I have been putting off this blog for a little while now, only because it is a very personal episode for me. This one really hit home and to go back and relive the moment with all of the emotions it stirred up inside, takes a minute to truly appreciate it all. As an artist, we choose to board an emotional roller coaster when creating artwork. Sometimes we exit the ride feeling happy, exhilarated, afraid and even sad. Today I will take you through my roller coaster of emotions and why I reacted the way i did on the show. So get settled in…. this one might give your heart a few extra throbs.
Welcome to Episode 5 of SKIN WARS! I am starting off this day finally feeling a little bit more at ease due to the fact that Jess was sent home last elimination. Please don’t misunderstand, Jess is an amazing person and her spirit is so refreshing and delightful to be around. I am talking about her level of skill and competitive nature. I have competed with her before in The World Bodypainting Festival for the last 2 years… the girl is good (Really Good)! So to see someone that I consider stiff competition get eliminated, makes me feel a little more at ease for each new challenge. That nice feeling of a little weight being lifted from my shoulders. I say LITTLE because let’s face it…. I am no where near the finish line of this competition! But every little bit counts (haha).
We enter the workroom only to find these black stationary backdrops at our station. Judges Craig Tracy and RuPaul “appear” out of nowhere! Seeing how the final edit of the show looks much more real than just a little smoke going up and them stepping into place. That is beside the point, let me get into the real stuff here. They tell us that we have to create an optical illusion that disappears into the backdrop. For those that are unfamiliar with this challenge, when you paint certain parts of the canvas black and take a picture on a black backdrop, this creates an illusion that it has disappeared leaving only what is painted (or not painted) visible to the eye… thus an optical illusion is created! They are amazing and personally one of my favorite categories and styles to render. It is all about the highlights and the shadows for this one and that is where I excel in my level of artistry . I find it fascinating to make 2-d art look 3-d! Needless to say… I was super excited to take on this challenge! I grabbed the painters tape and started going to work on my model. Measuring out each line so that they crossed perfectly at the right angles (did I mention I am a perfectionist)! This is why timed challenges are tough for me… I like to make sure that everything is up to my standard of skill level and on this show… well let’s just say that is basically never going to happen! So I spend a lot of time creating a beautiful taped corset for my model (haha). Every time she moved some of the tape came undone and I had to stop and place it back. At this point I realized that plan was not the most time efficient move in this challenge and I started to get a little anxious. Can’t go back now… just keep going and GO FASTER! No pressure right! I then start to realize that all I have is the lattice work done with not much else, the original plan was to have butterflies escaping but seeing as though it was very bare I decided last minute to throw in some vines weaving in and out of the lattice (mainly to cover up all of my mistakes). Plus this was an extra added bonus to my artwork giving it more depth of meaning for me! Time is up… and here is my final piece!!!
“The Butterfly Effect”
This piece reflects my feelings going into this challenge. There are 4 butterflies that are escaping the body. There is one for each competitor that has left the competition. With each challenge I feel nervous that I won’t be able to to my best work, will I finish on time or will I totally bomb the challenge?!?! All of these doubting questions fill my head. With each competition that passes and someone else goes home that is a little more release of these uneasy feelings. The vines weave in and out as if to embrace the holes and fill them. The rose located over her heart represents the beauty of life and how I am blossoming throughout each challenge. The butterfly on the hand is a recognition and moment of appreciation for each competitor to show my love and gratitude for their time spent with me in this experience.
The judges appreciated my artwork and ultimately it landed me in the top 3!! I finally made top 3 in the small challenge… big step up for me and I felt quite proud! I didn’t win this round as Luis took the glory (rightfully so). His piece was incredible and you should totally check it out! I was perfectly happy with where my piece stood. I was slowly getting more comfortable with each new challenge and trusting myself to just do what I do best! I walked out of the room patting myself on the back because I personally grew in this artwork! High fives all the way around for my model (even Alison was bowing down to us.. or maybe she was just putting her paint down, haha)!!!
