I’ve always believed in trying new things and taking challenges. You never know what opportunity will be a stepping stone to the next big thing. When the opportunity came for the Monster Make-Off which was a timed SFX competition I quickly submitted Team Demon Fabulous of the Devil's Attic and went for it. Luckily they accepted our team to compete. Mary Proctor and I had a blast competing with our model Halle Brandt. We took some big chances knowing they wouldn’t pay off. We knew not doing any costuming would probably count against us but we wanted to showcase a full body makeup. We did not win but we were happy with our makeup and apparently caught the eye of some people.
A week after the competition, Jason the owner of our haunt the Devil’s Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com/darknessfalls/ ) said he was contacted by someone that saw us at the Monster Make-Off and wanted our participation in the Midwest Haunters Convention’s (MHC) Body Paint Showcase. I guess doing a full body makeup actually paid off. Kelly Collins who runs the Body Paint Showcase with Evil Fire Lizard Productions at MHC had been at the Monster Make-Off and I guess was impressed with us doing a full body makeup. Of course the theme for the body paints for MHC was horror and they wanted them to be black light reactive which I had never really done before. Again, I believe in taking on new challenges so I was ready to take it on.
With Mary being in Europe I asked Kelsey Eisenhut if she would assist me. I knew there was going to be some really good talent there and just in case I wanted someone there that could help me out if need be. Kelsey is a very accomplished makeup artist artist and knows my work flow better than anyone. For my model I knew I wanted not only someone I could count on but someone that would be interested in the convention itself. That said, Portia Greene was the obvious choice. She has modeled for me once before at the Days of the Dead horror convention in Indianapolis almost a year ago to the day of this body paint showcase. She is a great model and she loves haunted houses and horror.
I knew the body paint had to be horror themed but the last time I did Portia’s body paint I gave her a zombie face. This time around I wanted to keep her face somewhat pretty. I knew a lot of artists were going to be doing full creature style body paints where they make the model a reptile, zombie, demon etc., so I knew I didn’t want to do that. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just wanted to do something a bit different and hopefully unexpected.
I had done a series of makeups a few years ago when IT reboot was released that used the curled up pointed smile but focused more on the beauty aspect of the makeup. I figured that would be the way to go with this body paint. Of course using the Pennywise lenses from Primal (https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) would be a no brainer aswell. I could do a kind of beauty look on her face and paint some scenes on her front and back.
I started looking for some reference images that would fit the body, that were also readable from a distance but also challenged me. The first image I came across was of a sewage tunnel with all of the kids standing in the background and Pennywise’s face represented in the ripples of the water. The back was just a kind of ghostly image of Pennywise I had found that I figured I could make my own.
Upon starting the body paint I decided that the figures of the kids in the tunnel would get lost and not read from far away. I decide to omit them and make a light almost like the deadlights shinning from the back of the tunnel. The ripples in the water were a lot of fun to paint. I started off the painting using practical brushes. What really brought it all to life was the fluorescent airbrush paint that EBA Performance Makeup (https://performancemakeup.com/ )had sent me. I had never worked with black light paint before so I was just hoping for the best. Kelsey would periodically bring over a black light to see if I was on the right path. It was very cool to see how the light reacted to the airbrush paint.
I generally do very hard lined imagery with body paints so the back was going to be a challenge for me. With it being a ghostly image I knew I wanted to use all airbrush and keep it soft and haunting almost like Steven Gammell's work in the Scary Stories books. Kelsey had already blacked out Portia’s back so I had a clean black canvas ready to start building up airbrush paint. I wanted the whole body paint to stand alone without blacklight but with the back I wanted there to be an element that was only visible with black light. The cracks that generally appear on Penneywise’s forehead I turned into a kind of lightning or electricity with white paint which showed up well on the black background. I then used a fluorescent magenta that didn’t really show up in regular light on the black background but revealed a hellish electricity look in black light. I was most scared to do the back at first but it turned out to be my favorite part.
For the arms and legs I knew I needed something bold. I painted them solid pink and then with Kelsey’s help I had here hold a hexagon stencil over the pink and went over that with purple. IT’s natural form in his dimension is not Pennywise the dancing clown but a spider like creature. With that said I then loosely painted her arms and legs with spider webs. For the transition from the body to the extremities I used “Kirby Dots” as inspiration. The great comic book artist Jack Kirby use to always draw these chaotic dot patterns to represent types of energy. Since IT is from another dimension I thought a representation of cosmic energy was a nice touch. Not to mention the black against the pink would pop.
Everyone else’s body paints looked amazing! I walked out to the audience to watch Portia walk on the stage and ran into makeup artist Michael Faust from Face Off who co-owns Global Fear Enterprises ( http://globalfearenterprises.com/ ). I said hello and when he asked what theme I went with I told him IT. I was happy that when my body paint walked out he was surprised because I hadn’t done creature type body paint and painted her in the clown suit. He said he liked how I had told more of a story. That was exactly the reaction I wanted and to get it from an artist I really respect was an awesome feeling.
Kelly was awesome and came to me afterwards and invited me back next year. I was happy with what I had done but it was nice to know that Kelley thought so as well. I am so glad that Portia trusted me to make her look cool and that Kelsey was awesome enough to come out and assist me. I was so afraid to showcase body paint among all of these other amazing artists. This is the take away from this experience, accept all challenges, push yourself to do new things, and trust in your abilities.