Webinar: Special Needs Face Painting With Darci Mchenry

I am Blake Cabot, here in beautiful New York city, and I am the owner of, and I'm here with Darci Mchenry. Although not here here - she's in Connecticut. I'm really excited to see this, because it's all about special needs face painting, and she had a lot of clients where she was doing special needs face painting and she also had an art studio, so this became important. I think this is something that all face painters can learn from, because you never know when you're going to run into it.

Darci has been face painting forever! She is also a Henna expert, and I keep meeting her at all kinds of face painting events, so I talked her into doing this.

With that, I will exit myself and hand it over to you Darci!

Thank you so much for having me, Blake. Welcome everybody and thank you so much for tuning in for this seminar in special needs face painting. We're going to be doing a lot of talking at first, and then towards the tail end of our session, we're going to be going over some designs and a couple of tutorials and easy designs that you can do for your special needs clients.

I want to give you a little bit of history though in terms of why I got into face painting itself, and then how it evolved, so that you guys understand why it is that I have this expertise in this clientele that we are here to talk about today.

So I became a face painter by accident. I own an art school in Connecticut, and we've been open since 2004. I became a face painter because a clown didn't show up at an event, and I was there with the intereactive Arts and Crafts, somebody handed me some face paints, and said "you've gotta be better than any of us can be", and therein my face painting career was born. Because I had an art school, and I was an educator, I do have a background in human development and in arts education. A huge component of both of those pieces of background that I have in my degree, is special needs. So with human development as well as with education, of course you're learning about all different types of people and all different types of modalities that people not just learn in, but function with them.

So through my art school, we've sort of adopted a developmentally based way of instructing art that attracted a fairly significant sized population of special needs kids. That ran the gamut. I have had blind children in my art school, I've had kids from every possible aspect of the autism spectrum, to completely non-verbal children, I've had some children with very limited mobility, etc. Now because those were my clients for my art school, it naturally of course gravitated towards these kids have birthday parties! These kids have family events, where they may want something like face painting at an event for their entertainment. So that being the case, I was kind of thrown into the fire to now take that other area of my expertise, and bring into the population that I was already serving.

So I want to talk for a few minutes about different places where you may encounter this. Of course we're going to get booked for kids' parties, not only may we have a special needs child that's having the party, but you never know who the guests are going to be! So it could be a classmate, it could be a neighbor, it could be a cousin, or any other family member. It might even be an adult - it doesn't have to be a child.

Now when I book a party, I usually will ask the client "are there any guests that are coming with special needs?". So I have some sort of preparation. It doesn't mean they have to divulge every last bit of information about who their guests are, but it's always helpful for you to know who might be there, so that you can serve their guests the best. And hopefully they're full of honesty and disclosure and they'll tell you, because it's the most helpful for their event as well.

But we also do a lot of events as face painters and entertainers where you're not going to have any idea. You can't necessarily ask the corporate client if there might be somebody there with special needs. If it's a company family picnic, that person that's doing the booking with you isn't going to have any idea what family members are going to be there, or what family members might have special needs.

You also run into the possibility, of course, if you're working fairs or public events. Of course at a fair, you're getting the general cross section of the public, so the chances are quite high that you're going to have special needs people jump into your line or be interested. One of the worst things that I hear at a fair, is you've got somebody that might be non-verbal, that might have attention issues, may not be able to sit on the stool because maybe they have mobility issues, etc. And nothing is worse than that person wanting face painting and their care givers say "no, you can't have it", and then giving some reason that you know is not a good enough reason. So we've all heard parents give reasons why their kid can't get face painted from "we're going to grandma's house" to "you have a baseball game later" or whatever. Well the worst thing, is that child that may have an issue, being told "no, you can't have this because you can't sit still", "because you drool", "because you can't keep your head up.". I've heard it all the time, and I hear it non-stop, and I always will jump in and try to reach out to that care giver and say "Let's give this a try!".

So I want to talk about the types of population that you might run into to start out. One of the biggest populations that I found, especially at my public events, are adult special needs people that will come out on a field trip, for example. Maybe it's a bus trip coming from their care facility, and there might be seven or eight people in wheelchairs that are not mobile and non-verbal and they all have a caregiver. Well they're going to come to your line, because they're the people that are either coming there because it's for free, or they're going to ask for a receipt because it's reimbursed by whatever facility they've come from. We've all had to write receipts on the back of our business cards - it's a pretty common thing in our industry.

