It is sink or swim time on this episode of Skin Wars. We are down to only 6 competitors and the pressure is building! There is no more getting by with mediocre work, every stroke you make needs to be of genius mind at this point. Needless to say that I am up there with some amazing artists that make me question how I made it this far! What an honor to still be standing on the stage with them!
Our morning starts out unlike any other before. We were awakened quite early (3 am to be exact) and taken on a field to the Aquarium where we were able to walk around and view all the beautiful sea life without having to weave through the crowds. This was a special treat for us, because at this point the most fascinating creatures we were able to view were the contestants and as much as I love their faces and how beautiful they all are… I needed a change of scenery! Louisiana water is not the most beautiful clear sight to see, in fact once your toes are submerged, the vision of them is lost in the murky waters. So to see all of the marine life clear as day… is like going to an IMAX movie instead of watching it on my tiny screen at home. Not only that, they allow us to suit up and take a dive into the tank with the fish. What an experience. We haven’t had the chance to get out much and just have fun so this gave us all the opportunity to let loose for even a short period of time and relieve some much needed stress! So we all swam our little hearts out!!!
Now that we were exhausted from our swimming lessons, we were taken back to the studio where we were to begin our first challenge. We are told that we must transform our models hands into some form of sea life that we pulled inspiration from being at the Aquarium. Smaller surfaces are not necessarily easier to work on, but no time to think about that… time to get to work! Me and my model spend the first 15 minutes trying to figure out poses and movements that just aren’t satisfying my creativity so we finally narrowed it down to a jellyfish! I place the two hands side by side so that she can have use of her fingers as the tentacles. I remembered coming across some ribbon in the studio and I immediately start digging for it. Make a quick stop at the nail station, grab the longest ones I can find and get to work. I gave my model a full manicure and glued the ribbons to her nails to create some extra length and movement for the tentacles! I was lucky that the ribbon was UV reactant so I just had to match the colors under the blacklight to the rest of the painting. In order to make sure that you are doing things correctly, you have to stay under the UV lamps to see what you are doing. The painting looks totally different in regular lighting. You don’t realize how much a model needs their hands, to drink, to scratch, to express… etc. Needless to say, the hands were moving way more than I was hoping they would. I guess it doesn’t help when your model is drinking coffee either (my luck- haha). Making my final touches, trying to make my colors pop and my seems match up, time is now up!!! I guess the anxiety got to my model as well because as soon as they called time up and she had ribbons hanging from her hands… she had to use the restroom! Real shit… I had to take her to the bathroom and help her so that she did not ruin the artwork, I guess that is called a bonding moment!
Looking all around I was starting to feel a bit discouraged as I was extremely exhausted by this point! Just wanting to take lay my head down under my work station and sleep! I think everyone was feeling the exhaustion at this point! But the judges complimented me on the movement of the artwork and they loved the extra added accessories to the tentacles. I was placed in the top 3… Yay! Patted myself on the back, job well done. I didn’t take home the win on this one, Michael stole the show with his amazing Electric Eel. What an amazing piece he created!
Now that the day is coming to an end, the judges tell us that we are in for another big surprise! We have to create our own sea creature for a special underwater elimination challenge! Ummmm… I have never done one of these before, so I don’t even know what I am up against. I am terrified that my model will wash away as soon as she gets into the water, but no worries you all get to go home and get some rest because today was a long day…. NOT! There is no rest anymore. My mind is going 100 miles an hour. I literally sat on the couch staring at my sketchbook with nothing on it, half asleep but refusing to get rest because I needed to prepare. I was stubborn to stay up later than I should have only putting a scratch of color on my sketch to reference.
I wake up, somewhat,then reality hits that I am about to create a painting I have never done before! Our day gets started as soon as we walk into the studio. There are a number of steps that you must be sure to not skip in order for the paint to adhere properly. This all skims off time from me actually painting. I saw that everyone was fighting over the foam (not the smartest prop to go after) so I chose to keep it simple and apply a prosthetic to her face. I knew that time was going to be an issue so I didn’t want to sacrifice my details in painting. it was fun seeing everyone doing something totally different. I chose an Alligator, to bring a little bit of home into the competition. I saw that Luis was attempting a lobster without much reference, so I decided to be a friendly competitor and lend him my crawfish. Good Karma points… coming my way soon! I don’t like seeing others struggle… even when $100,000 is on the line. Just not in my nature! Speaking of struggling, I felt terrible for Alison, because Michael had the ability to take away 30 minutes of time from a competitor in which they could only paint with their hands. Those alcohol based paints were no joke. I had to scratch them and use only the airbrush at this point. Everyone was struggling on time for this one, even Rikki was down to the wire ( not typically the case). I just remember that I had to stop myself from painting so that I had adequate time to put a final sealer on her so that the paint didn’t come off in the water! That’s it… TIME’S UP!!
Looking around the room, I noticed that I am pretty much the only one that didn’t take a literal approach with my creature… I am now a little worried but at the same time I am happy I did something different. My artwork is a representation of an Alligator. When I was a young girl I remember going out in the boat with alligators surrounding us. You can spot them by their glowing eyes in the water. You couldn’t even tell they were there, they were so still in the water. This is why there are glowing red eyes on my model and all around her. They were always watching you! I was always attempting to reach out and pet one, probably not the smartest move, but I was naive and all animals were good! Of course down here in Louisiana, alligator is a delicacy in the cajun protein food group. I remember them hanging this beautiful reptile up and splitting it open from the neck down, spilling its insides for all to see. This was a a traumatic site for me. this visual was what I wanted to represent in my design. I wanted the alligator to come back with a vengeance. So I placed a row of teeth along the opening of her torso as if to give it a fighting chance. The prosthetic I placed on her face gave her a very angry look because an innocent life was taken for a sport. When I was younger I always thought that I would become a veterinarian. I quickly learned that I could not handle the death of any living creature. So I resurrected that image through my artwork and brought my gator back to life! Time to release it into it’s natural habitat… the tank awaits!!!
Well, the paint didn’t budge and my model was the most elegant alligator in the water! RuPaul was amazed at my creation and was excited to see some Louisiana roots up on the stage! Craig Tracy gave me the biggest compliment on my overall design and level of skill in my painting. Robin Slonina loved that I brought an emotional connection through my work and my past. I think the judges are finally noticing that I didn’t come here to play games. I have patiently been waiting my turn to come out of the water.I did make the top 3 on this one; however, I didn’t take the win on this one either! It is a great feeling to know that you are not on the bottom but at the same time… to be that close to winning but never quite getting there is just as defeating! But I decided to be proud of my artwork as Tiffany took the win with her mermaid! We had to unfortunately say goodbye to Luis, but he walked away in true Luis style, head up and a smile on his face! He is such an amazing artist and person, he will go far in life!
I do remember the judges asking me if I was worried that my piece was so different in comparison to all others. They had taken the literal approach and I didn’t. This was my response to them…
My fiance put together a calendar of quotes, one for each day as motivation to help me wake up without doubt and to keep believing in myself. I think it is a perfect representation of what I stand for in life and in this moment of criticism and judgement.
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”