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

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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