But the question is, does that client, that the caregiver is wheeling around this event, really want to be face painted at all? We have to discuss it with the client. Well if the client is non-verbal, and for all intents and purposes is non-mobile, how are you communicating that? So when I get that client that will wheel somebody into my booth, I will address the caregiver, and they might say "she wants to be a bunny", and I'll be like "okay, does she have any commands that I can ask her yes or no questions? Can she respond in any way?". It could be blinking of the eyes, it could be finger moves, think about all the little tiny details in a non-verbal person that you might be able to get a response. Because these people, for the most part, can communicate in some way, and it's up to that caregiver to tell you how they're going to communicate. I will ask that caregiver what that command is, how do they communicate, and if they blink once for yes and blink twice for no, great - now I have that information.

I will turn to the client themselves, not the caregiver, and say "would you like to be a bunny today?". And if they give me the answer that means no, then I'll follow it up with "Would you like to be something different?". And if they say no, they don't want to be face painted. If they say yes, then I can rattle off a list of different things that I can paint and say "when you hear something that interests you, when you hear the name of a face that you saw on my board that you would prefer to be, then let me know". And I will try to communicate as best I can with the client themselves.

Now of course there are situations where that's not always possible. But most of us don't think it's possible at all. Think of how ridiculous it would be for someone like Stephen Hawking, being wheeled into your booth, and his caregiver going "he would like to be a fluffy sparkly bunny rabbit." Do we really think Stephen Hawking would want to be a fluffy sparkly bunny rabbit? Probably not. So you want to find some way that that person can communicate with you because it's not the caregiver decision. If it's their wish to be a bunny rabbit, let them sit in the chair and get to be a bunny rabbit. So that is one of the things that you can do with a client of that nature.

The other piece is, you have to assess the client themselves, because a lot of non-verbal non-mobile clients may have issues with swallowing their saliva. They may have issues with their skin, a lot of times they have very dry skin, they may have specific reactions to things that you may not think of. It's your job to find out as much as you possibly can. If you have somebody that asks for a design, but their chin is all wet, and it's a design that goes down the chin, obviously we need to discuss with the caregiver and with the client, that this needs to be adjusted. Now you want to be careful of your language. Language is key. You're not going to say in front of that client "I'm sorry, you can't have the full face Black Panther, because you drool.". You have to have some tact and decorum because they know they drool, they can't help it. They feel terrible about it, they're uncomfortable, they don't want to be doing it, they're trapped inside their body, and it's not their fault. So you want to say "Unfortunately, because your chin gets wet because you can't swallow your saliva, I'll have to adjust the design so it goes from your nose up, but you'll still be the Black Panther I promise.". That they understand - you're giving them that piece of compassion and understanding and you're acknowledging that you know what their problem is and you're not stating it in a derogatory way. "Because you can't swallow your saliva" is very different from "You drool", so hopefully that's helpful. Adjust your way of speaking with special needs people, because they're people! Think of how it sounds to you. You don't want to dehumanize anybody for whatever their issues may be.

Face Painting Individuals on the Autism Spectrum - The 4 T's

One of the biggest populations, of course that we're going to run into, is our autism spectrum. Now of course, everyone has run into an autism spectrum kid, at some point, whether it's a party, public event, it could be your child, it could be your relative, it could be you! What is it about an autistic child that wants face painting and what sort of gets in the way - there's a speed bump to them being successful while getting it. Well autism is just that - it's a spectrum - it runs the gamut. You can have very, very mild symptoms that you won't necessarily see or recognize unless you really get to know that person, and then there are other kids that come up to you, whether it's a party or a fair or whatever, where it's blatantly obvious something is different about this person. It's up to you to find out with the most mild symptoms that you may not be able to pinpoint, to somebody that has more significant issues. What exactly is it that you can do to find out what their idiosyncrasies are so that you can be successful as an artist and they can leave happy.

I believe that we've all done that half face paint where it's like, okay I'm going to get the white eye of the Spiderman down, and this field of red, and make these lines as fast as possible and now he feels like Spiderman! It's probably 45 seconds worth of work, and honestly you're not happy that it may have left your booth or you may not be happy that it's going to be in party photos, because you just rushed through it, because the child had special needs. You didn't take the time to find out how that child could be successful in getting the full face that they wanted. You're frustrated because it's not your best work, the child's frustrated because it's not exactly what they wanted, the parent may be frustrated because you didn't take the time to give them what they wanted, or you may also have the parent that is like "Fine, that's enough, he's never going to sit for it anyway.", which again, is demeaning and demoralizing their own child, without them even realizing it.


So what we need to do is find out what the kids that are in that situation need from you. And one of the techniques that I use, is the 4 Ts. Within the autism spectrum, most kids or most adults, will have some sort of aversion to texture. We all use these fun squishy things. We may think they're nice and soft, and we don't have a problem with it, and we can touch ourselves with it, and say it doesn't hurt. Our stimulus in our brain is not reacting the same way that somebody with a spectrum disorder would be reacting. They may feel this feels like sandpaper to them. So we can't say that this is soft, and won't hurt them. We can say "This isn't going to hurt you. It might be a little uncomfortable". But we can't say it's soft, because our soft and their soft are two completely different things.


