How do I start clowning? clown makeup, part 1

Clown Tutorial – creating your clown face – clown makeup introduction

There are many things to be said about clown makeup – €”however, there is one thing that must come first. Ignore what you’ve heard — €”your clown face is not a mask! It’s entirely the opposite — rather than hide your features, it should enable you to show off your features. Make-up comes from the theater, where facial expressions need to be seen even from the back row. That’s why the oldest style of clown is the whiteface clown. Black on white simply shows up best from a distance (there’€™s probably a joke in here somewhere about a newspaper, but we’€™ll let that pass for now).

Clown makeup for your unique face

Clown tutorial - clown makeup, part 1All right, since clown make-up isn’€™t a mask & doesn€™t hide your features, but instead exaggerates them (either a little or a lot, depending on your type of clown), where does that take us next? To your face, of course! Spend some time examining your face. What are your most prominent features? What “€˜sticks out”€™ from across the room? Look at the shape of your face — €”you want your make-up to be symmetrical (i.e. the left side should be a mirror image of the right side). Start out with ideas of how your unique face should best shine through your clown face.

A very nice clown who found both a face and a name (Loopy) at Clown Camp. Note how the auguste clown makeup enhances her natural features, and doesn't hide them.
A very nice clown who found both a face and a name (Loopy) at Clown Camp. Note how the auguste clown makeup enhances her natural features and doesn’t hide them.

This is why you don’t want to simply copy some other clown’€™s make-up. In addition to the fact that you would be saying “€œI’€™m a copy of a clown — nothing unique or original here!” It wouldn’t look right on you. For example, I have a rounder face — €”it would be a mistake for me to copy some clown with a long, angular face. The make-up would look “squashed”, and simply wrong. Nobody else’€™s design is going to look right on your face.

Finding ideas for your clown makeup

Now, having said all that, it’€™s perfectly fine to copy ideas from other clowns’€™ make-up. One of the reasons that I love (and recommend highly) the books Creative Clowning and Strutter’€™s Guide to Clown Makeup is that they both contain dozens and dozens of photos of other clowns’€™ faces. Look at other clowns — find a style of “€˜eye” that looks good on you. Find a mouth that would work on your clown face. Clown noses are a topic unto themselves! There are dozens of styles, not to mention wigs. You want to experiment, try combinations, and see what your unique clown looks like. He or she is in there, and just waiting to come out!


Ellen in Whiteface, for her previous Prudence character. Note Bagels in the background to the left.
Ellen in Whiteface, for her previous Prudence character. Note Bagels in the background to the left.

Something you might want to think about as well is the type of clown. Is he the Whiteface clown, an Auguste, a character or hobo / tramp clown? Feel free to try all three types (or combinations). In our week at Clown Camp, everyone had to try a Whiteface & Auguste style clown face. Feel free to experiment. My wife came to camp as a Whiteface, and left as a much happier Auguste! She comments that she may bring back her original Whiteface character as a bag lady (a feminine version of the hobo). The moral of the story — feel free to experiment, spread your wings, and fly! There’s no crime nor shame in changing your mind. Emmett Kelly Sr. started out as a whiteface clown, only to change later into the tramp clown he made world-famous. Bobby Kaye‘€˜s clown face evolved slowly over more than a decade before he became satisfied with his final whiteface clown makeup.

Clown makeup part 1 – in conclusion

In a nutshell, you will need to try things out — €”not unlike trying on clothes, put on some aspect, and see if it “€˜feels” right — if it does, keep it. If it does not, discard it. There’s no crime nor sin in changing your mind later on, also.

OK,€”  we’ve  talked an awful lot about some “foundational” things about make-up. Next time, we’ll concentrate on actually putting on clown make-up. Between now and then, spend some time examining your face (a mirror always helps). Concentrate on your best features, and plan your clown face. See you next time!


Tags: , , ,
Previous Post
Strutter's Complete Guide to Clown Makeup by Jim Roberts
Book Reviews

Strutter’s Complete Guide to Clown Make-up

Next Post
Clowning Tutorial - creating your clown costume
Clowning Tutorial

How do I start clowning? clown costume, part 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: