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

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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Shape of Colour: Inspiration

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As artists I think we gather inspiration from so many places often times we aren’t even aware. I have helped create images before and looked back and realized where I got the inspiration from. A while back I did a photo where we had my hand all made up like a corpse hand reaching up around a beautiful models face. The photo was really popular and several people had used it for inspiration. Some copied more than were inspired but regardless they liked what we had done and it made them want to create something. That being said on that same image we created that inspired them we were also inspired by outside sources. The hand was inspired by the cover art for the movie House. There is no way around it. There are no original ideas, only new ways to interpret them and piece them together.

My good friend and model Katya Estes came to me a little while back with some inspiration photos. They were really cool but at first I didn’t know what to do with them. I usually like to find my own inspiration images because I generally already know what I am going to do with them to make them my own. For one I didn’t know how similar she wanted it or how different I could stray. I am never one to shy away from a challenge though. The trick was to change it enough to be mine but still hold on to a bit of the inspiration.

These were our Inspiration Images. I do not know the teams that created them sadly.

These were our Inspiration Images. I do not know the teams that created them sadly.

Katya, luckily like me does not like glitter so that part of the inspiration was thrown out immediately. The main thing I was drawn to was the shapes and harsh lines. One of my favorite shirts when I was a kid had orange and turquoise panels sewn on in sharp shapes which I wanted to draw on for ideas. That being said I didn't go back and look at photos of the shirt because I didn't want it to influence me too heavily. Luckily I was able to talk the team into that color scheme. From there I wanted it to have a kind of Miami art deco kind of feel. My ideas were focused mainly on the face. Our amazing photographer Erik Branch suggested we do something on the neck as well because one of inspiration images had a painted neck.

 I took that opportunity to really put my stamp on the look. I taped off the shapes to give it the hard lines that I wanted which was something Katya is use to working with me as much as she does. I felt like that was what really made the makeup and the images unique. It also really brought in the influence of the panels on the shirt I had as a child as I remembered.  Then I added the finishing touches like the darker orange lip, the light blue in the water line of her non-blocked out eye and the flourish of orange on the eyebrow and I was done.

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Caleb Yeske was our hairstylist. While you can’t really see his hair work he was a huge part on the team. He was able to get all of Katya’s hair wrapped very tightly so that he could put the bandage on without any lumps. When it came time to add the silver string we left him in charge of that as well. I noticed something as I was helping him cut the string. If you weren’t careful the string would unravel and it couldn't be used. I took that opportunity to take some on the string and deconstruct it and use the strands as a kind of burst from the somewhat naked eye.

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I could not be happier with how these came out. I am very proud of the whole team and what we were able to do with the inspiration given. There are no new ideas under the sun so don’t be ashamed of your inspiration. It sometimes also helps to pull ideas from multiple places. Own it and add to it, make it yours. It reminds me of when I worked retail. I know it’s not the same thing but teenagers would come in all the time to our store. They would find something they liked but wouldn’t want to get it because someone else they knew had it. My advice was always, “It’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.” In short, make it your own.

Team Left To Right:  Model: Katya Estes  Hair Stylist: Caleb Yeske  Photographer: Erik Branch  Makeup: Myself

Team Left To Right:

Model: Katya Estes

Hair Stylist: Caleb Yeske

Photographer: Erik Branch

Makeup: Myself

Matt Goodlett Makeup 2018

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I have been going through some personal life changes here recently and not seeing things as I once did. 2017 was a tough year and I am glad to move past it and work on the future. I was questioning a lot about myself as well as the people around me. I know the “New Year” is nothing more than a continuation of time and dates are just a man-made construct but it is hard not to look at it as some kind of marker. I figured it was as good a time as any to look at 2018 as a rebuilding year. It was time to look at myself and figure out what I wanted, why I haven’t achieved it and how to change things in my life to make it happen.

I wanted to do something to symbolically signal not only to myself but everyone else that this was a change. I know it is not a big deal to some but to me my hair has always been a big deal. “I put on a few pounds, at least I have good hair”, “I have a fever blister, at least I have good hair”, “Why did I wear this stupid shirt, at least I have good hair.”, These are the things I would tell myself. When I was in middle school I would carry a collapsible brush in my pocket. Even younger than that my mom would talk me into getting haircuts by telling me I was going to get a “Ponch haircut”. Ponch was my favorite TV character from CHiPs. So as far back as I remember my hair has been important to me.

