Using flesh as a canvas is an ephemeral yet kinetic art form. Sometimes a full body transformation can take up to 6+ hours of work, all to be washed off at the end of the day where it swirls into oblivion down the drain.
2006 was when I first got into face and body painting and my first body art competition. It was a time when the body art movement was starting to pick up steam and I was fortunate throughout my competition streak over the next 4 years to have crossed brushes with some of the world's best brush and sponge and airbrush artists.
BodyGra in Nanaimo B.C. Bodyessy in Calgary and a bunch others I now forget the name of but were held in Montreal, Toronto and Las Vegas. My final competition was part of the Victoria Fringe Festival in 2010 where I placed 1st!!
It was after this last one that I threw in the towel. Being a single mom and traveling around competiting in body art competitions and not getting a penny out of it was definitely no longer serving me but it was a great experience that I will never regret.
I would also like to acknowledge how important models are to the whole process. Not only does the movement of your model display your art work in ways that no 2D surface can, them as a canvas is a tough gig. They have to remain still for up to 6 hours, stay hydrated, maintaining circulation, balance and have to endure paint brushes in places paint brushes typically do not go.
I was fortunate to have had a friend who was supportive of my ventures into the body painting world and was my main model for most of my shows.
TAJ - 2006
This was my first competition. A piece named TAJ. A fellow artist friend helped make the headpiece - she was the T, me the A and the model the J. We placed 3rd.
Model - Jennie Lee Photography - Paul Galinsky INPhoto
Queen of the Naga - 2007
This was a fun one. The theme was 'Legends and Lore' so we based the concept on stories about a race of shape shifting reptilian people, the Naga. This piece was called, "Laksmi, Queen of the Naga". The competition was held at Beban Park in Nanaimo on September 22, 2007.
Model - Jennie Lee Photography - Body Gras Paparazzi
Escape - 2008
Model - Jennie Lee Photography - Event Paparazzi
The theme was 'Escape'. My concept was how we as humans seem to have separated ourselves from nature with all the "get back to nature" talk. I wanted to highlight that nature is within us, a part of us and so here is the nature within, escaping the confines of flesh. We placed 3rd but got bumped to second when the 2nd place people got disqualified.
Masked in Blue - 2009
This one I traveled to Toronto for. I forget what the theme was but I was definitely all about blending and color contrasting. I didn't place at this one but I got to meet some amazing people, buy some great body painting paraphinilia and take a class with the WOLFE Brothers! I didn't actually even get to see Toronto as I arrived to the hotel where the event was being held in the dark and left for my plane in the dark.
Model - Ashley Photography - John Ratchford
Mother Nature - 2010
Model - Elena Photography - Event Paparazzi
Mother Nature was the name of this piece I did at a competition in Las Vegas in February 2010. My attempt again to bridge gaps between nature and humans, playing with elements coming from a bean - a tiny seed that holds all the necessary information to grow into its greatest potential. Feet firmly planted in the ground. Unlike me at the time. I found out that I can be quite defensive about my work and how important it is to be able to discuss my intentions behind a piece. One of the judges I had never met who received me, triggered me big time and I clammed up. I've come a long way since then :)
I did not make it to the next round of this competition but it was a great experience and my piece got to be featured on a photographers invitation to their show where they display some insides and outs of their experience behind the scenes at that Las Vegas Body Painting Competition.
Mother Nature too
This was my second attempt at the same theme. Another opportunity to assess some of the things you can only see once its done and over and you look at the pictures.
I love the face of the first but I think the translation of the elements on the arms works better in the second. Even now 10 + years later, I see things that I would want to do differently. Perhaps a part 3 needs to complete this trifecta...
Ra - 2010
This was a great one to finish my competing days on. It felt kind of full circle for me as I played with my signature line work similar to my very first piece. In September 2010, I created Ra on the fly, from meeting the model the day of, choosing from a collection of shoes she brought to creating a backstory and naming it. A place of creative adaptation, co-creating with the universe where I think I do my best work. I did place 1st finally so I was doing something right.
The name came last because we ran around Victoria B.C following the sun for pictures. I actually have been sitting on those pictures waiting to do a gallery showing. The series needs to be blown up and curated becuase they tell a story. Show title, "Ra - Chaisng the Sun". You'll have to wait for the show to get the full story.
Model - Julia Photographer - Alex Hansen
Other Body Painting Shenanagins
The above images in no particular order are some of the fun body painting times that happened outside of the competative scene. Where models were friends, friends of friends, acquaintances and even some friends girlfriends.