Luxury For ALL The Family at The Four Seasons Hampshire

Sixteen years ago in a “previous life”, I found myself “living the dream” spending a 3 night business trip at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel on the beautiful island of Nevis in the West Indies.

Nevis

That was my first introduction to the incredible Four Seasons experience and one I’ll never forget.

Fast forward to today and I am now very fortunate to have the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire as one of my top clients! Not quite the same tropical sandy setting but equally as stunning and possibly even more beautiful, set in spectacular English countryside in a quiet village called Dogmersfield just off the M3 near Fleet.

The hotel is a majestic 300 year old Georgian Manor Estate set in 500 acres that boasts visits by both Henry VI and Henry VIII.  Providing the ultimate in luxury it is, as you would expect, a popular destination for those seeking a special few days away from the rat race.

Four Seasons General

The hotel particularly stands out for me as I have rarely found a venue of this stature that welcomes families with small children so warmly. As a parent who likes to treat myself to the finer things in life every so often, I have become very frustrated over the last 10 years trying to find pubs, restaurants and hotels that offer luxury and opulence whilst still welcoming families with open arms. The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire has quite simply nailed it!

Allow me to introduce you to “Kids for All Seasons”.

The hotel offers this exclusive “club” for their shorter guests!  On arrival, each child receives a personal invitation to participate in the fun packed Kids For All Seasons activity schedule, the hotel’s meticulously organised children’s programme.

“It’s definitely true that happy children make happy parents, so we aim to please the whole family by keeping the children entertained with a full range of activities to suit even the most discerning little guests!” Sam Kirby, Concierge.

The Kids for All Seasons Cottage is a wonderfully vibrant play zone set in it’s own charming building in the grounds, a short stroll from the main hotel. KFAS Inside

It is complimentary and available to all little guests aged 3 to 10 years. Under 3s are also welcomed when accompanied by a parent/guardian. Over 10s have their own games room upstairs with pool table, table tennis and wii station!

It is an Aladdin’s cave for the little ones. Run by the very lovely Nicole and a team of brilliant helpers (who the children all adore) the facility offers a wealth of toys; never-ending arts and crafts as well as films and video games.

Nicole Arts and Crafts

Even the children’s toilet is totally cool!!!

Taps

We have been providing our professional team of top class face painters to the hotel for 3 years now and love every booking.   As well as enjoying working with Nicole in the cottage we have also joined the wider team for family days, Halloween Parties; Christmas and New Year celebrations and of course their annual Terry Fox Fun Run raising funds for Cancer Research.

“Fascinating Faces is always a hit with our Kids for All Seasons and the school holidays wouldn’t be the same without Claire’s team’s colourful creations”

Sam Kirby, Concierge

Last Spring they also opened a brand new equestrian centre on site that offers “own a pony days” and riding lessons for children as well as a petting zoo during peak periods. The hotel also boasts a magical outdoor playground beside the cottage with a climbing wall, a rope bridge, covered slide and swings.

Outdoor Fun

Also recently opened, is the Highwire Adventure experience – check out this awesome video.

In summary, the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is a quintessentially English Utopia for families – there is so much more on offer than what I have managed to cover today – you can read more in this lovely review by a recent guest

http://familyholidays.fourseasons.com/family-holidays-hampshire-uk/

or better still book your family in now!!

http://www.fourseasons.com/hampshire/

(February half term, the Easter break and May Bank Holiday weekends are key dates coming up on the calendar so book soon if you’d like to experience this wonderful hotel and all it has to offer.)

The next dates you can find Fascinating Faces there working our magic with our paint and glitter are Saturday 14th and Saturday 21st February from 1.30pm – 4.30pm.

Fascinating Faces

And it’s not just for little kids either … big kids can have fun too!

Inspiration, Inspiration, Inspiration

4ib4Bdbig

I hugely admire the rare artists out there who can conjour up the most incredible, unique pieces of art totally from their minds – be it on canvas, skin, walls, fabric, paper …

Sadly that is not where my strength lies personally and I have to draw inspiration from many sources and resources. I am never comfortable “winging it” especially with larger projects like bump art and body art – I spend endless, frustrating, often fruitless, hours researching images, testing out ideas and practicing my designs on canvas before transferring them to my models.

