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.