This is comparable to a series of journal entries from my wonderful experience of teaching bodypainting at the face and bodypainting international convention held by FaceAndBodyArt Magazine. Enjoy!
Day 1 - Thursday, May 26th, kicked off the festivities with a bang as all of the instructors presented their "living art" down the catwalk in the grand ballroom. Many of us started our bodypaintings as early as 3:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. showcase and we laughed and joked around the whole time while our models were being transformed. The models were to be shrouded from the sight of the convention attendees during this stage so we gathered in a large boardroom to paint. Working side by side with the likes of the Wolfe Brothers from Orlando, CeeJay from Miami, Donna Nowak from Michigan, and Rhea from Australia, I began my work with the very pretty model, Keegan, who is also a face and body artist in her own right. Everyone knew and adored Keegan from her previous appearances at these conventions and I thoroughly enjoyed her company. The themes of the convention were "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Enchanted Forrest." While brainstorming ideas for Keegan's body painting, I remembered an oil painting by Julie Bell from the book Fantasy Workshop. The image (see below) featured an enchanting golden design that I wanted to build from for an original version of my own. I used liquid latex to effectively paste portions of a black bra and panty to her skin so that the straps that would normally hold them in place could be cut off and removed. I continued using the liquid latex for the elegant gold designs based on the Julie Bell painting mixed with my own style. I incorporated an oak leaf and an acorn into the design to further meet the forest theme. To achieve the gold look I actually used Deviant brand purple liquid latex and then powdered it with their Star Dust gold powder. For a 3-D effect I added a drop shadow with airbrush using Totally Tattoo paints from Badger. I also used Totally Tattoo to paint her neck, hips, and the sides of her ribs with a fantastic purple to match her vibrant hair color. To accessorize she wore a cape and medieval hair necklace. It was awesome introducing her under the spotlight of a room filled with people who really love bodyart. Here are a few pictures of Keegan's painting and the painting that inspired the design.
Later that night I had the good fortune of going to a late supper with Pashure and Neena Robinson, both of which I knew through e-mail only. Pashure is actually one of the first bodypainters that I ever heard of and his work really inspired me to get into the art form. Neena and her husband Kelly are entrenched in the horror and haunted house make-up scene in Ohio and we trade newsletters each month. Also joining us was a magician named Michael who shared quite a few of his tricks with us. Back at the hotel all of us and a bunch of other painters sat in the hotel lobby and chatted till two in the morning.
Day 2 began way too early. Cynthia Keeler, the convention producer, had asked me to have a model painted for a ten o'clock interview with the local television news team. Cynthia hooked me up with a great model with a charming smile named Bonnie. Our intent was to get started around 7:30 a.m. but we really didn't get around to it until about an hour later. For the painting I kicked around several ideas before settling on a Statue of Liberty and New York skyline motif since Bonnie had come from the 'Big Apple." Again I used Totally Tattoo paint to airbrush most of the image and then did a little detail work with a hand brush. It sure didn't seem like two and a half hours but we were done at 11:00 a.m. sharp. We found Cynthia being interviewed in the hallway with the news crew and we were just in time to be filmed and interviewed ourselves before the news team had to leave. Several people at the convention said that we were on the news that night, but unfortunately I never saw it myself. Here is a shot of Bonnie's bodypainting.
Later that afternoon I held my first class which covered a whole bunch of tips and techniques on bodypainting with airbrush, brushes, and sponges. It was a great feeling to share some tricks that I have taken for granted with artists who hadn't seen them before. As my class was wrapping up. I was invited to lunch by Jan Myers of Badger Airbrush and her husband. I may have talked their ears off, but we all had a lovely time chatting about airbrushes, conventions, and countless other common interests. After this I spent a little time in the marketplace and saw some of the latest products from vendors such as Temptu, Kryolan, Mehron, and even the Wolfe Brother's new brand. Lot's of cool stuff!
Now at this point I couldn't continue any further into Day 2 without penciling in nappy time. After that, however, I was recharged and ready for action at the Airbrush Jam! Here I was able to help people who had never tried airbrushing, but were curious about giving it a go. Sharing some beginner techniques and watching them grin as they mastered each one was a very fulfilling experience for me. These students were very gracious and thankful and several went to the marketplace and bought equipment the very next day. Again I stayed up into the wee hours of the night chatting with my new found friends and contemporaries.
Day 3 I slept in till about 10:00 a.m. and then rushed around to make it to a 10:30 class by Suzanne Haring on the use of custom temporary tattoos from Temptu. She was hilariously entertaining and introduced me to an alcohol-based paint set that can be brushed-on from Temptu. I met up with Temptu's Michael Benjamin who I had met in New York (when I almost did the John McEnroe show). He informed me of some new products being introduced and talked about his elevated role at Temptu and his vision of the future of the company.
As I was debating on which class to take next, a fortunate twist of fate occurred. I was speaking to Michael, the magician that I had met on opening night, about an oriental-themed bodypainting idea that he wanted to have me paint on him. Just down the hall, Marcella Murad, who is the Magazine editor, was speaking to a Fox Television crew about a reality TV show they were filming. We were at the right place at the right time because they wanted to film a male model being painted. I invited Pashur to collaborate with me on the painting as we were filmed for the show. I have no idea when it will air, but be watching Fox for another reality TV show and you might just see Pashur and I making the image below.
After this I had to scoot off to the class I taught on the use of liquid latex as a body art method. It wasn't practical for me to complete a full bodypainting using liquid latex since the convention did not allow nudity, but I was still able to demonstrate several of the techniques that I have found to work through trial and error. My model was Jessica Green. Her mother had contacted me from Colorado about working with her at the convention. She was apprehensive about being painted with latex after hearing the horror stories I told about how painful it might be while peeling it off. She hung in there like a trooper though and let me paint her arms and one leg. I demonstrated use of metallic powders, PAM cooking spray, tin foil, and sponging as they relate to liquid latex. Later in the evening, I again helped out in the airbrush Jam room and ended up shooting the breeze again until the wee hours of the morning.
Day 4. I awoke to the alarm clock calling and leisurely made it to the daily update class. The speakers shared some great marketing techniques which I enjoyed, but they also had us doing meditation-related wiggling and babbling which I didn't enjoy since I felt silly doing it. But hey, as they say, when in Rome... I later hopped around a few classes including one on specialty paints by a wonderful painter named Natalie Simard from Canada and a collaboration class with Texas body painter Mark Reid and my new friend Pashure. After a quick bite to eat I started upon my last bodypainting of the convention.
Marcella had asked if I would paint the husband of Roni Cassady, one of the convention artists. His name was John and he and I shared several stories about the band Kix since he was also from the Baltimore, Maryland region. My assignment was to paint something that stayed within the bounds of the enchanted forest theme. For whatever reason, the album cover from the Grand Illusion album from Styx popped into my head. I did this painting at the Badger Airbrush booth using their Totally Tattoo paints. Below is a shot of the completed work on John and I've also attached a link to the album so that you can see what I was painting from.
Once this was completed, I had to scoot off to the airport to return to Phoenix and unfortunately that meant that I had to miss the grand finale of the evening which was the costume contest. I would have been a judge for the competition if I could have stuck around long enough. It was truly an awesome experience for me in Orlando and I am hoping to be a part of it next year again! If you have any interest in getting into bodypainting, I highly recommend attending this convention.
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