Over the last year I’ve been creating more intricate, mainly paper (it’s more eco-friendly & I can store it in smaller spaces!) accessories for my body paint models.
I can also now custom-cut my own stencils without risking hot-pen burns, as well as create the #cutbycat stencil range for Paintopia Jenn.
This is due to my Cricut Explore Air; a big investment but a big love of mine. I had been eyeing them up since they launched in America years back but only got one last summer. Well worth it!
(This Cricut-accessorised selection is all on Izabela – a fab local model who is often available for me)
I was amazed when Cricut UK started talking to me on social media and asked if I’d be their #CricutCrafteroftheMonth for June. Yes please!
They kindly sent some of their materials for me to create projects showing why I like the machine.
Please note; I don’t use nudes, in all my work on social media models wear knickers, with large breast covers as a minimum on females.
My first artwork for Cricut is based on a something I adore; the ocean.
Connel beach towards Mull; fishing in Belize; life on Hong Kong catamaran
I went to school in the highlands of Scotland with its pristine beaches, but spent holidays in Belize on the world’s 2nd longest barrier reef. Later I ran underwater nature trails in Dorset. We also lived on a catamaran in Hong Kong after sailing it there from Palau, so I’ve admired sea-life world-wide. I hope to take my kids to see reefs when they are older.
Recently I watched the Chasing Coral documentary on Netflix, and the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 series (well done my old uni mate Kathryn & co!). I no longer teach field studies (I’m an artist and now work part-time in a craft chain store too) but wanted to do something to raise interest in ocean issues. Plus I always loved the patterns and textures underwater and thought that would work well on a Cricut project – I adore layers that reveal more layers!
So, I tried to visualise coral bleaching. This is when corals get stressed due to warming seas and pollution, and expel their algae, turning white. Some starve without their algae providing food from photosynthesis, so rot and die. Just the ‘bones’ are left; all the colour goes from the corals, the bright fish and other creatures soon dying or leaving too. (There is hope and it can recover, but we need to help it now.)
To create this effect I scanned in corals I collected on Belize beaches as a kid, and uploaded photos and copyright-free images found online. I altered and thickened them in Cricut Design Space (CDS), so I had intricate but hopefully strong patterns to cut. Other shapes I made from scratch in CDS, welding together then slicing basic circles.
I hate wasted material, so in CDS often attach many shapes together into the size of the material I will be cutting to maximise the amount I can fit on a sheet. Cuts this many, this large and so intricate meant I was on my Cricut several hours every evening for over a week, with a whole day spent on it the day before the shoot. I am saving to upgrade to a newer, faster Cricut Maker but even so my older Explore Air is fabulous.
Weeding the distressed foam cuts.
Using the correct settings, mats and blades, I cut different corals in all the materials, in varying sizes. That is why I love Cricut Explore Air; once I have the shape I want, I can make multiple copies in any size for crafting, or convert them into stencils.
I cut lots of each shape from Cricut UK’s pearl, sparkle, glitter and corrugated papers and cardstock in blues, greys, blacks and silvers. I especially liked the distressed foam for coral cutouts and the plush foam for the intricate brain coral pattern covering the top of my headpiece, they had perfect textures and took the patterns really well.
Izabela Kowalewska arranged the shoot at Mark Pickethalls‘ lovely photo studio; he got creative painting glass lenses for background effects whilst I prepped her.
The following snaps are from my time-lapse, but give an idea of what went on.
I started with a simple blue body paint base, slightly patchy, to represent beams and streaks of light reaching down from the surface, and different water currents. I pinned the wire frame I’d made and partially covered with coral shapes onto Iz’s hair, and started pinning and gluing on the other materials I’d cut.
On her headpiece and breast covers I used tacky craft glue or hair grips, but anything touching skin was attached with cosmetic adhesive.
More shapes were added and then I started gluing them onto the large bikini insert triangles which were body-glued onto Izabela’s chest too.
Next I stencilled in some of the same patterns as I had cut to give more depth and detail.
As I wanted to focus on the cut coral patterns and textures this is probably the most minimal body paint I have ever done. Iz was ombre blues/ green – all cosmetic Cameleon bodypaints – with touches of black and white stencilled on too.
I loved the sheen of the midnight blue pearl paper, but it was a bit fragile for building props with of course, so was mainly glued on as a bottom texture layer over her paint.
This took me several hours; towards the end Mark set up his photo studio, and we switched off the time-lapse before I finished to move equipment around.
Mark was inspired and had been painting glass panels for his lighting with Hobbycraft glass paints too, which created the amazing patterns and effects on the backgrounds in his photos.
