Sunday, January 22, 2012

East Coast Face Painting Convention 2012

Even though I’ve been face painting for over thirty years, or maybe because I’ve been face painting for over thirty years, I thought it was time to take a refresher course. Well, actually 13 classes at the 8th Annual East Coast Face Painting Convention in Manchester, Connecticut.

To save money, I commuted each day for four days. Driving in on Thursday and Friday mornings wasn’t bad—I missed the Hartford rush hour traffic. (Thank goodness!) Driving home those evenings I wasn’t so lucky, especially Friday where three lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, came to a screeching halt on Route 91 North just inside the Massachusetts state line. Traffic on Saturday and Sunday was very light so the commute was a breeze.

Another money saving strategy I used was to pack my own beverages, lunch, and snacks. That way I wouldn’t be tempted to stop and pick something up. My frequent mini meals kept me going throughout the day. Sitting through three to four classes per day was pretty intense. That’s a lot of information going into the brain in a short amount of time.  I took pages of notes and took about 500 photos.

So when I went into the vendors’ room to shop, I didn’t feel guilty. I got a “face” to practice on. It’s the front half of a human looking head. If I’m going to do full faces at some point, I figured I better work on a surface with a nose and eyes. I could practice on my own face but my skin doesn’t need that much wear and tear.

I learned so much! I’ve been trying to teach myself using various face painting books but I didn’t understand all of the terminology. Now I know what a chisel brush is and the proper brushes for getting those gorgeous outlines. Split palettes are now in my vocabulary as well as my paint kit.

Some designs, while amazing, just are not meant to be in my repertoire. I have about 45 seconds per child to get a cute and well-crafted picture on their face. I’m working on drawing various designs on card stock for the children to choose from. I’ll laminate them and put them on a binder ring. While I’m painting the birthday child, the rest can flip through the pictures and make their choice. I’m hoping that will speed things up.

The two things that I did not participate in were the additional pay-per-classes ($75 each for a three-hour, hands-on, small group session) and the nightly jam sessions. I would have to stay overnight in order for that to be doable.

There’s always next year! I’ve got a convention fund set up just in case!

Have you learned anything new lately?  Leave me a comment!  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Responsible Pet Owners

Now that we have a big picture window in our former-kitchen-now-dining room, we have a front row seat for the miserable life of the dog next door.  I’m not sure why a family would pay $1,000 for a dog and then basically ignore it.

He is a gorgeous (when he's clean) German shepherd with a matted, muddy coat of long fur.  Good thing he's got that very long fur coat because this dog is outside 24/7.  He has a big stall-like roofed enclosure and a separate small dog house.  However, when he is out on his run the cable is so short he can’t reach his dog house and the enclosure is too big and airy to provide any real protection from the cold.  His family rarely plays with him and they haven’t taken him for a walk in over a year.

When the mercury dips below 10 degrees and my dog, Benny, is curled up on the futon next to the pellet stove, I wonder if he feels lucky to be a member of our family.  Benny is a mixed breed that we adopted from the pound.  He was found roaming the streets of Holyoke, fending for himself.

Now he lives a life of luxury.  We play with him and take him for walks—sometimes two a day.  He sits on our laps, well, most of him anyway.  He has such a long body we call him a “lap-and-a-half-dog”!  There is certainly a huge disparity between Benny’s life and that of the dog next door.  Benny is part of our family and we’re his pack.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you think?  Should dogs stay outside 24/7 when the weather is bad?  Do you treat your dog like a member of your family?  Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I actually get two fresh starts every year. The first one happens in September when I get my new batch of students. It’s the official start of the school year and so full of hope and promise. And yes, my calendars should all begin in September, not January, because that’s how my mind works: September to June as the “regular” year with July and August being somewhat of a limbo time. A time for rejuvenating, resting, and recharging.

Everyone who goes by the solar calendar gets a new beginning on the first of January as most of the world welcomes the New Year. Many people use this as an opportunity to set goals as they resolve to improve in some way. The most common resolutions involve healthier lifestyles via diet and exercise and for some, quitting smoking.

Many Asian friends celebrate their New Year according to the lunar calendar which, for Vietnamese people, falls on February 3, 2012 to start the Year of the Dragon. The Chinese year 4710 begins on Jan. 23, 2012. I just learned that the Japanese adopted the solar calendar and their New Year is January 1. The Indian New Year is popularly known as the festival of Deepawali or Diwali. It will be celebrated on November 13, 2012.

Whatever New Year you celebrate, I hope it is filled with good health and happiness. What are you going to do with your fresh start? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!