Race car driver bodypainting


The 1st Annual New Mexico Bodypainting Festival
& U.S. Bodypainting Competition
New Mexico Bodypainting Festival Logo

September 22-24, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

It was around July or August of 2005 when I got a call from a fellow bodypainter named Mark Reid.  I had met Mark earlier in the year at the Face And Body Art International Convention in Orlando and we hit it off pretty good.  He called to see if I would be available to participate in the first-ever U.S. Bodypainting Competition as a professional instructor.  He explained that he and Pam Trent from New Mexico were organizing the New Mexico Bodypainting Festival and that I would be joined by several other instructors including my friend Pashur.  In all honesty, I couldn't tell if this was a pipe dream he was shooting for or something that really would come to fruition.  I said that I obviously wasn't booked for anything else.  In fact, I didn't even have a 2006 calendar to write down any bookings over a year away.  I said, "Sure, count me in."

I had my doubts as the year passed that this project may or may not even happen.  There would be a glimmer of hope like the launching of the website and then silence for months at a time.  Even as of a month before the event, I was hearing that the participants were not as many as had been hoped for and there seemed to be some disorganization as to my role in the event.  I'll even admit that I had thoughts of pulling out, but I really wanted to stay committed to the project and to keep my word to Mark and Pam.  Once I arrived at the hotel, all of my fears were alleviated and it turned out to be an incredible experience.

It was the night before the event and the organizers and instructors gathered in Mark Reid's room for a champagne toast.  The rooms were top notch at the Albuquerque Embassy Suites and the welcome comp was a granite tray of cake and chocolate covered cherries.  The group consisted of Mark and Pam, Pashur, Erika Harrison  (the queen of henna), and photographer Rich Johnson and his girlfriend.  Pam seemed overly emotional and gave us all a heart-felt thanks for helping her achieve this dream that she had been hoping for for a long time.  We then had a great time relaying stories and catching up with each other.  Then it was off to bed to prepare for the weekend's festivities.


I had a rare opportunity to sleep in on Friday morning since my class would not be until afternoon, but I couldn't pass up on the chance to see Mark Reid painting his signature blue jeans during an early morning demonstration.  I had seen some of his painted-on jeans in Orlando and I was blown away as I looked at the model, thinking that the shirt he painted on her was very cool, but just assumed that she was wearing real jeans.  Then my jaw dropped.  If you ever get an opportunity to take this class from him, I highly recommend it.

After that I checked out the vendor room and stocked up on several products and then prepared for my class on airbrushing.  For my Friday class I had planned on doing a body mural and wanted to show some 3-dimensional depth with the painting.  I was scouring magazines at the last minute for a scene from New Mexico to illustrate.  I didn't find the scenic photograph that I had hoped for, but saw a picture of the world renown balloon festival that takes place each year in Albuquerque.  From there I mostly just used my imagination to create the scene.  I tried to incorporate some of the tricks-of-the-trade that I learned from photography books about framing the image with foreground elements and some art techniques like adding haze to the distant horizon.  My canvas for the piece was the lovely model Candice Aguirre.  I incorporated her arm to transition into a tree over the top of the painting.  I also want to note that the main balloon is painted yellow with the red symbol from the New Mexico state flag.  Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

New Mexico Balloon Festival painting New Mexico Flag ballon back painting

After my class, Candace was designated to be the model for Pashur's class on airbrushing.  I sat in on his class and learned a few new tricks that he uses to get his signature images.  I consider Pashur to be a good friend of mine and I am always amazed at how humble he is about his painting skills and how easily accessible he is to people wanting to learn to bodypaint.  Here is a picture of Candace with Pashur's painting on her front (my painting was still on her back by the way).

bodypainting by Pashur of canvasalive.com

Next on the agenda was an all expenses paid Mexican buffet (wow, the chefs in New Mexico mean business when they spice it up!!!).  The remainder of the evening was spent at the first annual New Mexico Bodypainting Festival jam.  From 7pm till midnight, all of the attendees, models, photographers, and onlookers gathered around as works of living art were being completed.  There was a separate room for airbrush painters and we only had a fraction of the traffic that was populating the sponge and brush room.  Still I had a good time offering advice and suggestions to the curious and inquisitive.  I did complete two paintings with volunteers from the audience.  One painting was a reproduction of a demonic character that I created in high school for the cover of a collection of poems called Brainstorms.  The model was a well known belly dancer in New Mexico named Leyla-Najma and she was able to make her belly roll, distorting the painted face, while I did my best evil laugh (lots of fun).  The second painting was on a Santa Clause look-alike and Christmas enthusiast.  All he asked for was a back painting with a Christmas theme and I opted for the wreath and candle.  I'm having this image made into a Christmas card that reads "Santa's Bringing Sexy Back!"

Belly dancer Leyla-Najma of Albuquerque Santa Claus Christmas painting wreath


Today was another opportunity to sleep in, but again I tried to soak in as much information and ideas as I could by attending three classes.  The first was Pashurs class at 8am, then I bounced back and fourth between Rich Johnson's class on How to Photograph Your Artwork on Your Model and Mark Reid's class.  Mark was doing a Native American design on model Cynthia Sanchez.  I had been introduced to Cynthia the night before and I was elated to hear that she would also be my model for my class on painting with liquid latex.  Something about Cynthia was simply captivating and I think everyone was enamored with her, including myself.  Here is a picture that I took of Cynthia in her southwest bodypainting design by Mark Reid.

