Side Project ... A Card game !

So I started working on a card game to sharpen up my skills. The idea is that the fine brush work will help me with my bodypainting later ... (There is not such thing as wasted art time)

This card game I stared creating a long time ago but I thought that I had lost it in the move to Sydney. Finding the unfinshed files I'm really wanting to take this project off my todo list .. So I'm going to be focusing on this for a short period of time .

 

https://invokethecardgame.blogspot.com

 

Making of a Cardgame. Artist Kevin C Mason talks about the creative process of designing a card game. Why he hand paints the design .. out of coffee and a quick look at the studio.

Fine Art Prints for Sale.

 

This print is now available in Australia first time this limited edition print printed on canvas ready to head with letter of authenticity.Only five prints will ever be made of this size, and one has already been sold.

 This print is now available in Australia first time this limited edition print printed on canvas ready to head with letter of authenticity. Only five prints will ever be made of this size, and one has already been sold.

We can order other sized art prints as well 

30x45cm  (Personal Edition only 25 Ever made in this size)

75x50 cm (Home Edition only 25 Ever made in this size )

 

Mountains Limited Edition 60x90 cm On canvas. (Watermark will not be in canvas version) 

Mountains Limited Edition 60x90 cm On canvas.

(Watermark will not be in canvas version) 

Why hire a High Quality body painter!

high quality body painting - http://www.onestep2far.com/services/body-painting

Why use high quality body painting?

Services for high quality body painting are used for more purposes than sheer entertainment. These services can represent a real opportunity to create promotions that will get people’s attention. These services can be used in a variety of ways to draw attention to a company and its products in a unique way.

Drawing attention to the product

Many companies attend events such as conventions. They might be selling goods or services that are similar to dozens of other people at the convention, making it easy for their product to get overlooked. How to draw attention? Use body painting, which always gets a look. People can opt to get their faces or bodies painted if they are vendors or they may have assistants that get painted. This can be as fancy or as unusual as people like or it can show some tie to the product such as incorporating the product logo in the design for the paint. Anytime a business needs to pull away from the pack, body painting can be a good promotional choice.

Corporate events and events at clubs

Corporate events sometimes need a burst of energy. Using face painting or body painting can be a good way to make this kind of gathering more interesting and inject some fun into it at the same time. People can opt to have these services used to help draw attention to a new product that is being launched or they may want someone to represent the company mascot. There are potentially dozens of ways these techniques can be used.

Club events represent another prime opportunity to use body painting. Depending on the design, people will find that this service can draw a lot of attention for grand openings, parties, charity events or other happenings. This helps the club to get a very different look from its competition and one that patrons will enjoy and talk about for a long time.

Private parties

Private parties with a theme can be a good reason for getting this kind of service. It gives partygoers a professional yet one-of-a-kind look. Most artists are able to create just about any kind of design and these can include mermaids, dragons, fire, aquatic looks like fish or water, devils, demons, zombies or space beings. People that want to have costumes painted on will also be able to use these services as many artists have extensive experience in this area.



First time at an Art Auction

 

I have always wanted to go to an art auction. As you can imagine I love art and not just bodypainting.

This last month we took our family on an Alaskan cruise. One of the many surprises on the ship was an art gallery and an auction. Walking through the gallery I found a few new artists that have inspired me such as Picasso & Steven Hanks  . The gallery was doing everything they could to properly hang as many paintings and provide lighting that would do the works justice. I was not surprised to overhear some art collectors comment on the various paintings. I did not imagine this would be a place to collect fine art, but I guess I was not correct in this assumption. Talking with the staff I found them to be very knowledgeable in the history of each artist and was impressed by how much they could tell me about the techniques even though they did not paint themselves. (They got it about 80% correct.)

Now the real surprise was to see etchings from Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt!! These of course were not the more popular or well known works by these artists but still done by the artists themselves. Big ticket items to be sure. And here I am inspired and nothing to paint or draw with.

 The fine art auction!

The auction was to be held in one of the restaurants on the ship. This made total sense being that they would have more space than the tiny gallery and the cruise ship had another 8 restaurants on onboard including a huge buffet room. Walking up to the restaurant a very angry (and may I add very large) man was arguing with one of the gallery signs, as if it would respond to him. "Fucking art auctions!! I wanted to eat here!" His wife attempted to calm him down, saying "It's ok honey; it's only day two of the cruise." I should receive a medal for not rolling my eyes.  

The "preview" session had an even larger selection of art than what was shown at the gallery. This auction was going to be exciting! I was handed my bidding card. I looked at the card with a little apprehension. I have seen in the movies where someone had accidentally bid on a big ticket item. It was a little intimidating. Walking through the art really got me to think. There was more than one fine art nudes that caught my attention. As well as some acrylic pallet landscapes that could really take your breath away. For the first time, I really wanted to hang someone else's work on my walls.

Sitting down in the audience the auctioneer swaggered in. He was the art equivalent of a car salesman. Coming from 15 years in sales, I have seen guys like this before. He's got a job to do, and that that is to sell. I have to give him this; he was very knowledgeable, and was good at hiding his personal opinion about some of the paintings he did not like. (Have I mentioned I am good at reading people?) Now as much as he smacked of "salesman" he was made the rules very clear. And easy to understand, even for a beginner. This was the point where I sat on my bidding card just to be sure my art collection did not grow prematurely!

The collection of art for bidding started with some good names like Peter Max, Yaacov Agam and  Csaba Markus

... And of course some artists that I am not impressed with, but are well known and draw bidders like the late Thomas Kinkade. (I noted for this artist the auctioneer talked more of the collection value of the painting and not the painting style as he did with the other artists.) Then finally some big ticket items like (Wait... where is my bidding card...still under my ass... Good stay there!) like Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt!!!  Both Picasso and Rembrandt were original etchings and worth every penny. The room was worked up about the auction! I could feel myself getting caught up in the excitement. (Still I checked to make sure my bidder card was not flying around anywhere making me a very broke man.) I waited till the bidding for the last time was over before standing up. The successful Collectors seemed very happy with what they had purchased.

I think the best part of attending a live art auction was for the most part the items were the real deal. Original works, A few were prints. Surely better than looking at flat images on the internet, and I noticed how originals had more depth than prints.

At this point, I  started to really think about becoming an art collector and not just an artist. There is something about owning the real Thing and not just a digital copy or a flat print. I started to note the artists that I really admire and hoping I could find a local art auction here in Sydney. Now to weigh the decision. Collect art or create art?

My list of artist that I would love to have on my walls!!

  • Romero Britto

  • Itzchak Tarkay

  • Damian Hurst

  • Yaacov Agam

  • Peter Max

  • Csaba Markus

  • Tomasz Rut

  • Toyokuni

  • Toshihide

  • Charles Lee

  • Stephen Hanks

  • Kogyo

  • Nishimura Hodo  

  • Peter Nixon

  • Michael Milkin

  • Lora Zombie

Though I figure others in the crowd had dreams of becoming rich because they invested in art. I dream of becoming rich because someone else sees my work as valuable. I started to think if one of my prints or some work by Craig Tracy would get a good price. Time will tell. Until then, I will collect art that inspires me to create better art!

The Bodypainting Manifesto

Art IS!

Art is more than a product, a performance or a process.

Art is a continually evolving expression of BEING.

As Bodypainters we are given a sacred trust.  We are given the gift of empowering our models to  BE the ART

In caring for that gift, we make the following covenants:


  • Our canvas has a pulse and breath!  We never forget that we are the Model’s Artists, rather than they our canvas.

  • The process and the model’s experience is the Art.  The final product is its token of remembrance.

  • We will always be aware of, and grateful for ,the gift that our model is granting us.

  • Our model may at times be nude.  They will NEVER be naked.

  • We will chastise, and loudly eject from live venues, anyone who disrespects our model.

  • Our Art is an instrument of empowerment, we never objectify our model.

