Not your typical WHEEL OF FORTUNE!

13256140_714816661994170_4664630406778302733_n

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!!!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 305

“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)!!!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 305

 

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!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 305

“Wheel of Fortune”

 

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.

 

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 305

 

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.”
-MANDY HALE

Missed Miss Skin Wars?!?

SW3_304_0359

Here we go!!! The long awaited pageantry of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants competing for the title of Miss Skin Wars! We have 9 painters left and one is not only going to lose the crown but will also get the boot to go home.  In my line of work, I have come across many types of bodies, male and female, so to have the pleasure in painting a Drag Queen was the ultimate surprise! I have to keep a fresh perspective on life on people, you never know who you are going to come in contact with or what new perspective they might throw your way. Everyone has something to offer, we just have to be patient and open minded to accept it!

That being said, let me take you on a journey of my experience for this episode!!! Coming off of the last episode and being in the bottom two I knew that I could not play around anymore… it was time to get my head in the game! I walked in with a little more attitude and a fresh outlook on the day (notice the red pants… I meant business haha). Of course RuPaul is all too excited to introduce his ladies. I was a little sad that they didn’t show all of what went on. So much of their presentation was cut from the show. They came out one by one to introduce themselves and give a short line or two on where they came from and what they liked to do. Of course most of them totally couldn’t get it right so the bloopers were endless and had us rolling in laughter! I was chosen to paint “Miss Diagnosed” (Tyra Sanchez/ Winner of Season 2’s Drag Race)- NO PRESSURE! Can I just say that not only is she a beautiful lady but a SUPER TALL one as well! That is a lot of canvas to cover in a short amount of time. My eyes were already scouting for a step stool because i knew my little short self was going to be needing it. All of the men’s testosterone went flaring up on stage! I almost peed myself, Otto and Rick were not so comfortable with this scenario. No time to waist thinking about it though… we were off to the start of our first challenge… the Swimsuit category!!!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 304

So the first interaction I get with Tyra is a warm welcomed hug! She is so sweet and quite bashful at first. I was surprised to see her self conscious of her body…. she has the most beautiful legs ever! She didn’t want to unveil her robe for a while. This shocked me but also reaffirmed that I was there for her just as much as she was for me. I was meant to boost her confidence and make her comfortable with herself, so I went to work. We spent majority of the day chatting with each other about everyday life. I found out that she has an amazing family bond with her son too! You can really learn a lot about someone when you spend face to face time with them outside of SOCIAL MEDIA- it is crazy! Needless to say once we were both comfortable the paint was flying! She wanted to represent her love for Florida and the beaches so I decided to design a blue breezy swimsuit with a touch of the sun. Now here is what you don’t understand not coming from a body painting background. It is much faster and easier to paint skin than it is clothing… and for some ungodly reason they decided to put these huge horrifying bras stuffed with breast inserts on our models. 1.) That makes it more time consuming because it soaks up the paint and 2.) it is a hideous eye sore that you have to work the design around so that it doesn’t stand out. So in the short amount of time we were given, this is what I was capable of. Not my all time favorite but for Tyra’s first time being painted, she felt beautiful in it and that was totally worth not taking top 3 in the first round. Sometime’s you have to find the bright side to it all! So now that day one of judging was over and they gave the winning swimsuit to Michael… it was time to give it my all for round 2!

With little sleep and much anticipation for the elimination challenge, I was amped and ready to go! Tyra walked in and I had to take a second look because I almost didn’t recognize her… um him?!? It showed me that these ladies definitely put their time in to transform themselves with makeup and they are damn good at it! One handsome fella i might say! The day started off immediately with smack talking and daggers being thrown across the room. They were catty but in a humorous way! They kept calling Tyra the “Fresh Prince of Bellaire” because of the box fade haircut (haha). She was a good sport and played along! At one point during the day she said “What if I fart on you?” as I was conveniently painting her rear end! I almost died laughing and stated “Just as long as my face isn’t near it!” Not much surprises you after you paint people for a living. Maternity shoots are the realest… there is no hiding the gas at that point! I truly got to enjoy the day with Tyra, she was cool, calm and collective! She knew how much this meant to me and knew I needed to find my zen place. So she said “baby, I am here for you and will do whatever you need!” I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her in that moment, while all of the other queens were giving their painters hell over the makeup and the paint. Life was good!