I keep my eyes peeled constantly when I’m out and about – ideas are out there everywhere – in nature, on wallpaper, wrapping paper, fabric, advertising, flooring etc etc. I often get rather odd looks from strangers when I stop in the middle of a shop to photograph some obscure piece of objet d’art or an intricate pattern hidden in the swathes of gift wrap draped on display in a corner.

Other artists that I admire are an obvious constant source of stimulus. I have a “muse” file set up on my computer full of designs that amaze me and encourage me to stretch myself.   Take a look at some amazing face and body painters from the UK and all over the world at earlier blogs here. Inspirational Artists from Overseas and Home Grown Talent

My phone memory is bursting at the seams with reference photos for the more unusual requests we get at busy jobs and wherever possible I check wifi access at bookings before I start so, if time permits, I can look up anything I’m asked for that I’m not familiar with.

Thought I’d share some examples with you of images that have inspired some of my more recent designs.

Tiger

Clown

 

Purple

Excepting an occasional “light bulb” moment, I have recently hit a bit of a brick wall with my own work – a sort of plateau where I feel stuck in an artistic rut – churning out variations of the same designs over and over; not having time to experiment with really new fresh options. I am regularly reassured by the whoops of delight from the children and parents during their mirror moments that I am still managing to deliver what I need to for my customers but I feel the need to challenge myself and have a monstrous, fat, hairy, audacious action point on my to do list (some of my old Prudential colleagues will recognise that reference!) to come up with a whole new portfolio of designs! I want a new tiger, a new fairy, a new princess, a new pirate … a new EVERYTHING. Not an easy task but I would LOVE to come up with a profusion of fresh, original designs that are fast but effective!

I thought by putting this in my blog it’ll commit me to delivering on this goal and whilst I’m not going to give myself a finite deadline, it will be a continuing work in progress and I’ll keep you all posted as things develop!

So enough blogging for now – I’m off to lose myself on my iPad in the deepest darkest artistic corners of Pinterest,   Google images Getty Images  and anywhere else they may lead me!

See you on the other side!

 

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – I WANT TO BE …. A FACE PAINTER!

WARNING – THIS BLOG CONTAINS A WEALTH OF INFORMATION TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR FULL POTENTIAL. I MAKE NO APOLOGIES FOR THE LENGTH OF THE ARTICLE!  GRAB A COFFEE, GET COMFY AND READ ON…

 

I am receiving an increasing number of requests to provide training, from those just wanting a few basic skills to paint their own children or to help support PTA events at their schools to others who want to start pursuing a professional career in our crazy colourful business.

I do occasionally offer beginners workshops but right now with a house move on the cards and setting up a second business this year; I’m afraid I’m stretched to the max!

All is not lost however!!! I would like to use this week’s “Friday Favourites” opportunity to share with you some fantastic opportunities for those wishing to take things a little more seriously.

For anyone thinking it’s simply a case of grabbing some bedraggled brushes from your children’s arts and crafts box; buying a cheap and cheerful set of paints from your local craft supplier (or God forbid, your nearest “pound store”) and a “how to face paint” book and slapping a few colours on some eager kids’ faces … the please, please, please reconsider.

Professional face painters spend many, many hours training, practising and sharing ideas with each other.   They invest hundreds of pounds into professional equipment, materials and ongoing training and the “mirror moment” of delight in the child (or adult’s) face when the design is complete is our main reward for our dedication.

The majority in our profession love nothing more that to share our passion and there are endless opportunities throughout the year (and all over the world) to benefit from the generosity of artists far and wide – sharing their skills, ideas and love for the industry through jams, conventions, conferences, festivals etc.  I’ll have to leave my tips on those till another week as that’s a whole other blog in itself so, for now, let me focus on some of the inspirational, generous artists out there offering to help you broaden your skills with their training workshops.

The London School of Face Painting

Set up in 2003 by Bibi Freeman and Caro Childs this was where I personally took my first tentative and very nervous steps into the face painting world!

The principal tutors are world champion facepainter Bibi Freeman and Christine Mavromatis with additional guest tutors as required.

