Well for the first time in 4(?) or 5 years, I was not booked out to paint bodies all day from the early hours! Not sure why though we had noted things seemed a little quieter than usual all round this year. I think the disater in Japan (we were being told awful stories by people we painted who had been IN it but were sheltering in HK) had had an effecton the usual cheeriness of this event.
I got the fab HK MTR (underground train) then walked the rest of the way in – at 7.30 a.m. there were already groups of costumed fans congregating in and outside the stadium. I especially liked these Evil Kenivils (sp??) and Beefeaters.
Anyway we set up and had a small queue waiting when we opened for business – the kid’s rugby matches were in full swing with dozens of young teams battling on the main pitch whislt non-related adults started queuing up to get food/ beer/ seats in the coveted south stand. The husband of a painter I know in the UK was visiting the 7’s and came to get painted – Hi Claire Guest!
We offer a range of faces, something to suit each team/country playing in a range of prices (priced according to size/ speed it can be painted). All money taken on the day goes directly into the chairty boxes for the Rugby’s charity fun.
E.g. fastest & cheapest is a rugby ball stencilled on arm/ face etc, sponged/ painted in the flag colours of your choice (some flags have to be simplified but we can also write the country name underneath it). Team logos (england’s rose, South Africas Springbok etc) are slightly more expensive as they are part stencil, part freehand.
‘Half’ faces cost a bit more still, things like ‘princess’ style stuff, eye designs, half face maoris tribals, etc.
‘Full’ faces being the most expensive of the non-body designs.We do a range of non-rugby/ patriotic designs too, with tigers and butterflies (although the ‘flag butterflies’ go down a treat too) being the most asked for.
And inventing new twists on the patriotic stuff helps us painters stay sane after having done the ump-teenth NZ flag or Fiji ball of the day! This lady, who I paint every rugby day, every year, wanted the HK flag’s Bauhinia flower and the English rugby rose, but rather than 2 plain logos on her cheeks I did this.
Some flags fit faces better than others, and some we try to turn about so they look a bit better -this is Zimbabwe.
I find a lot of adults get painted for the 1st time with us, as they want to complete their fancy dress, or in many cases, don’t have a costume but want to join in the festive atmosphere. And we also get a lot of unusual requests to complete outfits of course:)
This hula ‘girl’ was lovely, as were the rest of his troupe but I’m quite glad he only wanted face paint – its hard to get good artwork onto furry chests like his!
I did still do ‘walk-in’s’ for smaller face & body art. It was actually quite chilly for HK – I ended up being a souveneir rugby jumper – so most of the lads were going for front torso rather than full torso paintworks, so they could still wrap a flag or whatever round their shoulders. This was 2 quick flag torsos’s.
As you can see I mainly work freehand, but cut my own stencils in the shape of useful things like the asstd styles of stars used on the flags we do. I hadn’t had space/ weight to bring my usual big tall makeup chair this year, my back was missing it, but for young lads like these, standing on a normal stacking chair was perfect.
And his mate (who actually got painted 1st after his own DIY effort vanished shortly after he arrived at the stadium – another reason to buy good quality paints!).
There was an odd moment where there was a new voice talking before and between one of HK Rugby 7’s ‘theme songs’, Sweet caroline, by Neil Diamond. The crowd stood up (and so did I) as we realised it was Neil himself talking and wondered if he was there live, but he’d recorded a thank-you message and a new ‘live’ version of the song just for the stadium and they were playing it over the screens! Brilliant.
The South China Morning Post ran a competition getting public to vote for their fave photo from a choice of 40(? I think it was?) shots their press photographers put on their facebook page. A large % were of facepaints by us:) Here they are – as said, SCMP’s not mine…
Anyway another fab event, raising money for a good cause. Thanks again to the HK Rugby 7s and HK Youth Arts foundation for hiring me!
So, as said, The HK Youth Arts Foundation kindly once again invited me to be the lead artist/ sole bodypainter for the HK Rugby 7s, and as in 2009 (when I was in NZ) flew me to Hong Kong to take part. And this time put me up in a lovely hotel as well (before I either was living in HK or borowed a friend’s place to stay).
The HK Rugby 7’s is a 24-Nation Rugby Tournament that started in the 70’s, sort of like the World Cup, and is now hosted in several countries. Hong Kong is ‘the’ event of the tour; 40,000 fans/ day, all in fancy dress and ready to party! Of course many never see their hotel beds for the entire weekend and just carry on in bars between the stadium’s closed hours, but I have never had or seen any trouble. I really do love the friendly atmosphere even between rival (and often drunk) fans. I/we have become a fixture, often featuring in the continual fiming for the big screens and the official guide books for the event.
What I love is that on the Friday and before the 2 main days of the weekend, the kids and under 18’s rugby teams get to compete on the huge pitch in front of the crowds, many of whom get there early to bag good seats. Can you imagine, playing at that age, in a stadium built specifically to host the 24 international teams? Awesome! There are live bands at various locations around the arena, shows and dancers between and after the matches, a DJ blasting out ‘HK 7’s’ theme songs (a lot of which seem to come from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack) and general madness all round.
We were lucky enough to win the bid for facepainting the 1st yr I arrived in HK, in 2006, as soon as YAF found me; the Rugby pay us a reasonable fee, and we provide the high quality face paints (sourced by me mainly from the UK). This being HK, a lot of the paints do NOT appreciate the temperature & humidity; even though this March it was unseasonably cold, the Snazaroo blue still looked like this when we took the lids off! – the pale blue peak on the right!