Then Iz threw her graceful poses (with a serious face as this was not really a smiley look – see her next time for her lovely grins!) and together we created these end results which I LOVE.
I’m hoping you are inspired to try layering up Cricut makes into a headpiece, or try stencilling…
Too many pics I know, but I couldn’t choose a favourite!
Huge thanks to everyone at Cricut UK, Mark and Izabela.
I was really a rock/ metal/ funk chick from my teens, but I still had a good mix of music on my tapes (yes I’m that old) and adored George Michael’s Freedom. I can recall hours of listening to that on my Walkman as I sat painting and repainting pictures of the central courtyard tree in Chesterfield high school for my A-level art exams.
Later, I couldn’t go to the Freddie Mercury tribute concert as I had an exam at Uni, but watching it in the Student Union bar over lunch, his was the one voice that really blew me away – he nailed the Queen vocals.
So I was saddened to hear of the last great loss to music in 2016 – George Michael on Christmas Day. I’d hoped to paint something on a model locally just to express thanks/ regrets, but colds swept the family and models cancelled. Finally I asked if there was anyone I could paint at the Wiltshire Face Painters’ Jam I was supposed to demo at in Feb. Richard, fiancee of a painter, kindly volunteered.
On an incredibly cold, misty morning, my eldest and I packed the car and drove the hour over to the jam, missing all the local scenery in our foggy tunnel.
I’d initially wanted to paint jeans and a jacket like in the famous denim/ jukebox video but due to timings cut back to just the jacket. I’m not a fan of using black, its the shade I use least (I find it boring for clothes and prefer colours) but I did my best! I substituted ‘never gonna dance again’ on the t-shirt chest to mimic the white block-lettered T shirts George had in the 80’s.
On the back, I swapped the top gothic lettering for ‘freedom’ with some of his iconic crosses either side, RIP in the middle of the leafy wreath,
and, running out of time, didn’t do a great job of the gothic G heart M on the bottom. I did these in paint first and then freehand glitter tattooed around the edges, as I wanted to give a raised effect like metallic thread stitching. Brushing off glitter vudei is here.
It was a fairly relaxed day, with demos, competitions, people chatting, asking painty advice, breaks for Katie’s lethal rainbow cake, etc.
Assorted pics from the jam page… not painted by me
I attempted to stencil-glitter-tattoo (using Mehron’s gold metallic powder) the zips which didn’t quite work but I can see what I’d do another time and it still gave a good effect. That’s when we found Richard had a very very tickly tummy button…
The organiser Sally rose leant us some perfect aviator glasses, but sadly the perfect guitar I’d borrowed from my husband and packed the night before had been borrowed back by hubby and I’d not noticed to re-pack it! Luckily Richard was the event’s DJ so had a mic to add to the look. Final clip here and I’m just doing he timelapse.
We all snapped a few pics – I mainly have put up Katie’s as her phone caught better reflections in the sunglasses than mine did – and packed up. Short but sweet!
When I got home my eldest vanished and hubby was in the bath, so I unloaded the stuffed car into the porch and ferried from the porch into the house. This is my youngest ‘helping’ by flinging paints and glitter gels out of a crate on the front step, into the house…
Huge thanks to Richard 9and it seems he now wants another paint so wasn’t put off by this!) and Katie, to Sally for the fab jam, and everyone who came to chat etc.
This was an unusual booking; the client wanted ‘walkabout’ mobile painting at an outdoor event in Bath’s Southgate Shopping Mall.
I did a few mobile gigs when I lived in Hong Kong about 11 years ago, walking up to decorate guests at dinner tables or around in bars, and they never seemed as successful (to me) as when I have my kit set up on a table with a tall client chair. But I have done a few since then, so it can be done, but I had a think on a new kit setup…
I used to have the Snazaroo walkabout ‘ kit wheel’ which you gripped in one hand, but found that too heavy and cumbersome. Plus you really need both hands free, one to work, one to steady/ rest on the customer as standing people are even more likely to wibble about than seated!
So, I created a walkabout kit that fitted into an old face paint bag I converted into an apron, with a few extra bits. Not the most stylish but handsfree and pretty comfy apart from when I dropped it all at one point! I’ll tweak it a bit before the next booking as some things I ordered to make it didn’t arrive in time…
Basically its 2 of the magnetic panels I use in my face paint kit, taped together, taped onto 2 of the Ikea pots I sometimes use as brush holders which fitted tightly into the ‘apron’ pocket.
