Face Painting Gallery — Materials for the Arts Halloween Party

Insane Clown Zombie

Lorraine and I painted at one of our favorite annual events last night, the Halloween Party at Materials for the Arts. Their event grows each year, this year BD Wong was the master of ceremonies. We’ve been painting at this event for a while, which means many of the folks we have seen and painted before, like this young man who very much wanted to be scarier than his brother, so I made him into an Insane Clown Zombie. At our annual New York events like this one, folks are familiar with the freedom and creativity we bring to each face and that encourages us to try new ideas, like this combination of a Monet color background with a dancing figure from an Andre Derain painting, as I continue to explore putting dancing figures on people’s faces. And I took the opportunity to do some  “sketches” for faces I’ll be painting for a Dia De Los Muertos performance by Calpulli Mexican Dance Company on Nov 3 and 4 at Pace University’s Schimmel Center.

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Bodies Alive!


Bodies Alive!

Bringing painted bodies to life in performance

The curtain call for Bodies Alive! at FABAIC 2008


Bodies Alive! at FABAIC — A celebration of the artists that paint living canvases. Why do we paint bodies? Because they are alive!

In 2008, our company had the opportunity to create a performance for the annual Face And Body Art International Convention, thanks to the support of Marcela Murad (convention producer) and the collaboration of so many world class artists and enthusiastic volunteers, designed to showcase the talent of the participating artists and demonstrate the potential for painted body stage performances. In just a few days, working under the direction of Lorraine, we all put together a show including UV Action Painting, Jinny’s Singing Faces, the Metamorphosis Models by the convention artists, the Nao Dance Company and the epic tale Li Chi Slays the Dragon. Click here for the program listing the participating artists:  PROGRAMbodiesAlive

Here are some of the videos:










to return to our website: www.agostinoarts.com


Bodies Alive! at the Odd Ball

Painted Body Fashion Show featuring models painted by guest artists for Real Art Ways annual Odd Ball.

For the 2009 Odd Ball at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT , the entire evening was bodypainting as performance art. Here’s a video. Fotos and more at: The Odd Ball

to return to our website: www.agostinoarts.com
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Halloween Face Painting — Halloween Night: NYC Parks and Recreation

Zombie Princess - this girl wanted to look spooky, and her friend was joking with her that she must be confused, because she was wearing princess jewelry, so I made her a Zombie Princess

After the weather-frustrated weekend I was very glad to finish up this Halloween painting faces in the type of situation I really enjoy, for lots of kids and adults at a New York City Parks Department Recreation Center, with enthusiastic kids who don’t often get the chance for facepainting and adults as likely to sit down as the kids, because they want to have fun too as they accompany their kids trick-or-treating. Just as we were starting to set up some kid in a costume came in to ask what we were doing and when I said we’d be painting faces he yelled out “great!” and ran out of the room to tell the others. And we had just enough of a crowd to keep us busy but not too busy to have to hurry the faces.

It being the actual Halloween night, most of the adults and many of the kids wanted to be spooky. I painted the Zombie Attack idea again, which is what I like to do with new ideas: repeat them several times in a row at different events to make them familiar enough that I can retain the concept in my repertoire. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like to use Japanese and Asian theater make-up concepts for demons and vampires, particularly on women that want to look scary because these designs can still be exotic and attractive (rather than gory). The “Kabuki Demons” and “Chinese Opera Demon” are those kinds of faces, loosely inspired by traditional makeup designs.

Hope you had a wonderful Halloween!

Kabuki Demon 1

Kabuki Demon 2- she and Kabuki Demon 1 planned on going around together so i gave them related faces. The kids they were with were cute little princesses, one of whom was frightened to see her Mom look scary, so we talked a bit about how looking scary on Halloween is a way to get over being scared of spooky things.

Kabuki Demon 3

Chinese Opera Demon

Tropical Sunset - the type of design we call "personal classics" in our company lingo, meaning a design you do that you know always works

Moon and Stars

Pink Cat - yes, I do occasionally paint cat faces

Matisse Blue Dancer - simple designs like this show the beauty colors can have all on their own

Silver Swirls - she had silver eye makeup and didn't want me to mess with it, so I extended the concept in a decorative design

Zombie Attack, again


This staff member wa sone of the last people I painted, as ebverything was starting to close down. He was talking to everyone about how he was going out to a big club Halloween party, and he was talking the whole time I painted him about wanting to be a homeless vampire zombie punk

