First off I’d like to thank my friends and fellow artists who invited me to come and paint Sturgis Rally Week with them. Mark Reid, Wiser, Lawren Alice, Adam Ray and Julie Jensen were off the charts with their artwork & modeling and the education they all provided to me, I feel blessed to have such a wonderful opportunity!
I knew this was going to be an intense week – I came in mentally prepared and definitely nervous – but I had no idea of the mental, physical and emotional demands… Oppressive heat (especially for this Canadian Girl!) long days from 7am until 1, 3, 5:30am… creating high volume, intense original artwork, being part of so many human stories, publicity, loud music, limited food (experienced the starving artist syndrome) and a very free tin box trailer to sleep in! Oh yeah… and did I mention there are NO vegetabes in a 100 mile radius of the place!? LOL! And we were dirty like Carnies man..! What a job – working in an outdoor tent walking through dust to get to showers, bed and toilets… paint all over you by the end of the day, 100 degree heat… Carnies I tell ya… and I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world…
On the drive from Denver, I saw antelope for the first time in the wild!!!! Woo-hoo! The drive from Denver to Sturgis South Dakota reminded me of home in many ways as it held some of the most incredible landscapes. We crossed three state lines starting with the rolling foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado who’s open sky rangeland was slowly torn with these red rocky cliffs wvwntually swallowed by tight canyons, and meandering streams… The beauty and complexity of the landscapes surrounding me will always inspire my little geographical spirit!
I finally Got Painted!
Lawren brought it up the first night and was bugging me for days to get painted, and I finally I jumped out of my skin and got a little body paint from some pros..! Wiser was my first with a skull to go with my Canadian bandana.. I was just like “Please! Please! I know you gotta go, but just give me something quick and dirty! We need to drum up biz and make some tips!!!” And it was my best tip night! Go Canada! The second was Friday the 13th – Guns n Roses day. I had a feeling we were going to accomplish something spectacular, we had been thinking about it all week – it was competition day, so I wanted something fancy to match our art, even though it was started around noon and wasn’t finished until 11pm it was the best painting for pictures! My last painted experience was on the last day, it was dead so I asked Mark to paint something Sturgis to use for promo and Dawn topped me off with a beautiful feathered sunset piece to match… it was really fun. But the shower flatbed was leaving so I only had it on for an hour! Boo…
Monkey Rock USA
What an incredible team of people at Monkey Rock working crazy long hours into the sunrise to get this party into a rockin’ good time! Luis Rodriguez our stage MC from Comedy Central was so funny and got the crowd laughing and participating, Steve Rally the floor MC introducing us painters and dancers… man what a classic voice you tore up dude! All the dancers and aerialists – workin’ it hard for hours in the 100 degree heat – they were really talented troopers and so much fun to watch, and you could tell they were enjoying the party just as much as everyone else. Shooters Images had Greg Zook working there, shooting loads of our artwork – he is an amazing artist, photographer and an all around real deal human being. We LOVED having you chillin’ with us when you could – he ran his butt off documenting the party! And thanks so much to Chris and the Colonel for letting us drop paint all over the place!
Rock ‘N Rev
What a show Rock ‘N Rev put on this year! Five bands every night, with headliners including Alice in Chains, Godsmack, 3 Doors Down, Creed, Stone Temple Pilots and Guns ‘n Roses! All the bands were broadcast on a massive big screen inside Monkey Rock and right outside the door was a huge open stage, allowing us to enjoy all the excitement. The coolest was Karen, the wife of a big player with Rock ‘n Rev who sported some Creed artwork by moi and had the whole band autograph her shoulder surrounding the logo I painted on. She came back for more body art by Mark for the Guns n Roses concert, you rocked it Karen! Thank you for getting me in the VIP tent to ride the 3D motorcycle and enjoy some tasty food!
We also painted two full bodies as tributes and promo for the bands including, Godsmack, Stone temple Pilots, 3 Doors Down and Guns and Roses. Mark did pretty much all of the work on the Godsmack painting with my help here and there, but the Guns ‘n Roses painting was a total work of art where both of us painted to our strengths and we totally KILLED IT! Yeah! Mark’s ability for composition and putting together a piece in record fast time blew me away throughout the week, and he gave me the opportunity to brainstorm with him on this one and paint the centerpiece skull, some flowers, fine line work and blending in that killer base! Our Guns ‘n Roses promo models in the morning were an even more impressive accomplishment in my opinion where we had to fly through the paintings and they turned out so tight for not planning anything, just following rules of composition.
