Van Gogh

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“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” -Vincent Van Gogh

I met Rebecca Rhodes years ago. We had met on a Facebook makeup group and became fast friends. Back then I hadn’t really done that many body paints and certainly would not have called myself a body painter but it was something that interested me. At the time I was doing a lot more fashion editorial and avant-garde looks. I don’t know that I would call myself a body painter now even, but I love challenging myself. Speaking of challenging myself around the time Rebecca and I met I was gearing up for a body paint competition so it became one of our topics of conversation. We talked about doing body paint together someday with her as my model. That led into, what would I paint. I stupidly asked what she would want to have painted on her body and without much hesitation she said “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh has been an inspiration to me since I was little. In the art room of my grade school we had a replica of starry night painted on one of our walls that was done by past students and art teachers. I used to stare at that mural all day.

Years later I got to see starry night in person and I remember sitting in the MOMA staring at the painting in complete awe. It was beautiful and precise yet so haphazardly painted it was amazing. So when I met Matt a few years ago and he told me that he was interested in body paint I told him I wanted to be painted like Van Gogh's masterpiece.” –Rebecca Rhodes

When I am asked who my favorite artist is I can never name just one. Even though I have so many I draw inspiration from I  always say three names; Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Vincent Van Gogh. They are all very different artists but I like them all. When Rebecca mentioned “Starry Night”, on the outside I confidently said yes but inside it scared the hell out of me. “Starry Night” is one of the most famous and recognizable paintings in history, which is a master-work by one the greatest artists to ever hold a paintbrush. The idea of having to paint that on a curved body was scary enough. Then add in a heavy time constraint seeing as how you can’t have a model stand for days on end sounded daunting. I remained confident outwardly and put the idea on the back burner.

Since then Rebecca and I have become very close and have a great working relationship. We have also done quite a few body paints together since we talked about the Starry Night years ago. Not to say Starry Night hadn’t been brought up over the years, mainly by her but we never planned it out. This time of year I am working at the Devil’s Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com ) as the Makeup SFX manager where Rebecca is also doing makeup with our two other amazing artists Mary Proctor and Phoebe Conrad. I love our team and we have become a family. I enjoy doing the makeups at the haunt and we all try to put as much of a personal signature on the characters as we can. Throughout the week I miss my creative outlet so I told Rebecca I wanted to do body paint but I didn’t really have any ideas. “Well, we never did do Starry Night” She said.

It took three years of talking about it but we finally decided that it was time.” –Rebecca Rhodes

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” -Vincent Van Gogh

I knew Starry Night would come back around and I also knew I couldn’t back away from it any longer so I agreed. Rebecca is a great makeup artist herself so I suggested we collaborate. I would do the body paint and she would do the face makeup. Our mutual friend Danny Alexander also agreed to photograph the body paint. I knew he was the guy to capture this look. I have recently been doing a lot of super hero body paints which consist of very hard and graphic lines. With “super suits” there is not a lot of room for artistic interpretation. Everything has to be very tight and precise and lots of airbrushing details. With Van Gogh as scary as it was I thought it may be nice to do something a bit more loosely and free form. Me being the idiot I am I spouted off, “Why not do “Starry Night” on the front, “Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” on the back, and the “Sunflowers” on the butt and back of legs?”

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” -Vincent Van Gogh

As we got closer to the day I was seriously reconsidering my idea of doing three paintings on one body in one day. She said she could and was willing to stand that long but I did not want to do that to her. The Skull is one of my favorite Van Gogh Pieces but I was willing to sacrifice it for the sake of time. I merely suggested the sunflowers because I thought they would fit well. Starting painting at noon knowing our amazing photographer and friend Danny ( https://dannyalexanderphoto.com/ ) would be there at 4pm. That gave us 4 hours not only for the body paint, but for the beauty makeup as well. I really wanted to do the Smoking Skull but only if I had enough time.

Of Course Van Gogh never used an airbrush so I knew I wasn’t going to be using that. Not only that, but his paintings are known for their very heavy and chunky brush strokes. I wouldn’t be able to get my paint as thick as his because body paint has a tendency to crack if you get it too heavy. Using nothing but airbrush at the haunt (which I love) I knew using nothing but brush strokes would be a nice break.

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” -Vincent Van Gogh

I started by blocking out a light blue for the sky. It looks to me like he started with a darker color and layered on top. I had a feeling starting with black or something darker may cause the paint to mix and get muddy. I knew I would later be using different darker blues and black to build up depth so I knew the lighter base would give the look I wanted. I was going to go color by color. Starting with the lighter colors for the most part and working my way up to the darks. “Starry Night” is a horizontal painting, so I knew going in that I was going to have to change some things working on a slender vertical body. I decided to omit the houses and buildings in the village. When I think of “Starry Night” I can’t recall ever thinking about the buildings. I knew I couldn’t hit every detail so I decided to put my efforts into areas that would make it as recognizable as possible. Color by color it started to come together, and a lot faster than I expected.