The paints (mainly one strokes and mini black, white & skin tones) I already have with magnets on their bottoms, so they sat nicely on the panels. The new Pixie gels I’d decanted into bottles that sat tip down in a nail varnish holder inside one of the Ikea pots, with space for brushes in the middle. A bag of sponges, a ring of stencils (I didn’t use either in the end) and a facecloth clipped onto the apron and my water spray & glitter were in a side pocket.
Helen’s red snazaroo wheel & my kit as we warmed up hands with hot mochas before the start!
I’d got the lovely Helen hired too, (she ended up with a tired arm from her Snazaroo wheel) so we arrived to find that it was outside and a bit chilly… a special Student Shopping Night promo in the Southgate Shopping Precinct. Its funny as I do lots of student club body art/ face painting bookings but sober, ready-to-shop students were very different! We started by working down the huge entry queue and did eventually have our own little queues going.
I stuck to using the new Pixie Cosmetic glitter gels around simple eye abstract or flowers as that is what most people wanted. All the stencils and extra paints I had squeezed in were not needed! Various acts and stalls were set up and the Scare crew from Avon Valley Wildlife & Adventure Park kept making clients jump, but we wanted to follow around their evil clown as he had a real flamethrower which was cosy!
The kit worked reasonably well but I need to re-think the brush holder being under the paints – my fingers got horribly messy as I kept having to grab the brushes by their painty tips to reach them. I have an idea for a brush holder for next time…
Not many photos as we were so busy & it was dark, but an interesting evening!
Sun July 17th 2016
Much sooner than I hoped it was time for Art Couture Painswick (ACP) again- I’d been busy away painting nearly every day for 8 days, and with a sick toddler hasn’t finished the props I wanted to make for it.
ACP is a stunning biennial event in the scenic Cotswold town of Painswick. Streets are closed for the day and filled with food and craft stalls, whilst competitors in a range of categories wander the 10,000 crowds in the clothing and headgear they made from unusual objects.
Angela Youngs in her 2016 creation
The main stage catwalk and judging (by celebrity/ industry experts etc) is set up in the historic churchyard with its 99 yew trees.
Photo by Tony Cook
I have been lucky enough to paint in the body art category every year since that was included. In 2012 I placed 3rd with my “Comedy Queen’ about UK TV comedies for the ‘Celebrating Britain’ theme.
The following year, again on model Laurence Caird, my Victorian Magic Man depicting stage magic & automatons from the 1800’s, won the Body Art 1st place!
This year the Body Paint Category’s theme was ‘Food For Thought’, so I based my design on plastic pollution in the ocean and how if affects sea-life which in turn affects our food-chain. I planned a huge neck ruff of recycled bottles, etc, but it wasn’t looking quite as I wanted. Its a bit tough to design things like that without the actual model to fit it too, and as the lovely Grace (god-mum of my toddler) was based in Norwich & I’m now in Bath, I wasn’t seeing her before the event. Or I needed the shop dummy to fit my props to that I typically sold when we moved to Bath as we didn’t have the space! But I liked the bottle-jellyfish I’d made.
We had to send in a statement about the artwork in advance, so this was mine – actually sent in a few weeks before, unusually for me, so I had a brief to paint to if not an actual design plan!:
“Plastic Soup/ All the Fish in the Sea
Only 5% of plastic is recycled, 1/3 escapes into oceans, a lorry full per minute. By 2050 plastic will outweigh any fish in the sea.
Marine creatures starve as it fills them, or strangle in netting and 6-pack rings. Bags look like jellyfish underwater, so if turtles catch one, their special throats, evolved to stop jellyfish escaping, mean they have to keep eating it.
Albatross eat fish eggs on floating objects. Toothbrushes, lighters, sanitary waste – all stuffed dead albatross chicks.
Ocean currents collect ‘plastic soups’ millions of kilometres wide, 5 swirling rubbish patches twice the size of Texas. The sea bed, Earth’s last frontier, is coated in tiny plastic particles.
Boyan Slat’s cleanup system, a floating barrier passively collecting rubbish for recycling, launches in 2020. But we need to stop plastic ending up in our oceans if we want to keep our seas and ourselves alive.”
Grace & Jennie stayed overnight at my mums’, then followed me over to Painswick far to early on a lovely sunny morning. One of the kind ACP volunteers jumped into my car to direct me to the competitors carpark, and luckily I bumped into a bunch of other painters who had already dropped off their kit who helped cart my stuff to the hall beside the Art Couture Gallery.
We had so much space to set up in- luxury! And ladies offering cups of tea etc.
