Dark Heart Woods

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While at Transworld (which you can read about in my previous blog) I was able to speak with the talented Alana Rose Schiro. She was on season 3 of Face Off among other things. Alana is also the creator of Rotten Roses. She was one of my favorites on Face Off and is such an amazing artist. It was so nice to be able to talk to an artist whose work you admire and actually be able to converse with them. I was with my friend and fellow artist Rebecca Rhodes who was also my demo model for EBA Performance makeup at the convention. Alana had seen Rebecca the day before in a possession type makeup I had done on her and didn’t recognize her out of makeup. Alana seemed to take a liking to Rebecca’s look and suggested her and I could tag team a makeup sometime and Rebecca could be our model. Of course when hearing this Rebecca and I both perked up.

I was ecstatic at the idea to work with someone so talented but there was no time to try and do so at the convention. With Alana living in Los Angeles and me in Louisville,Ky. I couldn’t see how it would be possible any time soon. We talked a bit about it and came up with the idea that we would each do a body paint based on the same inspiration image. One of my many flaws which can also be a blessing is once I get my mind set on something I don’t let up until it’s done. I was sending Alana possible inspiration images and probably driving her insane. Understandably Alana was extremely busy and said she would have to wait until things calmed down before she could really dive into this project.

I had looked up so many possible inspiration photos but one really caught my attention. The image was of a gloomy forest with a path running down the middle. From the path was a column of light with a lone figure standing in the clearing.  The image had a very isolated and lonely feeling to it. Not to sound like a dark cloud but I have felt very much like that lately. The image of the lone figure standing alone in the path of trees spoke to me. I knew I had to do a body paint inspired by this picture. I was already considering using Rebecca as my model because of Alana but beyond that it just fit. With her jet black hair and strong yet elegant features I knew she would be perfect. That said I also knew that Rebecca had never done body paint modeling before. Modeling for body paint is a lot to ask of someone. They have to stand there for hours in most cases nude. It can be very vulnerable but also equally empowering. We had talked about body paints before but when it actually came time to ask I didn’t know what she would say. Luckily she trusted me and my vision and agreed.

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I asked Rebecca if she could give some insight into her experience as a body paint model. This is what she had to say, “I don’t really consider myself to be a model. I have stepped in front of the lens a couple times, but I consider myself to be an amateur. However, I hold the art of modeling in high esteem and respect, and the work that it takes. In the past I have done shoots almost entirely focused on my face and the makeup, but this time was extremely different. Matt asked me to be a part of the process and while I was nervous, I was so excited. Matt and I have a great working and personal relationship and I consider him to be one of my best friends as well as my mentor when it comes to my own personal growth as a makeup artist. So, when he asked me to be a part of this body paint, I was honored. Having never even done an implied nudity shoot to straight body paint was a big leap and it took a lot of mental determination to keep my own personal doubt from getting in the way of my work as the model. The night before the shoot I’d unfortunately been sexually harassed while out celebrating for my birthday, so I was feeling a little guarded. This being said, I knew I had to let the walls fall even though I’d be cold, exposed, standing for at least a couple hours, and I knew I was going to be antsy by the end of the process. However, Matt took care of me and made sure that I was in a comfortable environment and helped to put me at ease. When it came to the painting it took about 2 and a half hours and Matt did his best to work diligently, and doing the live stream on Facebook while being painted was also really fun and it kept things light and interesting. All in all, I am in LOVE with the paint and the way it turned out and I would definitely volunteer myself to be a body paint model again.”

I definitely wanted to alter the imagery of the inspiration a bit. Because of how it inspired me I wanted to twist the limbs of the trees into a heart with the light source emanating from the dark thicket. I also knew I wanted a lone figure in the heart so I chose a bat. I wanted to keep the bat small though because didn’t want it to really be a focal point. I wanted the forms to really fit Rebecca’s body so instead of using a generic body chart I asked if she would allow me to attempt to sketch it out on her body to see how the forms would flow. I am glad she did because the way I envisioned the heart in my head was not as long as it turned out being given the length of her torso. In the sketch I used different colors for the trees to denote background, midrange the foreground trees. With the sketch being as rough as it was I fully expected Rebecca to question my ability to pull it off. It looked like a huge mess but I could read the lines. I knew what it all meant and weather she did or not she trusted me.

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With my inspiration and model ready to go I knew I wanted a good photographer to help document the work. Danny Bloom is new to the creativity community in Louisville and is a hell of a photographer. Lucky for me he was all over the idea when I asked if he would be interested. I also knew I wanted a head piece or crown to pull it all together. I contacted my friend at Velvet Rose Vintage and asked how I would go about building such a thing. She listened to what I wanted and looked at my inspiration and sketch and said that she would just go ahead and build it herself. When I saw the Head Dress it was perfect for the look and feel I was going for. Danny brought some great ideas to the shoot as well. With it being dark and gloomy feeling body paint my first instinct was of course to have a dark back drop. Danny made the right choice in going with white which made the body paint and amazing head dress from Velvet Rose Vintage really shine.

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When doing body paints I don’t usually like to use pasties. Women’s bodies are over sexualized in media. You can see a billboard of a shirtless man but for whatever reason we deem the same type image of a woman as dirty. Aside from body paint being an art it’s also a celebration of the human body. That being said I just feel like it sends the wrong message that there is something about the female form that should be shameful and covered. However we had decided to do this body paint on Facebook live as Rebecca mentioned above. I knew we would unfortunately have to cover her nipples.  We used what are called Monster Pasties and they are seamless. Most pasties take paint terribly but makeup and body paint is what Monster Pasties are designed for. Once you get paint on them they disappear. I used two different types of paint on this as well. I used all EBA Endura alcohol based makeup in my airbrush. They make the best airbrush make up and it is all I will use. For some of the blending and Speckling I used Mehron water activated Paradise paints.

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I am so excited with how the body paint turned out. I appreciate everyone who helped this vision come together. I still plan and hope to do a body paint challenge in the near future with Alana. It will be very interesting to see how we interpret as single image differently.  That said I would like to do more of this type thing with other artists who I respect. It is always good to challenge and push yourself.

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