APPEARANCE

 

With Bridget from Breakfast TV

Athabasca Advocate
Edmonton Journal
Calgary SUN
Grainews
Lac La Biche Post
Sherwood Park News
Waterloo The Record
CityTV Edmonton
Edmonton SUN
The Daily Courier Kelowna
Grande Prairie Herald Tribune
Red Deer Advocate
STV Japan (Dosanko-wide)
WHERE Edmonton Magazine

ARTICLES

Edmonton Journal – Ben Gelinas

"The makeup magician"
- Face painter Miyako Palmer creates art that gets up and walks away

It will take minutes for Miyako Palmer to turn a six-year-old girl into a grinning tiger. Palmer dips a damp sponge in a canister of colour, and dabs the excess paint on a palette.
A flurry of concentrated, gentle presses to Sarah’s chin, jaw and eyebrows reveals white where once was peach skin, dulled by the shade of the green trees at the edge of Sir Winston Churchill Square.
Sarah has a beard. Palmer finds the brightest yellow in a collection of 26 shades of theatre paint. “Still I feel it is not enough.” She says. “I need more colours.”
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With her eyes and lips narrowed in steady focus, the Japanese-born face painter fills in the space between the white. Sarah looks bearded and sickly. The orange comes next. Palmer covers the remainder of Sarah’s face.
The little girl looks like she’s wearing a Mardi Gras mask. It will take whiskers and feline stripes to become a tiger. With a paintbrush dipped in wet black makeup, Palmer draws intricate lines across Sarah’s face.
Sarah is careful to stay as still as possible. She too seems focused, gripped by a state of intense concentration. Holding up a mirror, Palmer asks Sarah what she thinks. Sarah looks, and gives that typical kid answer: no words. Just a big nod of the head – and a bigger grin.
Palmer keeps sparkles in a pill box. She brushes a few on Sarah’s cheeks to complete her latest face, art that will get up and walk away. Palmer doesn’t mind.
“It’s for them. It’s their character.” Palmer says she derives joy not from her ability to transform a face, but from the look on that face once the child sees what she’s done.
She draws her inspiration from nature, from trees and rivers, and from cartoons on television. Palmer takes colours from the clothes her subjects wear, and cannot count the number of little boys she’s made into Spider-Men. The 35-year-old runs out of white and red constantly. A lot of the result is based on the subject’s disposition.
Sarah is very calm for a six-year-old. Some fidget; some talk. Some have wild ideas for their faces, and Palmer tries her best interpret their wishes while keeping true to her own style. “Every single face is different,” she says. “Even the same design looks different on different faces.”
Face painting of this sort is rare in Japan. Ten years ago, Palmer worked for an agency attracting international street performers to Japanese festivals. Her boss wanted to hire face painters, but could not justify flying them across the Pacific. This is how she met her husband, known to Edmonton festival-goers as Flyin’ Bob. Palmer lives in Red Deer when she’s not traveling with Bob to various festivals. “In Japan, they are very shy. There was no big market, so it was a part-time job.”
Sarah has no problem walking about the crowd with the face of a tiger. It’s easy. She blends right in with the colourful acts her family came to see Wednesday.

Waterloo The Record – Melinda Dalton

"Colourful Craft"
- Popular artist at busker festival thrills audience with her brush

Mia Palmer’s creations may only survive a few hours – if sticky fingers or a shirt sleeve don’t wipe them away first – but their limited lifespan doesn’t detract from their beauty.
With quick brush strokes, Palmer transforms her kiddie canvases into magical beings – dragons, peacocks and nearly a dozen other whimsical creations.
At the Waterloo Busker Carnival on Saturday, even the most impatient customers happily waited for hours for their turn to be transformed.