SW3_304_0397

So the theme was to make it all about the Queens and their personalities! Tyra wanted to show her Warrior side because that is was her name stood for. So i designed her paint to represent not only her strong will but her inner goddess as well. Purple is a color of Royalty and being that she was a previous winner I felt it was fitting for her character. I also had her a dripping gold collar with eyes peering out from underneath to represent her no being afraid to face her opponents. Now we were down to the last 10 minutes and I was still finishing the details on her body when I realized that I had not even touched the face!!! I look over to my side and Allison has this beautiful hairdo and elaborate makeup on Yara Sofia! Now I feel terrible! Tyra told me to just go with a warrior paint style and not to worry about the glamour…she wanted to feel strong! So with 5 minutes remaining I somehow pulled off her look using every second I had! Standing on a box (because I was too short to reach) painting her lips, Rebecca yells out “Time’s Up!!” No more work to be done … time to walk the runway and impress the judges!

We watch all of the Queens in their moment of glory selling themselves to the judges! Now they call me up to critique me on my work! First thing out of Ru’s mouth is “FIERCE DARLING!” He absolutely loves what I did! The judges LOVE her face… if they only knew it took me 5 minutes!!! So much to be appreciated about their compliments. I felt good at this point but what was to come made the stress of it all totally worth it! SO they announce the top artists… Michael… Allison… and then they call out me!!! Wahoo!!! My inner child was cutting flips! Back on top again, life is pretty good at the moment! Not being in the top three for the swimsuit had me doubting myself for a minute but this just goes to show that a little hard work and dedication pays off! So we walked away as second runner up…. at least we weren’t in the bottom! I would have felt terrible for Tyra! I couldn’t let her go home that way! We celebrated the big win for Allison and partied off stage as Jess unfortunately got the bad news that her grass beard on Milk was her sending her home. So even with all of the excitement we are still sad to see another one of our family go home! Now the house is down to 8 painters but the upside is now there are only 3 women in one room of the house instead of 6!!! I live to see another day on Skin Wars! Time to go relax and gain my strength back to do it all over again the next week! Channeling my inner Tyra, I leave you with this quote!

“Whatever you are physically… male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy- all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”
– Cassandra Clare

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 304

All for One or One for All

Welcome to Episode 3 of Skin Wars… This one packs quite a punch you guys! Where do I even begin?!?!? Let’s just start at the beginning with the small challenge, POP ART! Most of you may not know what I am referring to because my piece was unfortunately not shown on this episode. Not going to lie, it wasn’t anything super special and I guess it would have been a bigger slap to my ego if they had a full episode on the judges hating on my work hahaha. Thank you Skin Wars for sparing me the shame on this one. It wasn’t terrible but just not my greatest work.

So the judges Robin Slonina and RuPaul tell us to make a run for a table of luggage and grab your favorite, which inside revealed  our model (male or female) and a prop to inspire our theme. So I had the pleasure of working with a camera. Since we were dating our paints back to an earlier era I decided to take a little bit of today and  show what it would have been for women, back in the day, to take selfies of themselves. Not quite sure where I was going with it, but no time to think it through fully, so I just ran with it! Instead of regular dots I decided to make them small hearts to show her love for herself.She shows a little skin by pulling her shirt away towards her mid drift to show her rebellion of being a classy lady! On her chest i painted Polaroid selfies falling down as if coming out of the camera.  Speaking of the camera, do note that I totally forgot about my prop and quickly covered it in black paint (FAIL). When you are limited on time you tend to get distracted and forget about a few details… sometimes you have to cut ideas out and that was one that should not have been cut! I soaked that in and noted that for the next challenges! Those mini challenges are tough! But RuPaul did tell me to always love my selfie… GOT IT! Here is my final photo for that challenge. Not top 3 material but worthy of a photo (haha).

SW3_303_0311R.jpg

On to the elimination challenge! The judges then bring on the surprise that we will not be painting by ourselves and that we will be paired up with another contestant. Now this could has the possibility of going terribly wrong. We are all in it for ourselves and now we have to make sure that the other person doesn’t drag you down! Who will be my partner?!? Will we get along, are we going to agree or disagree on a theme?!?! All of these questions running through my mind! Rebecca announces that Michael will be my partner and this immediate load of pressure gets released from my shoulders. At this point me and Michael have become really close friends and I thoroughly enjoy his carefree attitude. I work better with partners that always make sure to have fun in the process. This keeps the tension low and the stress as minimal as possible. So we have had a long day at this point and now we have to go home and figure out a plan of action. Now RuPaul is always making comments on “Listening to the Universe” to Michael so we both decided that our piece was going to tell a story through movement. They are living and breathing canvases why shouldn’t there be movement to bring the artwork to life. So we stay up most of the night literally dancing in our underwear to try and nail down poses that we want our models to land in for that perfect balance for our final photo. YES- There is a story in which you are lucky enough to hear, because the show edited it out and it is a darn good story! We are quite proud of our final piece.

