An international art page on Facebook approached me about posting my artwork for 30 days. I looked at the other bodypainting works on their page and it is all stunning, top notch. The hair, makeup, and photography are pretty professional. Several of the artists are personal heroes and mentors of mine. It meant that I had to up my game. So I created a 30 day bodypainting challenge for myself to use painting for 30 days to do better than I have ever done before. I was going to try and create masterpieces that I would be proud to post on that site.
They don’t call it a “Challenge” for nothing. All kinds of things happen that you weren’t planning on: Models getting sick kids and canceling at the last minute. Lack of color choices because donations were not as projected. The power of Las Vegas. Being stuck in a car for 14 hours. Getting sick. You get the idea.
I had grand plans and a fantastic list of 30 ideas, lots of models, photographers, all so I could create masterpieces that were worthy of the art page that wanted to feature me. I did it so I could create a body of work, but I really learned way more than what I “produced.” I knew that I was going to write this article, so that I could put down all the things that I learned from doing the challenge. So here goes the list.
- Plans are really just general guidelines: You can’t fight reality. You can try but you will lose. Getting upset that it didn’t go the way you planned is really just part of life. I wanted to do a piece that I bodypainted someone into a graffiti wall but it was freezing cold during the challenge. Each day presented its own issues. In the end, it’s best to just go with the flow unless you know, for example that you are going to use a custom motorcycle, then you ARE going to do that today. Sometimes not even then.
- Shoes are the key: If a female model isn’t happy with the shoes they are wearing then it kills the photograph. I ended up just telling models to bring a black pair of heels and shoes that made them happy. Several outfits were created just because of the shoes. The Green Lantern shoot happened because of her boots. The Red dress was all based on the shoes. Until I did this challenge I really didn’t understand Marilyn Monroe’s quote about shoes.
“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” ~Marilyn Monroe
- Hydration: After painting so many people you start to notice things. One of my models made sure she stayed hydrated for three days prior to me bodypainting her. The paint went on like a dream! So I started asking the models how much water they were drinking. There was a definite correlation. The water based paints started to flake more because the body was sucking the moisture from the paint. So now, if I can let the models know in advance, they need to hydrate so that the paint I did at the beginning of the session looks as fresh as what I just painted.
- Everyone needs love: There are a number of projections about the people I paint. The men. The women. Everyone. People think that those I paint are in some way “perfect.” Her body is better than mine, etc. Everyone I paint has a past. There are surgical scars. There are stretch marks. There are images that society projects and where they mentally eviscerate themselves. There is so much pain and hurt that is hidden, from everyone, including themselves. When I paint, I paint love. When the models talk, I don’t allow negative self-talk or negative talk about others. There is something everyone should think when they look at these models… what love they needed so badly, that the universe put us together. No comparison. NO “she’s skinny.” No “he’s buff.” I have painted people with many different skin tones, shapes, and sizes. The bottom line is that love was called for.
- Do your best: No one plans on getting sick. There were days where the sinus infection I had was kicking my butt. I was down to the last 30 minutes of the day. I was going to give up. One of my online friends cheered me on to just paint a little something on myself. It was all I could do that day. I had such plans of grandeur. So I painted my arm a pretty little woman in purple with a birdcage… it was small but beautiful… Some days your best is amazing and worthy of the international art page… some days it’s a little painting on your arm that you are proud that you did something, because it was better than just giving up. I learned to be gentle with myself, and to recognize that my best will look different from day to day, and sometimes from hour to hour.
- Resources and money are two different things: I don’t allow people to argue for limitations around me. I’m a weirdo. I actually LIKE IT when people catch me doing it. Who WANTS to be miserable? (I know you have some relatives that DO because they like the attention, but we are talking about everyone else ok???) I started to get upset because there was a distinct lack of donations by the models I painted to help me replace the paint I was using. I was down $200 in paints midway during the challenge. I started feeling resentful and it was bleeding out in my verbal conversations. I pulled up a picture that I argued I couldn’t do because I didn’t have the money. I got called on it. No one LIKES to help complainers. I realized that just because I didn’t have the money didn’t mean that I wasn’t connected to people who had the resources to make such a thing possible. I had to change the way I was looking at it. “Do you want to be ‘right’ or do you want to be open to it showing up in another way?” I gave up being right. The next day I was offered a studio, business cards, banners, and even painting supplies. Lesson learned.
- Painting everyday:
This is just the beginning. In Vegas I took classes and found out that painting every day is what masters of the craft DO. So do as the masters do. I learned that painting my own face and going out in public is a great way to self- advertise. So guess what I’m going to be doing? This is no longer just a challenge, painting everyday has become a way of life.
- Listening: I usually think I’m pretty good about listening to what the universe wants. It becomes even more intense when I am painting. Everything is involved… the things the go “wrong” are a part of that universal conversation. The model that shows up, not the one that you scheduled, is the one that needs the experience. The design that was intended, is the one you end up painting. The thing is, what was true for my bodypainting, is true for all of life. You can either get upset, or listen intently to what the universe is asking to have happen in the present moment. One leaves you frustrated and miserable, the other leaves you grateful that the universe is your partner and the best planner for your day. The universe (God, Allah, or whatever you want to call the Divine) can plan better than you can ever imagine if you just go with the flow.
I may not have created 30 pieces that can rival that of my mentors, but I learned an awful lot. I believe I helped almost every person I painted. For the most part, that’s it. I am still waiting for many of the final images and professional pictures to come in but here is the link to the set I do have on my Facebook bodypainting page. Please feel free to like, comment, share… and YES I intend to make prints of these so if you want any of them just let me know. Thank you for sharing the journey with me. I consider you one of the sacred witnesses to my life. It is an important job.
MythicaYou can contact Mythica on Facebook: firstname.lastname@example.org