I was privileged to be an instructor for the second year at the Face And Body Art International Convention in Orlando, Florida.  This year I met some wonderfully talented artists and became reacquainted with many of the the friends that I met last year.  Attendance appeared to be way up this year with many attending for the first time.

My week started off teaching an 8-hour class on intermediate airbrushing for body art on Wednesday.  The class sold out.  The course covered everything from the history of body art to airbrushing scenes on the living canvas.  Below are two examples that were demonstrated on Edgar and Roni, both of which are artists themselves who volunteered to model for my students.  I owe a huge thank you to Badger Airbrush for providing a complete airbrush set up for each student and for providing a hundred dollars worth of Totally Tattoo body paints for each student.  Other vendors that I also thank for providing samples to the class are Graftobian, Kett, and European Body Art.

Body painting artist Edgar Garayua Roni's dragon painting during intermediate class.

Thursday's highlight was getting to paint the most intricate design I've ever tried on an absolutely stunning model from Columbia.  Her name was Liliana.  She spoke very little English and I spoke very little Spanish, but we actually had a great time trying to communicate with each other.  I spent approximately 45 minutes painting a Mayan pyramid on her back and then delved into the 4.5 hour painting of the Aztec calendar.  To the best of my ability, I painted it by hand (no stencils) as accurately as possible.  In junior high school I had visited a museum in Mexico City with my Spanish class and I was totally mesmerized by the aura of this ancient artifact.  I had been wanting to paint this on a model for quite some time.  All the conditions were right.  Liliana was painted in the lobby of the Altamonte Springs Hilton starting at noon for all of the convention attendees to watch.  Later that evening she was included in the parade of bodypainted models for the opening night gala.  The other models were also painted in the lobby artists such as Mark Reid, Pashur, Christopher Agostino, Natalie Simard, Jinny, Pam Trent, and others.

Aztec calendar painting on Columbian Liliana bodypainting of the Aztec Calendar by Mark Greenawalt Mayan pyramid back painting on Liliana

Friday morning arrived too quickly, but I was glad to get up and start attending some classes myself to see what some of my contemporaries were doing.  I sat in on the 8:30am session on innovative ideas and learned quite a few things.  As I was about to make my way to the next class, fate stepped in and corrected my path.  Rodrigo Piedra, a wonderful bodyartist from Costa Rica, approached me about collaborating on a mermaid bodypainting with him, Cliff Turner, and Liz Turner.  He had the model waiting and asupply of bodypaint for the project from Australian Body Art (thanks to ABA representative Cory Conrad).  The model introduced herself as Fire Pixie and she was simply captivating.  We had four airbrushes spraying at one time and eventually set off the smoke detector in Rodrigo's room.  The wonderful thing about this painting was that Rodrigo had brought an underwater housing for his Nikon digital camera so the photoshoot took place in the pool.

Fire pixie underwater photo of bodypainting

Later in the afternoon, I presented an overview class about bodypainting covering items such as producing great images, working with models, and marketing opportunities.  I had a blast after that just hanging around the bar and lobby and chatting with everyone.  Fire Pixie had washed off her mermaid painting and she had me log into her website.  It turns out that she is a very accomplished fire twirler and fire eater.  There is a very cool logo on her website that I later painted on her arm in the Badger Airbrush booth.

Erin fire pixie logo arm painting

On Saturday, I finally had some time to attend a few classes.  One of my favorites was Natalie's class where she lined up ten models and did a performance art face painting on each of them.  The magic was that they were all beautifully painted within ten minutes while Natalie grooved to the beat of dance hits such as "You Should Be Dancing" by the Bee Gees.  Another class that had a lot of impact was Rodrigo's class.  The class had a very theatrical opening as the house lights were dimmed and a model (Fire Pixie again) was in the spotlight, camouflaged into a brightly colored striped background.  Rodrigo was very entertaining and gave a lot of very insightful ways to present bodypainting to big budget projects.

Rodrigo Piedra body painter from Costa Rica

By 3.30pm it was time for my class.  My class title was Painted-On Clothing from Lingerie to Tuxedos.  I began by airbrushing a tuxedo on a volunteer from the audience named Patrick.  After that I painted a bustier on Abby Trent, the daughter of Pam Trent who is organizing the U.S. Bodypainting Competition in Albuquerque, NM in September (I will be teaching at that event also, by the way).  The first part of the evening was spent doing a gold bodypainting with playing cards on a New England artist named Rita.  The gold was airbrushed Temptu paint and the cards were hand painted using some new paints that I bought from the Wolfe Brothers.  After that I helped out in the famous air-brush jams.  It is very rewarding to me to assist people who haven't really done any airbrushing but have the desire to learn.  The night was then capped off playing piano in the lounge till the wee hours of the morning.

Abby Trent in painted on bustier and broach Patrick in painted on tuxedo Rita bodypainting with Temptu and Wolfe Brothers

Sunday morning had a late start (see paragraph above).  At 10:30am I took a special effects class from Josh Counsel, owner of the Toxic Image Studios in Orlando.  He shared some awesome ways to make blood, scars, and bruising for film making.  I also glanced through his bodypainting portfolio which had some great work in it.

Last year I missed the big banquet on closing night of the convention, but this year I scheduled my flight for Monday morning after hearing how spectacular these events are.  I didn't really have any plans to paint anyone, but one of the audio/visual guys that was hired for the convention was looking for someone to paint him and his girlfriend.  I had some time on my hands so I painted them using Graftobian Paints with a touch of Temptu silver for added sparkle.  I'm so glad that we hooked up for this project because they both made such great models and the paints really popped out in the photos.  The ying and yang symbols are almost subliminal in the overall design.

ying yang body art in purple and blue

As I was wrapping up these paintings, I was glad to hear that Jason Coleman was up for being painted for the evening.  Jason is one of the reps for Mehron and I had asked him on Saturday if he would be interested in being painted as Captain America.  He was going to do it then, but ended up feeling ill.  So with only about an hour to spare, I painted the Captain America suit on him for the party on Sunday night.  Although it was very rushed, I was still pretty happy with the painting.  I had him finished and down to the banquet about a half-hour late, but still in time for most of the festivities.  As everyone started taking his picture, I regretted not having a shield for him.  So I went back to the room and with a waiter's tray, some paint, and some duct tape, I crafted his shield.  Within about 20 minutes he took the stage in front of the capacity crowd singing karaoke to Neil Diamond's "Coming to America"...Pun totally intended.

Captain America bodypainting Mehron


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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2005.  All rights reserved.
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