Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Simplest and Most Complex Question in Face Painting

I consider this a follow-up to my "What kind of painter are you?" essay that I wrote years ago and I've just republished. This is to answer probably the most asked question of overwhelmed new painters. What kind of paint should I buy? Which paint is the best? What paint should I use for line work? It's the question that makes every experienced painter cringe because the answer is complex. There is no BEST PAINT. They all have different attributes and every painter will have a different response for the question. Here is mine...

First, you need to ask yourself, "What do I want to do with my paints?" Are you applying a base color? Do you want crisp line work? Doing One-stroke designs?

Line Work Paints
These are what I consider line work paints that work best with a brush but I consider a little too thick to sponge..YOU CAN sponge them, but it's almost like wearing a mask for the client. Those would be Wolfe, Dfx, Cameleon, TAG, Party Xplosion and regular Kryvaline. These kind of paints are very pigmented and flow well off a brush. Some of the paints are TOO pigmented and tend to stain like Lt. Green, Teal, Dark Blue. If you do use them for large areas of base work, I would suggest using them thinly like the Wolfe Brothers do. You can see that they put it on rather wet and then smooth and pat it with the back of their sponge. It's a well establish "rumor" that they are all created, with slight color variations in the same plant in China and so are called "China Paints" by some.

It is hard to blend these types of paint into each other because they dry so quickly, that's why they are actually better in pre-made rainbows or loaded in segments on a damp sponge and blended on the face. If you try to put them on the face separately, you will get lap lines where the colors meet. The pearl/metallics are a little more forgiving and can be blended a little easier without overlap.

One-strokes made of these kinds of paints are actually pretty good because they are bright and thick so it's easy to layer them over the top of bases. I generally don't like metallic/pearl one-strokes. They don't have the white base like the regular colors so are hard to get intense enough to show...same with the neons. You really have to work up the paint.

It's easy to make your own splits, one-strokes and rainbows out of these because they have almost a clay texture. The metallics, however, are soft or crumbly so take a little more work.

Interesting note, I don't use line work paints for lips because I've found that they make my own lips tingle and go numb and it happens often to children. I use Paradise or Global on lips. Paradise tastes the best.

Base Paints
These are soft glycerin based paints that are best sponged. They are usually more "oily" feeling so they keep "open" for longer and so can be blended with each other more easily without overlapping. These would be Paradise, Kryolan, Snazaroo and FAB/Superstar Shimmers. 

I haven't used Kryolan but from what I've seen from Ronnie Mena and Jocelyn, it's intended to be sponged on thinly and they like it's blendablity and that almost translucent look. They have a sponge per color and apply the colors separately and they seemlessly blend with each other. That also means that they need Mehron liquid paint added to them for line work. I tried a Kryolan neon rainbow once (the only kind of Kryolan rainbow I've seen) and hated it. I probably used way too much water for a glycerin paint and it didn't dry enough for me to put line work over. I really think it's meant to be a potted color and patted on and blended thinly. 

Paradise is creamy to touch, even when dry and blends well with itself so you can apply it separately too. The colors are a little more muted and soft. They have rainbows called Prisma that you can use as one-strokes, but they are very creamy so it's hard for newbies to have good water control with them. Paradise Prisma cakes last a really long time a lot of people love them for sponged rainbows because of the blendabilty. I like using Paradise for lips, eyes and for dragged lines (like skulls and the Joker) It smells almost like cocoa butter suntan lotion so I also like having some white for muzzles so it's pleasant for the client unlike the China paints that have a fishy smell.

Snazaroo gets a lot of guff but I think it's for a couple of reasons. You CAN'T do line work with them. Some good painters have mastered them, but I find that this is the single biggest reason new painters give up on Snaz. If they would just buy some black and white in a line work paint, they would be much happier. They also tend to dry matte so they don't seem as vibrant as other brands. I have made splits with Snaz WHEN IT'S FRESH but it tends to dry out and get crumbly over time so make your splits immediately if you are planning on it. Big bonus for Snaz is the availability. You can get it in craft stores and in most countries.

Tip: Stencils are so much easier to get right with base paints. They don't require as much water and they are creamy so they don't seep under stencils like China paints do.

Hybrid is probably an overused word but to me it means that a paint can be both a line work paint and makes a good base. I've actually been majorly happy with FAB/Superstar regular colors in this regard. I didn't try the rest of the FAB line for a long time because I was having a really hard time using gold and silver shimmers with a brush (they've since improved a bit) but they tended to stick in my brush and not flow like TAG or Wolfe. However, when I gave up trying to use the Shimmers as line work paints, I've fallen in love with them because they are so smooth and easy to work with with a SPONGE. I have a whole rainbow of shimmers now and LOVE them. 