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“If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

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I was very happy with the way that Starry Night turned out and given the time I thought I would give “Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” a shot on Rebecca’s back. In Rebecca’s words, “We decided that we would also add a second painting done by Van Gogh in order to make the most of the experience. The Skull Smoking a Burning Cigarette was a painting I hadn’t been super familiar with but I saw it and knew it was perfect.” I didn’t have the correct color pallet but I thought I could get pretty close and if it looked terrible we just wouldn’t photograph it. Same as before I started with the lighter colors and worked my way up. I blobbed the basic shape of the Skull on first. I wanted it to take up most of her back. In doing so I didn’t leave myself a lot of room to do the sternum and ribs. Normally the last color I paint is black because it will cover anything but putting in the pops of white highlight at the end was the way to go with this piece. I tried to add in some of the paintings imperfections too because they are some of the things I love about it: Imperfections like the stray brush stroke on the back of the skull, and how the paint is a bit fuzzy on the top of the head. I spatter painted on some yellow to give the idea of some of the bare canvas showing through.

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Danny as always was able to photograph the pieces and Rebecca’s makeup and makes us look good. My “Starry Night” is not perfect but I think when people see it they will know exactly what it is. Rebecca’s beauty makeup matches the painting and over all feel of the body paint perfectly while still staying within her own style.

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My version of “Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” is far From perfect. Luckily it’s not one of Van Gogh’s more famous pieces or the mistake would be more apparent. Looking at it now I wish I would have taken the sternum and rib cage down on her butt. One of my favorite things about the Van Gogh version though as I stated before are the imperfections and how it looks a little unfinished. It was one of his earlier pieces and just has an awesome raw feel to it. I hope I was able to capture that vibe.  Van Gogh’s Original painting aside I really like my skull.

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While standing for hours isn’t my favorite thing it was so worth it. Matt did a beautiful job and I was so happy with it.
 

Danny also did a fantastic job when it came time to bringing these photos to life. The way he helped me to pose brought out the shape of the paint beautifully and I’m so happy he was willing to shoot this. 

All in all I’m so happy I finally got to do this and I’m really happy I got to be a part of the creative process.” –Rebecca Rhodes

I am so happy we were finally able to do this painting. It’s always good working with Rebecca and the fact that we were able to collaborate made it that much better. I cannot thank Danny enough for always coming through and making me look good. I love the way this turned out and couldn’t be more proud. Until Next time!

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“One must work and dare if one really wants to live.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Spider-Woman

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This past February my buddy Katya Estes and I went to an art and fashion show. She is a model but neither of us were there to work the show. We were there just to have a good time and a good time we had. The drinks were overpriced but our tickets were free so we felt that offset our cost enough to get a decent buzz. The trouble is that Katya is an amazing model and when one of the designers found out she was there they wanted her to walk in the show. Mind you this was after both of us already had several drinks. The other problem was all of the makeup artists were all done doing makeup and wanted to enjoy the show themselves. A makeup artist by the name of Kayla Maxey let me work out of her kit. At the time the makeup looked good to me but I was more than a few drinks in. Looking at the photos the next day I was a bit embarrassed. Luckily Katya can make anything look good.

There are very few people I would let work out of my makeup kit, especially unsupervised so I was very appreciative to Kayla and we have kept in touch. It turns out Kayla is also a model. After seeing some of her work I asked if she would ever be interested in body paint. It’s always a strange question to ask someone but she seemed to be excited about the idea. All I had to do then was figure out what to paint. I really enjoyed doing my Spider-Gwen, and Venom body paints so sticking to the Spider-Verse seemed the way to go.

Spider-Gwen:  Photo: Alexandra Lee Brumley  Model: Melanie Smith  Wig: Matthew Tyldsley    Venom:  Photo: Danny Alexander  Model: Rebecca Rhodes

Spider-Gwen:

Photo: Alexandra Lee Brumley

Model: Melanie Smith

Wig: Matthew Tyldsley

Venom:

Photo: Danny Alexander

Model: Rebecca Rhodes

I knew I didn’t want to do the traditional Spider-Man suit or and of it's derivatives. Spider-Girl's suit is way to similar to the red and blue webbed Peter Parker Spidey suit. Turns out there are a lot of characters in the Spider-Verse but the one I kept going back to was Spider-Woman. Her suit is bold in color with its Red and Yellow/Gold color scheme. The over all design however was a bit simplistic which is why I couldn’t settle on it. The comic book design just looked too easy and flat which felt pointless to do as a body paint. It looks good in the comics but as a body paint it did nothing for me.

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Then it struck me how Miguel Mercado ( @merkymerx on Instagram ) did the Spider-Gwen suit design I ended up painting. He is amazing and I love his work and how he reimagines the characters. Not to mention he’s just an amazing artist. If Norman Rockwell painted comic book characters they would look like Miguel Mercado’s work. After looking through his work I didn’t see a Spider-Woman suit. I sent him a message asking if maybe I over looked it. He sent me a design that I hadn’t seen anywhere else and it was badass! I showed it to Kayla and she agreed.

Miguel Mercado’s Design

Miguel Mercado’s Design

In the original design she wears a mask that only covers her eyes and forehead. The mask has the traditional Spider suit eyes with the addition of a triangle in between them. Miguel’s design had her in Aviator Goggles which made sense seeing as how she’s not a webslinger. She actually has flaps under her arms she uses to glide or fly. I looked all over for goggles to see if there was a way I could modify them. Everything I was finding looked a bit too steam punk. I decided I would paint the triangle on her forehead and do a beauty makeup on her eyes that brought in colors of the suit.

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As I said before Spider-Woman has underarm flaps. I tried to think of ways to do it but they would only look good with her arms outstretched otherwise I couldn’t think of a way to not make it not look sloppy in other poses. Instead of painting the yellow portions of the suit yellow I decided to go with a very yellow gold to stay away from the green undertones of most gold but also not use rose gold which wouldn’t contrast as strongly against the red. I was then able to high light and low light the gold to make it look raised a bit.

