full face designs?  Smaller cheek art will make your paint last MUCH longer than full faces, for obvious reasons.  Covering an entire face with white will take up probably the same amount of paint that doing 15-20 unicorns or rainbow clouds on smaller cheek designs.  Even the size of your cheek art itself can make a huge difference.  Do you paint small, or do you make your designs as large as you can to fill the cheek?  Over hundreds of faces, that can make a big difference.  Here are some examples of the differences among these levels of designs:

Cheek Art
Partial Face
Full Face

Range of colors in your designs. 

Are you displaying a board of designs that use all colors of the rainbow?  Or are you doing a Christmas event where you’ll be using a lot more green and red than other colors?  If you’re using all colors relatively evenly, a rainbow palette should work great as a starting point for many events.  If you’re planning to use a lot more of certain colors, larger, individual cakes will ensure you don’t run out, or a few extra palette refills of the colors you’re using most.  And keep in mind, even if your design menu reflects a wide range of colors, you still can’t guarantee you’ll use them evenly.  I can’t tell you how many times I do one unicorn, and then every girl after that wants the same thing, making me use a lot more white than other colors.

How much water you use.  

Being that the paints are water based, you’ll be using water on your brushes and sponges to apply it.  The amount of water you use when you paint, coupled with the above factors, can mean the difference of your paints lasting through one gig or through a year’s worth of gigs.  More water will stretch your paints farther, but give you less vivid and opaque colors.  Less water can make your paints bright and bold, but run out quicker.  Every artist will have their own unique ratio that they like to work with.

What type of paint you use. 

With some brands, metallic and UV paints can require more water and more paint to get them to a good covering consistency than the regular standard colors, because they are made up of different ingredients. If you use these more sparingly as accents like I do, they will last you years.  But if you are trying to paint a tin man and make his entire face look like silver, you could easily use up most of a large cake, whereas the same size cake of a standard blue (maybe you’re dressing up as Blue Man Group for Halloween?), could cover several people’s faces, arms and hands.

How many artists are painting.  

It would logistically be very hard for more than two artists to share a palette.  You could theoretically have one artist on either side of a table with one palette, and then you’ll have your “subject” in front of each artist.  Having had to share paints in the past myself before, I’d prefer to have my own palette to work from.  But, at the bare minimum, if you’re doing a charity event with low budget and can’t spring for a palette for each artist, I’d suggest at least 1 palette per 2 artists.  Some artists may use more paint than others as well due to the other factors I mentioned, so increasing the amount of paint you have on hand will help ensure you have enough.  Every artist needs their own set of brushes as well…you do not want one artist sitting there painting nobody because he or she is waiting for the outline brush from another artist…otherwise there is no point in having more than one painter.

“So how do I estimate then?!”

So, you may be saying, now what?  How am I supposed to estimate what I need?!  Many other face paint supply websites will claim some number of faces you can paint with their sets, but the reality is now obvious, that it really depends on too many things to give an accurate number.  Just know that these numbers are only estimates, based on one person who is making an assumption about how and what you will be painting.

Here are my recommendations to help you decide whether you need a palette set, or the larger individual colors…

Get Refillable Palettes if:

• You are doing a one-time gig, helping out at your local school or church event. (I also put together a Smile Painter Set package for people in your situation, which includes instruction, a design sample sheet, and brushes)

• You already have a full professional kit but would like to play around with a bunch of new colors and affects before investing in the larger cakes.

• You just want to have a set of quality paints around to do your kids’ faces every year for Halloween or for their birthdays. Any of the palettes are a great option for you. I’d recommend starting with a set of the bright, standard colors in a 6 to 12 color set.  If you want to add more excitement to your selection, you can always try out the metallics or fluorescent makeup later.  You can even build your own set and mix and match, depending on the brand.  You can always purchase more refill cakes to replace any that run out down the road!

  • Global Caribbean 6-Color Palette
    Global Caribbean 6-Color Palette
    $25.00
  • Global Basic 6-Color Palette
    Global Basic 6-Color Palette
    $25.00
  • Fusion 24-color Ultimate Face Painting Palette
    Fusion 24-color Ultimate Face Painting Palette
    $49.95
  • Fusion 12-Color Sample Palette
    Fusion 12-Color Sample Palette
    $30.00
  • Wolfe Hydrocolor 6-Color Basic Mini Palette
    Wolfe Hydrocolor 6-Color Basic Mini Palette
    $6.00
  • Wolfe Hydrocolor 6-Color Monster Palette
    Wolfe Hydrocolor 6-Color Monster Palette
    $16.00
  • Wolfe Hydrocolor 6-Color Basic Palette
    Wolfe Hydrocolor 6-Color Basic Palette
    $16.00
  • Mehron Paradise AQ Palette Refills .25oz
    Mehron Paradise AQ Palette Refills .25oz
    $7.38

Get the large, individual cakes if:

• You are planning to paint at a very large event with hundreds of kids

• You are only going to be using a few colors on everyone (example: painting only with the school colors at a football game)

• You are a professional who goes through a lot of paint. (also check out our Business Starter Kit!”)