I have a couple of hours to train the painters, if they can make it, (all artists but not necessarily painty artists and none are pro face-painters) and do the designs. We must do a range of designs, and a range of prices, covering all 24 nations and their teams as well as normal popular designs. I also offer quick chest, tummy, back or body paints too, taking up to 90 mins max. YAF is a charty offerring art and drama experiences to people who wouldn’t otherwise get them, and on the day ALL money we take goes directly into charity boxes for the HK RFU scholarship charity. So its a good thing!
Some of the team, and me.
After days of prep, new designs, teaching a few of the YAF artists for a couple of hours the night before, helping them cut 11 copies of the 16 or so stencils we use (mainly team logos and parts of national flags), we packed it all into the YAF van and drove to HK’s stadium. After waiting for our usual escort, the amazing Chris, who sorts all kinds of problems out and provides the always-excellent team of volunteers who staff our money desk and help control the queues, we got our security passes, our white ‘Inspire’-fronted YAF Face Painter t-shirts (white is NOT my choice) and started setting up our 2 stalls. I was on Stall A, on the main level, west side, this year.
Usually Friday is a quieter day and I do a paint for the press/ VIPs; this year YAF asked 2 of their dance students to be my models. Sadly 1 hadn’t a ticket so I was painting the lovely Megan with a design we decided would be called ‘The Spirit of the Sevens’. As arranged last-minute that morning, I had a white boob tube from YAF’s Dance store-room, a bunch of star sequins and some metallic pipecleaners, and all the team/ country stencils I usually made for the rugby. I’d twisted some vague head-attachments from the pipe-cleaners and stars for her in red, silver and blue, and the other ‘girls’ (artists) liked them so much I made them for everyone on our stall whilst I ws in the van on the way to the stadium! Even Chris although I don’t think he wore his in his hair!
So, with reporters, (including the one who’d last year, despite handling the large glue-on boob covers, watching me paint Pat from the start, and questioning us throughout, had then twisted our words and also lied and cropped off Pat’s denim shorts to produce the ‘naked girl at rugby 7s’ scandalous headlines for her paper last year),
… photographers and TV popping in and out all the time, I stood Megan on a chair and started the quick swirly red, white and blue base, colours which are used in so many flags from England, Scotland, France and the USA to smaller patches on the flags of other countries. Added to that were HK’s flag’s white bauhinia flowers, stars (stencilled, freehand and sequin) which appear on NZ, Australia, USA etc flags, black leafy patterns for Fiji, Tonga, NZ, Wale’s red dragon, Englands red rose…. basically I hoped to include something from most of the 24 Nations who were competing in the tournament. But only in those 3 colours with a bit of green and black added, to look good artistically, in the time. I think I had 90 mins, and those boob tubes are a pain to get paint onto!
As I was painting Megan, fans were wondering up to look, and she was greeting friends too. Half way along, she spotted her mate’s boyfriend, just back from Uni in England, and told me I should paint him. The poor guy stepped over to say hi and I asked!
Luckily Jamie didn’t put up much of a fight (at all!) and once Megan was finished and sent off to pose for photos, Jamie stripped off his shirt and took her place on my chair. It was pretty chilly for HK and we didn’t have long so I did a super-quick ‘rugby shirt’ to match Megan’s red, white & blue. I didn’t have any wording stencils ready, as I had thought we were only getting Megan painted, and I HATE lettering. But it needed something, so at the last minute I stood him in fron of a YAF banner to copy on their logo and then attempted the YAF wording. Which I totally mucked up as it was longer than expected, but hey!
The pair of them posed and played for photos (Jamie does drama too so was great and as body- confident as Megan) whilst I cleaned up and got on with painting faces with the rest of the team.
So, they were happy, I managed 2 body paints in approx 2 hours, we got some good press coverage and this is the 3 of us with our rugby faces on. AFTER someone told me I’ d had a black paint beard on for all the previous shots!!!!
I heard the next day that ‘that’ reporter had again mentioned us in her paper – I was very late leaving the stadium so had to walk a long way to find a 7-11 still with Apple Daily on sale. And it was all in Chinese! I knew it was about me as it seems there are no symbols for ‘Megan’, “Spirit Of Rugby’ (wrong name anyway!) or body-painting…..
Turns out it was all OK if not much to do with anything we actually SAID….
So after a long day of painting fans faces/ bodies too, I was on at the Rugby Village across the road from the stadium, UV night club painting, each night.
And here it is in normal flash light.
The bar had stunning displays of the sparkling LED colour changing beer-mugs and champagne glasses they were serving drinks in, that gave most of the light in the place!
And just to show how UV Paints look – this is my table (with my own kits and the paint set out for customers to DIY too) set up under a very strong UV cannon light. Note that yellow/ green/ orange are brightest whilst blue/ purple hardly show- and white is blah! 3 o the top brands here; I prefer Kryolan for bases/ brightness and Wolfe/ Diamond FX for linework.
The usual – I arrived early to start bodypainting my regulars and some new clients who all booked in in advance by email.
They pay a fee directly into the charity box and I have approx 1 hour to decorate them. Chris & co wanted to be RED Avatar aliens this year, with HK white flowers on them to support their country.
Gareth was my blue Avatar; he’d gone all out, dyeing his shoes and shorts blue, and making a leather ‘skirt’.
What was funny was when we were emailing back and forth, I mentioned he’d probably want to make some ethnic leather & feather jewellery to go, and that I had some braided thongs (as in necklaces) I was making for the other avatars if he need them. He thought I meant a butt thong as the aliens wore in the film!
Gareth looked perfect, and was mobbed all day – he said he hardly saw his girlfriend and didn’t want to smoke as he had kids following him in awe. On the plus side he was let into the ‘closed’ South stand as a TV crew there wanted to interview him!