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There were a lot of linear panels on the suit which were fun to work out in different shades of red. I then went in and added some high lights to give the high points a bit of a shine. No super suit would be complete without some texturing either. Using my favorite hexagon stencil I popped in some mesh texturing. When I finished the body paint I gave Kayla’s body a light dusting of gold shimmer powder to bring it all together. Miguel’s design even had some pink trim to really make things pop. Given the symmetry super suits have they are always fun to paint and look great if you can get it right. I was really happy with how this one turned out. Danny Alexander did an amazing job as usual capturing the body paint just right. As I said before, Spider-Woman doesn’t shoot webs but she actually shoots these green blasts from her hands which Danny actually added in post. Danny always makes me look good and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out!

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Spider-Gwen

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Sometimes things do not go as planned and you have to play the hand that you are dealt. Months ago I took a meeting with a promoter of sorts. They wanted me to do a makeup exhibition showcasing makeup and body paints by me as part of a bigger convention. I was excited about the venue and the idea but scared at the same time. I was expecting them to want me to curate a show of like-minded artists which I suggested but they only wanted me. The fear was if it wasn’t good it would all be on me, but that was also kind of the fun part. I was going to have to fill a 30 minute runway show with only makeups and body paints by me. It was going to be a lot of work but I thought with the abstract style I sometimes like to work in I could make it work. I was going to call it the “Corvin Arts” which is a surname based on the Latin word Corvus meaning Raven if that gives you an idea of the feel I was going for.

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I don’t like to waste time on these things so I started planning immediately. I cast all of my models and even a stage manager. I wanted a very dark vibe so I was working with a DJ to put music together that would fit the feel I was going for. I even planned on doing a very quick, choreographed and abstract 10 minute body paint as part of the runway show. It was all coming together. I contacted the promoter about advertising for the show since there was a month to go before the event only to find out the date and venue were changing. Not only did the possible dates they were looking at not work for me but things were just to up in the air for me to stay the course. I wished them luck and I pulled out of doing the show. If things were going to go bad I didn’t want my name attached or string along the amazing team I had put together.

Needless to say I was bummed. I messaged my team and told them the show was off. Not only was I embarrassed but I was upset that this vision I had built up in my head may never see the light of day. Luckily they all understood. One of my body paint models, Melanie Smith messaged me outside of our group chat. She knew I was bummed out and had seen on Instagram that I had wanted to do some more super hero type body paints. Comic book character body paints couldn’t have been further from what I was planning for Corvin Arts but still something I wanted to do. The first time I worked with Mel was on a fashion photo-shoot about a year ago and she had mentioned wanting to do a Spider-Man body paint at that time. When I asked her this time what super hero she was thinking of she said “Spider-Gwen”. I honestly had no idea who that character was but upon looking it up I loved the color scheme. Spider-Gwen is the alter ego of Gwen Stacy in an alternate universe where she is bitten by the radioactive spider and not Peter Parker. I had actually done a “bubble gum Vampire/Ghoul” themed body paint on Mel before in close to the same color scheme and even used spider webs.

Photo by Dusty Dunaway

Photo by Dusty Dunaway

We decided to do it on the same date the Corvin Arts show was scheduled. I was excited and I started planning right away. I thought how cool would it be to if I had Alexandra Lee ( https://www.alexandraleestudios.com/ ), the best cosplay photographer around to photograph this body paint. I had wanted to work with Alex for a while so when she said yes I knew we had to make this big. Even though my show was canceled I thought we could make this an event of its own. I decided to stop into the Destination Comics ( http://www.destinationcomics.com/ ). They have a really nice sized room in the back that they use for gaming that I thought would be perfect for painting. When I mentioned the idea to the owner Brian he jumped all over it having seen my Venom body paint with Rebecca Rhodes as the model and Danny Alexander as the photographer ( http://mattgoodlettmakeup.com/blog/2018/5/25/venomiss ). Going from painting such at dark “Spider-Verse” character such as venom to some something as bright as Spider-Gwen was exciting.

Photo by Danny Alexander

Photo by Danny Alexander

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Mel has short brown hair and I knew we would need a wig. I contacted my hair stylist friend and the best wig guy I know Matthew Tyldsley to see if he had something that would work. Mel and Gwen both have blue eyes but I wanted it to be over the top blue like in the comics. Primal ( https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) makes these great blue lenses called “Captain Superhero” that I knew would be perfect which they agreed to send me. While I was at it I thought I’d push my luck  and see if my friends at EBA Performance Makeup ( http://www.europeanbodyart.com/professional-makeup/ ) would be interested in being part of this. They offered to send me some paints and with that I was set.

I started looking around and I was finding different suit designs. They all had spider webbing but none had a spider on them which was kind of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, there is no spider on her suit in the comics but it just looked a little simple for a body paint. I was lucky enough to come across a design that was drawn by an artist that never appeared in the comics. Miguel Mercado ( IG: @merkymerx ) had done this awesome suit design that included a spider spanning the whole chest and back. Miguel does a lot of really cool alternate superhero designs that add a different element but still stay true to the character. His Spider-Gwen design was way more dynamic looking than any of the designs I had seen. I understood it wasn’t cannon but it looked cool. In his drawing you could tell by the face he had designed this look for Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy character from the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movie. Matthew Tyldley even cut and styled the wig in accordance with Miguel’s sketch.

