No One Fights Cancer Alone!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 307

This week on Skin Wars was a touching episode not only for me, but for all of the models new to the experience! These ladies not only had to bare their skin, but they also had to bare their stories about their fight with Breast Cancer. Me and cancer don’t exactly see eye to eye. It has unfortunately taken many loved ones from me and my family and is still doing its best to take more to this very day. Knowing that I have family at home fighting for their life while I am unable to reach out to them pains me even more. All the more reason to bring a little bit of southern comfort to my beautiful model Amanda Hynum. It is a pairing that will forever change my life and I had no idea what a powerful impact it would make on my life.

Not sleeping well in anticipation for the next challenge the night prior to us arriving on set, I was able to get a little shut eye somehow and I had a dream about my MawMaw Joyce. Now it has been 10 years since she has passed from breast cancer and I unfortunately never dream of her so you can imagine the nice surprise it was when I woke up. In my dream she sang me a melody that I could not understand the words but the feeling I embraced was that everything was going to be okay. I assumed it was my mind using it’s coping mechanisms to get me through the hard times, but when we walked onto set that day and they brought out all of these amazing women and told us what the challenge was all about, I could not even begin to wrap my mind around it all. Call it what you want, pure coincidence or a message from a lost one looking out for me. I was happy to be where I was in that moment! All of the model were standing on stage at this point, but I could not take my eyes off of Amanda. I don’t know what it was but I was drawn to her from afar. Rebecca announces that we will be paired up together and BAM… another great surprise! She was warm and welcoming with this smile on her face that was pure and sweet! I could not feel any more at ease for what was to come!

We meet in the workroom with a big hug, just the way I like to start all of my painting sessions! She was a bit timid to take her robe off at first so I decided to just sit and chat with her a while, knowing that I was losing time and suffering on my painting, but this is no run of the mill day on Skin Wars. This was a person sitting in front of me, who had been through a tragic experience in her life and is about to reveal her scars of it all to the world. I do believe that my painting can take a back seat to the situation at hand. Making Amanda feel comfortable and beautiful was my only target for the day! She was kind enough to share her story with me and relay her message that she wanted everyone to hear from it… Live life with a PURPOSE!!! To always enjoy the experience of it all no matter what odds are against you. I had no idea at the time how much this would actually impact my life- you will understand in a bit! I was just finally in turning point in my life questioning why I was a body painter and what it all means to me, so to have her there helping me to discover that was remarkable. She shared with me that she recently found out that she was only a few weeks pregnant and I could not be more happy for her in this moment. I had no idea what I was going to paint but I knew that I wanted it to be beautiful and radiate as much of a glow that showed on her face in that moment! To go through such a difficult journey but then to be rewarded with the sweetest of gifts in life, was a beautiful sight to see!

Now that 30 minutes or probably more had gone by I quickly realized that I didn’t want to disappoint her with a bad painting for her first time! I told her that I wanted to bring that radiant glow of a sun rising over her belly to symbolize a new beginning. She Loved that idea! I then said that I wanted to paint a hibiscus flower blooming over her breast that was removed to represent new growth. Now I had no reference to any photos of flowers so I chose the hibiscus because it is ultimately my favorite flower and I even have it tattooed on my side so I know it very well. She shocked me when she stated that it was one of her favorite flowers as well ( phew- i was wiping my brow at this point!) I wanted to balance out the composition with something else and was struggling so all my mind could go to was a hummingbird feeding off of the flower to represent her spreading her message and pollinating more flowers! Don’t you know that she had this shocked look on her face and proceeded to tell me about how her parents every morning would sit outside and watch the hummingbirds feed on their porch! No doubt about it that we were in sync by that point and we were ready to paint. Without hesitation she dropped her robe and watched in anticipation as I painted my heart out! Here is the result of our day together!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 307

 

I didn’t get as much coverage as the other painters because she was not my typical canvas. She was a person, a human being that needed love and compassion. I focused on what I felt was necessary at the time. She was telling me how much her flower tattoo meant so much to her that I felt it was dishonorable to cover up that artwork as well, so I let it come through as part of the piece. Now because she was pregnant, I did not want to use any airbrushing around her for safety reasons. I did not in any way want to jeopardize her health when she has come this far! A little bit of a disadvantage against the other competitors, but so what, she absolutely loved the artwork and that is all that mattered to me! We placed top 3 that day… didn’t take the win according to the judges, but i wasn’t looking for their praise at that time. The happiness on her face for that photo was more than enough! In fact the feeling around the room was more than we could all handle. None of us were ready for that emotional wave that came through the room when all of the women were able to see themselves in the mirror! many tears were shed at that moment!

The judges announce that we will now be heading home to get ready for the elimination challenge in which we have to turn our models into warrior princesses!  What an exciting challenge! What an emotional day! Time to go home an prepare. Trying to soak it all in I reflect on my day. It brings up many emotions as I just want to call my grandpa and tell him how much I love him and miss him, but can’t. So I make it mission to make him and all my family proud on this one. I walk into the workroom feeling good. Amanda comes in, with the biggest smile that of course i need to embrace with another big hug! I quickly whip out my sketch to share my ideas and she is taken back. So much of the elements in the design were what she was hoping that I would incorporate but didn’t express them earlier. I was so excited to see that her confidence in taking off the robe was much more quick and she did not hesitate. She was ready to get painted and knew that I was not going to let her down! I didn’t waste any time today… I was on a mission to make her a warrior! Now due to safety precautions, no one was allowed to use airbrush that day. That made me happy that the models were being taken care of! Also made me feel a bit more at ease because at least we were all on an even playing field now!

It was a long days work. we were down to the very end when I was rushing to put the final touches on Amanda, when the situation took a bad turn. Unfortunately her blood sugar was very low caused her to almost go down on me. I had to force her to sit down and stay there for the remainder of the time, regardless if it messed up the paint. I could care less about the paint… i was concerned about her safety. Bless her heart, she was dedicated and didn’t want to ruin my chances! She kept apologizing to me, when I just wanted her to feel better and felt terrible for her experience. She had a baby inside of her and she needed to feed it! I demanded juice and snacks and made sure someone was there fanning her to bring her back to life. What is one supposed to do in that situation, she is human and needs to be nurtured too. Can’t throw her out and call in a new model! You deal with the cards you are dealt and make the best of  the situation. Unfortunately this took some time away from me being able to finish to the best of my ability. When you are about to faint, your body goes into overdrive and you begin to sweat… everywhere! We are using water activated paints.. you see where this is going (haha). So I could not paint her face while she was glistening all over. All good, once she was feeling back to almost 100% we started up again, only this time it had to be in a super fast mode! It all came together beautifully! We were a bit stressed on time… a LOT actually, but totally worth it in the end! Here is my warrior!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 307

Mother Nature

The look on her face when she was able to see what she looked like was one that I will forever treasure! Being that she is carrying child, I wanted to make her a nurturer. I went with a Mother Nature theme for her. Coming from her chest is a powerful lightening source of which she draws her power. On her arms and hips are Hyacinth flower petals to form gloves and armor. the flower represents healing and thought it was very suiting for her warrior theme. i wanted a heart with ventricles as her bottoms to show that her new life source was her child with in that is now supplying her body with the necessities she needs to keep going. On the back very subtly you will see water drops along her back. Just like every storm lightening has a tendency to lead to rain. It washes away the bad and brings new life and nutrients to new growth. I wanted her to be as colorful and vibrant as possible. I didn’t use any black because I did not want to dull her down one tiny bit! She deserved to be as colorful as I saw her in this moment. Sh walked out on that runway with confidence… I don’t think she realized she was nude on stage and that meant that I had done my job!

Unfortunately the judges had a different agenda at hand! They placed me and Rick in the bottom two. Not a good feeling being there, when I just had this extreme high of a moment feeling like I made her feel amazing to be standing in her own skin without hesitation! It wasn’t the best moment, I will have to admit. Regardless of what the judges told me, if I would have to go home or not, I was fine with their decision. My purpose for that entire challenge was to make her feel good about herself. To share her story with the world. There are bigger problems that I could be up against in life… like fighting for my life, instead of competing for money. My perspective on life changed in that moment of being on stage. What was I doing with my life? If it was my fate to go home, I could think of so many different challenges that would have been worse. My purpose for the day was accomplished!

So after many tears and anxiety for the results… they tell me that I am safe! What a weight lifted off of my chest! For a moment I am happy but then seeing Rick standing there in the same predicament I was in brought me back to reality. My heart was heavy for him and I, being the not so shy person I am, proceeded to tell the judges that it wasn’t fair and he deserved to be here too. Then, out of nowhere they tell us that he is safe from elimination too!!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?! We just made Skin Wars history of no one going home! Whether it was because Hans walked off and gave us a free pass or they just didn’t have the heart to put any of the amazing woman on the bottom, I was grateful for the outcome! I get to make it to another challenge and feel proud of what me and Amanda brought to life on that day! Celebration for sure!!!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 307

Live your life with passion and give others the same respect that you would like to receive in return. Everyone has a story to tell in life, sometimes they just need someone to narrate it for them. As beings we crave acceptance and love without judgement, yet we are constantly judging others for being different from who we are. Each person is unique and that is the beauty in life. No two people are exactly the same from body style to ways of thinking. If we can look past our differences and love one another for being true to who we are as individuals, the world would be a much more pleasant place to live. Give love to receive love. Live each moment and experience everything around you. Be less critical of yourself and others along the way and see the amount of friendships you pick up along the way!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 307“The purpose in life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Brittney Pelloquin

Louisiana Gator Girl

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 306

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!

SW3_306_0116R“Jelly Fish”

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!!

Skin Wars Season 3 Episode 306

“Louisiana Alligator”

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!!!

SW3_306_Challenge_0148R SW306 Challenge-0115

 

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”
HERMAN MELVILLE

Not your typical WHEEL OF FORTUNE!

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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?!?

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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!

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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).

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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…
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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

Blending in or Standing Out

As some of you may or may not be aware, I am currently featured on the Reality Tv show called Skin Wars on GSN. It is an honor to be chosen to compete with some of the most amazingly talented and incredibly inspiring artists. If you are a fan of the arts in general… this is the show to watch. I have the pleasure of bringing my vision to life on a living model,adding much more depth to the artwork than I ever thought possible.

At this point in the game I have now advanced to round 3! let me fill you in on what you have missed up until this point. We all met and in the first 5 minutes they threw us in a room where we began our very first challenge. No time to think… cameras watching your every move! It is like going into an exam that you had no idea about and did not prepare for whatsoever. The only thing on my mind at this point is to not screw up royally! To be perfectly honest… I like to prepare. I like to plan my ideas out and I like going in with blueprints to build my masterpiece. That is just how I function to properly excell,or so i thought. This is totally out of my element completely. Then again… I signed up for this (haha)! Needless to say that I survived as I placed in the top 3 of the first elimination challenge where I had the celebration of St Patrick’s Day! Fun first challenge to start off with because I am a super colorful person in life and I like to have fun. With little to no sleep, I stayed up all night attempting to prepare my sketch to go in with a plan!!! As a hint of my carefree personality I added a little extra leg to my Leprechaun because WHY NOT?!? I don’t always make the best decisions but I cannot take them back so therefor i must own up to them. Now you are all caught up and on to week 2.

Skin Wars Season 3
Episode 301

Skin Wars Season 3
Episode 301

This episode is one of my very favorites, because there is so much backstory to my work that no one gets to know about unless you are reading this now! At this point we have already had to say goodbye to my very good friend Jermaze Wade (Blacc Jesus). The house was already thrown off and tension was getting high, so I decided to take a nature walk outside to start my morning off with fresh air. Now remember, I still really haven’t slept at this point and sleep deprivation will do some crazy things you guys! I plopped myself onto the stairs and was greeted by a tiny squirrel, so naturally  I did what any right minded person would do… Attempt to communicate with it (haha). After a while of this when my spirits were lifted I decided to join the group and Kyera,concerned with my frazzled state earlier, questioned how I was doing and where I had been. Laughing about my adventure, she stated, “Aww Britt, your Snow White!” So naturally when we walk into the paint room ready to start our small challenge and see this GIGANTIC Fairy tale book there, myself and Kyera’s mouths dropped to the floor! So yes.. when I was called up to pick my topic, I jumped on Snow White so that I could tell my story through my work!

I was ready to tell my story of my walk that morning. So in this piece there are 11 steps, one is missing because Blacc Jesus was sent home, showint the new gap in my path and how sometimes we have to leap a bit farther to get to where we are going. But the steps ultimately led to a house filled with all of these crazy artists who in truth are my dwarves that make me feel at home and loved!! I won’t mention who is who because I am sure they know exactly which one they represent (haha). Naturally I placed a silhouette of Otto and his cowboy hat peeping out the window because he was stationed next to me while painting. He always poked his head in just when I needed a laugh to relieve the stress of what I got myself into! But don’t look too closely,as I totally ran out of time and forgot to finish painting my squirrel sitting on the steps toward the bottom. Shit Happens…and sometimes it is ok to not be able to finish and sit back and laugh at yourself for your mistakes. So i deemed him my SPIRIT ANIMAL! He lives on through my work!!!SW3_302_0185R_Beauty-and-the-Beast_Kyera

Next Challenge… we have no idea where we are going or what we are painting. I felt like a kid on a field trip! Totally was because they surprised us with a Ty Store visit!!! They set us loose to run and grab a station of our choice… NOT a good day to wear heels guys! I got lost in the back of the store, more so because I wanted to play with everything instead of paint. So I didn’t have a choice of my station…my station chose me! Challenge Accepted!!! In all honesty… I have done camouflages before, not an easy task at hand and I had all the straight lines to incorporate on a curvy model… YAY! Not to mention the pressure of these little dolls staring at me as I painted. They will forever haunt me in my dreams! It was hot, we were literally dripping sweat and everyone was on the edge at this point. Poor Shelly Wapniak was directly behind me feeling the pressure too. If you have seen the show, then you know Shelly is not afraid to verbally speak her mind. I love her for this, but not in that moment when I was trying to channel my inner Chi and calm the S#!t down (haha). Love you girl… we are going to work on that meditation together ;). Thankfully my model, Irena, who was so understanding and supportive. She was there to help me focus. She cheered me on and made sure I knew that it was looking good and helping to line it all up. She is a champ and that was one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced. Time is up!!!

To explain my piece in full, I positioned her standing in front of the baby dolls looking down and reaching for the dollhouse. her pose represents human acceptance and how we crave to be loved. Just like a doll placed alongside of so many others and hoping to be the one that gets taken home. Stretching for the dollhouse, she longs to be in a place she calls home. On some level, we are all this doll, wanting to be accepted and loved. Constantly trying to find a place we call home. Having the chance to describe this to the judges is my way of communicating the feelings and emotion I put into this piece. As they called me up as one of the Top 3, I felt that they received my message and that all the hard work I put into that paint paid off! It is amazing that no matter how difficult a challenge may be and how fearful I am approach it, the joy that comes out of each and every challenge from facing that fear is remarkable! We are all capable of so much more in life that we do not allow our self to be challenged due to this fear. There will be times when we fail but as long as you keep trying, there will be so many times when you succeed that it makes the failures totally worth it!SW3ArtworkToys_Britney_Instagram

So there it is… I made it to the next round! I hope that you enjoyed hearing my side of it all. Tune in for next weeks stories of the all new and exciting challenges that await! Before I go I want to leave you with this quote of inspiration…

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston S. Churchill

Check out my work at:

www.brittneypelloquin.com