Another thing is touch. What about pressure? I know when I'm face painting somebody, I am a hand on head person. I will put my hand on the child's head and then I will go ahead and paint them. That hand is on their head to stabilize the child's head and make sure that I can turn them in the direction that I want. Me having that pressure on an autistic child's forehead or on the top of their head, might be too much. They may have a touch aversion. They may not like me to touch them at all, let alone, maybe the weight of my hand might be too strong. I've had kids say that it feels like I'm gripping their head, but I'm not, I'm just really placing my hand on the top. However, the pressure and whatnot may be a different reaction for them.


The other thing is temperature. Most people don't think about this. And by temperature I mean, obviously we're not changing it from being 85 degrees outside to 60 to make somebody comfortable. I'm talking about the water temperature. I've had kids that will just flinch because I come to them with the paint brush or the sponge and they say it's cold. So a child that's on the spectrum, has even more of an aversion potentially to temperature. So you have to find out if they're okay with something that's cold because maybe there's a coffee vendor right next to you and you can run to the sink and change water, or maybe mom can get you warm water - it might make that child more comfortable.


The other thing is time. What I mean by time is how long is that child able to sit. Where is their threshold? Have they ever had this before? How long did that previous face painter take? Because we've all had that child sit in our chair and mom will be like "We tried this at the zoo, and it was just taking forever, just give her a nose and whiskers.". Well no, because she may want the full face kitty. How long did it take at the zoo? Maybe it wasn't a true professional at the zoo - it could've taken 7 minutes! And that's why, because it's taking too long, their experience was negative.

So let's go over the 4 Ts again and then we're going to talk about what we can do to deal with them. So we have touch, texture, temperature, and time.

With touch, like I said, we can't tell somebody that the sponge is soft, because their soft and my soft are going to be different. What we can say, is "this feels soft to me. This is safe. I can show you on your hand or on your arm how this will feel.". Now if you pull up the inside of your sleeve on your arm, the inside of your arm, the nerve endings on the inside of your arm, are much closer to the sensation that you will get on a cheek, than on the top of your arm. So back of the hand is not intimate, and it's not something that children will feel threatened by. When you turn over the arm, that may look like a shot, a needle, an IV, or something like that - could be traumatic! So I will start on the top of the hand, and say "how does that feel?". They will probably say that feels okay, or they'll give you feedback to how it feels. And then you can say "Do you mind if I try it somewhere else now?". And then ask if you could try it on the inside of their arm. And again, show them that it's squishy and do the same thing with your paint brush and go ahead and show them on the inside of your arm and tell them that' what it's going to feel like on their face. So the inside of their arm, like I said, is much closer to the way the nerve endings will feel on your cheeks.

The other thing, also, is you can do the same thing with temperature with your paint brush or with your sponge with the water. I'm not spraying the child with the spray bottle and saying "is this water too cold?", because that's not what you're doing. You're not spraying them, they aren't a cat that misbehaved. They just want to know what it's going to feel like on the sponge or on the paint brush. So you don't have to have them stick their finger in your water cup or spray them with your spray bottle - I'm talking about what it would feel like as they're getting it done.

As far as touch, ask the parent. Say "Does he mind having someone touch the top of his head?", "Is it okay if I put my fingers underneath his chin to lift his head a little bit?". We all use different techniques to adjust our canvases, and our canvases just happen to be people. So it's really important for a spectrum child to know what's coming and to okay that with their caregiver. And I say caregiver because it's not always their parents. So they may be on a field trip from a life skills class or something of that nature, where it might be a teacher. But if they're in a program, the teacher should have some of that same information if the child can't answer themselves. Again, broad spectrum. I've got a number of autistic clients that can answer those questions completely competently on their own, and I have other clients that are more non-verbal that will shut down if I try talking to them, and that's when I need to speak to the caregiver.

And the last thing is time. So, again, keep in mind that you've got a smaller window typically with an autistic child. So with time, you want to explain what you're doing step by step. They want to know. Autistic kids are sponges for information. They're probably going to recite back after you do the step by step, in the car, on the way home, 40 times to their mom, because that's new information and they're processing it. And they may latch onto that information, if it's something that's super interesting to them.

So when you're dealing with a child who has a little more difficulty sitting down, it doesn't have to be a spectrum disorder child, it could be just a child with ADHD, you want to go through everything that you're doing. We'll be doing that in the tutorial a little later after I'm done with the seminar speaking portion.