Miguel Mercado’s Design

Miguel Mercado’s Design

I started by doing a fairly simple beauty makeup on Mel. I put white in her waterline to not only to give it a more open look but it would complement the blue contacts and make them pop. Before I started the body paint I airbrushed a tan color in alcohol based makeup to cover her tattoos. I knew I would have a hard time covering her tattoos with just white paint, and the water based makeup wouldn’t be able to wipe away alcohol based paint. I had done a Venom body paint as seen above and the spider across the chest on Miguel’s design had some similar forms. That said there was an extra color to consider which doesn’t sound like a big deal but for my sleep deprived brain it turned out to be. I also wasn’t going to paint the hood which also changed a few things. Instead of their being white above the spider like in the drawing I would bring the purple on the neck down onto the chest to the top of the spider since the hood wasn’t there to break up the white to the neck. Black is always the last color I paint because it will cover anything. I wanted to start with the white so I was essentially painting the spider in reverse. For whatever reason painting the negative space spider in white while conforming it to her body and matching it up with the one on the back which was a different spider design altogether confused me more than it should have. Several times I had to wipe things away and re-sketch things. Once I got the white placed it was fairly smooth sailing, not to say it wasn’t time consuming. The purple got an overlay of fluoro pink airbrush paint with a hexagon stencil to give it that super suit texture. Then on top of that went the blue webbing. Each color got a different stencil overlay to create different fabric textures.

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With all of the little details it took longer than I expected but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. In Mel’s words, “This body paint was an incredible experience to say the least! I was thrilled that Matt wanted to do Spider-Gwen, as I’m a huge Spider-Verse nerd. That and his superheroe work is incredible, so I knew the paint would turn out perfectly. The whole day was just a fun setting, chatting about comics and superheroes. The body paint was stunning and we had the best photographer for the images. I’m always sad to wash off the body paint after modeling them, but this one was especially hard. Matt captured Spider-Gwen perfectly and I think our rendition of her was spot on. It was a blast bringing her character off the pages of comic books and into real life.”

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Alex again proved that she is the best cosplay photographer in the region. Mel was the perfect Spider-Gwen and Matthew Tyldley matched the wig perfectly. We could not have had a better team for this photo-shoot. I can’t thank the guys at Destination Comics enough for hosting our craziness. We are in talks about doing another comic book character body paint at their shop and I can’t wait! Until then I hope you all enjoy this body paint as much as we do.

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Venomiss

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As a kid I was always a big Spider-Man fan. When Spider-Man switched to the black suit I didn’t know why because I hadn’t read Secret Wars. I liked comic books but I never really read them in order. I just knew I thought it looked cool and I was not happy when he had to get rid of it. As it turned out the black suit was an alien symbiote that would take over its host. That being said it gave birth to a whole new character. Venom was pretty much a huge hulking evil Spider-Man whose Alter Ego Eddie Brock hated Peter Parker and Spider-Man. The stories where they were fighting with each other were some of my favorites. I really enjoyed when they teamed up together to fight Carnage which was an even more evil version of Venom.

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

My friend Rebecca and I went to see Infinity War together for my second time and we were excited to see a Venom trailer. Having body painted Rebecca before she commented that Venom would be cool to paint. She was right but I had seen it done so many times before. I feel like it’s almost a rite of passage as a body painter having admired the body paints years before I even thought about body painting. I have seen some really good Venom body paints and some really bad ones. I think my main concern with doing the body paint was landing in the second category. I never shy away from a challenge so I started planning.

Rebecca said, “I have always loved spider-man. From a very young age I thought Toby Maguire was the end all be all and wished I could be in Mary Jane’s shoes. However, Venom has always been one of my favorite Marvel villains. The visual of the symbiote covering Eddie Brock’s body is harrowing and terrifying but it was so cool I couldn’t not watch it every time I saw it. So when Matt and I went to see Infinity War and we saw the preview for the new Venom movie it was like a part of my childhood was coming to the forefront again. I turned to Matt and said “I wanna do that. Lets body paint Venom.” He agreed and I was pumped.” 

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

First thing I did was ask Danny Alexander if he would be willing to photograph it. Lucky for me he is a nerd too and I think was excited to shoot a Venom body paint. With the team in place I started planning in my head. Venom is a pretty well-known character so I wanted to stay true to the original design. I knew with all of Rebecca’s thick hair I didn’t want to mess with a bald cap. I thought we could go for a concept where the Venom symbiote was taking over. Doing this I could leave areas of open skin and add more detailing and interest as the black paint appeared to stretched across bare skin.


Rebecca showed up early the morning of the photo-shoot so that we could get started. I had gotten some Monster Pasties for her to wear to give the black a really smooth super suit look. Monster Pasties are great because not only are they made for body paint but they go on very easy. Rebecca was in the bathroom for way longer than it takes to apply the pasties. When I went to check on her I could see the panic in her face. The way you apply the Monster Pasties is kind of like a temporary tattoo. You peel off the plastic, place the center of the pasty over the nipple while pressing firmly making sure all of the edges are down while dabbing a damp wash cloth to release the pasty from the paper. Just like a temporary tattoo if you try to apply it without removing the plastic, you ruin it. Unfortunately this is what Rebecca had done. Knowing we didn’t have a backup pair we just sat there saying curse words under our breath until she just said we would have to go without. Knowing that Danny was coming and the only other option was to cancel we decided to move forward and start painting.