The newest guitarist from Guns n Roses arrived earlier than all the band members, so he was looking for something to do and he must have heard that there was a body painting for them inside because we were all pushing to get our art in backstage. So he came out to the bar right by our body painting stage and hung out with his buddy and then people were like “Hey the guitarist from GnR is RIGHT THERE!!” so Mark and I scrambled our models and got them over to socialize and stuff, and I was like grab the cameras (and of course Mark already had his) and then I was like “Go talk to him Mark” and Mark just said… “No, you take this one…” OMG!!!!! So I run up to him and I’m such a dork I’m like “I’m one of the artists who worked on this body painting… (except I said it like this: I’m-one-of-the-artists-who-worked-on-this-body-painting… all one word… breath…point over to Mark, he plays cool of course), and I’d really like to get a picture of you with our artwork…” and he nods his cool rock star nod, and then I step back to get a pic. But then run back to him quickly ‘causes I couldn’t help it, and took him back a step and said “Look at her dude!!! It’s so tight! I painted the skull and killed it eh!”
Yes… I said “eh” omg.
He just lost his cool rock star for a moment and gave me a nice suburb smile (maybe for the paint on my nose and filthy paint stained thighs), it was still too cool…
To top it all off… we got All Access VIP passes so we could get in the front row and rock out after a long hard week of work! Yeah baby! I’ve come a long way since rockin’ out on my walkman with GnR on my walk to school!
Our Daily Models
Everyday we painted four Monkey Rock promo girls – Tasha, Autumn, Sarah & Natasha. OMG! They were so much fun to paint, and I love the way their American accents move out of their mouths. Those girls worked so hard during the day walking around town promoting the bands, Monkey Rock and our artwork, it was hard to say good bye to my new friends, but I’m sure they were tired of getting glued and painted every single day but they never complained, awesome models!
Petra was our body painting model, she did so well while Mark and I and even one time Lawren tag-team painted her. Standing for us while multiple people painted, I can only imagine how demanding that is. We painted Petra in full body paint for three different bike matches, two band tributes and a crazy leopard tiger lady with the final touch of a classic Mark Reid signature face paint to finish it. We were also lucky enough to paint Julie Jensen, who will be in October’s Playboy magazine for a Titan bike match, my contribution on that painting was limited, but I loved Mark’s airbrushed fire!
A fabulous surprise walked up onto our stage as well – Mark got to paint the Penthouse Pet of the Year Taylor Vixen and I got to paint the runner up Veronica Ricci! What beautiful women… They were there all day signing autographs and just wanted to get a little more comfortable, since nudity is out of the question in Sturgis, body painting was the perfect fix for them to get their clothes off and enjoy the party. What a pleasure for us to be able to place some killer artwork on them!
The Real People
These were all the adventurous women and even some men, who came up onto our stage to be painted. This is the raw human component that makes this job so fun and interesting. Cherry came up on stage for the first time in the dark of the night and had me create a fiery red phoenix to match her fire red haired personality – she was so much fun! I couldn’t help breaking into song singing “oh my cherry Pie!”… oh I love Motley Crue I said, “uh, that’s Warrant honey… you need another drink?” “Uh, naw… I’ll stick with water!” lol! She wore that bird all night and the next day and came back with some crazy sunburn lines of the artwork! Rockin’ it hard she wanted a bonsai tree with a blazing red orb… work it girl!
Becky was my first client and I thanked Jesus that she wanted something soft some flowers with soft tribals to frame it out, something I really knew I could paint well – what an amazing women who is also a jeweler… I can’t wait to see her creations!
Danielle rocked my art on the pole dancing stage and was just a little bit of fun to talk to… ha! What a crazy chick! I loved painting my nebula up her arm, wrappin’ it around her shoulder – too sexy! Thanks for the drinks girl!
Susan was by far my favourite model… she came by three times in one day exploding with stories – what a lady full of passion, and her husband l-o-v-e-d the skull & crossbones artwork – you are the best Susan…!
The clients and their stories and their testimonials were the greatest reward of the whole trip, having return customers, telling me they loved it because they got so much attention and had their pictures taken all day long, some even decided to ask for tips for pictures so they made their money back and got painted again! The smile in the women’s eyes when they told me their husbands just loved it… and the pride exuding from the husbands as they told me how beautiful their wives already are but it’s so wonderful to see them shining with confidence and light… Even Veronica Ricci the Penthouse model gushed with excitement telling me how perfect and beautiful her experience with bodyart was that she wants to do it again!