  • Our Art is created with respect for the unique beauty of every model.

  • Respect and the illusion of cover empower even shy models to acknowledge and express their unique beauty.

  • We strive to be true to the naked eye.  We allow delight to occur during live performances and minimise post production.

  • Our models are chosen not by commercially driven ideals of appearance, but by what they have to offer to the project.

  • Our models are an integral part of the creative process and are encouraged to share ideas and talents.

  • Whenever possible we utilise the beauty of movement, colour and light that are inherent in the human from.

  • We strive to delight the whimsical and disgust the prudish (usually in the same painting).

  • We do not create art that gathers dust in the homes of the stodgy, but interacts with the viewer.

  • We are committed to grow and improve as artists in all forms of expression, not just bodypainting.

Download a copy of the Manifesto here! 

Week in the life of a body painter

Finding Time To Paint

The girls working in the studio! So glad somebody is good with power tools! 

The girls working in the studio! So glad somebody is good with power tools! 

The problem with being a modern artist is that we just don't have time to paint as much as we would like. First off we have to do the day job followed by family obligations. It seems we always have something else that is more important to do. The excuses are easy to make.

For the last 6 months we have had a lovely roommate, whom we adore. (She needed a place to stay for awhile.) However she did own a lot of stuff that could only be stored in my studio making it nearly unusable. (after all it is technically the garage) During my trip to the United States, she found a place and moved out. (Huge place with extra space for her and her kid and close to school, over all an awesome place) Being that this good friend is also one of my models we should see more paintings. :)

Now this opened the studio up for me to start working again, but we took this as a rare chance to do some upgrades. The studio lighting was not all that great. The floor needed some work and the whole room needed to be reorganised. So my really good friends Jade and Imp came to help with the remodelling. Truth be told the women ran the entire project and I am totally useless at this sort of thing. (That and having two hot, amazing redheads equipped with power tools in my studio is always a good thing!)

The process took all day. We removed everything from the studio (as the neighbours gawked at my art supply collection) and resorted it to functional studio space.

These items each got their own shelf:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Bodypaint and make-up
  • Construction materials
  • Canvass and backdrops
  • Standard tools

I really wanted to make sure that I have a comfortable place to work that does not look like a garage (after all that is what it really is), so I did take the opportunity to hang up some of my canvas paintings.

We added a black sheet to the wall of the studio for black light work. (UV Bodypainting) expect to see more of this later.

And that was Monday.

Tuesday!

Tuesday I had to overcome excuses. Tuesdays are my day to work in the studio without being interrupted. This is the one day each week I am the only one at home. It's really easy to get caught up in some non-art related project such as laundry, dishes or working on the website.

Tech issues are brain candy for me. I love them. I look at them as a puzzle. Puzzle + the concept of "I should fix this" is a really amazing recipe for procrastination!

The issue I encountered was my daughter using the internet as a distraction from homework. These days it's too easy to connect. Smartphones, game systems, laptops and tablets all have wifi access. As a concerned geek father, this was one of those "I should fix this" things. Knowing that setting up timed mac filtering on my archaic wifi router was going to be complicated. I set one hour to work on the issue before putting that technical issue on hold. I posted on facebook that I was only going to work on this issue for an hour as well as set a timer. (Basically making me accountable for my activities!) It was not easy to step away but I did. I walked down to the studio and began work.

I’m currently working on two fine art body paintings. Gaia is one of them. Gaia is a painting that has become a moral imperative to finish! The last two variations of this painting were either not flattering for the model or left much to be desired when it came to composition. I’m really wanting to raise the bar when it comes to my fine art work. Gaia is going to have its own blog post but for now I needed to cover over some old backdrops with Gesso and start over.

Half way through the repainting I realised the Gesso was not going to completely cover the canvas. Being this canvas is almost as tall as I am, the tub of Gesso that was “Plenty” when I purchased it was now only ¼ the size I needed. Off to the store!!