With your talking, you'll be like "Now I'm laying down the white, and what comes next on Spiderman? What color do you think I'll do next?". Well, hopefully the child will say red if that's the design that they've chosen. If they say blue, say "Oh my goodness, you want a blue Spiderman?". They may giggle and say "No, of course Spiderman is red." Or they'll be like "Sure, I want a blue Spiderman!". I have no problem doing blue Spiderman if that's what they want! But you talk to the child as they're getting painted. It keeps them attentive, it keeps them focused on you.

Now another thing that I thought this was the most wonderful tip, when I taught this class at St. Louis FPBA Convention, there was a student in my class, she was a sponge of information herself, took copious notes because she knew she was going to run into this in a very short span of time from when she had the seminar at the convention. She actually put a little testimonial online about some of the tips and tricks that I taught in the seminar and how they worked for her. And she kind of added to it, and I thought it was an absolutely fabulous idea. So I want to give her a shout out for a really great technique that I'm going to use, and I'm going to adopt this technique the next opportunity that I have.

In order for her to get a particular little boy to sit still, and stay focused through her face painting this one design, she was having him count out loud as she was painting. So she's like "Okay, I'm going to paint this part, let's count to 15!", and then he would count along with her. And it kept him focused on another activity, and kept him distracted from what was happening so that he wasn't wiggling and maybe wasn't paying attention to the fact that it may have been a little uncomfortable or cold, or scratchy, or all of the things that may have bothered him.

The other thing that she did, when she saw that the counting wasn't working anymore, because she tried it on a few different areas through this face paint design, she specifically messed up her counting to see if he would catch her. And I thought that was brilliant! She skipped a number somewhere in there and he said "No, no, no, it's 16, 17, and 18!", and that got him back on track to being focused and paying attention. So again, shout out to Deb, she did a fantastic job by using these skills and coming up with something on the fly on her own, with the client in the chair, that she needed to do to get her through the design.

Blake: A couple of questions came in.

Darci: I was just going to say, before we move on, what are some other questions we've got!

Blake: Well everybody wanted me to stop breathing, so I'm muted. Some of the questions are:

Do you use any boards or small flip books to help them so they can point to designs or anything like that?

Darci: Typically, I do not. My portable menus are portable menus. But they're laminated sheets, so if I'm going to a party, these are my party menus and they can point or maybe with eye inflection look and give me a quadrant. So if the caregiver were to come up and say they want to be Black Panther and I can tell this person doesn't really want to be Black Panther, then I can point and see if I can get a positive response from that. If I'm at a fair, I don't typically have these. These would be things that I bring to corporate events or parties. At fairs, all of my pictures are on Velcro, so it's easy to just pull them off the board.

Blake: Another question came in. Someone mentioned that Elaine says that babies sort of feel threatened by face painters in general, and she uses unloaded daubers or brushes on her arm to show them what it may be like. Do you have anything like that?

Darci: Yeah, I mean it's the same concept as using the sponge or paint brush. I typically am not putting paint on them the first time I touch them. I tell them what it's going to feel like, and then maybe I'll add color if they're okay with that. Doing it on a baby, it's interesting that she brought that up, because a lot of these techniques will also work with toddlers or very young children that just have sort of innate, natural human fear. If it's a true baby, and I know a lot of painters don't paint babies, I paint babies, I have no problem painting babies, but a baby isn't necessarily going to be able to rationalize or remember from one moment to the next what you're doing. So they may be totally fine with you brushing the sponge against their leg, and it's going to feel great, and they may trust you, and then you go at them with a paint brush, and it's a totally different world.

Blake: Another question came in. Do you use weighted blankets at all?

Darci: I have not used weighted blankets in the face painting. We do have some bean bag stuffed animals that has the same kind of effect. I don't typically have them at an event because the way that I paint, they're not sitting long enough for that sort of weight to even take effect. The processing that that takes is about 3-5 minutes for the body to calm itself, so they're not really with me for long enough to benefit from that.

Blake: Heather suggested that sometimes she lets them paint them first.

Darci: Yes! I actually have one client, I knew that would come up. I do have one client that when I go to do his parties. And I've donefour events for their family at this point. He just gets a paintbrush and he gets the color that I may not be using and he can walk around wherever the heck he wants. That does work to a degree with some kids  that they can try to paint themselves. The issue is liability. So that’s something I will do in a person's home, with their permission. But in a public setting especially, I don't want the liability of that child with that paintbrush that is now free in my booth. We don't know what the child might do. And perhaps I’ve got other people in line. Personally, I don’t do that unless it’s a special situation like this one particular family that I know. Just a little bit too risky in my opinion.

So what I’d like to do now is were gonna switch gears and we're going to talk about actual painting so give us a moment while we move our camera to the other side and Devin you’re going to come and sit over here. Devid is my daughter.

