Guest Blogger –Catriona Finlayson
This is something I have been completely over-excited about since it was mentioned on Warpaint Magazine‘s blog the week before Professional Beauty.
You see, brush cleaning is the ‘worst’ bit of being a professional painter. I carry a small container of Cameleon Brush Soap in my kit, and do try to rinse out my brushes at the end of gigs with it, but due to parking fees at malls, party venues needing to be cleared, and hopefuls assuming if I’m still there with my brushes out I can still paint them, I usually stuff brushes away rinsed but half-dirty and unpack everything again at home to clean properly. Not ideal as with 2 kids I tend to be busy & they have dried stiff & gross before I have a chance to get them out later. I use a little nobbly mat to help get the paint out as repeatedly rubbing several dozen brushes against my own palms actually makes them hurt and I always end up with cold, wrinkly hands too.
And don’t get me started on kabukis! Even more so than the large body-brushes kabukis, they EAT paint and then hang onto it. I rinse, soap, rinse, soap at least 4 times in a row, maybe taking 15 minutes per brush. I then try to squeeze out as much water, scrub them drier on towels and try to leave them somewhere warm-ish to dry out.
It can still take days and like several famous painters I have heard complain of it, still get mouldy smelly brushes sometimes at the end of it and have to start over. And sometimes when loading them with a pale colour you still get a darker tone from a colour used several bodies ago It is also why I have about 10 kabukis (not all in my favourite shape or size sadly), so that when I’m painting a body, I can have 1 per colour, more or less, as you have no chance of getting them clean & dry enough to switch between colours on a single kabuki (Ok yes lighter to darker, sometimes). Plus of course they are not cheap! And yes I’ve tried most cleaner solutions, soaps etc on the market.
So when WarPaint mentioned the Stylpro brush cleaner & drier, I immediately tweeted Inventor Tom (yes the one who won The Apprentice), asking if we could come and try it. Tom’s research showed that many makeup brushes had as many bacteria on them after cleaning as a loo brush! So he invented a solution, the Style-Pro. We wanted to see if it suited us first, as it seemed to be aimed at make-up more than body/ face painters and we tend to use different types of brushes & products. He kindly told us to come along and give it a try!
We were so busy painting Grace, had to finish off our design on her as a demo on the Warpaint stage and pose for 100’s of photos with the lovely public, it took us a while to locate Tom’s busy stall (thanks Maria for locating it for us!) on Sunday. We were peering curiously over the shoulders of his customers, watching the demos, when he spotted us and the holder full of paint-soaked brushes we’d bought along to test (and Grace in full bodypaint).
Tom immediately nabbed one of the big angled kabukis I loved, plugged it into the right sleeve, added it to the handle and dunked it into his splash-proof bowl. Everyone oohed as the paint flew off, and after a few moments, the kabuki was pulled out, bone dry. We were sold, even though Tom pointed out it would need a water change or two and another few dunkings as the paint was so much stronger/ more soaked in than makeup was. We immediately bought one each as did several of the people watching.
So whilst Grace had some professional photos done, Jennie and I unboxed our brush cleaner and had a play, footage of which can be found on the Paintopia YouTube channel. Joey Bevan joins us briefly too! (Slight technical hitch as we’d packed away our soaps already so just tried the oil-based remover it came with as an added extra). It really is like playing too! A quick dunk & whizz and hey presto, clean bacteria free brushes! It definitely seemed to work best on the bigger 1 stroke and kabuki brushes, and for that alone I will be taking mine along to all gigs and not spending hours ruining toilet sinks for once.
There are a few adaptations we are talking to Tom about specifically for face/ body painters (extra rinsing containers, a carry case/ non glass bowl, sleeves for smaller brushes etc). Tom is lovely and really keen to get his products right for his customers which is just amazing. I really think it is an invaluable tool for a busy painter, and as it runs on AAA batteries, can be used out in the field easily too. Or for just time saving, and knowing yet another source of bacterial infection is gone, fab.
I’ve only had mine for a week and it is already changing the way I work. I’m afraid I often don’t give students kabukis to use when I’m teaching short workshops, as they destroy them and the paints by getting the paints mixed up/ muddied, and the brushes sopping wet when trying to clean them, so I have difficulty using them and spend ages cleaning. Plus, of course, I’m often teaching before or after or in the middle of my own paint demo and need the kabukis myself. I’m actually doing that this Saturday at the Professional Media Makeup Event in Birmingham; I have an all day paint on Grace with a 90 minute workshop class in the middle. But I will let them use my kabukis as I can clean and dry them from being used on Grace before the class, AND clean & dry them fast afterwards to go back to painting Grace! And of course I can now rapidly clean and store brushes at the end of gigs without having to unpack it all at home later to start again. Bliss. Love it.
Jennie is selling the Style-Pro on Paintopia’s webshop and at events we go to including this Saturday at the Professional Media Makeup Event; I’ll be a Style-Pro ambassador which is very exciting too!
Thanks Tom for making life a lot easier for lots of us!