Lucky for me Sydney is all about art supplies. There is a place where I can get acrylic paint almost on every street. Some people talk about the quality of the paint, but for a backdrop, this is perfect. I was able to get Gesso and a few other colors that might be needed later (selection at these “Smart Dollars” when it comes to art supplies are not always good so when I see a color I need, I snatch it up!) Fueled up with some Energy Drinks and a snack then dove back into work!

Now for the worst part for the artist... waiting for paint to dry!!! The rains and cooler temperatures lately have taken their toll on the drying times for acrylic paint. So what would have been dry in about 30 mins is now taking an hour or more. This is one of the few things I miss about painting in Sacramento, its total lack of humidity. Because of the longer drying time, I am now working on three different paintings simultaneously, two fine art body painting backdrops and one regular acrylic on canvas.

Wednesday and Thursday, Day Job!

Friday! Case of Mistaken Identity (Sorry I’m a Body Painter not a Historian)

On Friday I received a check for $18,000 for royalties. ?!?!?! “I never wrote a book!” It turns out the collection society had the wrong Kevin Mason on file. I did the right thing, and informed the Copyright agency they have the wrong man (I am a client of the agency, but so is the Other Kevin Mason.) The money would have been nice, but I could not have lived with myself for taking someone else’s earnings.

If that was not odd enough, someone sent me an email asking if I would be willing to post ads on my website. After a bit of research, I discovered what they wanted to post was online gambling advertisements! No thank you! I have a hard enough time convincing some people my artwork is not “Porn” lets keep the site clean, shall we?

Saturday

Saturday was the day where Imp and I go shopping. One of the stops was an art supply store. “Do you need an Airbrush?” she asked. “YES I DO!!!” With some talk about the direction of my business as an artist, we decided I needed to get the airbrush displayed in the glass case. (Whole blog post about Airbrushes)

The walk back to the Sydney trains was normal except we stopped in at a place that offers workshops. Imp still in business mode asked if they would be interested in offering body painting classes. As you can imagine, they said yes! So we are currently working on developing a class “Introduction to bodypainting” Also a blog post.

Playing with a new toy can take all the time away from you, but can also inspire new pieces. This is always a tradeoff to keep in balance! It has been a while since I have worked with an airbrush. (Oh, I am good with them. I just feel they can be a crutch for many a body paint artist) Needless to say, 3 hours passed... But had a blast setting everything up!

Sunday

Today is all about blogging …..wait times up! Time to go back to the studio!!

This is the mess from the start .. Everything on this table was sanitised, entered into my database ( For inventory) and then placed into its new home!! took about an hour.. Enough bodypaint? I don't think so! 

This is the mess from the start .. Everything on this table was sanitised, entered into my database ( For inventory) and then placed into its new home!! took about an hour.. Enough bodypaint? I don't think so! 

All my Bodypaint in its new home!! So much nicer!! Everything has its place ..everything easy to access.. Portable too :) 

All my Bodypaint in its new home!! So much nicer!! Everything has its place ..everything easy to access.. Portable too :) 

Cosplay & Body Painting.. What you need to know.

 

So you are a super hot Cosplay model … or maybe you are going to be one. Here are a few things to consider before getting body painted …

Use only body paint!!

If you have not seen my previous post on why to not use Acrylic as body paint.. Acrylics as Bodypaint    if you are one of those "It will not happen to  me" kind of people .. let me give you a better reason .. unless you are going as "The Painting of Dorian Gray" or the "dandruff avanger "don't use acrylic .. Using acrylic as bodypaint is a surefire way to label yourself as an amateur artist!  Acrylic as body paint looks like crap! With acrylic it starts to Shrink while the paint is drying that and it's not all that flexible. The result is cracking and peeling. We will not even discuss what it's going to do to your shower ...can we say EPIC Mess!

Bring a change of clothing

Always bring a bag with you.. you never know it might get cold. The place where the after party is being held does not allow people with body paint to sit on their chairs. (I has happened before).

