Bodypainting by Mark Greenawalt
Live Demonstration at CopperCon 27

Embassy Suites Phoenix North, Phoenix, AZ
Sept 7-9, 2007

The theme of CopperCon 27 was Children of the Night. For my demo on Saturday night, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do a bodypainting of Akasha, the Queen of the Damned from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I have read several of Rice's novels and absolutely loved them. I also loved seeing the movie Interview with the Vampire again after reading the book and more recently seeing the Queen of the Damned movie after reading that book. The Akasha character was played by the late Aaliyah and was a very sexy character in the film. Here is a picture of her in the costume that I had planned to replicate.

Aaliyah from the Queen of the Damned movie

Model Paris Harshman had recently talked with me about doing an Akasha bodypainting for Halloween so I thought of her first for this event. Luckily she was available and psyched about doing the project. Paris also takes all of the credit for putting the material portions of the costume together and doing her Egyptian eye make-up. She collaborated with master leather worker Kevin Spiedel of Hardwear Creations for the headress and sewed the dress and arm dressings herself. While purchasing the paints for this shoot at Mardi Gras Theatrical Supply shop in Scottsdale, I happened upon the iconic bracelets to complete the costume. Next it was time for bodypainting to replicate the breast plate and necklace. The painting was roughed in by first using gold airbrush bodypaint by Temptu as the breastplate foundation. Next the silver necklace was hand painted with Wolfe Brothers paints and the metallic purple was handpainted on the breast plates using Kryolan. After that, the jewels were painted on and the shadowing was accomplished with airbrushed bodypaints by Mehron through a Badger Airbrush and Compressor. I lastly gave her a misting of gold over her entire body. Here is a shot of Paris in the complete outfit.

Queen of the Damned costume

I knew that I wanted to have a large stone block background for the final image, but I knew that there wasn't a wall like this at the Embassy Suites. I bought a drop cloth from Home Depot and painted it myself and then sewed a curtain rod loop into it for mounting. To paint the back drop with a splattering of blacks, whites, greys, and some brown and copper, I aimed a water hose at the edge of roller full of paint till it spun fast and splattered paint and water everywhere. It was messy, but I was pretty happy with the results. Then I went over it with spray paint to outline the blocks and add shadowing.

I had a vision for the final image of this shot that was loosely based on a Boris Vallejo painting that I remembered. It was a 1984 painting called Seduction that featured a bone white vampiress holding a lifeless nude man and woman in her arms (see below). I wanted to change it up a little though and I wanted the vampire character to have the color in her skin and the victims to be drained of their color except for the crimson streaks of blood that eminated from their necks. I also wanted to push the risque boundry just a little further by making both victims nude females.

Boris Vallejo painting Seduction

For the victims, I went to two models that I had worked with in the past. The first was Kay Kochman who I have worked with many times, most notably the Queen of Spades painting that was published several times. Fellow photographer Brad Garner told me that model Amy Richey had just moved back into town so she was my other choice. Thankfully both were available and interested in doing the project and I didn't need to look any further plus Brad came along and assisted me with the photography and took some great shots of his own. Both girls were airbrushed from head to toe with Mehron paints (white and slight blue shadowing). Before painting their necks, I built up some puncture wounds using nose putty and fresh scab theatrical make-up products. Their paintings were then embellished with stage blood dripping from the neck bite and naturally streaming over their breasts and down their legs. Here's a fun shot of the girls after the shoot, alive again.

Vampire victims with stage blood and white make-up

With all of the paintings complete, I set out to photograph the final image. I used two soft boxes for side studio lighting and kept them low to give that horror film feel to the image. Paris put on prosthetic sharp fangs and drank a little of the "zesty mint flavored" stage blood to color her teeth and saliva red. Kay and Amy held onto each others arms behind Paris's back so that they could fall away from center and appear like Paris was holding their full weight. Over all the project was a great success and I think the crowd of about 50 attendees seemed to really enjoy the process. Here are a few of the final images.

Akasha the Queen of the Damned

Akasha in bodypaint

Bloody Fangs of the Queen of Vampires


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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2007

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