Questioning,

In the time between my last In-Depth post and my most recent meeting with my mentor, I made lots of new progress.  Right after my first meeting with Sandi, I set out to do my initial supplies gathering.  Using a combination of scrounging around my house and going to beauty supply stores, I have been able to get my hands on most of the basic supplies I’ll need for my nail art endeavors.  In the weeks between our two meetings, I spent some time trying out the dotting tools that she suggested I purchase.  The only prior experience I had with dotters was the 15-or-so minutes that we used to experiment with them during our session previously.  Therefore, my work at home was…interesting.  On my right hand (blue and gold), I did some of the basic dot-based designs that Sandi and I had discussed.  These styles being polka dots, flowers, and hearts.  I thought these styles would be a breeze, even when I was using my non-dominant hand.  I was wrong about that.  Although using a dotter for nail art seems quite simple, and definitely makes everything look more crisp and round than a brush does, it still takes some getting used to.  After finishing my not-so-simple “simple designs”, I moved on to painting my left hand.  I thought that if the dotter is so amazing, then maybe I’d be able to do better designs with it as well.  Wrong again!  I tried to do a Harry Potter set of nails (black and white), and while they didn’t turn out horrible, they took much longer than something of that quality probably should have.  After I finished, I realized that while dotters are a great tool for certain patterns, they may not be the universal design makers.

In preparation for my next meeting with Sandi, I did the homework she assigned me, which was looking for different nail art inspiration and designs.  Prior to my meeting, I emailed Sandi some of the designs which I found interesting, including a mosaic, an ombre butterfly, and some cherry blossoms.

At my next meeting with Sandi, I definitely felt a lot more comfortable than I did the first time around, making it easier for me to ask questions and for clarification.  The topics of the meeting were still quite introductory as I still need lots of practice with the basics.  The meeting began with Sandi giving me a finalized list of the supplies I should look into (including the places I could buy them).  I found it very thoughtful that she too is thinking about my project outside of our meeting hours.  It’s nice to have a mentor who is as dedicated as I am.  After this, we picked up where we left off last meeting with stamping and dotting.  Sandi and I both realized that my biggest obstacle with nail art is my speed, or lack thereof.  When doing stamps, the paint dries quite quickly meaning that the artist needs to move fast.  Because I am not confident in my technique yet, I tend to move quite slowly, resulting in the stamp transfer not being the best.  A similar dilemma happens with dotting.  When I place the dotter on the nail, I tend to linger.  Subconsciously, I think that this will make sure the dot is clear, but in reality, it makes the dot more smudged.  Sandi explained to me that it seemed that I was almost trying to paint with the dotter, instead of actually  dotting with a quick motion.  I thought about the experience I had with my Harry Potter nails from the weekend before because at the time, I was purposely trying to paint with my dotter.  I asked Sandi “When do you know when to use a dotter versus when to use a nail art brush?”  She told me that dotters are used for exactly what they sound like, dots!  Patterns or images that contain dots should be the only reason why you would use a dotter.  Anything else where you are dragging paint, such as lines, would need a brush.  The mini-lesson made sense to me and confirmed the previous thoughts I had about the topic as well.  Unfortunately, I still wasn’t feeling 100% about my dotting abilities.  I then clarified with Sandi the motion of dotting by putting it in my own words and reiterating my understanding back to her.  For those reading who are interested in using the tool, the most concise way that I can put dotting is that it is a quick up and down motion.  The concept is so simple, that I often feel there should be more to getting a perfect circle.  However, keeping things simple is what dotting is all about.

After spending some more time on stamping and dotting, Sandi and I moved onto a set of new skills.  Firstly, we went over adding gems to designs.  Gems are such an easy way to add an extra accent and complexity to nails,  without having to spend more time designing.  Adding gems is quite a simple process, it just takes practice picking up the tiny stones and attaching them to the nail.  After a couple of tries though, I felt pretty good about gems.  After this, we moved onto some of the techniques used in the sample designs I sent Sandi.  We did some more dotting based on a cherry blossom design before moving on to trying out ombre.  Like stamping and dotting, the trick with ombre is to move fast and with confidence.  Once again, I don’t describe myself as either.  The other tricky thing with ombre is creating a good colour combination that easily fades from one colour to the next.  As neither Sandi nor myself have tons of experience with ombre or creating the best colour combinations, this process was quite experimental.  Although the end result I created wasn’t the nicest looking, I think I at least have a good idea of how ombre is applied.  I just need to get better at actually applying it.  The last new thing Sandi and I talked about was a nail hack she saw online.  One of the designs that I sent to her was a plaid print.  Even though Sandi had never tried this before, she wanted to see if it was possible for us to create a plaid nail sticker.  The reason being that the look would be easier and more crisp-looking than hand painting would be.  Because this technique was such a first for the both of us, the end result wasn’t much of anything.  However, I really liked going through this experience because in a way, it showed me that Sandi is human too.  Even though she’s my mentor and an expert in the field, knowing that she’s still learning and willing to try out new things along side me, makes me feel like I can relate to her even more.

Throughout our meeting (and as you can probably tell through this post), a common theme kept arising – SPEED!  Not only did Sandi keep reiterating how speed is important in terms of technique, but she also mentioned how in the big picture, speed is going to be important as well.  Based on this repetition, I could tell that speed is a big value and skill in Sandi’s mind, and I can see why.  Clients can be impatient, they have things to do.  As the artist, you need to be accommodating of that.  Both myself and Sandi know that this will be especially true for my future “clients” on In-Depth Night.  Throughout our past two sessions, Sandi has kept my learning centre in the front of her mind.  I know that she wants my station to be productive and successful, which is why she is continuously reiterating the value of speed.  In order to achieve success on In-Depth Night, she knows that I will need to be very efficient with my demonstrations at my learning centre.  We have already had a couple discussions about the best way to go about doing this (ie. setting up a couple clients at once and going through them like a production line).  However, we still have a couple months to figure out the final logistics.

Before our meeting ended, I had a couple final questions for Sandi.  The first thing being “Where are places I can look for inspiration?”  I wanted to ask this because when I was looking for initial nail art examples, I was pretty much stuck on Google Images.  I was curious to know where she gets her ideas.  She told me that she loves using Pinterest and suggested I get an account.  That way I could look up inspiration myself, as well as follow her nail art board where she pins her inspiration.  Over the weekend I made my account, and I already have a bunch of new ideas I would like to try out.  She also pointed me to a couple Instagram accounts she follows such as TheNailBoss (quite advanced, uses acrylic not polish, still a good idea to look through) and NailsByJema (fun designs, uses variety of techniques including stamps, stencils, and hand painting).  The last thing I asked Sandi about before I left was “What do I need to work on for next time?”  Her main suggestion was to just keep practicing.  The key points she told me to focus on was using the dotting tool as well as using the paint brush to draw smooth lines.  I wrote both of these things down while we set up our next meeting, before leaving her house with a smile on my face from all the new things I learned.

Since then, I have begun my practice with dotting and lines, as per Sandi’s suggestion.  I also tried out some gem application of my own.  With the dotting specifically, I already feel a huge improvement compared to my last dotting attempt.  You can find these photos below.  As the reader, if you have any feedback on my nail art or have any cool ideas of things I can do in the future, please let me know, I would really appreciate it!

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