Yesterday I took part in the Warpaint body painting competition at Professional Beauty London at the Excel Centre. A friend drew my attention to the competition just four days before the competition date, and despite the lack of time to prepare I decided to go for it. Most UK body painting competitions are a distance away from me in London (Paintopia in Norwich, Painswick in the Cotswolds, Body Factory in Cornwall, Fizzog in Kent…) or abroad, so I felt I just had to do this one.
I got straight on the phone to my model friend Laura J Draycon who has modelled for me several times before (not in competition, but for my own portfolio pieces) as I know I can completely depend on her to be relaxed, flexible and good company during the paint and still have the vivacity and confidence to bring the design to life in front of the photographers, and engage with the public, after a long day’s endurance.
The competition theme was Mythical Creatures. I decided to look at Japanese myths and folklore and the first story that captivated me was the legend of Jorogumo, a Spider-Geisha who lures Samurai and other men to a waterfall with her mesmeric beauty and lute playing, then binds them up in her web to eat him. Deliciously dark!
After researching the Japanese Nephila and Argiope spiders that the legend features, I chose to use bold simple spider motifs and Geisha imagery, rather than creating a literal representation of the spider or geisha herself.
The inspiration boards were also considered during the judging process.
I chose contrasting colours with a grey base to suggest a murky or sinister element. The reds, oranges and yellow pop against this grey foil. I mostly used paints by Cameleon Bodypaint (Fifty, Orange Juice, Banana, Almond, Blood Red, Blood Rain, White, Gothic Black, Strong Black, Thistle, Leeloo, Wicked, Toxic Yellow, Bollywood, Olivia), plus Superstar Graphite, Old Red, and Sleek powders.
I made the headpiece in its entirety, from the hair buns to the tassels. Its simple silhouette and form was deceptively tricky to create. I pretty much kept to my design intentions once the paint was underway. Certain details were sacrificed to time restriction – I had not competed without an assistant before and 5 hours is just a bit more of a squeeze than the usual 6 hours in body painting competitions.
The competition was well organised, the judging process seemed very thorough but still friendly, and we met some lovely people during the day. I would have loved to have time to look at the work in progress of the other body artists more closely, and to see more of the amazing hair and makeup creations from the competitions which were happening in parallel with ours. I will be going back next year for sure, and will make a point of going on the other day of the expo as well, to buy some of the makeup and beauty products from the vast array on sale and to learn from some of the demonstrations and seminars.
Did you go to the event? Did you see my Jorogumo?