• You don’t need the palette packaging itself and you refill your own paint containers.

  • Mehron Paradise AQ 1.5oz Makeup
    Mehron Paradise AQ 1.5oz Makeup
    $11.99
  • Cameleon Baseline 32 g Makeup
    Cameleon Baseline 32 g Makeup
    $8.25
  • Fusion Standard Colors  32gr
    Fusion Standard Colors 32gr
    $7.00$8.50
  • Mehron Paradise AQ 1.5oz Makeup
    Mehron Paradise AQ 1.5oz Makeup
    $11.99

Get a mix of BOTH palettes and large cakes if:

• You are a professional who wants a small, portable set (palette boxes) but use enough that you’ll be refilling them a lot.  (You can buy the larger cakes of each color to keep at home, and refill your little palette box as needed out of that “stash,” saving money per ounce over the palette refills.)

• You are doing a small gig but plan on using more of certain colors, such as more red and green at a holiday event or school colors at a football game. (Get a multi-color palette, plus add larger cakes of the colors you expect to use a lot more of)

Add these other items if desired:

• Brushes: I’d recommend a set for each artist at minimum: a #5 and #2 round to cover both larger areas and outlining, for smaller designs and basic cheek art. Add in a 3/4″ flat brush if you are planning on using any one strokes, and a larger round brush for full faces.

  • Princeton Round Brushes
    Princeton Round Brushes
    $4.75$7.65
  • Loew-Cornell 795 Series Round Brushes
    Loew-Cornell 795 Series Round Brushes
    $3.29$4.89
  • Loew-Cornell 7000 Series Round Brushes
    Loew-Cornell 7000 Series Round Brushes
    $5.19$7.29
  • TAG #12 Flat Brush
    TAG #12 Flat Brush
    $7.00
  • Mehron Paradise Prisma Brushes
    Mehron Paradise Prisma Brushes
    $7.50$8.75

• Sponges: If you plan to do full-face designs or do quick rainbows with a rainbow palette, a sponge will cover very large areas very quickly.

  • Paint Pal Lux Petal Sponges - set of 6
    Paint Pal Lux Petal Sponges – set of 6
    $7.00
  • Paint Pal Black Mesh Sponge Bag
    Paint Pal Black Mesh Sponge Bag
    $7.00
  • Black Triangular Foam Wedge Sponge
    Black Triangular Foam Wedge Sponge
    $0.50
  • Loew-Cornell Rough Stippling Brush
    Loew-Cornell Rough Stippling Brush
    $3.00
  • Ruby Red 50-Pack Disposable Sponges
    Ruby Red 50-Pack Disposable Sponges
    $13.00
  • Mini White Petal Sponges
    Mini White Petal Sponges
    $4.00
  • Round Artists' Sponge
    Round Artists’ Sponge
    $0.85
  • Foam Lollipop Blenders
    Foam Lollipop Blenders
    $0.49
  • Natural Sea Sponge
    Natural Sea Sponge
    $2.50
  • Black Stipple Sponge
    Black Stipple Sponge
    $1.50
  • Round, Black Sponge
    Round, Black Sponge
    $0.75
  • Ruby Red Petal Sponge Set
    Ruby Red Petal Sponge Set
    $10.00

• Glitter: If you want to add some sparkle, the “multi” and “blue violet” work great on every color of paint, but there are many colors if you want to have a lot of fun with it!

  • Mama Clown Fruit Punch Glitter
    Mama Clown Fruit Punch Glitter
    $5.00
  • Glimmer Cosmetic Glitter Palette - 30 Colors
    Glimmer Cosmetic Glitter Palette – 30 Colors
    $95.00
  • Art Factory Loose Cosmetic Glitter
    Art Factory Loose Cosmetic Glitter
    $3.99$4.99
  • Amerikan Body Art Liquid Bling .5oz
    Amerikan Body Art Liquid Bling .5oz
    $5.99
  • Mehron Glitter Dust
    Mehron Glitter Dust
    $5.63
  • Mama Clown White Fairy Dust Glitter
    Mama Clown White Fairy Dust Glitter
    $5.00
  • Amerikan Body Art Loose Cosmetic Glitter
    Amerikan Body Art Loose Cosmetic Glitter
    $4.00

• Books and Design MenusIf you’ve just started getting into face painting and need a little more instruction on how to paint and face painting specifically

  • Entertainment Business Magic by Lori Hurley
    Entertainment Business Magic by Lori Hurley
    $44.99
  • Christmas Design Menu
    Christmas Design Menu
    $3.00$9.00
  • Halloween Design Menu
    Halloween Design Menu
    $3.00$9.00
  • Classic Carnival Design Menu
    Classic Carnival Design Menu
    $3.00$9.00
  • Jewelry for Face & Body Artists
    Jewelry for Face & Body Artists
    $19.99
  • One Stroke Face Painting
    One Stroke Face Painting
    $25.00$27.99
  • Painting Boys
    Painting Boys
    $14.99
  • Realism for Face And Body Artists
    Realism for Face And Body Artists
    $29.99
  • Funny Fingers Hand Art
    Funny Fingers Hand Art
    $14.99