With eight brushes in his left hand and one brush in his right hand, Lynn Heatherington Becker set about working on the canvas.
Shortly after the start, she asked to get a little closer to the “canvas”. Then she wondered aloud if the room temperature was okay. Can she pull out her hair?
That recent Sunday, Gwen AP (which is her artist’s name) was Becker’s canvas.
Becker coated Gwen’s abdomen with turquoise and cobalt blue and swirled around her chest in beautiful metallic gold, and the two women talked about motherhood, fashion, and life as an artist.
“I always start with the torso,” Becker said, brushing the navel of her model. “I want to give you freedom with your arms and legs as long as possible.”
Soon, Gwen AP turned her into a magical one in the middle of Dublin’s Becker’s living room, inspired by the intricate Indian mandala-like design, so from the head with colorful body paint. It will cover your toes.
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In just one hour of the approximately eight-hour process, including wig installation, costume pieces, and photography with a local photographer, Gwen AP was already able to feel Becker’s extraordinary talent.
“I can feel how symmetrical you are — it’s insane,” Gwen AP said. “It’s very smooth.”
“Freak Show: Delightfully Twisted Body Art” is on display
A photo of a woman covered in bright paint will be part of Becker’s first solo exhibition entitled “Freak Show: Fun Twisted Body Art” at the Vanderelli Room in Franklington on Friday.
Dozens of photos of body paint that we have been working on since January 2021 are on display.
Becker isn’t your typical artist, not just for her unique and selected media.
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Business during the day, art at night
Becker, a 44-year-old suburban single mother with three children, including an adult daughter and two teenage sons, provides small day care from home five days a week.
At night and on weekends, Becker creates her art, whether she makes a costume (winner of the Highball Halloween Grand Prize) or draws bare breasts, legs, and other model areas.
“Most people are naked,” Becker said of the show’s model. Models are in their early 20s to 50s. And while most are cisgender women, it also includes one man and one transgender woman. “I don’t even see it anymore, I drew so many naked bodies.”
But for her, meat is an ideal place to show off her artistic talent.
“I think drawing on a moving canvas with contours is really fun, exciting and rewarding. Each person is different,” she said. “They have to move, sneeze, breathe and go to the bathroom. It’s temporary, it’s temporary. It’s bittersweet because it doesn’t last long.”
She always used acrylic paints in particular to create art, She didn’t start her journey to body painting from childhood until 2014, when she was looking for supplementary income after divorce.
This brought her to face paintings at the event. After that, she moved to henna and finally to her full body paint.
Over time, she exhibited some paintings in group shows, but she set her sights on opening her own show.
And she wanted to emphasize her body painting at the event and provide a platform for the media.
“Body painting isn’t really recognized here as a form of art,” Becker said. “Sure, some people do it for Halloween, but in other parts of the country, it’s a form of real art, not just at certain times of the year.”
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AJ Vanderelli is excited to highlight this different media in her gallery during April.
“I like the way she expresses herself through body painting,” Vanderelli said. “It’s a form of expression, and some people don’t think it’s fine art, but I think so.”
The opening reception is immersive and will offer “Pizzas,” Vanderelli said.
Lex Neuenschwander, 31, will be part of the show’s photos. She was drawn twice by Becker and modeled one of Becker’s highball winning works. It will also be on display at the Freak Show.
Seeing myself portrayed as a robot and neon pink cheetahs scattered all over her was beyond what Neuens Wonder had previously expected.
“I’m in awe of how realistic it is for her to make things,” Neuenschwander said. She says, “Body paint can be cartoonish or clearly tell you that there is paint on the body, but she lets you double-take.”
Becker said body paint was so different from the quick-drying acrylic paints used when painting walls, canvas and other inanimate objects that it took time to understand how to work with body paint. ..
The body paint must remain wet and she must be able to continue and be easily removed with water.
“It’s a different consistency,” Becker said. “If it’s too fluid, it dribbles. If it’s too dry, you can’t ride. And the shades are different.”
In addition, she often has to consider body shape and skin color — she always tries to use a diverse group of models — to take into account the design.
Neuens Wonder said Becker nailed the robot character that portrayed her. Her model felt fierce like a Marvel movie character.
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She went on to say that the whole experience was touching.
“That’s the most intimate thing-to be so intimate with the artist and intimate with yourself,” Neuenschwander said. “You are a walking canvas for someone. You can be a completely different person for a while.”
That is one of Becker’s greatest attractions. She is a way to empower people, especially women, through her bond with what she draws and her body paint.
“It’s always really special for the person I’m painting,” Becker said. “I’m really happy to see them happy.”