Hair spray and touch-up makeup

unless you are bringing your artist with you to do touch ups ..try to bring a little bit of the body paint with you for touch ups. Hair spray is really good for making sure that part that seems to be rubbing off all the time STAY! ..

Bring a bodyguard ..

I'm not sure why guys can be assholes about this .. but it does happen .. most cosplayers have learned this one already but if this is your first time .. bring someone along. Though I have never heard of anyone getting attacked I have had one of my models bitch slap some douchebag who's hands moved into unwelcome area.

Bring Soap.

Hotel rooms love to have nice soaps ..those don't always work well for removing body paint. So bring dish soap .. yes that is right bring Dish soap! Works well …. it's cheap and you can find it anywhere.

Where are you going to put your phone?

Yes I know a bag is not exactly going to go with your costume … but this is what the body guard is for … (see like a swiss army knife… they also hold cameras .. fetch you water and hold your swag)

Body paint is not meant to last 24 hours ..

So if you don't get the bodypaint off before 9 hours you are risking staining .. Yes I said it correctly stain .. this is not like henna or anything drastic like that ..but it is something to consider if you have an interview the next day better consider washing the face REALLY good before going to bed ..

Body paint rubs off on your costume.

Now there are ways to protect your costume ..mostly by making sure that the body paint is well sealed. Also you can use baby power put across all the high contact areas. this will not stop the body paint rubbing off on your costume but it will help.

Bodypaint rubs off on people

That old friend you have not seen since last convention!! Look they have a similar costume idea but unlike you who is painted blue they are painted yellow … here comes the HUG!!!  now you both have green bodypaint …  (you laugh but its happened)

Body paint does rub off on bystanders. The heat of the convention centre does add to this effect. The better the paint job the less likely this is going to be a problem.

Body paint is scratchy and tastes bad!

So you meet the love of your life who just happens to be body painted to look like Thor! Love at first sight! Story book dreams! and .. Yuck! .

There are a few things nastier then the taste of body paint .. I really have not found one yet. This can be a mood breaker … Clean up first.

So with these tips you can actually enjoy your cosplay-bodypaint experience. After all both body painting and cosplay are about having fun.  

Body Painting on Instagram!

Every Artist should be on Instagram 

So you want to see what I'm working on ? Or maybe the flowers I photo on my way to work? Well that is what Instagram is for! I take photos of everything from the studio space to the current adventures of Kittyninja!! I swear to not take too many photos of food :) 

This is a good way to get a behind the scenes look at how I create my art 

Interview with James Kuhn!!

Interview with  Face Painter James Kuhn !

Have you ever had a lot of respect for someone due to their reputation or their work then you meet them only to find that you actually have more respect for them afterwards. Well that was my experience with James Kuhn a facepainter who perhaps has more work online then anyone I have ever met. James has over 800 face paintings of himself on flickr.com. And I was lucky to talk to him.

First off this man has an amazing amount of patience as we had some technical problems with skype that caused massive amounts of static. We had to call each other back over 20 times during the interview and at no time did he express even the slightest amount of frustration. I have edited most of the static and technical problems out..

James is a true artist where he consideres the art to be more important than getting paid for the art. He truly does this for the love of  the art form. Personally I feel that James should get paid a lot more if nothing else so he can afford to do more work :) Creative people like this are an asset to this world :)

James tells me that he does all his work with one brush and does so almost blind as he cannot have glasses on while he is working. James also uses only the minimal amount of photoshop in his work as he feels that his work should stand on its own without editing.

You are never going to see another face painter like James!


http://www.flickr.com/photos/hawhawjames/

.

How sexy is Body painting for the body painter ?

Most people at some point will ask me if body painting is the sexiest job out there. Truth be told not really! Yep I said it, Not as sexy as it sounds!

Yes, I get to see beautiful people get naked. Not only is that where the sexy part stops, but that wore off a very long time ago. Any professional body painter will tell you, the part where we get excited because someone is taking off their clothes becomes non-existent after your first 15 or so paintings. After that you start to realise, this is hard work. You don't have time to flirt because you have a deadline. That and you have to focus because the model is moving AGAIN!!

