October 27, 2014

The Lacquer Legion - October Challenge - After Dark - #LLAfterDark

The two weeks before Halloween are always kind of crazy at my housedecorating, putting the final touches on our costumes, etc. Crazy, but fun. Unfortunately though, I've gotten behind in my blog posts. My review of last week's Nail'd It just didn't get done and I have another Halloween mani photographed but not posted. However, I couldn't miss participating in this month's Lacquer Legion!

I've been wanting to do vampire nails for a while and I just bought a yummy new Wet n Wild polish that I was "dying" to try. So, I created a two-color ombre and added a couple of little glowing eyes to represent the night creatures—living and undead—who come out After Dark. The polishes used for this design are:
  • Wet n Wild - So Berry On Trend
  • Maybelline - Onyx Rush
  • Orly - Masked Ceremony (for a touch of dark sparkle)
  • Sinful Colors  Pull Over
  • Sinful Colors - This Is It
This is the first time I brushed water-soluble glue on my fingers before sponging on the ombre and, I have to admit, I'm a convert. It made clean up so much easier and less time consuming.

I really love this look and predict I'll use it long after the season of the witch is over for another year. 

Happy Halloween everyone!

October 17, 2014

Daily Design - Falling Leaves

Unlike many sections of Dallas, the area I live in is chock-a-block full of tall, old growth trees. This green belt surrounding a small city lake is one of the few areas you can see a wonderful display of the leaves changing color in the autumn. It's also one of the few areas where homeowners have to rake leaves, but it's a trade off that's well worth it.

Today's design is a tribute to those leaves, which I'll be enjoying (and raking) over the next few months. The design is inspired by several dotticures I've seen on IG over the past month. The polishes I used are:

  • Pure Ice - Shore Bet
  • Revlon - French Roast
  • Revlon - Entice
  • Sinful Colors - Pull Over
  • Sinful Colors - Big Daddy

Difficulty (1=Easy, 10=Difficult)

  • Dominant Hand - 2
    This is a very easy design to create. I used a fine nail brush to draw the edge for the brown tip on the ring finger and filled it in with the regular polish brush. I also used the fine nail brush to draw the tree. The rest of the design was created with a small tipped dotting tool. To achieve a good random mix of colors, I did two rounds of alternating dots in each leaf color
    —orange, yellow, green then orange, yellow, green again. I finished it off with a few random brown dots.
  • Non-dominant Hand - 2.5
    One of the things I love about dotticures is they're just as easy to do with my left hand as with my right. Even drawing the tree is almost as easy, due to the random nature of the placement of the branches.

Newbie Notes

I love finding designs that are easy to do and fun to wear, and this is one of those designs! Whenever someone looks at one of my nail designs and says "That's so cool. I could never do that." I always recommend they try a dotticure. They're easy to do, they look great, and they can be created without any special equipment (which can be important to someone new to nail art). I have my own dotting tools now, but when I first started I used things like toothpicks, bobby pins, and the tip of a pencil. In fact, so many different types of designs can be created with dots, you could never learn another technique and still create a multitude of beautiful nail art.

Recap: Nail'd It! - Episode 2 - Nail Candy

Sorry that life circumstances delayed this week's recap, but here we go!

This week we had China, Temeka, and Thao battling it out for $10K and a guaranteed spot in the finale.

The first Quick Dry Challenge was to create a nail design that could make the transition from daytime to evening for young professionals. Although she had a difficult client, who messed up two of her nails at the end of the 90 minutes, Temeka was able to pull everything together and claim the first win of the night.

Temeka's Quick Dry Design

For the Elimination challenge, the theme was "Candy" and the contestants were given a huge selection of real candy treats to incorporate into their nail designs.

Willy Wonka, eat your heart out!

Unfortunately, the bad-mouthing and backstabbing among the contestants continued this week, although it was somewhat diminished. The height of it came during the "twist" when, two hours into the challenge, the contestants had to exchange the work they'd already completed with another contestant. Because she won the first challenge, Temeka got to choose the switch assignments.

The worst was China griping about Temeka's sudden migraine being a ploy or an excuse. Now I don't know whether Temeka actually had a migraine, but as as the spouse of a migraine sufferer, I do know that migraines can come on in a matter of seconds, be quite severe in nature (my husband goes temporarily blind sometimes), and shouldn't be taken lightly.

