People often ask me “How did you learn face painting?”, or “How did you get so good at face painting?”. This last one always takes me back a bit and I have to accept the compliment with grace and NOT with my usual “I’m-not-that-good-have-you-seen-what-[insert artist name here]posted-last-week?!!”
So my new go-to response to both of these questions is….
There is a belief we all seem to have that people who are good at something were just “born that way”. And there is certainly something to be said for natural talent. History has seen many a prodigy or genius. And while they may not have needed as much practice, I can say with most certainty that their passion driving them to create led them to practice anyway in order to find their voice.
So for me, if I find I have a certain design I want to improve, I need to paint it. Again. And again. Now more. And one more time for good measure…
This isn’t to say I can’t improvise – I certainly can (at least try) and welcome the opportunity. It is applying the things I learn in practicing a known outcome into a new creation. That’s the art to it. But to get to that point one must practice.
There is a great video on FABAtv (one of the resources I use to guide my practice) by Marcela Murad called “100 Teardrops”. It’s all about how to create one mark – ONE. The [perfect] teardrop (the face painter’s holy grail). Once you have made 100 of these marks one way, then you must practice them another way. Then curved 100 times. Now reverse. But once you have this mark down, you can really make some beautiful and effective designs (practicing the composition comes next). It may seem very repetitive but it’s a necessary practice. And you develop really good brush control!
This for me goes hand in hand with practice. I have a short attention span. I tried learning piano as a child and I never got very far. I wanted to learn piano but I never had the patience to stick with it and practice the basics. So I can read music and know where the keys are but that’s it. I found I enjoyed singing much more and would practice that all the time, but I gave up piano and concluded I was bad at it.
I am also an Artist Instructor at Cheers Pablo. I love my job there but occasionally we have patrons that I can tell have just given up; convinced they are not artists. They haven’t even tried. The tape in their head is saying “you’re not an artist” when they just haven’t done the work yet.
You show me a person who’s first painting was their best work ever and you’ll have shown me a liar. My early tigers were… well they were passable as such but by the face painting community standard not so great. I have moments while looking through old photos or even more recent that I’ve taken and notice … inconsistencies … and feel deflated. I want to give up. I’m never going to be as good as ….
I have to have patience with myself. Being an artist is a journey.
So I said all that to say this: Yes, I’m an artist. Yes, I studied art in school. I love to create and always have. I learned to face paint by watching, learning, and practicing with other artists. There are some really fantastic videos and resources online today (that weren’t necessarily available even 5-10 years ago) that I can point you to if you are interested – ask me for info! But know that it does take time and dedication to develop a skill, regardless of talent. So don’t get discouraged if your first encounter with a paintbrush is less than great. Enjoy the journey.
Tell or show me what you like to practice in the comments below!
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