Rebecca said, The day finally came and I pulled myself out of bed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning in order to get painting in time for some events both Matt and I had later on in the day. Once I got to Matt’s place I got ready and prepped for the paint and one of the main steps in prepping for body paint is putting on the pasties. However, me not being fully awake yet I managed to royally screw up one of the pasties. I felt awful and I knew there was no way I could postpone the makeup and shoot because all of us were just too excited. So I got over myself and went fully topless.” 

Behind the Scenes Selfie

Behind the Scenes Selfie

I knew I just had to position everything so that black paint ended up over her nipples which would make them easier for Danny to edit out in post. The first thing I started painting was the gapping mouth Venom is known for. Not only did I know that would be the most difficult part but I knew it would be the center piece as it goes from just under her nose down to her chest with the tongue snaking around her shoulder. Once the mouth was done sans the black I started making out where the open skin sections would be which would let me know how much of the white spider on the chest was needed. I then airbrushed in a brown drop shadow where the black paint/symbiote would meet the skin. Positioning the legs of the spider was easier than expected. It made sense to keep them on the breast for fear of losing the proper shape and flow if I went below the breast. I placed Venom’s eye around Rebecca’s eye instead of over it. No matter how much paint I used Rebecca’s dark eyelash would have still be been visible in Venom’s solid white eye, while painting black over her eye would make it pretty much disappear.

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Once I got all the white painted on the black was smooth sailing. After doing a couple layers of black for a good overall coverage I started to streak the black over the bare skin to make it look like the symbiote was trying to close the holes over the bare skin. Except for the drop shadow I had hand painted everything up until this point. I broke out my airbrush to do some highlights and low lights. I wanted to add some stretching over the bare skin parts and detailed the edges. Using grey, white, and light blue airbrush paint I went in and highlighted and detailed to give the solid black areas a little more depth. I also airbrushed some black to get rid of the harsh line where the tongue disappeared into the throat.

Rebecca said, “3 hours later I was painted and Danny arrived and we started shooting. The paint looked so amazing and I felt like such a bad-ass all thanks to Matt and Danny”

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The way Danny lit the photos really brought everything to life. Danny also brought an apple box. I didn’t know what he had in mind for it but I was still painting when he showed up so I didn’t question it. When he felt we had a good static shot of the body paint we moved to the apple box. He had Rebecca crouch on the box so he could shoot from slightly below her. Posing for body paint is vulnerable enough so I give props to Rebecca because without hesitation she was able to nail the pose which I knew couldn’t have been comfortable in only a thong. Danny wanted an image he could composite to make it look like she was perched on a rooftop. When I saw the image for the first time it looked like to was ripped from the pages of the comic book

Rebecca and I with Poe the Kitten

Rebecca and I with Poe the Kitten

Rebecca said, I don’t consider myself a model but this has got to be my favorite shoot I’ve ever done. I truly appreciate Matt and all his hard work and I thank Danny Alexander so much for helping us create such a cool concept. He also did wonders with helping me to pose and show off the paint in the best way possible. I’m extremely grateful to be a part of this team and I can’t wait to do more body paint modeling in the future.” 

 

Like I said before, I have seen Venom body paints done so many times before. I am not going to say the one I did is one of the best, not by a long shot. That said I am very happy with the paint I was able to do. Danny and Rebecca really made me look like I knew what I was doing. When it comes to body paints I definitely like creating my own thing and doing something that no one has seen before. That said this is my third comic book character body paint and I really love bringing these heroes and villains to life.

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Derby Daze

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I could really break this up into two blogs but with it being all Kentucky Derby related I have decided to keep it all in one. Derby for me always starts months prior to the actual event. There is planning to be done and schedules to be made and this year was no different. The Haunted House where I work and I had an event to run and do media for and I had two parties I was scheduled to do makeup/body art for. Now that I think about it I was only scheduled for one party but I will get to that.

The haunted house where I manage makeup, the Devil’s Attic (www.thedevilsattic.com) also runs the Louisville Zombie Walk which is the biggest Zombie Walk of its kind with over 45,000 participants last year. This past fall our Haunt owner Jason told me about an opportunity that had been offered to us by one of the biggest festival’s in Kentucky. The Kentucky Derby is cool and all but it’s really all about the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) which goes on for about two weeks leading up to the horse race itself. The KDF wanted us to bring what we do for the Louisville Zombie Walk to their festival. What we came up with was the Derby of the Dead.

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For Derby of the Dead I would be making 4 zombies. Two zombies would be for a local news stations, and the other 2 zombies would be for the day of the event. One of those zombies would be to work the crowd and the other one for a live demo. My team (Team Demon Fabulous) would also be making crowd walking zombies. Lucky for me EBA Performance Makeup (  https://www.europeanbodyart.com ) and Woochie FX ( https://www.woochie.com/ ) supplied me with makeup and prosthetics to make these zombies real show stoppers. I love EBA’s makeup but I had never actually applied a prosthetic before and the first time I would be doing it would be for a live news broadcast.

Some of the Prosthetics from Woochie

Some of the Prosthetics from Woochie

The first zombie I did for the news was on Morgan Dayton. Even though her segment was for Friday which was the day of the event it would be recorded the same day as or live segment which was the preceding Wednesday. On Morgan I didn’t use any prosthetics. I just did what I call a “Standard Paint Zombie” and played with some marbling techniques and layering. I was very happy with the way she turned out.