In the end, Thao's candy nails reigned supreme and she won the challenge, with China coming in second (despite have one nail in her design that literally looked like a piece of poop) and Temeka being eliminated. I think it's interesting that Thao did the least amount of trash-talking during the elimination round—by concentrating on make her own nails as good as possible instead of trying to put down other contestants, I think Thao gained an advantage. (Take note, future contestants!)

Thao's winning design

The "Try At Home" section this week featured Speckled Egg nails. This is a very easy design that all us nail design newbies should be able to recreate with ease.

Sneak previews for next week look like more of the same—girls behaving badly instead of focusing on nail artistry. In fact, it looks like this might be the worse group yet. Too bad.

October 13, 2014

Daily Design - Halloween - Frankenstein

The season's first cold front has lowered the temps in Dallas from 92 on Friday to 62 (and falling) today. Now that the air's more brisk, my thoughts are turning to the best part about the autumn...Halloween! And when you're a classic movie fan like I am, one of the best things about Halloween is Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, and all their great black-and-white horror films.

Today's design is a tribute to Boris Karloff and the original Frankenstein. Each nail represents part of the story: the graveyards where Dr. Frankenstein found his "parts", the lightning that created the spark of life, the face of the monster, Frankenstein's triumphant cry, and the tragic encounter with the little girl picking flowers.

The design is original, inspired by the movie. The polish and materials I used are:
  • L'Oreal - Greycian Goddess
  • Sephora by OPI - Matte Top Coat
  • Black and white acrylic paint
  • Sable paintbrush with fine, detail tip

Difficulty (1=Easy, 10=Difficult)

  • Dominant Hand - 8
    Freehand painting is still difficult for me and, although the acrylic paint and fine tip brush made it easier, it was hard to get pictures and lettering I found acceptable. The lightning was the easiest to paint and the monster's face was the hardest.
  • Non-dominant Hand - Not Applicable
    This is one of those designs that I didn't even attempt using my left hand because I knew it would be almost impossible. Instead, I used the same base polish (Greycian Goddess) and created googly eyes with my dotting tool (looking in horror, no doubt, at the rise of the monster).

Newbie Notes
I've seen a lot of nail art created with acrylic paints, but this is the first time I'd ever used it myself. Wow, what a difference it made! Acrylics are much easier to work with than polish, mainly because they don't dry out as fast. In addition, I used one of my new ultra-fine brushes and that made all the detailed work (especially the lettering) go much smoother. It takes very little acrylic paint to create a design, so the set of small tubes I purchased (in red, yellow, blue, brown, white, and black) should last for a long time. Finally, the acrylics didn't smear when I applied the matte top coat. Overall, I had a good experience using acrylics and I would definitely recommend them to other newbies.

October 9, 2014

Daily Design - Autumn Vines

Now that the 31-Day Challenge is over and I've decided to keep this blog going, I realized it needs a specific focus—a "mani-festo" if you will (sorry, I couldn't resist). Since it's called "Nail Design Newbie" and I'm still a beginner when it comes to nail art, it seems fitting that my blog focus on the issues that concern those of us who don't have a lot of experience and are still learning how to make our nail design look presentable.

Each "Daily Design" post will discuss:
  1. The inspiration for the design (if I didn't create it myself)
  2. The polishes, decorations, tools, etc. I used
  3. Difficulty rating for the dominant and non-dominant hand
  4. A "Newbie Notes" section describing the problems I had creating the design
Let's get started!

The temperatures haven't dropped all that much in Texas yet, but I've been seeing so much beautiful Fall nail art that it's put me in the mood to do some. This design was originally created by Nails2Match but I changed the polish colors.

I've been trying a new base coat (American Classics - Bridge the Ridge) and top coat (Sally Hansen - Insta-Dri). The other polishes I used are:
  • Revlon - Elegant (base color)
  • Kiss Nail Art Paint - Black (abstract "wall")
  • Sally Hansen Hard As Nails - Brownstone (vines & leaves)

Difficulty (1=Easy, 10=Difficult)

  • Dominant Hand - 3
    This wasn't too hard to create with my right hand, although I had a little trouble with the polish on the wall sections being too thick.
  • Non-dominant Hand - 5
    The leaf shapes and vines were more difficult to draw with my left hand, but not impossible.

Newbie Notes

I'm fairly pleased with the way this design came out. My main complaint is that the leaves and vines aren't delicate enough and I think the trouble was my nail brush. I just bought a new set of nail brushes including a few with ultra-fine tips but I didn't use them here. I've noticed that I have trouble judging the size of design elements when I'm looking at a picture from the internet. Maybe it will get easier when I have more experience.