Alien Demon 3 Eyes


Halloween Groove – Face Painting at Materials for the Arts, NYC

Our goal is to surprise and delight the people we paint and the people who see the people we paint. To that end we work to keep facepainting an adventure, and because people like to be part of an adventure it puts them in the frame of mind to give us the freedom we need to be as creative as we want to be. After I posted the previous video (“Faces at Play”), a facepainter contacted me to ask if we paint faces like that at regular parties or if I only paint like that for my storytelling shows. The basic answer is “yes”, we paint like this all the time, from small parties to public events. I thought I’d post this current example of the full run of faces at one event as an example of the process. Here is just about every face I painted, in the order painted, at one of my favorite Halloween events — the annual Masked Marvelous Cocktail Party at Materials for the Arts, NYC. http://www.mfta.org/
For me, facepainting is a collective, kinetic art. More important than any one face I paint is the collective effect of all the faces I paint at an event. As important to me as the way a person I paint feels when they look into the mirror is the way they feel as they walk around the event and see how everyone responds to their new identity. This is the reason why the artist should take the creative control in the process of painting someone’s face, choosing the design to paint and surprising them rather than asking them what they want to be, or painting them to match a photo of a previous face design — to give the participants the experience of a real transformation. Their suspension of control, their giving in to an artist’s creativity, moves them further beyond themselves into this sense of adventure, this experience of having a new, surprising identity at the event, in much the same way as the traditional use of mask arts allows a performer to assume a supernatural identity in world theater and ritual (or in our modern special effects movies). My hope is to see the people I paint “inhabiting” the mask, bringing their new face/new identity to life, showing off, performing.
At the MFTA event a woman asked me how I decide what to paint on each person. Much of the process is intuitive, matching colors to their eyes and clothes, working towards the shape of their face, how their hair looks, etc., and I interact with each person, asking them a question or two such as “do you want to be nice or spooky?” As I explained to the woman, though, much of my process is like any artist working on a canvas in their studio: what do I want to work on, what are my current thrills and challenges, what can I paint that people will respond to, and even — just like a “real” artist — what am I trying to say with this painting. In the faces from this event, you can see some examples of what we call “classics”  (face designs we know work, like the “Night Queen” and “Moon and Stars”, or something that I know a little girl will like such as the “Zebra Nose”) in combination with explorations of my current creative challenges, the things I have been working on (such as the use of fineart images as source material, like the Picasso and Matisse faces; the continuing effort we are all putting in to adding more figurative imagery, like “Swan Lake” and “Devil Eyes”; and my current attempts to “mash-up” these avenues of exploration into new Halloween designs like the “Zombie Attack” and “Picasso Zombie”).  And from face to face I concentrate on creating diversity in style and concept so the faces are a surprise in the progression of designs, as well as individually.
Materials for the Arts is one of the more remarkable organizations we have ever had the privilege of working for. They are a vital part of the arts and arts education communities of New York City, and just one of the venues that makes it so exciting to do what I do in a place so full of creative energy and artistic freedom as New York. Please check out their website: http://www.mfta.org/

From their web site:

Founded in 1978, Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, provides thousands of NYC’s arts and cultural organizations, public schools, and community arts programs with the supplies they need to run and expand their programs. MFTA gathers materials from companies and individuals that no longer need them and makes them available, for free, to the artists and educators that do. In the process, hundreds of tons are removed from the waste stream every year and kept out of landfills, which helps sustain our environment, promotes reuse, and reduces waste. MFTA helps artists realize their visions, provides students with a richer educational experience and furnishes businesses and individuals with a simple and efficient way to enhance the cultural life of their city.



New Faces — Faces At Play: Face Painting images of Sports, Dance and Physical Activities

In my Transformations Facepainting company, we’ve set a goal for ourselves this year to match the way we paint faces to suit events with special themes, working to alter both the imagery we use and the style of the facepainting. It’s a way to be more supportive to the goals of these events and also a way to push ourselves into new directions. Earlier this October, we painted at the Summit Medical Group Sports and Healthy Living Fair ( http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/about/ ), which is designed to get kids inspired to do sports and other physical activities to stay healthy. Jennifer, Britt and I decided we’d ask the kids and adults we painted about what physical activities they enjoy doing, what kind of active games they play outside or if they play any sports ‚ and then we’d turn their answer into their face design. It led to a lot of new, off-the-cuff designs. We had fun, we tried new things and learned from each other’s experiments, and we had people standing around to watch and see what new idea we’d come up with next — which is a large part of what we want to achieve with our approach to facepainting as a performance art, to make it as exciting to watch as to participate.

I was particularly taken by the work that Jennifer and Britt did. There’s a playfulness to the designs they painted that perfectly matched the “active play” concept of the Health Fair, and which seemed so appropriate to the kids we were painting. Whereas I was too concrete in my use of figures, both Britt and Jennifer let their figures bend and float on the face for a lyric, “childlike” effect — in the style of the illustrations of Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold ( www.faithringgold.com/ ), or the floating figures of a Chagall painting. Although the individual faces were quite beautiful, especially as they both use colors so well, the impact of this playful approach was best seen over the collective effect of the day’s faces, so I’ve put some of the fotos together as a slideshow.

a girl on monkey bars

Jennifer's "Swan Lake" - such a nice idea I tried it myself at my next event

One of the things I appreciate most about having a company of talented artists is the inspiration I gain working beside them. Britt painted this girl jumping rope early at the event, and I made a point of trying the idea myself so that I can remember it and use it again.

From "Tar Beach" by Faith Ringgold