I find that most of the time I get into that "Zone" that artists get when they are their most creative. We just don't have time to appreciate the model for being sexy.

Just tonight I walked into a pub where they are famous for their wait staff wearing almost nothing. Tonight they were wearing only enough to be legal in the local area and body paint. I became aware that I had been halfway through my beer before I realised that I was the only person in the room who could identify what brand was being used on the model and that I was not looking at the models like they were on the menu. The body painting  painting of t shirts and other articles of clothing looked very accurate and a few of them even had stitching and shadows painted. Overall the work was really good. AND.........Its moments like this you realise you are a body painter. So really … not so sexy

Painting outside the lines!!!

In perpetration for life changes we must take a look at what is currently not working. We become attached to "ways of doing things" then get upset when we get the same result. If you really want to embrace change then really try something new !

I'm always working on a new way of painting. One of my challenges is how to paint a dragon in a new way. I know I know this sounds silly but I have been drawing dragons since I was 9 and this process has been very well defined and engraved into my way of painting. The problem is that it has become very hard to paint a dragon in a new way.

Ways to break out of the Painting rut.

  • Paint upside down!! Make your brain work harder to reach the same result. Force your mind to look at the same object in a new way.
  •  try a new painting technique. Like if you have mastered watercolours try oils or perhaps sumi. Better yet fingerprinting or sand painting .
  • Try painting with a limited pallet, this will open more opportunities when it come working with textures as well as colour values.
  • -With Bodypainting try working in a new area. FX make-up , face painting or fine art.
  • -Take requests. The Audience will always challenge you. You never know what someone might ask for. This can be a real challenge and force you to think outside the box (kids face painting  is extreme sports for this)
  • -Copy someone else's work .  I know it sounds like cheating . I'm not telling you to say that it's your original work but to learn from what someone else has already mastered!
  • -Take a drawing class (and not tell anyone that you are an artist ) try to paint in a whole new style.
  • -Paint off handed!!! If you are right handed paint with your left.  I know this seems like an odd one but as far as your brain is concerned its a totally different skill set. And you are not bound by muscle memory.
  • -A friend of mine used to say vodka helped a lot. I'm not so sure about this one ... But I am posting it anyway .
  • -Go to art museums!! Then sketch the 6th painting on your left hand side. The idea is to sketch something random. Something that you might not try to sketch normally!
  • -Paint something new every day! By trying something new every day you are forcing yourself to come up with something different.
  • -Try digital artwork !! The same painting style is different when you are using a computer instead.
  • -Paint in negative colours!! So if something is white paint it black. Red = blue etc!!
  • -Sculpture is always something to try !

All of these ideas should help you get out of your rut and start creating something new! 

Kevin Vs the Clowns

So lets start off with the myth that I hate clowns. I don’t hate clowns. In fact I have known some very good clowns in the past. I have no problems with clowns while they are working. Just like all things there are a few that ruin it for everyone else!!

It was about 10+ years ago.  One of the three jobs I had at the time was at a costume rental/theatrical makeup supply store. Considering it was where I got all of my bodypaint the employee discount was amazing. My job was to man the theatrical make-up counter as the expert. Around Halloween there are many novice body painters and makeup artists who come in and need a little advice finding the right stuff to purchase. I love working with customers. I really do. I’m one of those people who actually feels better after working because of all the social interaction.

It was like any other day. Customers would come in, ask questions, tell a few people that they needed to get some spirit gum, fake blood or UV reactive green body paint for the costume they were trying to make. Then this large woman in her 50s walked in. She walked over to the counter where the tubs of white cream based makeup were displayed. “I will take two of the large tubs.”

There are a few types of makeup. Water based, cream based and grease based. Most of the Halloween costume makeup you get in the local grocery store is cream based. For the most part it’s easy to use and has some good staying power however it can be a pain to remove. Water based is really good for easy application and removal. Grease based is for those special jobs where you need it to be water resistant. Grease based makeup is hated by anyone who uses it because its so hard to remove, but wow does it do the job.