I am by no means saying my hair is the best but I like it. I’m also not saying that it may be a huge deal from the outside looking in, it’s just hair and it will grow. Everything in life is relative and I understand that. I have buzzed my hair before but it was always for something specific, like charity, or even a Halloween costume and I could explain my reasoning. This time the only way I could explain shaving my head in the middle of winter was that I needed to do something drastic. I knew I would regret it once it was done but that was part of the growth I guess in a strange way.

I felt this called for a new headshot of sorts. My good friend and photographer Danny Alexander had posted an image of a new lighting setup he was working on. If you are a Star Wars fan the lighting may look familiar. It looked amazing and I thought it would be a great way to capture this look I had in my head. I asked if he would be interested in taking my new headshot. I was excited when he said he would because I knew it would make me looker cooler than I actually am. Being a makeup artist I knew I had to do some kind of a makeup on myself. I landed on this idea because to me it signified breaking free of the darkness and trying to let your true colors show.

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I don’t like change but change is the only certainty in life so you better get use it. Change is scary but it has to happen and whether you like it or not it’s going to. If things are stagnant sometimes you need to do something drastic in order to jump start your change. You have to be able to adapt and keep moving. Change is nothing more than growth.

Twin Cheeks

A handful of makeup artists and me do these makeup challenges. There are no winners and no losers just creativity and art. We get an inspiration image and then we have just under a week to produce something cool inspired by it. We haven’t done a makeup challenge in a while so when I was told we were going to do a new one I was torn because I never back down from a challenge. With that said I was so busy this time around that I didn’t think I would have time. It has happened before where I said I was too busy but the inspiration image was just too cool I did it anyhow. I had no intentions in participating regardless of how cool I thought the inspiration image was.

 Last November I did makeup for a fashion show and two of the models walking were twins. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them at the time and couldn’t find them on social media so I kind of gave up. The same day I found out we were doing another challenge I just happened across one of the twins and was quickly able to find the other. Their names are Avery and Mallory Grant and they have such a strong look even as single standalone models. The fact there are two of them is just a bonus. As I was talking to the Grant twins the makeup challenge inspiration image was posted. This time around it was actually a picture of a face in abstract makeup. Usually the image isn’t even of a face, let alone distinct makeup. It struck me it would be really cool to do a similar look spanning two identical faces.

Inspiration Image: Artist Unknown

Inspiration Image: Artist Unknown

With an idea in my head I asked the Grants if they would be interested. Using twins was the only way I was going to do it so if they declined I wasn’t going to participate. As I say that but I probably still would have. It wouldn’t be a makeup challenge without my good buddy Danny Alexander shooting it so I asked if would. Lucky for me he said yes and with that I had a great team of people and it was a go.

I did a pretty basic beauty makeup on Avery and Mallory. It was interesting to do the makeup and then turning around and doing the same makeup on the same contours and everything. My plan for a pose was them standing hip to hip with their faces looking somewhat towards each other at a 45 degree angle to get a three quarter look at opposing sides of their faces. I had them stand together so I could get the composition of the abstract portion to plow from one face to another.

Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Getting them in front of the camera in the pose was a different story. In that pose there was just too much space between the faces. We had the sisters get uncomfortably close but the gap still took you out of it. To Danny’s credit he suggested a pose where Mallory would be in profile and Avery would be behind her looking straight on as her sister’s face intersected her. I had the models stand in position and tweaked the abstract portion a bit to maintain the flow. Then when they got in front of the camera it just clicked, pardon the pun.

I love all of the makeup challenged we have done together but this may be my favorite. I almost counted myself out of this one and I am so glad I didn’t. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you can’t carve out time for the things you love.

Me with Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Me with Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

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

Coming Clean

This is the third of the makeup challenges that Bethany Hood has given her fellow makeup artist friends. The image this time was picked by designer Gunnar Detherage. Knowing what I know of his style I didn’t expect so many bright, almost neon colors. I have enjoyed these challenges so far so I thought I would give this one a shot. I contacted a model for the shoot and my good friend and photographer Danny Alexander and wheels were set in motion. Now I just needed to settle on an idea. With all of the colors and textures I had a few concepts rolling around in my head.

An hour or so before the makeup application and shoot the model messaged me and after some texts back and forth we determined that she would not be able to make the shoot. The image had to be done by the next day so there was no time to reschedule. There was also no time to find a replacement model. I was scrambling trying to think of what to do. Instead of canceling and I decided to shave my face and chest and do the makeup on myself. I’m no model but that's why it's called a challenge.