 So what we're going to do on Devin is a design that would be, sort of a typical design that I would do on somebody that needed to be very fast. Perhaps it’s an adult that is immobile, might have some issues swallowing their saliva so we don’t run anything low. And the great thing about this design: it is very small and if we get through that much we can really elaborate and add glitter and add some extras to it and really make it extra special.

But if you do have a client that you’ve got to do something small maybe a little faster cause you’re not quite sure maybe their caregiver isn’t the most cooperative. Maybe you’re not sure that your client can handle the entire design. Perhaps they have a facial anomaly on one side where they may have some neurological damage with a droopy eye, the skin maybe hanging differently on one side than the other. You’re going to pick the best sides for them for you to do this design and then like I said, you could elaborate.

Feather Eye Design

Feather Eye Design

So this design is called feather eye. It’s kind of classy, obviously it will work on anybody, and it really does not take much, other than split cakes. This is a Kraze Dome Stroke in Unicorn Dreams and I’ve got a 3/4" Paint Pal brush, and I’m just loading up my brush. What’s really cool about these Kraze paints is that they’re domed. So the best thing to do is load from one side and then from the other side. And you will always keep that dome and you don’t get pooling on the edges. So your colors don’t muddy up, just super awesome. Alright, so this is a feather eye so what you’re gonna do, like I said I might hand hold her. So I will typically put my hands on the forehead of whomever I’m working with and I do need my glasses.

Okay, so we’re going to start right at the corner of the eye and it’s super quick. That’s it. So right here, we can see we just kind of made these little zigzags. Almost like a seashell but you’re just going boom, boom, boom, boom, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So what I'm going to do from here is I'm just going to drop one line. And then i’m going to drop another line. One is a little bit longer than the other, and then i’m going to come up and I’m just going to throw a few little wispy lines in there. I’m not going as fast as I would normally go. I am a speed painter but i’m going a little bit slower so you guys can see what i’m doing.

And it’s called feather eye because then I’m going to put these neat little feathers on the bottom. So these little lines down here with pink. So I’m going to take my pink and go in the middle with my pink and I’m just dropping my paintbrush down to make almost like a little dagger shape. Now at that point, if this was a special needs client, I would also find out if they’re going to be okay with glitter because that might feel like sand on them. So, Devin so are you okay with glitter? 

Devin: Yeah!

Darci: Do you wanna know what it feels like on your hand?

Devin: Sure!

Darci: Let’s give you a little bit, okay?. Do you see how it’s soft? It’s body glitter, it’s not arts and craft glitter.

Devin: Yeah!

That’s really important that people understand that body glitter is soft because any typical person could have an aversion to glitter because they think it’s going to itch. But true body glitter will not. This is a rainbow cheetah glitter called prism. We’re going to give her a little bit of glitter on that wet paint.

And, then what we’re gonna do is we’re going to go in with some accents. Now, if this was a special needs client, I may have reached their threshold. In reality, everything that I’ve done over here so far is going to take me less than 30 seconds in the real world. If this was a special needs client and I’ve reached their threshold, and they’re content, they may not want anymore. You can see this still definitely looks like a design. But let’s jazz it up a little bit more.

So what I typically just do is I’ll just throw almost like the inside of certain flowers. Get sort of like some pollen on the stamen there. And these are just little tiny dots. And  down here on the feathers, I usually just throw in just a few little dots. And where this joined I usually will throw some dots in and let them fade a little bit. Now you can go to town and really do more on this. You can throw some starbursts down there and really jazz it up. So, maybe we wanna give it a little extra umph with my liner brush here. And let’s throw another little starburst up here. There we go. So a little extra something makes it a little bit extra special and it’s super super fast. So this would be a great design especially if you’ve got, like I said, one of those adult clients, maybe a little girl that has trouble sitting still gets something really fast done. 

So Devin let’s get you closer to the camera. Show that design off right there. I can pull up her hair, she’s my kid. There you go. OK! Devin’s gonna go wash that off and we’re going to bring our friend Ian up here. So Ian you’re going to introduce yourself to our friends online. 

Blake: Couple more questions came in. 

It’s also worthy explaining that the idea picture they have in mind might be different from the one in my mind. How do you sort of explain trying to get their image and try to get that across. This from Juliet.

Darci: Well, one of the things that I do in my business and I know everyone does function a little bit differently, is I use pictures for everything. So if they’re picking something from the board it’s going to look like what is on the board. Chances are it’s probably going to look better than what’s on the board because I’m terrible about taking pictures and so my pictures are 8 or 10 years old at this point. If you have that child that comes up and maybe they’re obsessed with trains. I think we’ve all met a spectrum child that is obsessed with trains at some point in our lives. Because that is a very very common thing for them to have an affinity towards.