There is only one kind of customer who is interested in a tub of cream base and that is a clown. She started to tell me how to use all the different makeups assuming I was just some uninformed counterperson. I let her talk for a while but started to realize that she was not going to stop talking anytime soon.

“Oh I’m quite familiar with the techniques,” I said politely trying to not offend her and yet avoid the lecture on our entire selection of products.

“Oh?” she asked.

“I’m a professional body painter.”  Pointing to the photo of my work on the wall the boss was happy to display for everyone to see. I had no idea how bad of a mistake this was going to be. “OH I AM A BODY PAINTER TOO!!! “ she exclaimed. Running out the door, “I will be right back I have something to show you.” she said with a new tone of exuberance somewhere between a newly hired flight attendant and a Jack Russell terrier who has discovered a dinosaur bone.

She returned with a makeup kit that was obviously purchased elsewhere. My boss looked up from his desk in the corner of the room and smiled an evil grin that could only mean that dealing with this woman was part of the initiation of being a fairly new employee.

The kit was a suitcase designed to open up to a work area. What was supposed to happen when the case unfolded flat was all the makeup should have had a neat spot where it was located for easy access, as well as a tool shelf with holders for each of the cleaning supplies and brushes. I had always wanted a kit like that but we did not sell them at the store. Bringing a kit like this filled with makeup and supplies purchased elsewhere was like going to a restaurant, sitting at the table and unpacking food from another restaurant. When the case unfolded, instead of the glorious array of colors followed by everything neatly arranged, brushes were falling all over the place, a few of them looked as if they had not been washed after last use or well before that. The makeup kit was a mess, too. The colors all had that muddy look you get when you mix paint directly on its source. The white looked more like a muted gray. The whole kit was a disgusting mess.


“See! Just like you. Give me your arm!” she commanded.

(Not like me. I am always cleaning my kit and I don’t do face painting at kids parties. It’s a different process.. ask a face painter they will tell you its harder to paint someone who wiggles )  

“I’m going to paint a dragon on your arm” she said.  

“Oh no that is all right. I’m working.” I begged.

This is when my boss said very loudly, “I’m going to the back to do some accounting. You hang out with her for a bit. I’ll be back!”

Traitor. He had already done the accounting!! The only thing in the back was the sewing room. Just out of site I could hear the muffled laughter of my boss and his wife having a good old guffaw at my predicament. There are times that I curse my customer service etiquette. This was one of them and it was really high on the list.

One of the factors when painting on adults is hair. Hair makes it almost impossible to paint a straight line. As you paint over hair it shifts location making the line look fuzzy. It also makes arm hair that was once invisible stand up on end. Not painting, or how to paint those areas is one of the first things that body painters learn.

She started to paint my arm. Painting a dragon that was not very much larger than my hand would not a have been a problem for me. In most cases, it takes me less than 5 min, 15 if I want to impress someone. Now, if you have to paint on someone’s arm its always a good idea to ask them in advance to shave the arm or pick an area where the hair is not going to be an issue. However, what she chose to do was paint directly on the hairiest part of my arm (I can’t believe I am writing a blog post about my arm hair). This was causing all kinds of problems for her. As she was painting, she was talking to me about her technique, once again acting as if I had no idea how to bodypaint. I really dislike being treated like an idiot. I would have even accepted it, if she had asked me whether or not I had seen the techniques, or at least treated me like I was an adult. This was when I tried to change the subject.

One of the tricks I’ve learned over the years is that you can sour the milk by talking about something that nobody else cares about. I had used this technique a few times on dates that seemed to be going nowhere. As a geek, I have tons of material. I figured I would start with Renaissance faires and historical reenactment. YET another bad mistake.