I know it is strange for a makeup artist but not only do I not wear makeup but I hate wearing it. I think it goes back to when I was a kid. I had really bad acne and was embarrassed by it. One day I decided to hide it and use some of my mom’s makeup. I covered up all the redness with some of her Covergirl concealer and a powder compact. I didn’t like the way it felt on my skin but I thought it looked better than all of my blemishes. It was like I had discovered a magic trick. This went on for several weeks at least if not much longer. It was over the summer when I started so I didn’t have to worry about the other kids at school.  I thought it was working and no one was noticing.

 I don’t know why I didn’t think the other kids wouldn’t notice when school started because they most definitely did. I denied it until I was blue in the face but after another kid snatched off my baseball hat the makeup ring in the inner band was a dead giveaway. I never fessed up and they knew I was lying. I knew they knew I was lying but I couldn’t come clean. I gradually stepped it down because I didn’t want to be obvious. Eventually I stopped wearing it and soon the kids moved on to something else. I should have come clean and owned it. With that said, kids that age will make up reasons to pick on each other and I didn’t want to give them any more ammunition. I walked on eggshells and probably joined in on picking on others to deflect attention from myself which just made me feel worse.

Three schools, two states and several years later doing a play in high school we had to wear makeup. I was the only guy in the production that had any knowledge of how to apply foundation. I ended up helping all of the other guys in the play and was appreciated for it. When asked how I kind of knew what I was doing I chalked it up to the fact that I took art and painted as well. Part of me knew it was because I wore my mom’s makeup when I was 11 or 12. To a bunch of drama kids me wearing makeup when I was in middle school would have just been another story about how we were all “outsiders” and it would have been expected and embraced. It would have been the perfect opportunity to come clean and bond with my fellow actors but I didn’t. Even as an adult doing makeup I’ve still never shared this story with anyone. This is the first time I have really come clean about it so if you are reading this blog, now you know.

Back to the subject at hand; I explained to Danny how we no longer had a model and I would be doing my own makeup. Danny wasn't phased by the change and didn’t miss a beat. I changed a few things to make it fit my face a bit better. I decided to throw in some contacts and the makeup went from pretty to creepy really quick. I still don’t like wearing makeup but I am happy with the way this one worked out. The most important thing I hope you take away from reading this is just be you. Don’t care what others think and own who you are. Chances are someone is going through something similar and can relate. I know that’s easy for me to say now but had I listened to this advice as a kid maybe I would be a lot further along than I am in a career in makeup. Support your passions and surround yourself with others that support them as well.

Danny Alexander: http://www.dannypa.com/

https://www.crownbrush.com/

https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/

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.

Mandarin Duck Challenge

As a way to help bring our artistic community together fellow makeup artist Bethany Hood decided to have a challenge. There were no winners and no losers.  This was just be a great way for people to show off their talent and creativity.  Bethany had an outside source pick an image that we would all have to use as inspiration and design our looks around.

The image that was picked was of a Mandarin Duck. They look like you gave a coloring book of ducks and a 64 color box of crayons to a kid and said go to town. The colors are so vivid and beautiful and blocked off. I had no idea what I was going to do. All I could see was the duck. I didn’t want to do feathers or anything birdlike, that much I knew. I struggled with it for a few days. I went back to look at the image of the duck and squinted my eyes really hard to try and take the bird out of the equation.

That seemed to do the trick. I decided to do a very abstract piece using as many different brush strokes and colors as were on the duck. Since I have never liked makeup on myself and the only camera I own is my phone I enlisted the help of some friends. I messaged my friend and great photographer Danny Alexander who I knew would capture the makeup the way I wanted. I then messaged my friend and Model Kaylynn Nyree. I felt her face would be beautiful for this look. While doing the makeup I would step back from time to time to make sure the color balance was right. The main thing I took from the duck was the white around the eyes. I thought that would make for a cool aesthetic. Since it was a makeup challenge the only editing I wanted Danny to do was making the sclera of her eyes black.  I was incredibly happy with how it came out.

Seeing all the makeups from all of the other artists was so cool. Everyone did such an amazing job. It was very interesting to see everyone’s interpretation of the same image. I cannot thank Bethany enough for doing something like this. It was such a cool way to bring a community together while fostering creativity.