They may show you a picture of a particular train whether it’s Thomas or a realistic steam engine from 1892. You just have to do your best to explain to them that either it’s something that is face paintable like the steam engine from 1892 because I might be able to do that on paper. I’m not going to be able to do that with face paint. But it’s just not something that they can get the satisfaction they want to out of it. Say, “I’m so sorry. I think you would be disappointed at my attempt to make that train. I can do something more simple for you.” Or kind of gear them towards the things you know that you can do and get them excited about it. Ask them if they’ve ever been to the zoo. If animals are your specialty and you know you can bang out on an animal design really quick. Maybe talk to them about their last trip to the zoo and what was their favorite animal there and you may have a winner. Hopefully that helps. 

Any other questions before I paint Mr. Ian in here?

I am all for other people jumping in. If you have ideas that have worked for you, I’m still learning everyday myself. So this is merely like a point on the springboard. So let me get ah Mr. Ian settled here. So Ian, say hi to everybody. 

Pikachu Face Paint Design

Pikachu Face Design

Ian: Hi!

Darci: This is my friend’s son.  Ian has taken some art classes down here at our studio. And his mom is a henna artist so he is totally familiar with body art fun stuff. Right?

Ian: Yeah!

Darci: Okay. And what’s something that you're super into that you'd like painted today?

Ian: I love Pikachu.

Darci: Yes. So Ian is super into Pokemon Go and Ian loves Pikachu so we are going to do a Pikachu. This is a fairly common version and I just took my hand brace off so if you see me wincing that’s why. I believe that Melina Kirpatrick or Kilpatrick is the one that designed this particular Pikachu face and she is super awesome if you don’t know her. Alright, so, “Ian, we’re going be painting you as Pikachu. How do you think this is going to feel? Are you worried this might be scratchy at all? Do you want to give it kind of a touch, see what the sponge might feel like? Or are you pretty good to go?”

Ian: I’m good.

Darci: You’re good, alright! This might be a little bit cold. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to go as quickly as we can. Now a lot of kids on the spectrum may not want to close their eyes. They may want to watch the entire design, which, depending on your style of painting, may or may not be realistic. So, what I like to do is, if I have a child that wants to watch, I will tell the child we can videotape it and you can play it back later. So usually,  a parent or caregiver will have a cellphone where that’s a possibility. I personally prefer when they are able to close their eyes during the entire time. So we just laid that base down super super fast. You can see where the Pikachu is starting to taking shape.

So Ian we’re going to be moving to the paintbrush next. This is going to be cold and it’s going to be wet  and as I’m doing it, you can probably feel what’s happening and what part of the Pikachu i’m doing. So, what did I just do right there? What do you think? Can you tell by the shape i’m painting? 

Ian: The cheeks.

Darci: The cheeks. And they’re what color?

Ian: Red.

Darci: They are. Or at least if I did it right there. Turn to me just a little bit? Okay, what part is that?  What do you think of that one that i just put on?

Ian: Black.

Darci: You’ll see when i’m done. Alright, so now Ian we’re going to be doing the outline. The outline tends to be the most tickly part.

Ian: Okay.

Darci: So, if this tickles, the best thing for you to do is either make a fist with your hands and try to stay super still so that you don’t get tickled. Or you can even grab your knees with your hands. So it doesn’t tickle as much.

Darci: Alright, so turn to me just a little bit because we’re in a slightly awkward angle, but I don’t normally paint that but we’ll make it work. Alright, so now had that one color before  it wasn’t black, it’s actually red. We’ll see why in just a moment. And because you’re sitting so nice we’re going to give you a couple little highlights here. That one wasn’t quite dry yet. And, let give your Pikachu a little extra frill here  to make him a little more happier. 

Darci: Do still love my Pikachu?

Ian: Yeah!

Darci: Is it pretty cool?

Ian: Yeah!

Darci: Did it tickle off?

Ian: No.

Draci: No? Oh! You're a rock star then.

Ian: I am.

Darci: Awesome, hahaha. Thank you Ian! Thank you very much. Alright. Any other questions after I did that design?

Blake: Well, everybody is loving the Pikachu design. Juliette asked: "A few times in the past, the child will look in the mirror and says very clearly if it’s wrong.I found it’s important not to take it personally. How would you respond?"

Darci: Typically we’ve had it all happen. We’ve had that happen not just for special needs kids. We’ve had it with parents, let’s say we’ve done it wrong. I always will fall back on the fact that I’m an artist and it’s how I interpreted the design and I will be honest a lot of times I will attempt to paint something that may not be, you know, an expertise in my wheelhouse. Like trains, I haven’t met yet a face painter that loves painting trains. But if you explain that, you know unfortunately, I did the best I could and I hope it’s okay for just today and let them know that you know, that you’re human too and that is the best that you were able to do with that time and it is just for today. So, hopefully that makes sense and that might be helpful. I am going to do with other designs so if there's no other questions we’re going to bring Devin’s face back. She’s now washed herself.

