Faces, and a few bodypaintings, from 2012. Mostly by me and some by our company members.With the exception of the bodypainting models, all of these are photos of regular people painted at events around New York. The photos are arranged by name, rather than chronologically, so this year it starts with aliens and ends up with zebras and zombies. The names I give designs help me sort and find them, and also help me remember new ideas while I’m working. It’s very rare these days that I ask someone what they want to be before I paint them. Almost always I’m surprising them, which means I need to have lots of my own ideas ready, so I bring a list of names as a reminder of design concepts. And it’s very helpful to have a name for what you’ve just turned somebody into, especially when you are being inventive. Part of the fun of surprising someone is talking to them about what they are becoming to build the anticipation, giving them the story.
At the museum, a minor kerfuffle. I had particularly wanted to see the current exhibit “The Collections: 6,000 Years of Art“, displayed in an old-fashioned cabinet style, with lots of unlabeled stuff side by side in jammed glass cabinets. Towards the end I saw a piece of painted pottery from ancient Greece depicting Heracles Continue reading →
For my first demonstration painting at the Kryolan booth at the Face and Body Art International Convention this year, I chose a design to fit the convention’s Bollywood theme. Saraswati is a goddess of knowledge, a very ancient figure of Indian mythology, named after a river. This body design is derived from a more complex one I have yet to paint, which includes some of the intricate linework of the face and body art for the Theyyam Festival in the Kerala region of India. That complexity is only alluded to here in simplified form in the face design. This body painting is done with Kryolan’s Aquacolors, including Interferenze Copper and Bronze. Continue reading →
The tale “Mataora and Niwareka in the Underworld” especially caught my attention, as it offers a folkloric explanation for the origins of moko, the traditional facial tattooing of the Maori. In brief: a warrior chief named Mataora meets some beautiful women who come up from the Underworld. They tell him that the designs he has painted on his face are not true moko because they can be wiped off. He falls in love with Niwareka, winds up following her back down to the Underworld and meets her father, who is busy tattooing a young man’s face with a fine bone chisel. Mataroa sees that the process is excruciatingly painful but the man doesn’t cry out. Ue-tonga, the father, then tattoos Matarao’s face with “the intricate patterns, twirls and swirls” that make a warrior “look both frightening and beautiful.” Mataroa understands he must bear the pain bravely to receive the true moko, and afterwards he brings the tattoo tradition (and Niwareka) back up to the Overworld.
I’m fascinated by the idea in this tale that the Maori first painted their faces with the moko patterns before they used tattoo, Continue reading →
I ran into a couple of old friends at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday in the exhibit Storytelling in Japanese Art. In an “emaki” (handscroll) illustrating the story of “The Drunken Demon” I found the hero samurai Raiko (who I know from a folktale I tell of his battle with the Goblin Spider) andAbe no Seimei (my favorite Onmyoji, or yin/yang magician)—both in the same story like a Spiderman/Dr. Strange crossover in an issue of Marvel Team-Up.
Marvel Team-Up — Twice as Many Pages! Twice as Many Thrills!
Emaki are like the original comic books or animated movies, telling a story through text and sequential illustrations. A scroll might be 30′ long, and to read it you would look at about two feet at a time, unrolling it with your left hand while simultaneously rolling it up again with your right. “The Drunken Demon” version in the exhibit was told over three scrolls from the Edo period by Kaiho Yuchiku (1654-1728). A boyish demon becomes terrible when drunk, stealing all the beautiful women. When he captures the daughter of an aristocrat, Abe no Seimei uses his powers to find where the girl is held, and the Emperor orders Raiko and his warrior companions to rescue the girl—which they do with the help of three gods disguised as men, a tree that grows across a chasm to become a bridge, some poisoned saki and a golden helmet. In the climactic illustrations, after a wild feast featuring human sashimi, the sleeping demon is depicted as filling an entire room (described in the text as 10′ tall, but illustrated as if 30′ tall) before Raiko cuts his head off, blood spraying out in a fine mist just like in the modern samurai movies like “The Warrior’s Way” (a fun one I watched last night). Continue reading →