The Butch Lord Radio Road Show out of New York even interviewed us which was super cool! They started out like everyone else, blown away by such a crazy and intense form of art, but when they were lucky enough to hang around our stage for a few hours every day they saw what happens beyond the art – they saw the therapy and magic and healing that body art provides to people. They watched as model after model waked off our stage transformed into the most confident women allowing their true beauty from within to shine through their eyes & smiles leaving their skin just glowing. It was an awesome feeling to be interviewed and tell someone what happens to body painted models once they are painted and then have them witness it all happen, and then come up and say “I see what you mean… you guys are so cool…”
This is Angie, Mark and I did a tag team painting here where we painted to our strengths it was a great experience! In general, he did the layout and roses, I filled in the skulls and some detailing here and there that needed fill and the stand at a distance cleanup along with Mark. Beautiful creation! I wanted to use her series of photos as a testament to how ceremonial a body painting can be. She is a fantastically beautiful woman, and her light just SHINES through with her Bodypainting. It is an emotional, spiritual and life changing experience. Gorgeous woman, beautiful art… Thank you for letting us paint you!
Making enough money to pay for the trip (including the stand-up full time nanny who worked her butt off loving my girls!) was a bonus to the intensive education I received on this trip. Even though the heat hadn’t gotten to me yet, I was pooping myself with nerves as I painted my first promo model. Here I am painting, with Mark Reid, Wiser, Lawren Alice and Julie Jensen all watching me paint… I felt so nervous surrounded by the pros! But by the middle of the second day I knew I could dig down deep and I could find what it takes to standup next to all my peers.
Our first and second full body painting I was freaking out! I have at this point only been body painting for 9 months, so I was used to planning and practicing and picking colours for weeks… months before putting final product photos out. So I was laying eggs when they would roll in a bike up to the stage and say ‘match it.’ I would constantly be asking what are we going to paint? What colours are we going to use? Where are we going to put stuff…? and mark’s cool “I don’t know” was the consistent response. AHHHHHH! How s it possible to pull so much artwork out of the air? I kept thinking…
Well, it all comes down to composition. It was incredible to be there watching Mark layout all the elements of a painting in 20 or 30 minutes and say “ok, you paint thispart, I’ll work on that.” It ripped the nerves right out of me. I learned that even if something wasn’t totally perfect, if you create a soild flow to your painting it makes up for any weaknesses. The speed in which Mark can layout a painting still amazes me and it is something I will always keep as a guide to focus on in my art.
Lettering is something else I found that really was in high demand and Mark has always told me to work on… it really hasn’t come up much with face painting… But YIKES! it was a weakness I couldn’t hide. Calligraphy is a technical skill that cannot be faked and really does give atmosphere to your painting, so this is one of many things that I am walking away with knowing I need to practice so my lettering can exude the same emotion that a pro’s does.
Practice Makes Perfect!
OK, to me this is so exciting, it blew my mind when I opened up facebook and there is a little picture of a skull with rorses and a banner with some nice lettering posted in the newsfeed with the caption: “Thanks for the inspiration Mark and Léa!” Wow! It’s my first piece of fan art! Now this is the coolest feeling in the world. We had so much fun painting roses and skulls… LIKE SO MUCH FUN… and to see that another artist out there loved it so much they took the time to pick up their paintbrush and brush out a little practice painting for fun using our art as inspiration…. SERIOUSLY COOL! It is so cool to have piece of fan art! Thanks Mollie
Practicing painting anything helps me out. so many of the paintings I came out of Sturgis with I’ve painted the artwork in some capacity before… the nebula on danielle I painted Joss’ whole body in that style, the flowers on Becky I’ve painted on legs and arms at birthday parties and even the cherry blossoms I’ve painted on my friend Cendrine just as a fun tattoo addon to her existing artwork! It’s the coolest feeling to sort of have a little repatoire of art work that I can call upon now. I’ve got my own little database of creations that I can cal upon! (such a nerd..!)
Why Do We Do this?
The rush of creating amazing artwork in record short time
The thrill of seeing every single model’s reaction.
The challenge of working on every shape and size of canvass.
The exhilleration of working through marathon long days.
The excitement of meeting so many different people.
The culture shock (YES!) of working in another country.
The tips of appreciation that makes your confidence soar.
The party that constantly surrounds you.
The nerves of being on stage in the spotlight.
The exposure to large corporate branding.
The never ending education from working with your peers…
The opportunity to let your passion run free through your paintbrush onto the human canvass…
And it’s Fun.
Next Stop… Bodyssey! I am going to be teaching some web marketing classes and painting my butt off for fun, for competition and for whatever other reason I can come up with! It’s been only 6 months since painting in the competition and convention in Las Vegas, and yet I feel like I totally different painter, with a totally different approach… the confidence I’ve gained from working and studying under Mark and Wiser… I’m so happy for what I’ve been able to take from it all… because I sure am having loads of fun creating art, writing about my art, and sharing it with fans and students and voyeurs too!