Cynthia Sanchez in Mark Reid bodypaint

Once Mark's class was over and Cynthia had been photographed by Rich Johnson, I took her to my room so that she could shower off that painting only to get painted again at my class.  At many of these bodypainting conventions I have gained notoriety as the guy that paints with liquid latex.  Ironically I don't use liquid latex very often, but there aren't very many bodypainting artists that use it at all.  For the class I chose to paint an all-original black dominatrix outfit.  The outfit included a real zipper that was "glued" on to the outfit using the liquid latex paint.  I also used metallic Stardust from Deviant to add color and stripes to the gloves and bustier.  In the class I offered many of the tips and techniques that I have learned in the past using liquid latex, including using PAM Cooking Spray to take away the tackiness and add shine to the surface.  At the end of my class I was happy with the painting, but I didn't really feel like I had out-done any of my previous latex projects.  The missing elements that pulled it all together though was yet to come.

Sophia and Lorenzo (Colorados' Hair Salon) were the two creative forces that really elevated this convention to the next level.  They were invited to the party to create custom wigs and headpieces and also to provide professional make-up to the bodypainted models (at least the ones that didn't have their faces painted).  They took on the assignment with the gusto and creativity of master artisans and developed some of the most outrageous and elaborate designs that I have ever seen.  For Cynthia, Lorenzo crafted a dominatrix head piece that was made of latex rubber and included a 4' pony tail that sprouted from gem studded cone.  This completed Cynthia's look and made me proud to have been a part of the whole look.  Next we were trying to think of some items that we could use as props for the photoshoot and one of the convention attendees mentions that he has a box full of whips, chains, handcuffs and other assorted items in his room.  Perfect.  The paint job looked good, the headdress looked awesome, the props were appropriate, and Cynthia not only looked stunning in her make-up by Sophia, but she really knew how to 'turn it on" pretending to be THE DOMINATRIX.  Here are a few studio shots of her painting.

Cynthia Sanchez in liquid latex dominatirx outfit flamenco dancer cynthia sanchez in black latex Cynthia Sanchez of Albuquerque New Mexico Dominatrix in liquid latex body paint

I didn't get hardly any pictures of the preliminary competition on Saturday night, but the paintings were wonderful and I have a few links below to some sites that have more of these images.  


Several of us partied till it was pretty late on Saturday night so it was pretty tough getting up early, but now that I had seen the magic that Sophia and Lorenzo were doing I couldn't afford to miss their 8am class.  They made everything look so easy, but I could never do some of the cool effects that they were conjuring up.  After their class I helped them by airbrushing some color onto a few of their wigs.  There was one wig that really caught my attention that was like a streak of fire that emanated horizontally from the back of the models head.  In conversation I mentioned to Sophia that my bodypainting assignment for the Sunday night competition was to paint a racecar driver and she told me that the fire wig was created specifically for my bodypainting.  Cool!  Then she mentioned that the colors that she used to paint it were just the colored hairsprays and she asked if I wanted to airbrush some richer colors into the wig.  I jumped at the opportunity and painted it to have more defined flames.  I also painted another one of the hairpieces with a paisley purple and red design for one of the bodypainters in the competition.  Here are pictures of these two wigs.

Wig by Sophia Matthews in Albuquerque Sophia Mattews hair creations

As an instructor, I was not eligible to compete in the U.S. Bodypainting Competition.  However, each of the instructors were provided with models and given bodypainting assignments for the Sunday night Festival Extravaganza.  As mentioned above, I was to paint a racecar driver.  Now that I knew that the wig transitioned from a blue to the red-orange-yellow flames, I was able to conceptualize what the racing suit would look like.  I opted to paint a blue suit but planned on incorporating flames into the sleeves.  My plan was also to include the logos of many of the festival vendors, sponsors, and instructors as sponsor patches on the suit.  I even snuck in the Future-Class X Publishing circle logo on the back of the uniform and circled the number "01" to represent the first annual event.  My model for the project was Sadie Yurista.  While I was painting her wig, a male model had walked into the convention hall carrying a motorcycle helmet.  I pounced on the opportunity and asked him if we could use it for a prop.  Everything came together pretty well I think and here are some pictures of the painting.

Racecar driver bodypainting at New Mexico Bodypainting Festival Painted racing stripes and sponsor patches Body art race car driver with helmut runway stage at U.S. Bodypainting Competition

I was able to stay just until the announcement of the winners and then I had to shuttle off to the airport to come back home to Phoenix.  I had a wonderful time at the event and I hope to be a part of it again next year.  I didn't take nearly enough pictures of the other bodypaintings at the event, but I encourage you to check out the links below for additional images from the event.

The Albuquerque Tribune 

Specifications:  For this project I used Badger Airbrushes and Compressors, Reel Creations , Mehron, and Totally Tattoo bodypaints for all airbrush applications, and Wolfe Brothers, Kryolan, and Paradise paints for all detailed brushwork.

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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2006.  All rights reserved.

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