October 8, 2014

Recap: Nail'd It! - Oxygen's New Nail Art Show

Last night, the first competition show about nail art premiered on the Oxygen network. Nail'd It! features three nail artists each week who compete for a spot in the finale—1st place wins $10,000 and a guaranteed spot, 2nd place gets a second chance to get into the finale, 3rd place is eliminated.

The first contestants were Classic, Jamie, and LaToya and the competition was in two parts: a 90-minute, 2-D, everyday nail section and a 6-hour, 3-D, nail sculpting runway section. The artists created some great designs but in the end Classic won, Jamie came in second, and LaToya was eliminated.

Despite being excited about the premiere of this show, I have to admit that I was disappointed in the overall execution. Given that over 90% of nail artists are women, the Oxygen Network undoubtedly had a wide pool of contestants to choose fromand yet starting with the very first episode, they cast women who represented some of the worse female-on-female stereotypes including cheating, backstabbing, and being a doormat.

I will never understand why a network or a producer would choose to focus on a previously unrecognized art formwhether it's nail art, cosplay, creature design, body painting, or makeup—and then cast contestants that will show that art form in its worse possible light by focusing on conflict and bad behavior rather than artistry.

You know why Face Off (SyFy's makeup competition) is still going strong in its 6th season? Because they focus on the makeup artistry and not the conflict. The majority of their contestants are talented people who don't act like jerks; the few who do are usually gone before mid-season. (Side note: I've met several of the Face Off contestants and they are just as nice in person as they seem on the show.)

Unfortunately, most of the like-genre show have not followed the Face Off formula for success. Heroes of Cosplay got such a negative reaction when they chose to focus on bitchiness and conflict that it almost destroyed the show when it was overwhelmingly rejected by the general cosplay community. They have since made changes to focus on the more commonly seen positive aspects of cosplay but it may be too little, too late. I and many others stopped watching Skin Wars before the finale and I doubt it will get another season. The same goes for Jim Hensen's Creature Shop. Let's face it, there are jerks in every profession, but the showrunner chooses the show's focus, either positive or negative, and too many competition shows choose the negative.

That said, there were many things I liked about Nail'd It!. The judges (Jan Arnold, Tom Bachik, Elaine Watson) and host Adrienne Bailon all did a good job and gave interesting tips and feedback. The "try this at home" Nail Tip section was great—in fact, I wish it had been much longer. Plus, it's obvious that we're going to see a lot of great nail art and techniques.

I will continue to watch Nail'd It! and hope it steers away from negative aura that hovered over the first episode and focuses more on this amazing art form (unfortunately, previews of episode 2 don't give me much hope). Like many others, I'm hooked on nail art so I'll try to stick with it as long as I can. But seriously Oxygen, if I want to see egomaniacs behaving badly, I'll call into a corporate board meeting. Just something to consider...

October 7, 2014

Pink Overload — Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Let's get this out of the way right up front...I'm not a "girlie" kind of woman. I've always been a tomboy, you can count the number of times I've worn a dress this year on one hand, and I almost never, ever wear <shudder> pink. But I do have something that binds me in sisterhood to thousands of other women—I'm a breast cancer survivor. So at least once a year, I grit my teeth and embrace the pink to raise awareness about a disease that affects over 200,000 more women every year.

My Breast Cancer Awareness design  focuses on "three" in honor of women (including myself and Joan Lunden) who've battled the more rare and more virulent form of the disease known as triple negative. The accent nail is a three-layered pond design and the rest of the nails are three-layered jelly sandwich.

The polishes I used for this design are:
  • Sinful Colors - You Just Wait (translucent holo gold/rose)
  • Essie - Tuck It In My Tux (translucent shimmery white)
  • China Glaze - Hang Ten Toes (hot pink)
  • Sally Girl - In Love (rose gold/pink glitter)
Besides the usual "get your mammogram" message (seriously, get your mammogram) let me offer some advice as someone who's been in the trenches of the breast cancer battle.
  1. If you have dense breast tissue, insist on a sonogram in addition to your mammogram. My cancer might have been diagnosed 6-12 months earlier if I'd had a sonogram.
  2. It's a myth that triple negative only occurs in women with the BRCA gene. I don't have it and neither do 90% of the triple negative survivors I know. However, you should be tested for the BRCA gene, especially if your mom, grandmother, or aunt has also had breast cancer.
  3. If you are diagnosed with triple negative, even if it's in an early stage, choose an oncologist who favors an aggressive treatment plan (surgery, chemo, and radiation). To date, there is no drug that can help reduce the chance for recurrence of triple negative (like tamoxifen that's used with regular, hormone-receptive breast cancer) so it's important to get rid of it all up front.
  4. Much of the information you see on the internet about triple negative is scary and depressing, but remember this: it's more responsive to chemotherapy than other types of breast cancer and the longer you stay cancer free, the less likely you are to have a recurrence.
  5. Survival rates for triple negative get better every year and continue to rise as new treatments are discovered.
If you feel like throwing some donation money our way, please visit the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and click on the "Donate" button—any amount would be greatly appreciated.