BIBI

They offer a huge range of one day workshops allowing you to build your own ongoing personal development programme at your own pace and budget.

Most people starting out find the “Introduction Part 1 and 2″ useful, followed by “Starting Professional Facepainting” for some valuable advice in starting out in business and practical tips on painting under pressure!

Click here to find out more about the classes on offer.

NamNams Face and Body Art

If you love painting at festivals; hen nights; night clubs … in fact anything aimed at teenagers and older then Nams is your girl!  Naomi has a wealth of experience in this field; she is a hugely talented artist and a great teacher.

Naomi Gaye is an artist I constantly admire and have featured in previous blogs.

Fortunately for us all, she now tours the country sharing her wonderful talent with a particular focus on adult eye designs.

She has a course coming up next month in West Malling, Kent, being hosted by Pampered Delights and Cosmic Face Painting.

The date is Friday 25th April from 10am – 3pm and the cost is £80 per person.

The class is aimed at face painters with experience painting children who would like to branch out and learn some new techniques to use on adults and teenagers. This class will give you lots of techniques and ideas to widen your repertoire and hopefully enable you to widen your market and get more business!

Please have a look in the festival galleries on her facebook page for plenty of examples of the kind of eye designs she paints.

The class will cover:

– Placement of design on the face
– Use of colour including co-ordination
– Building up designs with layers of detail
– Lots of different techniques that can be mixed and matched to make a range of different designs
– Designs for men as this is where a lot of people struggle
– Information about working at adults events, eg festivals, night clubs

You must bring your own kit to this class and already have at least some face painting experience, not suitable for complete beginners. If you are interested in hosting a class in your area, please do get in touch with Naomi.

For this class please book through Clare at clare@pampereddelights.co.uk

The Face Painting Shop

The Face Painting Shop is the brainchild of the very lovely Nathalie and is quite literally an Aladdin’s Cave for face and body artists!  A long over-due “hands-on” Utopia!  The only shop dedicated to our industry in the UK as far as I’m aware.  Here’s a sneaky peak!

 

Not only do they offer the most incredible array of products in store and online , you can also book up for classes or even drop in for the odd free event! You might want to like their Facebook page to keep tabs on what’s coming up.

Here’s a link to their imminent one day workshops

http://www.thefacepaintingshop.com/Workshops%20Training

Or, if you’re free over the Easter Holidays why not pop along on 11th April for a free demo day for anyone wanting an insight into the wonderful world of airbrushing and a chance to try before you buy.  Nathalie promises lots of tea and cakes and children are welcomed!

Façade Academy of Face and Body Art

Launched 6 years ago by Juliet Eve, an award winning and highly experienced face painter.  She is always willing to share her knowledge and experience and is a great supporter of FACE, The Face Painting Association.

Juliet and invited instructors run weekly scheduled courses from her base in Hemel Hempstead, Herts, UK. These are for beginners to advanced, also body painting, airbrush, Glitterart and temporary tattoos.  She frequently travels around the UK and Europe conducting bespoke and 1-2-1 classes and often hosts visiting instructors from all over the world. Nick Wolfe will be visiting from the States on 5th May 2014.

FACADE Click on this link to view the schedule of classes for the next few months and you can follow all the latest news by visiting her blog here.

Follies Face and Body Art

Based in Kent, Liz Bylett and her team offer a whole host of opportunities for development.

Liz tells us more …  “The introduction day is full on with so much info…. “Improvers” is a great next stepping stone for extending skills new tips and techniques.  Then from there is a specialist one stroke rainbow cakes day- which can be taken as a one off with no prior knowledge but works best with prior skills!  Then we have the amazing 5 day Master class route where you learn all of the skills for face and body art in 5 days!  Plus you get a kit included. And images on the last body paint day too!  Or you can take the body paint as separate 2 day course in itself.

Then we also have henna and glitter tattoos and balloons days to add on to your party businesses.

And finally, new for 2014, is our “Make Up- Intro Day, Bridal Day, plus Avant Garde- my fave!!”

makeupbanner.

Full details of all the courses run by Follies can be found by clicking here.

Brierley Thorpe

Another star of our painty world, Brierley invites you to her wonderful garden studio to partake in a variety of colourful, individual classes.