Morgan Dayton in Zombie makeup by me

Morgan Dayton in Zombie makeup by me

Rebecca Rhodes was going to be my Zombie for the live broadcast so I had her show up a little bit before Morgan at 7:30am. Having never applied a prosthetic I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time. I laid on some pros-aide cream adhesive where the prosthetic would lay. While that set up I put some more of the adhesive on the back side of the prosthetic. This prosthetic was a half face, covering only the ocular sockets the cheeks, bridge of the nose and the forehead so it was pretty easy to place. Once it was in place I painted a layer of Pros-Aide on top of that to seal it before I powdered and painted it. Foam latex prosthetics are very sponge like and if you don’t seal them they just suck up all of your paint. Once you seal it with the pros-aide you have to powder it to keep it from being sticky. I base painted it with a mauve color to neutralize the yellows in the prosthetic before I painted it using the same color scheme I used on Morgan. For it being my first prosthetic application I was pretty pleased.

Rebecca Rhodes in Zombie makeup by me

Rebecca Rhodes in Zombie makeup by me

This is the live broadcast from WHAS Great Day Live! https://www.whas11.com/mobile/video/features/great-day-live/derby-of-the-dead-on-great-day-live/417-8107460

The day of the event I had distressed a jockey costume for our actor Jeff Howell who would be my “hero” zombie walking around the crowd. I would be applying the full face stage 3 zombie prosthetic from Woochie. Jeff was excited as he always is to be a zombie but I was concerned. Having only applied one facial prosthetic before this would be no small task. I could already tell it was too big for his face. I placed the prosthetic and secured the nose in place first and then worked from the top down making sure all my edges were good and seamless. After smoothing the prosthetic top to bottom there was a lot of slack left under the chin and neck area. I tried folding it over to make it look like wrinkled hanging flesh but it wouldn’t hold. I ended up having to cut a dart/triangle out of the part that wouldn’t hold and pulled it together. I then made a bridge with latex and deli paper. Once it was bridged I added some latex and cotton to give it some texture and then sealed it all. Painting the Woochie prosthetic with the EBA Performance makeup was probably my favorite part. The sculpt was great but before it gets paint it just looks lifeless, pardon the pun. I loved breathing life into it and was very happy with it. I named the character Pat Day of the Dead after the famous jockey Pat Day.

Photo of Jeff Howell as Pat Day of the Dead by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff Howell as Pat Day of the Dead by Tate Chmielewski

From there we packed up all of our gear and headed to the event. I was lucky that Tabby Sharp of youtube fame (https://www.youtube.com/user/tabs24x7Official ) agreed to be my subject for my demo makeup. She is so much fun and great to work with. After the issue with Jeff’s prosthetic I was worried the one for Tabby wouldn’t fit either as she is very tiny standing at 4’10. I placed it on her face and it looked like it may overlap just a bit on the sides but not enough to be incredibly noticeable with her hair down. The demo was taking place outside at the waterfront (Ohio River). As you can imagine airbrushing in high wind on a raised stage is not ideal. I had to wait for the wind to die down at times to try and paint otherwise none of the airbrush makeup would make it to her face.

In the process with Tabby Sharp and myself

In the process with Tabby Sharp and myself

I was also working against a time constraint. Due to scheduling conflicts I went from having an hour which was already pushing it down to 45 minutes. With Tabby’s bright pink hair and the colorful onsie she was wearing she looked like a piece of chewed up bubble gum when I based her in the pinkish mauve color. Once I was able to get my color scheme from EBA on her it all came together. With Tabby’s diminutive size it added an extra element of creepiness to the makeup.

Photo of Tabby Sharp by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Tabby Sharp by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff and Tabby by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff and Tabby by Tate Chmielewski

 I have been lucky enough in years past to book gigs for derby parties. About 2 months before the Derby I met with Josh Meredith of the Original Makers Club (OMC). The OMC was going to throw a huge Derby Eve bash at 21c which is an amazing art gallery and boutique hotel. I have worked there in the past and it is an fantastic venue and I was excited to work with Josh for the first time. I had done a makeup on my friend Katye Estes with a lot of geometric shapes which caught Josh’s eye and prompted him to reach out to me.

Sponsored by BMW and Woodford Reserve 

Sponsored by BMW and Woodford Reserve 

The inspiration for the party was based off the recent Gucci designs featuring a king snake and bright pink flowers. I knew straight away I was not going to paint a snake, at least not in any way that would be expected. I had looked up a bunch on snake body paints. I wasn’t looking for ways to do it but rather for what not to do especially since we wanted a more "Art Basel" feel. The body paints I found in my research went from more character based body paints to just painting on a full coiled up snake. What I came up with was using the king snake’s pattern as a sash. On the lower half of the snake sash I would do the pink flower’s emerging from underneath. On the upper half I would give Josh the geometric style which prompted him to call me in the first place. I liked the idea of the top being very structured and the bottom being more organic.