Then, when I was at a workshop at the Art Factory, I got to try the regular FAB paint colors and was blown away because they were creamy, but were doing great as a line work paint. What this means is that they stay open and travel better so you can literally get more paint out of the brush and onto the client before it dries. AND...and you can blend them. Not quite as good as Paradise, but pretty close. I now have a whole set of about 30+ colors of FAB. I've also learned to mix a regular color (or Global) with a shimmer if I want to do shimmery line work. I'm considering playing with FAB for custom one-strokes. I've really liked Silly Farm's Rose and Ruby Sky and I think they are made from FAB. There are a couple of pinks that stain, but I've heard they are fixing them...and ironically, the color that stain in most other brands...the blues...don't stain. (You must get Ziva Blue)

Global is another that I would consider hybrid paint but for a different reason. Global is very hard...almost TOO hard when you first try it. It seems like it will never work up! However, this attribute also makes Global a great paint in the heat. It can take a licking (and a lot of water) and not turn into mush. I consider it a hybrid because when you do finally get it worked up, it has a creaminess to it like Paradise and so it stays open longer so you can get a lot more line work done or more one-stroke. Global Funstrokes are my favorite brand of one-strokes right now because the cakes last FOREVER! It doesn't get soft and wet like the other paints, so you aren't digging too much paint out and that also means it stays flatter on top. I am finding that I have to make my own combos though, because I only have a few of the pre-made ones that I love.

The thing I love best about Global is that they use mica powders to color the paints so they DON'T stain and most come off with a cloth and water. This means that I don't have to feel guilty when I put a green snake or a Batman on a boy or a Frozen crown on a girl. This has given me a lot of freedom that I didn't have before and almost all of my rainbows and one-strokes are Global. I have all of the dark Global colors in my kit now and they are great for line work, double dipping and the Magenta is my go-to for lips. The neons are really nice and bright and actually pretty opaque when worked up properly.

Hint: Kryvaline has a "creamy" line of paints which I was told is the same as Global.

That is my summation and opinion of the major brands on the market. I'm going to put in a separate post the kit I would make for myself, knowing what I know now.

What Kind of Painter Are You?

This was first posted on the Face Paint Forum and I've since edited it a few times to add instructors and paint brands...

"This ended up being an essay...sorry it's so long but I hope it helps you decide what type of painter you are and then you can buy paints that match your style...I often give the advice that find your favorite painter and buy the kind of paints that they use. That will be a great start and guide you in the direction you should go so you don't waste a lot of money trying everything.

Kerry Ann DePetro's Fabulous Line Work

Sponge and Line

From what I've seen at conferences and online is there are basically two types of painters. The first type are sponge and #4 round brush painters/instructors: Pashur, Wolfe Brothers, Mark Reid, Kerry Ann DePetro, Christina Davison, Ronnie Mena, Jay Bautista, Jocelyn Casdorph, etc. and they have the basic 12 single pots of colors (or monochromatic splits like Wolfe Brothers), a good black and white (usually Wolfe) and they have a limited amount of brushes...maybe 5...that they use TOTAL.  These type of painters are VERY good at line work. They are able to sponge on blobs on the face and then make them look ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS with their finishing line work. These types of painters usually like to use glycerine base colors that blend because they blend the sponge work right on the face. They have a sponge for every color and use the edges of the sponges to map out a design and the backs of the sponges to blend. They rarely use any split cakes.
If you are that type of painter you will want to use Kryolan, Paradise and FAB and other softer glycerine based paints and Wolfe or DFX black and white for line work and highlights and will have a limited brush collection.

Jenny Saunders Layered Work
Layering and Embellishments

The second type of painter/instructors are teaching a combination of sponging and one-stroke brush techniques. The instructors that teach this style are Heather Green (from Silly Farm), Marcela Murad, Lisa Joy Young, Cameron Garret, Karen Harvey, Jenny Saunders, Laura Oliver, myself and I'll count Lynne Jamison in this group. 
These types of painters will use rainbow cakes and one-stroke in combination with either brush or sponge base work to get a multi-layered type look. The actual blending comes in the sponge, not on the face. The line work in this type of painting is a supplement to the design, not necessary for the design, and in most cases you could actually stop before the line work and still have a workable product. 
 The advantage to this type of painting is sponging is kept to a minimum and there is less artistic ability required. You can add trendy things like "sparkle powders", gem clusters, liquid bling, and glitters to the designs without ruining the integrity of the design because they become part of the layering process.

Because the blending is "in the sponge" or on a brush using one-stroke cakes, new color combos and making your own cakes is part of the fun. You can have cakes for different holidays or different designs (like a dolphin cake). You can use daubers or stencils to create new shapes or add texture.

The disadvantage to this type of painting is that you, in all practicality, need a monster tool box to hold all the stuff! Instead of 12 pots of paint, sponges and a few brushes that can fit in a small bag, you have many different rainbow cakes, one-stroke cakes, stencils, glitters, jewels, and probably tons of brushes: angles, flats, filberts, round, rake, petal, flora and in a bunch of sizes too.

Best Kind?

So, if you are very artistic and love to draw in real life, I see distinct advantages to the 12 color/sponge/round brush method. It's easy to pack your materials, it's low cost, you aren't trying to keep up with trends in materials and it's easy for you to paint-to-order...if you see a picture, you can duplicate it.    If you find it hard to draw "on-the-spot" but can make a fantastic one-stroke flower and beautiful teardrops and swirls, then the layering style is good because the rainbow cakes and one-stroke are really impressive at parties and fairs. You can learn designs that can be replicated over and over again (like a butterfly) and make them different by using a different rainbow cake. You can get really fast with your designs and can make a full face tiger in just 3-5 minutes. It's also easier to work with an assistant with this style because the assistant can put in the base layer and you can add in the finishing layers without having to train them. There are also a lot of painters coming up with new ways of using one-stroke and rainbows in their designs so it evolves a little quicker than the other method.