BRIERLEY

Her Spring/Summer schedule includes a range of glorious subjects and her classes are limited to a maximum of 4 attendees.

All classes are held in East London and are priced at £90 per person per day and run from 11am – 4pm.

Friday 23rd May 2014 : One Stroke Florals:

Aimed at painters new to, or struggling with one stroke painting. Learn the essential strokes necessary for petals, leaves and more abstract floral shapes. We will practice the strokes on our arms, build them up into individual flowers and then assemble larger pieces on each other’s arms, chests and faces. We will focus on roses, pansies, fuscias , daffodils and a range of leaves including ivy, holly and autumn leaves, depending upon time. Useful for children’s and adults’ faces and body designs.

Friday 6th June 2014 : Roses:

A whole day devoted to roses?! Having taught one stroke florals, I have found that painters can easily spend a whole day concentrating on roses, so if it is roses you are determined to master in lots of forms, this class is for you!

We will learn one stroke roses, tattoo roses and more realistic, detailed roses, buds and foliage.

Aimed at painters who have a fairly broad experience in various techniques at beginner to intermediate level, but who maybe avoid painting roses. Master the techniques over this day and you’ll be painting roses all the time!

Friday 27th June 2014 : One Stroke Characters:

Learn the essential strokes to create popular animal characters – dragons, snakes, sea horses, scorpions, penguins, plus graffiti writing, fairies and robots, all using clear, crisp strokes which are transferrable to other designs. We will look at all of these if time permits. We will paint our own and each other’s arms.

 Friday 18th July 2014 : Girls faces:

In this class we will look at the essential ingredients for creating beautiful designs for girls : crowns, swirls, dots, stars, starbursts, crescents, one stroke roses and buds,  multi- dipped flowers and leaves, small butterflies, rainbows – layered over stencil work and complemented by gems and glitter. We will look at the golden rules of placement and explore colour combinations, flow and dynamics.  Suitable for painters with some experience who are maybe struggling with placement or certain techniques, or are looking for some inspiration in readiness for the summer.

Friday 29th August 2014 : Women’s Eye designs:

Suitable for painters with some general face painting experience but who are maybe nervous about creating adult eye designs professionally, or are stuck for ideas, or looking for guidance with placement or certain techniques.

We will use one stroke, double (multi) dipping, line work, stencils, feather and gems and combine face paint with eye shadow and makeup. This class is all about creating flattering designs for women which can (mostly) be created very quickly.

Friday 26th September 2014 : Mixed Media:

In this fun class we will experiment with a range of techniques, styles and products to create colourful arm designs for older children / teens and after lunch progress to larger eye designs and upper chest or arm designs for adult bookings of for portfolio work. We will build layered designs using stencils gems and small prosthetic pieces. Be prepared to dive in and surprise yourself !

For further info and full details on what to bring, please email Brierley at furfangfairy@googlemail.com or call 07808 738 436

You can see more of Brierley’s work on her Facebook page.

 

This is just an introduction to some of my favourites – there are many other wonderful artists out there willing to share their skills and experience.  Please feel free to comment below on any recommendations you’d like to add or reviews on the people I’ve mentioned.

 

 

Friday Favourites – FULL CIRCLE!

Bump Art is one of those “Marmite” ideas!  You love it or hate it!  For me it’s one of my FAVOURITE areas of my work!  I remember my own pregnancy with such fondness and I am thrilled whenever I am invited to share some precious hours with new mums-to-be and help them create a particularly special and fun memory of their treasured time.

In 2011 we appeared on the BBC for Comic Relief painting bumps for Red Nose Day.  As part of a UK wide team, we raised nearly £8,000 for this worthy cause and had a lot of fun in the process!  Sarah and Katy were two of my beautiful models who have since become my friends too!

Today, three years on (and coincidentally the start of Sport Relief weekend)  I met up with Sarah and Katy again with their “babies” to celebrate their third birthdays!  They were both absolute angels but just as wriggly in real life as they were as bumps!!!  The children that is, not the Mums!

So for this week’s Friday Favourites I wanted to share this fun area of my work with you with the help of two very cute models!