Now…on to the big elimination challenge! We walk into the staging area to find the judges sitting at a round table with a crystal ball surrounded by large tarot cards! I am intrigued because i always watch all of the card readers down in New Orleans line the streets and good old NOLA is known for their VooDoo! They allow each of us to pick our own card from the deck, leaving the fate of what subject matter we get in our own hands. A little Russian Roulette of sorts! I was to pick first which means I had all the possibilities laid out before me. I flipped my card around and revealed THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE- meaning a new turning point and good fortune! Wouldn’t you be excited too!!!???!!! I’ll take it! Now that I had my subject matter, I had to create my own tarot design for my model. No sleep for me that night, my wheels of fortune were turning in excitement!
I go into the challenge the next day on basically no sleep at all but with an excited outlook on my day. I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction. That if we want something to come into fruition, then we have to first put it out into the world with positive thoughts. This sets the plan in motion making me focus on bringing the idea to life. Persistence is the key to achieving your goals in life. If you are persistent enough, in time you can get what you want. This conversation stirred up relative feelings between me and my model making an amazing connection and deeper appreciation of the art. Cool moment for me, so we spent most of the time during the painting process chatting about life and where she came from. Putting me at ease thinking of something other than “the clock ticking down”. What I found more fascinating is that each artist picked a tarot card that had a perfect representation of who they are and what was going on in their lives at the moment. Kinda Spooky and cool at the same time. This was my final painting!
This piece is about me creating my own destiny and good fortune. I feel very fortunate in the position of where i stood on this day considering my background and where I came from. My father being placed in prison when I was only 8 years old, left a single mother to raise 4 children on her own. She taught me the most valuable lesson in life… to never give up no matter how hard the fight. I strive for perfection because I want to reassure her that she never failed us in life. No matter how tough times were, she always provided for us and loved us for who we were. My mother is one of the strongest individuals I know and one that I will always look up to.
On the front there are two large paintbrushes that are guarding the wheel of fortune located on the face of a grandfather clock arising from a fog. The paint dripping down her shoulders showing the many layers that I have gone through in order to be where I am today. This represents the many times I failed but was too determined to give up. Thus forming an armor of sorts to protect me. Across her face a bold roman numeral X (ten) is painted. On the tarot card this number arose. We often times have these signs that are staring us in the face and we look past them because we aren’t aware of our surroundings. The number ten was popping up in so many areas of my life that when I stopped to really think about it, it was extremely significant. The month of October started a new turning point in my life opening up a door to my career in which I will forever be grateful. Even as I was painting, my model recognized a picture on Alison’s station with the number 10 in the background. Coincidence or not… it was meant to be in that moment for me. There is a book with a face located on the rear end of my model. This represents me opening up a new chapter in my life and being more consciously aware of myself as an artist. The face is centered so that the crack separates the right side of the brain from the left and to give a little more curve and dimension to the artwork. (every model has a butt… you have to be creative about your composition and use it to the best of your potential sometimes haha). Coming from the head is this 3-d perspective of an infinity cross representing me creating my own luck and fortune in life because I am so thankful for how far I have come given the struggles I went through. On the back side on the thighs I placed two angelic figures to represent my mother and my grandfather. They have both believed in me and always supported me in my goals to make it as an artist. My mother who is always by my side rooting me on and my grandfather who is currently battling his life with cancer and doesn’t want to give up because of his strong will to survive. Two of the most amazing role models that I could possibly have! Of course explaining this to the judges stirred up some very deep emotions for me and it turned into a waterfall of tears after trying to hold them back through my presentation… needless to say the dam gave way and the tears came rushing out! It was an honest emotion felt at the time in which I accepted and let everyone witness at the time.
I was then told that I was safe from elimination and I walked off the stage feeling more fortunate than ever. No top 3 this time but I wasn’t in the bottom and that was fine with me. Having cameras on you at all times is hard as an artist. We wear our heart on our sleeves and sometimes we don’t like to show how vulnerable we truly are. Seeing myself so weak and emotional was a reassurance that it is okay to feel that way at times. We are not all perfect human beings and if we just accept how we feel in the moment and acknowledge those, we learn a little more about ourselves along the way. My good fortune and fate was sealed with this painting and I look back and reflect on it with pride because it represents my life in its truest form. I survived to see another day on Skin Wars.
“If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is…an opportunity to get to know YOU, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but You for your happiness…you will realize that a little loneliness goes a long way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful you.”