H. R. Giger inspired Body Paint Demo

So at the weekend it was time for Tattoo Freeze 2019, where I have become a regular fixture it seems representing the UK Face & Body Art Convention with a body paint demo on their stand. I had the lovely Rachael Shar Marston as my model, who is always a pleasure to work with. (You may recognise her from my Hocus Pocus paint!)

For this design I had a vague idea in my head of theme and flow, which actually tied in nicely with the fact that H. R. Giger's birthday fall this week, (anyone would have thought I'd done it intentionally - I didn't!). A lot of the time I don't like to plan my paints too much. I used to struggle so much with being hard on myself if I didn't get ever exact detail done that I had planned, but the thing is with body painting is that being adaptable is such as essential skill. So many things can adjust your paint on the day when you are working with a living canvas. Time being the biggest issue. So I always find it best to more than anything, just plan the flow of the design in my head. 

For this piece, I knew that I wanted to include some armour and alien skin texture. Both some pretty crucial techniques to be able to pull off, but ones which I rarely practise or have in my portfolio because I just love the illustrative style so much and am admittedly far too self indulgent sometimes. I had planned in my head that I was to work asymmetrically with one arm and one leg as armour, with the opposite arms as alien skin texture.

One problem I do know that I have is being a little impatient, which some people find odd considering we spend five or six hours on these pieces - they always say I must have the patience of a saint! But this is so opposite to the truth - because you are in such an adrenaline fuelled state of mind working against the clock. To fill a whole body in that time scale is a pretty mammoth task! And my impatience means I do struggle with boredom on the less intricate designs. I need to get better at this, I know. But because of these, I had to include some of my more illustrative style.

As with the other parts of the paint, I planned the flow of this across the body more than anything as opposite to the detail. I saved a couple of inspiration pictures to my phone, and then just kind of did whatever felt right in this section on the day. I personally like this approach best, because it allows you to truly work to each individual models shapes and dimensions as opposite to sticking to a very rigid thought out plan. In the past I have drawn my exact illustrative detail up beforehand, but you are so focused on recreating it that it just doesn't flow with the natural shape of the body.

Completion of the paint was a little bit stressful near the end, as the show seems to be shutting up and kicking us out earlier and earlier each year. We usually get plenty of time at the end to take pictures, walk around the other rooms at the show, etc. However, once our room was closing we had a fifteen minute warning, and very soon afterwards they actually cut off our power! I was midway through the finishing touches of airbrushing the hands at the time! But also, this meant that I couldn't use my light to take photos - which is not what you want when you are in a very badly lit room and have just spent all day painting! It was a mad rush of running around trying to find power, failing, and then just having to settle for using the flash on the camera which is never the best. The pictures or video of the final piece aren't great quality, but alas they are better than nothing at all.

Another real big shame was that we usually get to walk around the tattoo room once our room closes up, as that stays open much later. One of the favourite parts of working on a paint all day is then getting to see the reactions and have people interact with your 'living canvas', taking selfies and looking at the work in awe. However all the shutters and doors had been closed for some reason this year, so we couldn't do that either unfortunately!

These are just some of the things you have to deal with as a body painter. You very much have to work in the moment, analysing your situation as you go along and adapting accordingly. Be it the painting process or the capturing process, which is equally as important.

Nevertheless I had a great day yet again working with Rachael and the UK Face & Body Art Convention team. The connections you build with this art form are just fantastic. And I am very pleased with the piece that I created. It has actually made me want to experiment more with some Sci-Fi looks going forward! What do you think? =)