Blake: Alright, Catherine pointed out that she love the tickle advice that she thought she’ll use for every kid.

Darci: Oh yeah, absolutely. Every kid is ticklish. We’ve yet to meet a child that you know, doesn’t flinch at all.

Darci: A lot of kids are almost paralyzed by fear sometimes so when you come in with that brush, they really flinch because they’re so tense. So using those words and talking them through it, works for everybody not just the special needs kids. Devin, so let’s see, what should we do for you today.

Devin: Sea siren.

Sea Siren Design

Sea Siren Face Paint Design

So this design blends really well to not having to be precise. There is a particular type of client that this will work for. It is a larger coverage design so you are using a lot of the face for this. You can adjust it, so it’s more on just the forehead or adjust it more on just the cheeks but the cool thing on this design is you’re not going on the eyelids, which is a huge version not just for special needs kids but for anybody. It’s strictly forehead and cheeks and it doesn't have to be exact crisp or precise and it’s very on trend right now because it’s a mermaid.

So what I’m going to be working with here is another thing that most face painters have in their lexicon of goodies in their kit, and that is, the handy dandy stencil. So I’m going to be using a mini stencil here. This is like a medium scale so that's what we're going to be using. With a lot of special needs kids that have texture aversions, stencils may be a little rough for them. And I mean that literally and figuratively. So when you’re using a stencil, if it’s a stencil design and you do have a spectrum disorder child or a child that may have a texture aversion for other reasons, I feel that it’s really really important to get them to touch the stencil. I have no problem handing them stencils so they know what it’s going to feel like and run their fingers over it so they know what they’re getting themselves into. If they really don’t like what the stencil feels like, they can always pick another design or might be something that you can adjust to not do with the stencil itself. 

So Devin is going to be our Sea Siren. What I’ve done is I’ve loaded a light pearl green. I do not remember the name of this color. And this is a FAB or a Superstar Peacock, don’t remember which one. I repot my paints and I’m terrible at writing down what they are. So, Devin we are going to start right up here.  So this is going right up to the hairline and it can be a little sloppy. Like I said, this is not like an exact design so we were working with our lighter green. And now I’m going down the cheeks. I’m leaving the temple area pretty open and I’m really focusing more on the cheek bone. But I am going a little bit lower than that. You just don’t want to go all the way as low as the chin. 

And we’re going to do the same thing, and it doesn’t have to be exact. Not going on the eyelids. So you can kind of see where our coverage is. So we have one cheek, we have the other cheek, and we have the forehead. Now I’m going to be getting out my stencil. So I’m going to be taking the darker peacock color and just lightly going over. And again, it doesn’t have to be super exact if I miss a couple of scales here and here, no big deal. And now i’m going down her cheeks as well. Totally awkward angle for me but it’s okay. And that is another thing. A lot of times if you are painting somebody in a wheelchair, or they have a walker, or they’re neither able to sit in your face painting chair, get used to painting with really awkward weird angle sometimes. It's going to happen.

So after I do that, let’s do some glitter on her. I’ve got a rainbow cheetah blue sparkle. I use a lot of glitters that would actually enhance the colors of the paint,  so a lot of my glitters are glitter blends. I may have taken 4 or 5 different glitter colors and mixed them together to get what I wanted.  I usually have about seven or eight glitters in my kit at any given time. 

So now what  we’re going to do is we’re just going to throw some teardrops in,  and these teardrops can be very fanciful. You can get a little crazy with them. But I do them very basic on a child that might have some attention issues or may not be able to sit as long. What I tell them is these are almost like water splashes because we have a mermaid. A lot of spectrum kids are extremely literal. I told the child that I was painting teardrops and she wanted to know why the design was sad.  I was doing one of my fantasy cats with the teardrops and I was doing it by the eyes. And I said, I’m going to throw some teardrops right here and she wanted to know why her kitty was gonna be sad. It was very cute.

So throw a little bit there in the front  and right here I’m just going to throw in some teardrops to frame these scales and give a little bit more border to the design itself. And right in here I’ll just throw a couple little accent dots. These aren’t necessary if you have a child that’s a tearer or you don’t want to get too close to their eye or they don’t want you to get too close to their eye. Totally not necessary. I’m going to go in with a little bit of dark blue. I have the remnant of a Global Dark Blue. I’m just going give it a little bit of an outline on these teardrops, as it gives it some emphasis. Again, these details are not necessary for the design. So if your client isn’t going to sit through these design elements, that’s perfectly fine. It’s not really going to take away and she’s going to be just as much a sea siren with or without these little blue lines.

