The art of face painting

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A rainbow butterfly design.

A Batman mask with a rising sun.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Stacie Guajardo, of Fun Faces and Beyond, holds a paint kit at a birthday party last weekend. Guajardo is a face painter that has experience as a body painter.

When Stacie Guajardo enters a room, little eyes light up. But Guajardo isn’t a clown and doesn’t make balloon animals.

Instead, the Belen resident does something just as colorful and meaningful with her face painting business, an endeavor she has had more exposure for since she moved to Valencia County from Denver.

Her business, Fun Faces and Beyond, gives children a chance to imagine themselves being a superhero for a day, or a butterfly with sparkles that can transform any little girl into a princess.

On a recent day, about 10 children saw Guajardo’s magic firsthand as she set up her table against the south wall of a friend’s garage and prepared to go to work.

She put the table against the wall to have room to work as curious eyes sometimes crowd her area, she says.

Bright pinks and Batman black seemed to be the colors of choice for a birthday party of a 6-year-old Rio Communities girl who jumped up on the chair excitedly as the first of about 10 children to get fresh paint on their faces.

Still, several children crowded around a nearby table with cards of designs, their eyes wide with wonderment of what request they would make of the artist.

Starting with pink, Guajardo drew the outline of a cupcake to match the color of the girl’s clothes. A few moments later, the girl was smiling and playing a cakewalk game with her birthday design complete.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Carlos Cordova, 5, closes his eyes as a Batman mask is painted on his face. Cordova was one of several children to have their faces painted by Guajardo.

Guajardo said most children want similar designs and if you are a face painter, you must know how to paint a rainbow butterfly design and a Spider-Man mask.

“You have to learn how to do that if you are going to be a face painter,” Guajardo says.

The face painter started her trade by accident after her friend, Tom, who had seven children, passed away. She borrowed a color kit and painted faces at the funeral as a way to keep the little ones occupied.

“We had the best time,” Guajardo said. “It calmed everyone down. I painted at the funeral and all the adults could socialize.”

The artist, who was a vendor at events in Colorado, moved to Belen less than a year ago, after her husband took a job with the BNSF Railway, and has found the area to be good for business.

She knew she was good at art ever since she won a coloring contest at the age of 5.

The contest, where she colored Sam the Lamb, earned her a stuffed animal and unearthed a passion that she has carried with her to New Mexico.

Her other passion for children doesn’t hurt.

“I really like being around kids,” Guajardo said. “I like it a lot. It’s a really good thing for me.”

She said Valencia County offers her the opportunity to be one of few artists in the area who is a face painter and available for events, such as children’s birthday parties.

In Denver, at any one event, she would be competing with several others who do similar work. The commute and rental space for her booth was costly, she said.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: A close-up picture of Kayla Salas, 5, shows the details of Stacie Guajardo’s work.

The Internet age has allowed her to purchase supplies that include rainbow-colored sponges that give a child’s face a multi-colored design in just a few seconds.

But living in Valencia County gives her the opportunity to offer her work for much less. For example, she charges $3 per design, where in Colorado, she would have to charge as much as $12 more.

“I feel really lucky,” Guajardo said. “(The market) isn’t as saturated here.”

Parent Renee Baca seems to agree.

Baca is a friend of Guajardo and took advantage of the artist’s close proximity to her Rio Communities home.

“The quality of her work is excellent,” Baca said. “You don’t find that in Belen. You would have to get someone to come down from Albuquerque.”

Guajardo, a Belen Art League member, said she wants to use weekends to teach people and “show them the ropes” of her craft. The work in the local area gives her a chance to build her portfolio and volunteer more of her time.

In the past, she has done body paint work for a black tie event at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital in Denver and said she wants to donate time to local funeral homes to help families cope with the grieving process.

She has taught face painting classes in the summer months and on Saturday, Nov. 10, she will teach a class at the Belen Art League Gallery so that others can see what she does.

“It will give a chance for people to see what I do with the products I use,” Guajardo said. “They will see how easy it is.”


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.