I completed two bodypainting project at CopperCon 28 in August of 2008. The theme was gargoyles since the Media Guest of Honor was Greg Weisman, the creative force behind the Disney animated series GARGOYLES. Here is the transcript of the step-by-step process that I had published in the winter issue of Illusion Magazine:
by Mark Greenawalt
There is a science fiction convention held in Phoenix, Arizona (USA) each year called CopperCon. Every year since 2002 I have been invited to do live bodypainting demonstrations at this convention and each year I try to come up with a new idea that is consistent with each year's theme. This year the theme was Gargoyles since the media guest of honor was none other than Greg Weisman, the creator of the Gargoyles television show. In past years I have done bodypaintings based on themes such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dragons, Children of the Night, and in 2005 I was honored with being the artist guest of honor. Each year I try to top what I did the previous year and this year was no different. For my gargoyle, I strayed from re-creating one of the characters from the television series and instead tried for the look of a real concrete or marble gargoyle. I first started researching the look of gargoyles throughout history and found that there were quite a few variations, but there were generally some similarities that I found. Wings and horns seemed to be pretty consistent. Animal ears and claws were also found to be typical, but I didn't incorporate those features into my project and of course I didn't turn the mouth into a water spout. Once I had a rough vision for the final product, I started the planning.
Gameplan - Nearly all of the gargoyles that I had seen were male. Conversely, nearly all of my bodypainting projects are with females. In selecting a model, I opted to go with a female to give the gargoyle a sexy feminine side, but my goal was to make the face as masculine as possible and as scary as possible. I had seen a few gargoyles that had happy expressions, but most were very forboding and looked very sinister and that is the look that I was going for. Model Stephanie had volunteered to do a bodypainting project with me and although I'm sure she had something much more glamourous in mind, she was excited to be a part of this project after I explained the details to her. I was able to confirm the date and time of the event with the programming staff of the convention and fortunately Stephanie was available at that time. I thought through the entire project to gather the right props, paints, photography equipment, and the rest of my painting kit which includes everything from brushes to medical adhesive. Sometimes I plan the details even further, but I mostly like to have a rough sketch in my mind of what I plan to paint and how I plan to accomplish it. This gives me the freedom to stray from the plan with artistic license and not feel like I didn't precisely follow the plan.
Step 6 - The Photoshoot
Once I declared the painting complete, the audience started taking a bunch of pictures of Stephanie and for many artists this could have been the last step. But for me, I still intended on producing the final image. I thought about what props might look appropriate for this character, and finally decided that wings should be the only prop. I had purchased these wings for a previous project when I painted the character Purgatori for the International Horror/Sci-Fi Film Festival. For this project, I faux finished the wings slightly to go along with the bodypainting. Next I had considered trying to paint a background mural showing rooftops and the city below, but I wasn't sure if it might look too cartoonish. I did think of a Corinthian Column that I had used in another previous bodypainting project and thought it might look nice a perch for a gargoyle. I obviously had to faux finish it too. Luckily Stephanie has a passion for yoga so she had no trouble balance on the very small column for all of the various poses. For the photography I wanted to incorporate two lighting techniques. The first was to have some white lighting come from below to simulate the streetlighting below so that the shadows would give the look of classic horror films. The other technique was to provide a blue gel for a back lighting effect to emulate the night sky and moonlight coming from above.
The following day I did another bodypainting project with a model named Renee who wanted to be painted as an Orion slave girl from the Star Trek series. The Orion girls are green. Although this seems easy on the surface to paint a model completely green, the trick is paint with several shades of green to make it look more like "green skin" and less like "green paint". For this project I used a combination of Wolfe Brothers paints and Mehron Paints. Most of the base was applied with sponge techniques and then the toning was done with airbrush techniques. Renee designed and crafted her costume. Her partner was also in costume to play her Romulan slave owner. Although he did not initially plan to be painted, he did need to have pointy ears glued on. After helping with the ears, I thought the look might be enhanced by painting him with copper paint from Temptu. I used the soap technique described above to paste down his natural eyebrows and then airbrushed black lines for the Romulan eyebrows. Here are a few shots from this project.
Here are links to the previous CopperCon pages:
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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2008
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