So with little sleep we head into the studio to tackle this large task at hand. Michael brings out the child inside of me so we are really just enjoying our time together for the most part. You have to remember that we are so stressed out that it is hard to find time to just sit back and enjoy the moment. Michael says and does whatever is on his mind so it was a breathe of fresh air to allow myself to embrace that characteristic and just not be such a tight A$$. Not going to lie… when the time came down to minutes remaining we were both in a panic (as usual) and our carefree attitude went out the window. We had so many moving elements and poses that we had to accommodate for all of them instead of just having a stand still pose like all of the other contestants. Side note- The models are awesome and don’t get enough recognition for their hard work and dedication to our crazy ideas. They have to stand there for hours wearing basically just paint and play the role we need them to (WE LOVE YOU GUYS). Time to take this party to the judging table!

Here is our story and our on stage presentation:
Our story is of an artist who blankets his creativity in fear of allowing his true self to be seen(male model hunched over embracing himself). The moment he is able to look fear in the eyes (arms pop out and begin to move behind him- with painted eyes all down each arm) he transcends into a realm where the ego does not exist. He becomes one with the universe (center model stands up-representing all chakras and ego). Darkness will inevitably emerge from the shadows (model representing darkness stands up and hugs universe) But without darkness, there is no light (light model stands up). By allowing himself to be centered with the universe, he is able to find a delicate balance between both darkness and light (his head lines up to with the eyeball painted on the center model and darkness and light join hands with the universe and fall apart in a balancing position supporting one another). Thus giving his creative powers the ability to prevail. -THE END
me and michaels painting

In all honesty it is a story about us as artists, scared of being judged on our work that is so personal to us individually, but to just allow ourselves to love the work no matter the ridicule. Pushing past the fear of judgement and criticism and allowing yourself to enjoy the work, finding a balance in life. We knew that we were taking a chance on being different, but isn’t that what art is all about… who wants to be the same?!?

We thought we were doing great when Robin says how much she loves the movement and the colors were popping. Ru was digging our play off of listening to the universe. Me and Michael stood proud by our piece because not only was it visually pleasing but it meant more to us to tell our story and be proud of our work together and how much we enjoyed the experience. Of course when it came down to the fine details we had to get real and go back into competition mode because again, we are only in it for ourselves. So not only did we have to find mutual ground to work together and survive the challenge without killing each other,  now we were forced into tearing each other apart piece by piece. Who  did what… what don’t you like about what they painted… basically it is NOT all for one anymore! I can take a swift punch in the gut when it is needed. My work definitely could have been better on those light faces for sure… I mean I do portraits for a living guys… i know when my work is shitty (lol). But in the time we were given, there was no time for nitpicking and we have 4 people to cover head to toe in a short time! So Craig called us a train wreck (BAHAHA). I’m sorry it just made me laugh really hard because if you cant take things lightly then the pressure will get you down in life. Needless to say we were thrown into the bottom along with Kyera and Alison.

For the record- Kyera is one of the kindest souls you will ever meet (true story)! Alison was missing her little boy and I can’t relate to her specifically as I do not have children, but being separated from my boyfriend who I have lived with for years was extremely heartbreaking to not have him there as my rock when I needed the comfort. So we all learned to support each other and become the family we needed. Tears were shed quite a bit! The struggle is real you guys! So we are standing there not knowing what was going to happen. Michael and I had such a different concept from everyone else that we didn’t know which way the judges were going to lean. The build up the tension for sure… the long dramatic pause before the judges announce that Michael and I are safe (Brow wiped on that one). We live to see another paint day!!!! Yes we embrace each other after because ultimately we are happy that it didn’t come down to one of us going home, showing our love for each other through it all. Sadly enough Kyera takes the hit on having to go home when Alison made it clear that she wasn’t ready to continue the fight. It was a sad day in the house for us at that point! Be sure to tune in next week as we have the pleasure of painting RuPauls Drag Race Drag Queens! And don’t forget to laugh at yourself every now and then…
SW3_303_1148.JPG
I will leave you with this final quote 
“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”
THOMAS CARLYLE

To see more about the episodes be sure to follow Skin Wars on GSN : www.skinwars.gsntv.com

Take a look at my work: www.brittneypelloquin.com