Rough sketch of body paints

Rough sketch of body paints

Upon entering 21c to start the body paints for the party I realized I had forgotten my air compressor for my airbrush. Fellow makeup artist and good friend Rebecca Rhodes was going to be my date for the party so I called her up right away. Rebecca was also my zombie for the above news spot. I asked her if she could be there a couple hours early and bring her compressor so that I could do the finishing touches with airbrush. I got to use 2 of my favorite models again for another doubles body paint. I had painted Karoline Hix and Mallory Mims as jockeys last year  for a different party in the same venue which you can see on my body paint page. With this year’s body paint I started on the pink flowers first. As I was getting the flowers worked out Josh excitedly came in and wanted me to come take a look at how the party was coming together. When I was done with the flowers I popped out to check the event space. The main bar was covered in the King Snake pattern and there was a huge King Snake,… well,... snaking down the railing of the stairs. The décor had a very leathery almost snakeskin kind of feel to it. Luckily I had not started painting the snakes on the models because they had replaced the cream colored stripe of the king snake with gold.

Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

Having seen the event space changed my color scheme. I of course changed the cream in the snake pattern to gold. The geometric shapes were originally supposed to be pink, red, and black. I changed out the pink for gold which gave the paint a more dynamic look. There were more than a few things that didn’t go my way on this paint and I was running out of time. I am a bit of a control freak and I never like to ask for help. I knew I didn’t want to sacrifice quality for speed. I was coming down to the wire and I am just glad I had a makeup artist there I could trust. I gave Rebecca the color scheme and asked if she would be able to knock out a few beauty looks and she stepped up in a big way.

Mallory Mims and Karoline Hix, Photo by Morgan Worley

Mallory Mims and Karoline Hix, Photo by Morgan Worley

Me with Mallory and Karoline, Photo by Morgan Worley

Me with Mallory and Karoline, Photo by Morgan Worley

Once the models walked into the party I got Rebecca and I some drinks. It’s always really cool to see people’s reactions to the body paints. They are always surprised that the models are only wearing a thong. That or they just don’t even realize they are nude and think it’s a skin suit. The geometric shapes I had painted revealed some bare skin which made it a little bit more apparent. The models and body paints seemed to be a hit at the party and Rebecca and I were able to relax and enjoy the festivities.

Photo of Rebecca Rhodes and I by Jose Aponte of the Voice Tribune

Photo of Rebecca Rhodes and I by Jose Aponte of the Voice Tribune

Everything had been months in the planning stages. That said the Monday before Derby I got a call from my friend Mike Brady from King Sixteen. I have worked with Mike and King Sixteen in the past and have always enjoyed it. They were doing a Derby party at Rabbit Hole Distillery. Mike has amazing ideas and always wants to have a wow factor. I am lucky enough that he calls on me to be a part of that.

Sponsored by Porche and Rabbit Hole

Sponsored by Porche and Rabbit Hole

I had sent Mike an image of a woman in a bathing suit made of reflective material that looked a bit like a stylized golden shattered mirror. When Mike asked if I could do something similar with 4 days until the event I quickly went out to try and find the materials I needed to accomplish the look. I knew I couldn’t get it exact because not only had the image I sent been edited heavily but the model didn’t need to move around in the material. She just had to pose for a photo, and could be reset in between shots. Ideally some sort of plastic formed to their bodies would have been perfect. It wasn't really in the budget and we definitely didn't have time for that. I needed something really reflective that was light weight that would flex with the body and wouldn’t crease too badly. I think the material I found was pretty close. Oddly the models that were cast already were Karoline and Mallory who I had worked with the night before with the addition of male model named Darren. I also added a dark smoky eye to all 3 models with some silver accents just to add a bit of sexiness.

Photo of Darren, Karoline and Mallory by Danny Bloom

Photo of Darren, Karoline and Mallory by Danny Bloom

Hunter S. Thompson has been famously over quoted as saying that,  “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” and he was not wrong. After all the Bourbon and late nights I was ready to give my body and liver a rest. That said, I am already looking forward to next year.


Photo of Darren, Karoline, Mallory and myself by Danny Bloom

Photo of Darren, Karoline, Mallory and myself by Danny Bloom

Ghouble Gum

In this industry making good connections is so important and more often than not leads to other opportunities. I did makeup on a fashion photo shoot with an amazing team a while back in Louisville, ky. Like me, our model Melanie Smith is a makeup artist in a haunted attraction. Her makeup manager at her haunt is none other than Aryn Fox from Skin Wars. I was happy to just be doing beauty makeup on Melanie because I don’t feel my body paint is anywhere near as good as Aryn’s work. Granted her style of body paint is just a different style than mine. She is definitely an artist I look up to though.

Towards the end of the shoot Melanie told me about this Gallery Hop that was happening in Lexington, Ky. Three O Studio was doing a nude photography exhibit and wanted to do something a little different to bring people in. They thought a live body painting would go well with the photos they were displaying. Melanie asked if I would be interested in doing the body paint. I don’t know if she waited until meeting me and working with me to ask and see if we got along first or it had just slipped her mind up to that point. I wouldn’t blame her for either. Her having worked with an amazing talent like Aryn Fox was definitely intimidating. With that said painting for a live audience was intriguing.

“I’ve been a body paint model numerous times, and most of them have been live paints. So walking into the studio, knowing that people would be stairing at me during the entire process, was just like another day at work for me. I had also worked with Matt before so I knew we would have a blast.” -Melanie Smith

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

After talking to Bill Cole the organizer I accepted the job. Other than doing the body paint live there was a huge catch. We wanted photographers in attendance to be able to have some time to shoot the final piece. In doing so I would only have about two and a half hours to complete the body paint live all the while people talking to me and asking me questions. I like a good challenge but I felt I had bit off a bit more than I could chew. I have felt that way before though and I have yet to not have it turn out well.