Sarah

Katy Bump

Best Buddies

Sarah and Katy

If you would like to book a Bump Art experience for yourself or as a gift for a loved one then please take a look at our website to find details of a special offer we have available currently in partnership with Lovelight Photography in Pirbright, Surrey.

Please click on this link Lovelight Showreel to have a peek at some previous shoots!

And one last bit of fun ….

Friday Favourites – TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE … OR IS IT?

I have to admit to occasionally being a little cynical of grandiose declarations on websites and marketing material claiming to be  “the best in town”; “can’t be beaten on price”; “market leading provider”; “match any price” etc etc.

What I look for when engaging a supplier of any variety are personal references, referrals and testimonials.

In turn, this is also hugely important to me when promoting my own company.  I take tremendous pride in the service we offer; exceeding our customers’ expectations is our aim and it is so rewarding to receive wonderful feedback.

This week I wanted to share with you some of our most heart-warming comments and what I believe was behind the generous and kind words.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and I must say your contribution to the day was a highlight for most of the children. They all said it was really good because they could choose what they wanted to have done themselves! 

d23242bbd44a84ba6b26522c821f8a61In the words of the children, “you were great!”

Thanks again”

Sandra Wells, Send

This is one of the reasons we choose not to use photo boards when we work; we encourage children to use their imaginations and tell us how they want to be painted and we love the challenge and variety this gives us with our art.

“I just wanted to say what a fantastic job you made of my twins’ faces thank you! They looked amazing! They also loved the photographs and I wondered whether you could possibly email copies to me please as I would like to get them made up into mini canvasses for their bedrooms?”

Alison Tysoe, West Byfleet

Montage

Whenever possible I try to take photos of all the children I paint at parties and then put together a montage  for the birthday child as a memento of their special day!  It’s a lovely way of capturing the freshly painted artwork for the parents before smudges, chocolate and sometimes a few tears wipe it away!

“Just a little note to say a HUGE BIG thank you for making our daughter’s party so special. We all had such a brilliant time and it was down to you getting the adults involved and interacting with kids in such a wonderful way. I never thought a face painting party could be so much fun. I really appreciate the time you gave us and for staying on longer so that my husband could join in the fun.”

Alison, Blackwater

The children LOVE it when the adults muck in with the party shenanigans too.  Whenever time permits, we will always encourage and entice the parents to get involved too even if it’s just a sprinkling of glitter!

“Thank you so much for all your hard work on Friday. Your face painting was truly amazing and I would not hesitate to recommend you or ask you to come and work at another of our functions. I had no idea we were going to be quite that busy. By the end of it we had had the busiest day since we opened 18 months ago – beating even Christmas eve!

John Taylor, The Richard Onslow, Cranleigh

This was some lovely feedback following a booking at the fabulous Richard Onslow pub in the beautiful village of Cranleigh.

With a background in corporate marketing and event management we pride ourselves in helping companies promote their events wherever possible and hope we manage to increase their exposure and footfall.

On this occasion, we were booked for a special Royal Wedding celebration – the sun shone down; the pub was heaving and my queue was endless!  FANTASTIC!

DSC05859

“You are a terrific artist and everyone was asking where I had found you.

Thank you Claire for your patience and understanding with the guests and when I heard you had not worked with special needs before, I found this absolutely amazing and I cannot thank you enough. I know family and friends loved having the painting done as well.

A thousand thanks would never be enough.”

Val, Ron, Claire-Marie, Daniel and Ben, Hindhead

This particular party will always be in my heart.  It was a special lady’s 30th birthday celebrations and was my first booking working with special needs children and adults.  Most of my beautiful models that day were unable to talk but the wonderment in their eyes when they looked in the mirror melted my heart.  I am so grateful to Val and Ron for inviting me to be party of Claire-Marie’s special celebration.

And just one more to finish on …

“Your painting is more awesome than awesome!!!!”

Bella (aged7), East Horsley

Awesome Pic

Thank you Bella for warming my soul and melting my heart with that comment.

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Please remember to take the time to say thank you to people and companies who have delighted you with their service.  So many people are swift to complain at the slightest error but slow to show their appreciation.  It means the world to any customer-facing business and is worth more than any bottom line figure any day.  

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You can read more of our treasured testimonials on our website here.