Friday, January 07, 2005

Body of art

I've been fascinated by body painting for a very long time, since I first encountered it early on in my high school days. What I saw was fairly simple stuff, and I thought it was neat, but didn't pay it much more mind than that. Then, in college, I was absolutely stunned by Demi Moore's famous bodypaint cover of Vanity Fair:
Demi Moore bodypaint

The idea that she was posing nude on the cover of a national magazine--full frontal at that--yet was completely covered with an illusion of conservative attire captured my full attention. I found the image engrossing, magnificently detailed. Since then, the concept of using the human body as a living canvas is one that has intrigued me to no end. Well-done bodypainting will invariably stop me in my tracks.
Snow leopard bodypaint, by Craig Tracey

I ran across New Orleans artist Craig Tracy's Painted Alive site the other day, and my amazement and admiration for what is possible with bodypainting has risen to a level I never thought possible. The snow leopard image above was the first piece of his I saw, and I had no clue that it was bodypaint--I saw it as an interesting, albeit normal, two-dimensional painting. In fact, I was somewhat puzzled when I learned it originated from a bodypaint artist's site. Then I discovered his "process" pages, which break down the projects to show how they were composed, and the brief but enlightening Quicktime movies that show snippets of his studio work with the models. Unbelievable! That a nude woman could blend so seamlessly into this image to make it what it is amazes me to no end. The illusion is masterful. I applaud the artist and his visionary mind's eye for even conceiving of this composition. And the wonders never cease:
Tiger eye bodypaint, by Craig Tracey

This illusion is even more perfect, if at all possible. I examined it for a long time trying to resove the human canvas underneath. I succeeded, to an extent, surmmising that a woman's breast comprised most of the image, but even then it took the pop-up "sample detail" before I was able to link the tiger's iris with the areola, and the pupil with the nipple. Watching the Quicktime movie was even more educational, showing how another model's painted arm, resting beside the breast, completed the image. Looking at these images, and the others on his site, I am in awe.

Tattooing and henna have never held much interest for me, but bodypainting has insinuated itself into my brain and prompted me to go on one of my mini-obsessions. Other websites and artists with some fine bodypainted artworks on them include Leroy Roper and Bodypainting by Mark Greenwalt. I've always harbored a fondness for nudes and nudity in general, and bodypainting is almost like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in that regard--two great tastes that go great together.

The temptation, of course, if for me to attempt something of this nature myself. While I do have some small degree of artistic skills, they are limited mostly to pen-and-ink illustration, which I doubt would translate well to the human body in a reasonable fasion (or time frame). My painting skills are miserable, to be charitable, so I believe I shall have to content myself with being a mere patron of this particular art.

Now Playing: Schubert Symphony no. 4 "Tragic"

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