I was given free reign to paint whatever subject matter I pleased. Being given creative freedom was another reason I was interested in this job. I decided I would go with something abstract. It would be simple yet dynamic. With it being abstract no one would be able to see if anything was wrong because there would be no frame of reference.  Not to mention if I screwed up at all I could work it into the finished work. Plus I love doing more abstract type work so I saw it as a win win.

Two days before the event I was sitting on my couch and I just started flipping through a coffee table book I have “Goth-Icky”. It’s a picture book filled with retro pop art Halloween designs by Charles S. Anderson Design Company. If you are a fan of Halloween I highly recommend it. Looking through the art work in the book it struck me. My model Melanie and I both love Halloween and doing something in that theme would be really cool. When I was painting more canvas I did a lot of cell shaded type pop art zombies and monsters so I was excited.

Since it was so late when the pop Halloween idea struck me I slept on it. The next day I starting sketching it out with a yellow high lighter and then refined the sketches with black marker. I would then run the sketches through a copy machine which would not copy the highlighter and leave me with just the black. I just kept doing that process until I got it right. Given the subject matter I knew people would expect more Halloween horror type colors like oranges, reds, purples, blacks and greys. I love all those colors and they were all my first instinct as well so that is exactly why I didn’t want to do it. I chose a kind of bubble gum and cotton candy color scheme using pinks and blues.

Pinks and blues aren’t typically a pallet I work with so I was hoping it would look cool because I had not sketched it out in full color. I talked it over with Melanie when she showed up to the event and she was totally game.

“I loved the concept Matt had come up with. We both work at different haunted houses and have a general love for all things creepy and Halloween. So when he explained we would be doing a vampire-esque paint I was all for it.” –Melanie Smith

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Melanie is so easy going I think I could have told her I was going to paint her like a farm animal and she would have been game. I didn't want to use a stencil so I took my drawing of the head which was the right size for her body and I poked some holes in it. I poked the holes in the eyes, the teeth and the windows of the castle.  I then placed it on her where I wanted it and painted through the holes on to her giving myself guidelines. Starting with the white and working my way to using the black last was strange in front of a live audience. I knew that the black paint at the end is what was going to pull it all together but the on lookers didn’t know that. It did bother me a little bit when people would show up and leave only seeing the white, blue and pink blobbed on before it really looked like anything. I was very happy with the finished piece and wish the people that left early would have stayed to see it.

 

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

“I love modeling paint because I am able to bring life to someone’s work. These artists spend hours on each paint, so I want to be sure to represent that character or theme to the best of my ability. But what was so cool about this paint was that it was already me. This piece had “me” written all over it: from the colors, to the design, to the crazy wild hair. It was so much fun to bring out that side of myself!” –Melanie Smith

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

 I felt it very much fit my personality andMelanie’s as well. She seemed to really like the final look which is what I was going for. I knew if she was happy with it having worked with great artists before me I knew I had done a good job.

Every opportunity no matter how big or small can lead to your next great thing. Weather that opportunity be creative freedom, money, fulfillment or whatever just keep pushing forward. I’m not saying do things you have no interest in but do things out of your comfort zone that challenge and scare you. If you don’t learn or take something away from every gig you do you’re not paying attention.

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Abstract Makeup Challenge

Right on the heels of the Mandarin Duck makeup challenge from my last blog makeup artist Bethany Hood issued another makeup inspiration challenge. When the image was sent out I was waiting on my oil was being changed. My first response was “No”. Having just done the previous challenge less than a week prior I thought I’d sit this one out. The oil change took forever and I just kept looking at the inspiration image. The more I looked at it the more I loved it and knew I had to do it.

What I saw in the image was a duality of being, living with your demons and the struggle within. Along with the stark color contrast of just black and white. For some reason going from “No” because I didn’t have time, turned into full body paint because I’m a glutton for punishment. I wanted to mimic the shape of the inspiration but instead of hands I wanted bodies. One pose I wanted somber and withdrawn while the other I wanted a primal scream. I knew model Bec E. Bien was the perfect model. I have body painted her before and I know how expressive her face can be and she just went for it. When asked to scream she let it out like a pro. That’s not just a pose she is actually screaming her lungs out and I think it adds to the authenticity. Every scream was followed with a smile and a slight giggle. Also, the amazing Matthew Tyldesley had just done her hair and it was perfect. We wanted it a bit manic so we put some sea salt spray in it and messed it up a bit. I just hope we didn’t mess up Matthew’s work too much.

Working with Danny Alexander is always a treat. I knew what I had in mind and how I saw it laid out. Danny has an amazing way of figuring out what is going on in my convoluted head and interprets it. I didn’t want the makeup edited as it was a challenge but I knew having all three figures on there would be a difficult in the time frame. Danny didn’t shy away from it and just nailed it. The one edit I did ask him to do was the nipples. The only pasties I will use for body paint are “Monster Pasties”. They are pretty amazing. They take paint like skin and are seamless. I didn’t have any and I had no time to order them.  I actually painted over the areola and blended it out. If it weren’t for the shadowed sundial effect of the lights you wouldn’t have seen them. There is only so much makeup can do. I am extremely happy with what we were able to pull off in such a short amount of time.