Bodies in Color, #3: Human Canvas

April 17, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Last Sunday, I met up Stephanie, a local model and artist, to do a bodypainting shoot that was a bit different than any I've done previously. For this one, I left the airbrush and Mehron bodypaint at home, and instead went with some basic Tempera paints-- the same sort of paint that the Fremont Sol Cyclists buy in bulk every year for their annual painted bike ride. It's easier to use, but not necessarily good for long periods of time, since it flakes and chips off as it dries.

My idea for this shoot was go with a basic theme of a human canvas. We would paint Stephanie completely white, and turn her body into a blank slate for her to draw on. I also want to try capture some images of dripping and splattered paint. In previous shoot, it's been more about a transformation into a character; this shoot would be more about just having fun with paint and art and seeing what happened.

I went with Tempera paint because it's easier and much faster to apply, and also goes on much thicker, which makes it good for the sort of dripping, splattering messiness I wanted to capture. It would also work well for Stephanie to paint on herself-- this time, instead of being the artist, I would just be the photographer.

We started with her naked and unpainted; then she painted herself completely in white. My favorite images from the series are near the end, after she's long since been covered in paint and her skin begins to resemble a Jackson Pollock piece. She also shaved her head prior to the shoot, which made for some really cool pictures and I think helped contribute to the whole theme of person-to-artwork transformation. You can check out the entire set of images below.

As for the tendency of Tempera paint to flake-- you can see it if you look close in some of the images, but by and large it wasn't a concern, since we kept adding more paint. At the end of the shoot Stephanie commented that she felt like she was wearing a bodysuit. It was also cold, and we needed to keep a cross-breeze going in the room or the smell of the paint started to get to her. Tempera paint is non-toxic, but apparently it can still be overpowering in large enough amounts.

Many thanks also to Dan Morrill, whose studio and lighting equipment we rented for the shoot. He also helped out with the painting; in shots where paint is being thrown or dripped from off-camera, that's Dan. 


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