Okay, so most of the design at that point is done. So right here where I’ve got the teardrops on the center, I’m going to put a gemstone. A lot of times I have a table or a display unit of bling sitting out, and I’ll let the person choose if there’s a  bling that comes with their design or from up selling, they’ll just get to choose what’s there. Otherwise I’ll just take some out of my kit like I just did and grab one. So in this design, in addition to the bling that’s going to go in the center, because this is a mermaid design, I want it to be like super high impact,  I’m going to use some of this glitter. This is a Rainbow Cheetah Festival Glitter, and this is a marine fairy color, it is a blue, you can do it with green but I kind of like the contrast setting a little bit of a different color and picking up some of those blue highlights if I do them and I’m putting that again not on top of the paint completely but sort of a, as a transition between the skin and where I started the paint.

I am using one of the detailed glitter applicators, purple handle, and applying very lightly. Now, I will tell the client that this is cold, the gel is cold, and it may feel a little funky going on and it’s gonna dry in just a few minutes. Some kids, you’re not going to be able to do this with because they will not be able to let it dry or they may have an aversion to the cold. Now, I know lot of face painters will say, you can’t put gel glitters on top of face paint, but yes you can, and  I just did. I did not mess up my face paint at all. Most of the reasons that you can’t put it on top of face paint is poor application process.

If you put it with your finger and a lot people tend to put it on their finger, yes, it’s not going to stay. You're going to wind up wiping off the paint. A lot of the sponge applicators will do the same thing. If you apply it properly and you have enough of the gel on there, you’re not wiping off your paint because you’re laying the gel down on top of it and you’re just manipulating it by the volume of glitter. So, again, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t put festival glitter on top of your face paint. If you can’t, you're doing it wrong .

So now, my Pros Aide on the back of my gem has dried. Real quick, I use Pros Aide for all of my gem application, I do not use medical tape. The reason I do not use medical tape is I am personally and horribly allergic to it. If I get medical tape, if I’m in the hospital and I got an IV  and something of that nature, chances are pretty good that my skin is going leave when the tape does. Alright, so you’re ready to see?

Devin: Yeah. Beautiful. Yey!

Now, normally, I would  do lips and such if it was a typical child. A lot of special needs kids, again, you may be dealing with kids that can’t or adults that can’t swallow their saliva properly. You also may be dealing with somebody that’s got a, the need for taking constant fluids or medications, maybe very dry cracked lips especially if they're mouth breathers, you’ll get a lot of that so I would not recommend doing lips on those clients or customers so I’m not doing it on her. Alright! Any other questions? 

Blake: There are a couple more questions. One question was: Do you have glitters that you’ve used on shoulders on the spectrum or special needs, specifically, poof or cream, loose gel, .

Darci: Well, generally,  I use the poof glitters as much as I possibly can. The gel glitters, again, like what I’ve mentioned when I’m painting Devin. The gels, you’re going to run into temperature portion issue or possibly texture version issue. The glitter cream, I love glitter creams. I make glitter creams myself. The one issue with glitter creams is depending on the environment that you’re painting in, and also cream based glitters are made out of ingredients that do not breathe. So whereas it goes completely over face paint very well and you get great coverage and you’re not smudging the paint, you're actually clogging up the pores with the waxy substance so that particular sensation of sort of having wax over your skin in that regard maybe very uncomfortable for a texture version or a sensational version of a child. Or you, yourself, I suggest trying everything on yourself before putting it on somebody else.


Blake: A lot of people are talking about  how much they love, how rewarding they find it to a face paint special needs children.

Darci: Absolutely.  It really can become a niche for your business especially if you have a lot of competitors in your area. If you get that reputation that this is the demographic that you have expertise with, you’re opening up your business to a whole new world and a whole level of clientele that isn’t reached by maybe your competitor. So, it’s a  good business decision too.

Blake: Yup, So we have some upcoming webinars. We have Inga Yushechenko doing Fantasy Tigers on February 10th at 1PM. We’re going to have a butterflies webinar back with Kathy Vergara on February 19th at 6PM. Darci is coming back on February 24th, and she'll be doing speed painting because she’s fast! And then, on March 5th, we’re going to have On the Jobs Design with Cris Nelson and on March 9th we’re going to have Simona Rad doing Unicorns. We can never go wrong with unicorns. And then we’re going have a dinosaur webinar with Christen Orlamond on March 18th so stay tuned on our page. Oh and people love, they love Devin’s haircut and they think your scarf is awesome!

Darci: Yes, I will tell you my scarf was an accident, this was the one that I was trying with scraps to see if I can figure out how to make it. Now it’s my favorite one. Happy accident. Hahahah.


Thank you to Darci and everyone that tuned in to this webinar! Please check back for our upcoming webinars!