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“This is the only thing she’d wait two hours for,” Jamie said as her niece, Chloe, 6, received on last dab of glitter around her eyes. “Last year when she had this done she didn’t want to take it off. This year we’ve made a deal.” Chloe beamed as Palmer held up a mirror. “It’s pretty,” the child said approvingly as she hopped off the stool.
While Palmer’s craft is more low-key than that of her busking colleagues, she was among the most popular artists at this year’s carnival. More than 15 professional performers and artists invaded Uptown Waterloo during the four-day fest.
With lines of eager customers forming outside her tent, Palmer worked quickly to move through as many smiling faces as possible. “I’m very busy, but I love painting,” the Japanese artist said as she prepared her rainbow pots of paint for her next pint-sized client. After 10 years applying makeup to moving targets, Palmer has this down to a science. In a flash, she sponged on the blue base of three-year-old girl’s peacock. In less than three minutes, she was showing off an intricate bird on her face, especially proud of the purple parts.
Palmer took up the art “by accident” a decade ago, while working for a company that booked foreign busker acts in Japan. “It was expensive to bring over the face painters from overseas, so they asked me to do it,” she said. “I didn’t know what face painting was before that.” She learned the technique from a Japanese artist and built on her skills when she moved to Canada with her husband, the one-act circus known as Flyin’ Bob Palmer. For the past four years, Mia Palmer has been weekend at festivals across the continent, from May until late September.
While she has a broad repertoire, there are some diehard favorite designs that come up, no matter what part of the country she’s in.
“Butterflies for girls and flames for boys – they’re definitely the most popular,” Palmer said. “I love watching their face for their reactions once I show them in the mirror,” Palmer said. “Every time it’s different, even if it’s the same design. Those reactions are just excellent.”
 

Grainews – Brenda Dowell

"Face painter highlight of party"

The guest list at Don’s 70th birthday party included at least 15 children under 7 and others in their early teens. All these children are the focus of our lives so we wanted the party to be a memorable afternoon for them and incidentally provide some calm fun. (Our children are not noted for great lengths of quietness except when they’re being read to or are sleeping.)
The impression most of us have of face painting is a few dabs of paint usually depicting a clown face. But in our little town parents and children already knew the wonderful work of Miyako Palmer, a gifted international face painter.
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When I emailed her, she responded that she could attend the party. Great! All those delightful young guests would realize. “Hey, ‘old’ people’s lives are not altogether boring.”
Miyako originally came from the city of Fukuoka, Japan, with a whopping district population of 5 million. She moved to Canada in 2001, and lived in Saskatoon for over 2 years before moving to Red Deer. Lessons from an artist in Japan, a creative face painting course in Quebec, and a face painting international convention in Orlando, Florida, have expanded her natural artistic talent. Ideas for her designs originate from magazines, art books, comic books, Internet and her husband’s doodling. When you see this gracious lady interacting with children, you are not surprised to know that she is open to ideas from her young clients so they also become a source for her creativity.
If she thinks she has painted too many ladybugs on small children’s arms, you could never tell this by the careful attention she gives as she paints this little bug on a child. As one mother remarked, this talented lady painted many versions of the same subject, but no 2 were exactly the same. Miyako’s favorite faces are cats and tigers.
Our generation is gradually becoming accustomed to a wide variety of career choices but face painting seemed to be a very different one to me. I was curious why a person would select this career, and was delighted with the answer, “I love to see people smiling and it’s fun to turn people into different characters,” Miyako says. Because her husband, professionally known as Flyin’ Bob, is a street performer, his career allows her to travel with him. Flyin’ Bob’s street performances of juggling, tightwire walking, and riding a unicycle, accompanied with a good helping of comedy, have been enjoyed in 13 countries.
Watching her paint quickly and deftly on a human canvas, I wondered if she would enjoy more conventional art. Not so. She finds it a “cool thing to transform a person into as many different characters as I want. A really good painting transforms a person.” At the party a shy neighbor’s child with a full face painting came up to me looking lively and outgoing. Miyako truly enjoys the challenge of working with people so she can get immediate results, interact with them and see them smile. Bob describes a painted face as “a mask which changes as a person moves his face”.
Combined with her artistic sense Miyako has a gracious nature which captivates people of all ages. Children watch quietly as she works. At one event time ran out and she could not paint all the children’s faces but she managed to talk to them and they went away feeling they were important too. Photographs of her working at huge festivals show a calm audience of young people.
Trochu, with its population of 1,033, is the smallest center Miyako has visited; a huge festival that attracts one million people in 3 days at Shizuoka, Japan, is the largest.
She has visited many centers with populations between these 2 extremes. The Palmers entertain crowds at the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival and in the last 3 summers Red Deer has had the fun of these events. As well, they have taught courses on their talents in Red Deer.

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