Jim Morrison body paint art by mark greenawalt

The Paper Heart Gallery -January 2nd 2004

body painting art by mark greenawalt on model kayla rei

THE EVENT:  This was the 3rd Annual "UNINHIBITED" exhibition held by the Paper Heart Gallery and again the theme was Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll.  In addition to my bodypainting demonstration, the event featured a live band and art/photography by Bill Bailey (photography), Richard Bledsoe (acrylic on canvas), Holly Cole (digital print), JA Jurewicz (mixed media), Leslie Ross (photography), and Jen Sanders (mixed media).

THE VENUE:  The gallery is located in the heart of the downtown Phoenix art district and is a part of Artlink's First Fridays:  A self-guided tour of the inner city art galleries held on the first Friday of every month.  Paper Heart also has a strong internet presence and can be fount at .  The site includes live webcams so you can see what's happening from the comfort of your home.  The venue is operated by artist Scott Sanders who is an absolutely great guy to work with (thanks for the opportunity Scott!).

THE MODEL:  It takes a very special model to do a project like this.  The first thing that weeds out many models is posing topless, second is posing topless in front of a crowd of voyeuristic art lovers, and the third is posing topless in front of a crowd of voyeuristic art lovers while being painted with a cold mist of alcohol-based paint from an airbrush.  Kayla Rei was not only up for the challenge, but she was enthusiastic and very beautiful to boot.  Kayla's website can be found at and her portfolio has some fantastic images.  Kayla is very professional and cool to work with.

THE PAINTING:  In keeping with the theme of the night, Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, I decided to paint a portrait of Jim Morrison from the Doors on her upper torso.  His life was filled with all three.   This was my first attempt at painting a human face on human skin and I would have to say that it is one of the toughest assignments that I have given myself.  To draw a face on paper is tough enough for an artist, but to paint it on a moving canvas and have little opportunity to erase parts and start over proved to be very challenging.  I was trying to incorporate the look of the cover of the movie "The Doors" that featured a black and white photo of Val Kilmer with the fiery red and orange hair.  Instead of using Val Kilmer's photo though, I used an actual photo of Morrison as a "go-by".  I'm not sure how well I captured his features, but there's no doubt that it's a face.  

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS:  There were about five or six photographers taking turns capturing Kayla's attention.  Photographer O'D was on-hand and shot the progress images below.  I had recently worked with O'D on the Christmas themed bodypainting with Melina Perez.  After the extensive shoot-out with the papparazi, we slipped off to Siegel Photographic studio next door.  Photographer Ben Kee produced a studio lighting set-up and enticed Kayla to shed even more clothing.  Ben and Kayla worked great together and came up with several of the images that you see on this page.  I'd also like to thank screenwriter Bryan Kinnaird, who was unknowingly brainwashed into being my assistant for the evening.  Thanks for helping out!

Here is Kayla at the beginning of the night holding up the picture of Jim Morrison.  Except for e-mailing back and forth about the project, this was the first time that we had met each other.  We started the painting around 7:15pm with a crowd of about 20-25 people.  The band had just started to play also.  It was very appropriate that they played Roadhouse Blues during their set.  That was cool.

bodypainting image photograph by ben kee



Jim Morrison of the Doors airbrushed on skin

The first step of the painting process was to start with a white canvas for the black and white photo.  For this, I airbrushed Reel Creations bodypaint and Kayla will be glad to tell you how cold it was.  Reel Creations is the bodypaint of choice for many Hollywood productions including Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Blade.  For this step I used a Badger airbrush and compressor.
I haven't quite gotten the knack for painting the Reel Creations products on with a brush yet.  I've only had success at using them through an airbrush.  For this step I used Totally Tattoo bodypaints from Badger Airbrush which are very effective with regular brushes as well as with an airbrush.  For this step I was mostly sketching the face as I would normally do with a pencil on canvas.  Unfortunately, pencils aren't very practical on delicate human skin like Kayla's.  So sketching is really the beginning of the painting process. 
Here I continued to paint in the darkest areas.  The hand brush allows me to get sharp lines for the eyes, lips, and mouth.  Using an airbrush would require the use of stencils or masks to get sharp lines like this.  Later, however, I will use the airbrush to provide the softer shading to imitate the soft lighting in the photograph.  It is interesting to note that Kayla's belly button was incorporated into the painting as the dimple between the nose and the upper lip.  This added a little bit of natural shading to this part of the painting.
By this time we were about 45 minutes into the project and the crowd had grown to about 40 people.  In an effort to replicate the Val Kilmer image on the Doors movie poster, I next airbrushed Reel Creations red paint for the hair.  Photographer O'D was photographing each step along the way, which is something that isn't easy to do on my own.  Thanks O'D!
I had expected this painting to take about 2 hours to complete, but as I was nearing one hour into the process, the image was starting to take shape.  Again I went back to brushing on black Totally Tattoo paint for the curls in the hair.  I used a fan brush to develop the look of the curls.  This was Kayla's first experience at being bodypainted and she really seemed to be getting a kick out of it.  She was a trooper and never needed a break (I couldn't let her know, but I could of used a break).
More fan brush work.  I incorporated some oranges and yellows in the hair to give that high colorful contrast from the stark black and white face.  I purposely sized the face so that the model's breasts would provide some natural dimension to hair and maybe even provide some real shadows on the face.  From certain angles, it proved to be pretty successful.  Side angles, however, distorted the look of the painting, but showed off Kayla's beautiful figure
The final touches were added by airbrushing black to soften the shadows on the face and blend the edges of the face into the hairline.  I got a little carried away at the jawline and had to come back and paint some white back in.  In all, the painting took about an hour and fifteen minutes to complete and then we were off to the stage for the photoshoot.  This is where Kayla, who had been still for the duration, was able to let loose and do her thing.  By the way, you can click on the images to the left to enlarge them if you haven't already tried that by now.

Bodyart Store

Check out the selection of books, magazines, and more on my on-line BODYART STORE, powered by Amazon.  Your purchase helps fund this site, so please buy as many as you like and thank you in advance for your support!

Bodyart Store for books, magazines, and supplies

This page has been designed and maintained by FUTURE-CLASS X PUBLISHING.
Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2004

Please send comments to: