Cheryl Painter talks about her career so far, the Phillies shirt, Playboy models, and her experience in the world of body painting.
How and why did you get into body painting? Who are your heroes or your inspiration? Was it difficult to build a portfolio, and what did you learn about the process – meeting photographers, make-up artists, dealing with models, etc.?
I got started by attending the FABAIC in Orlando in June 2006. I was strictly there for face painting purposes when I saw a handful of artists doing the body painting throughout the weekend. I was so impressed with the Wolfe Brothers, Mark Reid, and Lynne Jameson that I thought I’d give it a whirl when I got home to NJ.
I had a friend at work volunteer to be my model when I showed her photos from the convention. I painted her back only. Then I did an Eagles jersey on her. From there, another friend saw those photos, and I painted a Phillies Jersey on her.
Those photos became a texting sensation on the east coast when the Phillies won the World Series. It grew from there. I also painted the friend as a cowgirl – my first full body painting where I tried the painted-on jeans for the first time. I saw Mark Reid’s painted jeans and could not wait to try painting them too. This was when I had the body painting photographed by a photographer, Carl Walker, for the first time.
I joined model mayhem, where I connected with other models and photographers who wanted to collaborate on photo shoots. So I took this as an opportunity to build my portfolio. In the meantime, I met some great people along the way.
I had an article done on the Eagles jersey at www.700level.com, and then DIY did an article on my Mardi Gras painted shirt, beads, and beer. www.Mehron.com recently featured my sailor girl body painting in their blog.
Is it a very competitive industry, and have you worked with other body painters?
I consider myself up and coming having body painted for three years now. I am not in any tight-knit group of body painters, but I’ve networked and worked with a lot of famous body painters, including Pashur, Vargas, Athena, Mark Reid, Nick Herrera.
They are all fantastic artists, and there are so many more too. I don’t put myself out there and market myself enough, and I really need a better website and more strategies to do this.
I am happy when something (paid job) comes my way, but I really do it for the love of the art. I did ask to paint at the Playboy Mansion by emailing them directly with a sample of my art. They flew me out there to Beverly Hills on May 09, where I painted 15 models in 10 hours for their wounded warrior’s fundraiser sponsored by the Motorcycle Charity Associates. It was a fantastic exciting experience.
I would love to be an instructor in the art someday and travel to teach. I think my painting on clothing is my strongest talent in this art, but I want to try some more abstract designs in the future.
Most of my portfolio is on www.flickr.com under “bearklektor”
Have you ever had to deal with shy clients? How do you put people at ease?
I have never had a shy client. If someone volunteers or pays for a body painting, they have already decided they are not going to be shy about it. Everyone I’ve painted is very comfortable in their own skin.
I had a man hire me recently to paint his wife for her 60th birthday. He contacted me after they looked at body paintings together online. He surprised her by hiring me and a young photographer as a gift to her.
We met all met for the first time at their house, and at first, she wore her bra and panties, and then she decided she was going to take off the bra.
I started to paint her upper body like a giraffe, and then and when I reached her torso, she got full of *** and vinegar and stepped out of her underwear. I painted her completely nude in front of her husband and the young male photographer.
I really admired her confidence and sense of self. We all had fun laughing and talking the entire time, and they got some great photos out of it too. They told me that when we (the photographer and I) left, they sat outside and had some wine in the backyard and enjoyed the afternoon.
I think my favorite aspect of body painting, besides the beauty of the art and the grace of the human form, is meeting new people and having fun with them. I am a very real person who loves to have fun and ham it up. I don’t put on any fronts or facades and try to make everyone comfortable.
I am a retired police Sergeant (20 years), and I’ve seen a lot of heartache and people at the worst times in their lives. What I do now is so much more refreshing- I’ve done my time of service now I can express the artistic side that I have suppressed for so many years.
If I ever write a book, it will be called “From Badges to Brushes and all the *** in Between” This is my second career, and I am enjoying every aspect of it.
Are the paints you use special paints, or can you use the same paints as when you paint on canvas or paper? Is the equipment expensive?
I use mostly Mehron/Paradise brand face and body paints but have a few Wolfe Brothers and Kryolan brands as well. I just ordered some Diamond FX paint top try it. I’ve never used regular acrylic paints, which I’m afraid might harm the model’s skin-only the good stuff.
What’s your proudest body painting achievement so far?
I think right now, my favorite body painting I’ve done is the sailor girl. I have a great concept for a body painting that is in the works, so keep checking my site for it – it is very timely.
If you had one piece of advice to give people who want to become body painters, what would it be?
My advice to other artists who want to try body painting: Do it the most economical way for you. Invest in good paints – don’t compromise on quality materials, but get your friends to volunteer as models until you build your portfolio. Have a real photographer photograph your work- they capture the image so much better than you can, and some will be happy to shoot for nothing but the images because they like them in their portfolio too.