I set up my kit, and as the briefing went on started attempting to add rollers and plastic flotsam to Gracie’s hair, which was allowed before the official start. The rules are only professional cosmetic products, only a small % of stencilling or prosthetics, and 6 hours with a compulsory break in the middle.
At 9.30 we started painting and I began to kabuki on colours in Cameleon white, yellow and celadon. I hate yellow so am trying to use it for once! I shaded the white neck / face with the Kryolan lustre powders in white & blue, dry (as they can be used wet).
We were closed to the public for the 1st few hours, out of respect for the models and to let artwork cover over underwear etc (even though all models wear underwear and female models have breast covers on) but I made sure I had blended colours on Gracies back too before the doors opened.
The turtle in yellow, orange, bollywood pink, purple & inkheart blue, I based on several photos I found on the internet and a bit of memory from living in Belize. From then until the lunch break we chatted to extremely interested public as I painted.
After snacks / lunch we started again but sadly I’d not switched on the plug so my camera ran out of battery & stopped taking time-lapse pics. I had planned to paint or make paper netting strangling the turtle but Gracie held a poll with the public and they decided I wasn’t allowed to! I did love the turtle too so I left that out.
On the back I painted a whale & baby and a colourful, healthy reef. I added freehand glitter tattoos over the abstract bobbly layer I had painted around her shoulders (to represent the layer of plastic shapes) and decorated that with glitters from Facade and Kryolan.
Her face I re-used some zombie paste prosthetics I had sculpted when Gracie was being Sc’Ariel at the Prosthetic Event last year. I added flat-back pearls and some heat fused film and then added more pearls and recycled plastic to her hair
I stopped painting about an hour early, after the public were ushered out, as I knew I would be a while sorting out the not-quite finished props.
After a lot of messing about we decided the bottle-ruff was too bridal if worn over Gracies head, and too awkward if worn on her shoulders. I also ended up ditching the isis wings, and stuck to the jellyfish, gems and beads, all made of plastic bottles or recycled from ornaments etc. It gave a slightly netted/ dancer effect tangled around Gracies arms and neck, but I loved it. Sadly (?) it was so sunny the glowsticks inside the jellyfish weren’t visible outside the hall though.
We all trooped out into bright sunshine to applause from the waiting public which was fantastic.
Following Paul who was once again our charming cheeky Town Crier, all body artists took their models through the streets and across the churchyard to the photo rooms for official shots. Grace & I then took a few photos and she posed for the public in the churchyard.
The models were then presented onstage whilst our design statements were read out.
Whilst judges deliberated, and the other category awards were given, Paul took most of the models (some couldn’t walk too far due to the heat or uncomfy shoes or props) on a tour of the churchyard, streets, and finally the main road.
I really loved this paint and was a bit over-excited through the whole day. I’m so happy that it turned out like I had imagined (and that now it is out of my head I will sleep a bit better!).
Huge thanks to all the staff, sponsors, volunteers, organisers, the hugely appreciative public, and of course my genius model Gracie! Also my mum who wrangle my 2 boys (the toddler being hot & sticky & awkward!) all day….
I will add a timelapse etc video when I finish it…
I’d been invited up to do a quick demo body paint at Art Couture Painswick as the BBC wanted to film a time-lapse to promo the vent on their social media. None of the usual models were available at such short notice mid-week, but luckily Sally the ACP Body Art Co-ordinator had the details of a member of the public who’d been so impressed by the photos in the ACP gallery he volunteered his body!
I drove up on the 1st sunny day we had had in ages, and met Libby (the director, who rather marvellously had the winning paint I did on Laurence at ACP 2013 on her business cards ), Sally, Bob the model and Hayley from the BBC.
As I’d only had a couple of days notice and was painting every day that week, I had made a quick stencil of the ACP name & date, and that was about it.
I wanted to depict all the themes for the different categories as well as advertise ACP so designed a slightly circus/ festival themed ‘poster’ on Bob’s torso, with rainbow rays coming out behind it. Clouds blended the white poster into this colourful background to represent ‘flight’, areas of cogs and machinery were for ‘Moving Parts’, green leaves meant ‘Food For Thought’, the body art category, orange brickwork and ‘splats’ for ‘Graffiti’, and Blue bubbly splooshes for ‘Underwater’.
Bobs neck was bright pink and had the stylised ACP face on it. I finished this off with a circus top hat I made for Grace at the Professional Beauty London Excel paint, but removed the flowers etc to add a colourful ACP flyer to.
Hayley edited it all into this video, and not only was it on BBC Gloucester’s sites,
but national BBC picked it up! Great for ACP and thank you to everyone involved.
My video clip is here.