October 2, 2014

#31DC2014 Final Round-Up - 2014 31-Day Nail Art Challenge

I really didn't know what to expect when, a little over a month ago, I decided to participate in Chalkboard Nails' 31-Day Nail Art Challenge. It's not like anyone knows me in the nail art world, since I only recently started sharing my designs on social media. I figured it would just be an opportunity for me to try something new, push my limits as a nail art hobbyist, and see a lot af great designs from some truly talented artists.

Yesterday was the last day of the challenge and the experience was everything I expected and more. The nail artists I met during the month of September were incredibly welcoming to me as a newbie and I'm just blown away by all the encouraging words and helpful hints they offered during our time togetherincluding the discovery of the Flipogram app that I used to create my round-up video below. I'm very grateful for everyone's kindness, help, and advice.

Besides being my first nail art challenge, this experience is special to me for another reason. As I explained in my opening blog post, I became interested in nail art during the aftermath of my battle with breast cancer. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form called "triple negative" (the same type Today show's Joan Lunden is battling right now) in November 2008. Every year as summer turns to autumn, I face several weeks of testingincluding my yearly diagnostic mammogramto determine if I'm still cancer free. As you can imagine, this is a very nerve-wracking experience and I usually end up worrying myself sick.

Participating in the 31-Day Challenge was the perfect distraction that kept my mind occupied and prevented much of the anxiety I usually experience during this time of year. I'm very, VERY grateful for that too. (By the way, my mammogram was clear so, unless my doctors have new information, in November I'll be cancer free for six years. Yay!)

In the final tally, I created 32 new nail art designs (31 for the challenge and 1 for The Lacquer Legion), used about 50 different polishes, emptied a bottle each of polish remover and pure acetone, used about half a (large) bag of cotton balls, and wore out my flat paint brush. In addition, I have a really long list of new nail designs and techniques I want to try and a badge from Chalkboard Nails to proudly display on my blog. Overall, it was an amazing experience!

I wasn't sure if I would keep this blog going after the challenge was over, but it's been so much fun that I've decided to keep posting new nail art (and maybe other topics) as the mood strikes. I hope to keep learning and I'm looking forward to meeting many more nail artists and participating more in the community. 

Thanks again to everyone for such a wonderful introduction.

October 1, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 31 - Honor Nails You Love

Wow...I can't believe it's the last day! Today's challenge asks us to honor nails we love. The design I chose is one of my all-time favorites—it looks great, it's one of the few that I can do almost as easily onto my right hand as my left, and I learned it from one of my "go to" nails gurus. Today, I created a Waterfall design to honor Sammy, the Nailasaurus (@thesammersaurus).

When I first started doing nail art, one of my biggest problems (other than the fact that I sucked at it) was that so many of the nail art tutorials and designs were created for and looked best on long nails. I love longer nails, but I'm a writer and it's very inconvenient to keep my nails long. Luckily, I found The Nailasaurus blog and Sammy, who had short nails and did wonderful nail art that looked good on them. She also does product reviews and gives recommendations on how to have great-looking nails on a budget. She's my favorite nail blogger and I'm very glad to be able to honor her and her amazing designs.

The colors I used for today's challenge are:

  • Sinful Colors - Bright Lucite
  • LA Colors - Aquatic
  • Revlon - Blue Slate
  • Sinful Colors - Rain Storm
  • Kiss Nail Art - Silver
I'm going to do a round-up post tomorrow, but I want to thank Sarah at Chalkboard Nails (@chalkboardnails) for sponsoring this challenge and all the amazing nail artists who participated. I really pushed myself and learned a lot from all of you—and I've become a better, more confident  nail artist as a result. I look forward to all your future nail art creations and to sharing more of mine with you.