I started by talking about how I was looking for a pattern for a 14th century Japanese Kimono ( I am part of a historical recreation society where I play the part of a Samurai ) when her son walked in. Her son was 36 and still lived with mom. Huge belly and a crumpled shirt that looked like he had been asleep in the car. “OH THOSE BASTARDS AT THE SCA” he yelled. One of my pet peeves is when people bring out their anger on someone because of something that comes up in conversation. “We got kicked out for doing balloon animals during a tournament.” he growled.

Great he inherited his social skills from his mother. (As a member of the SCA I knew that no one is allowed on the tournament field in non-historic clothing, so if they were in their clown suits, I could see why they got kicked out.)

“Were you in costume? Or wearing historical Garb?” I asked trying to find out more.

“We were dressed as clowns of course!!!” he boomed.

“Historical clowns?” I asked.

“No, but they could have made the costume out of the proper dyes and balloons could be made out of sheep intestine. Just like condoms!” he explained. This is where I realised reason had left the building; there was no talking to this person; and, as much as I was not there, he was reliving this event as if it had just happened. Time to change the subject.  To anything.  Quickly.

I was looking down at my arm,  around the room and trying to think of anything that might change the subject to calm these two down. I looked down at this black blur that was starting to form on my arm. She said dragon right? Or was it a werewolf? Maybe it was a black unicorn with bat wings? No, no, it was a wombat with a jetpack of fire coming out its ass. Wait was that it’s head? I kept trying not to think of the germs that were now residing on my arm. This dragon painting was taking way too long. DRAGON!! There we go! Dungeons and Dragons. As a non-geek, you would want to end a conversation very quickly when a geek starts talking about that!

“This looks like a Black Dragon from the Realm of Korradan, Dungeons and Dragons game I played last week!” (I hope this works!) “That is the Devil’s game you know,” she growled. GREAT! She’s one of those!!!   At least the topic will change? NOPE! While one is ranting about how he was wronged by being kicked out of an area because he was inappropriately dressed, the other was telling me how I will go to hell because I played a game.The laughter grew louder from the back room. I guess the boss came out to check on me.

Just as the dragonwolfwombat was being finished, I was about to be free. Then someone else walked into the store! A customer! The perfect excuse to end my torment. He was a short balding man with rolled up sleeves.

“Helloo, how are you? Looking for something in particular?” I asked armed with a grin.

“Sally… Jimmy,” he said coldly.

“Hello Mike,” she replied, no longer paying attention to my arm.

The son, Jimmy, looks over to me and says “Want to see a balloon animal?” he said with practiced cheerfulness.

“No, that’s ok. I need to help this gentleman,” I said politely.  

“Oh that is ok. Let’s see what hes got,” Mike said as he was pulling out limp balloons and a pump contraption used to make blowing up balloons easier and faster. He was obviously another clown. Ok, first off, I had no idea clowns carry balloons in their pockets when they are not working. Second, who knew clowns were territorial.

What happened next was a balloon animal duel, and I was the unwitting and unwilling judge. Little dogs, rabbits, cats and swords were all being piled up on the counter from a latex duel that I could only hope resulted in someone's death, even if it was my own.Laughter started up again in the back! Once again, the boss came to check up on me and had to leave or lose it laughing.

“Jimmy, show him The Last Supper!!! I’ll go get more balloons!” Sally cried in a tone that reminded me of the old Mortal Kombat video game “FINISH HIM!”

I quickly grabbed their selections and moved them to the register, pushed a few buttons and yelled out loud, “THE REGISTER IS ON THE BLINK AGAIN!” The boss quickly came to the front counter, trying very hard not to smile. Being that there was only room for one person, I got out of his way and said, “I’m going to the bathroom. Do we have any bleach back there?” Not looking up from the register he said, “Hey? There is nothing wrong with the register.” He looked up to see me waving at him, smiling EAR TO EAR, knowing he would not leave the front register unattended.

The territorial battle continued, with each balloon animal proving that the creator was better than his challenger

The laughter that came from the back room this time was mine!!

I never got to see “The Last Supper” balloon sculpture. It was wise not to go back to the front room again until everyone had left.