Frequently Asked Questions
How did you come up with your UV Bodyscapes?
I never planned on becoming a blacklight photographer let alone a body painter. After more than twenty years of wedding and portrait photography I needed a creative outlet to prevent going crazy. One sleepless night in a hotel room bed I got the idea to buy a blacklight when I returned home, just to see what I could do with it. Because people and other items aren't very exciting under blacklight by themselves a UV reactive material, such as fluorescent paint, was needed. After three years of painting and photographing everything I could think of I realized I had somewhere along the way become a UV body painter. The only landscape painting experience I had prior to this was a half a dozen "Bob Ross" oil paintings. Now I'm know as "The Bob Ross of Blacklight Body Painting".
With traditional painting you have to shine a light on the painting which is then reflected back to our eyes. With an invisible UV light source (Blacklight) and UV reactive paints, the painting now becomes the actual visible light source bringing it to life. Painting a sunset, for example, under blacklight is like witnessing a real sunset. You’re literally painting with light and when that painting is on a person it’s as if the light is inside of them shining out. Why black light? Because it’s just really cool and it’s what makes me different
How long does it take to paint one of your UV bodyscapes?
So far it's been anywhere from ninety seconds, when I was practicing for America's Got Talent, to ten hours but most average around just two hours. It just depends on the complexity of the scene and how much detail is added.
What paint do you use?
Before becoming a body painter I was just using washable fluorescent craft paint from the hobby store. Now I use a number of paint brands that are actually designed to used on skin. The three UV paints I use most are Glomania USA, Neon Glow and ProAiir Hybrids. They all have their own properties, pros and cons. Depending on what I'm painting I might use one brand or all of them. For black I use Mehron liquid and Wolfe water activated cake makeup.
What is it that drives you to paint scenes from nature and space?
As a visually minded person I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of the world around me. Growing up I loved watching the summer thunderstorms and meteor showers. When I became a photographer back in the 80’s, and living in California, one of my favorite things to photograph was the silhouettes of palm trees against the backdrop of beautiful sunsets. When the Hubble telescope started sending back images of distant nebulas and far off galaxies I was overcome with awe. As an adventurer I’ve seen and done things that most people will only experience through photographs by others. Now that I’m learning to paint, is it so strange that I would choose these subjects? It has also been my goal in life to do things different than the norm and when if comes to body painters very few are painting these types of scenes and even fewer are doing it with UV reactive paint.
Why do you choose a woman’s body as your canvas opposed to a man’s?
Like most artists over the ages I feel the female form is just more pleasing to look at in art. I could use the excuse that it’s because I’m a man attracted to the opposite sex but even female body painters prefer to paint on women over men. They also have less hair making the skin easier to paint. In the end, regardless of any other factor, it comes down to one reason and that is this; more female clients hire me to paint them than male clients. In my twenty one plus years as a portrait photographer I could count on one hand all the men that have come to me to be photographed because they wanted to and not because their mom, wife or girlfriend made them. So, in answer to the question, although I would prefer to work with women more often than men, I don’t choose the “canvas”, they choose me. For my own projects I do have plans for male models when I can find the right ones to fit the theme of the painting.
How do you find your inspiration or choose what to paint?
I usually let the client decide what they want as long as it fits my style. After receiving their request in advance I’ll Google the theme and scroll through images until I find one that meets the following criteria: 1) Something I would actually want to paint. 2) It’s made of colors I can produce with UV body paint. 3) It’s something I have enough confidence to attempt
How do you choose your models?
Most of the people I work with are clients that choose me to create a unique piece of art for their wall. In the beginning I would ask friend and family if I could practice on them. Then their friends would see their pictures and want to do it too. Now, if I feel the need to practice something new or have a special personal project, I have a big list of willing subjects to choose from. Sometimes if I get an idea and I just can’t wait to try it I’ll post on Facebook that I need a model today and go with the first person that responds.
Why do you choose the backs of women as your “canvas”?
Although my work isn’t limited exclusively to the backs of female clients and models it is my “canvas” of choice. Because it’s the largest flattest area of the body it offers the best results for the type of painting I do. It also allows the shape and beauty of the body to be seen while preserving modesty and mystery. I’m not offended by female frontal nudity tastefully portrayed in art but I do feel it has become overused to make “art” more desirable to the male audience and I don’t want to be accused of using it to sell my work. In fact, painting on backs has actually provided greater sales opportunities because more clients are comfortable being painted there and they are more likely to hang the finished art in a location where more people will see and inquire about it.
Has there been any negative reactions from the viewing audience or critics?
So far the viewer reactions have been very positive and I live in a very conservative community too. I’ve been contacted by a few people wanting to know why I don’t work with men, to which I respond that I do work with men but women hire me to paint and photograph them more often than men. On occasion I’ve seen rude and negative comments on popular news and blog sites that have featured my work. I don’t let it bother me because they’re mostly from small minded worldly men that are trying to outdo the other comments on the level of crudeness.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect of your work?
There are a lot of little challenges in creating a masterpiece on a three dimensional canvas that is constantly moving and shifting. It’s even harder when working on two subjects that have to fit together at the end the same way they fit together when you started. You also have to work in the dark under UV (black light) to see the right effect and get the colors right while painting. Probably the most challenging thing for me is being a perfectionist and wanting everything to be perfect. The clients are always very happy and excited about the way it looks but I can see all the flaws and I get stressed out because I feel everyone else can see them too.
Were there any complicated cases during the painting or photography?
There have been small things from time to time. A wasp in the studio flew down and stung a lady on the rear. People have fallen asleep while being painted. One girl didn’t know her legs had fallen asleep and when she got off my painting table she fell on the floor. One lady almost passed out from holding her pose too long. The most complicated case was probably a woman with Fibromyalgia who thought she would have no problem holding a certain pose for a couple of hours but within a few minutes her body was really burning. Throughout the painting she had to get up and walk around ever five to ten minutes and then try and reposition herself in the exact same pose so everything would line up. There has also been two occasions of city wide power outages at the end of painting before it could be photographed and the painting had to be redone from scratch on a different day.
Do you use Photoshop?
Yes. Like most digital photographers I use Photoshop to adjust things like brightness, contrast, color and sharpness in the image. Most clients want their figure reshaped. The only real manipulation to the painting itself has been correcting the shape of moons and planets that are easily stretched and distorted when a person moves.
How much does it cost?
The opportunity to be incorporated into this unique artform as one's own body serves as the canvas upon which a one of a kind painting is created can be seen as priceless. To make this experience accessible to more people I've tried to keep the monetary costs lower than they should be. Currently, for the painting, photography and a limited edition piece of art for the wall, the price ranges between $500-$5,000 (plus tax) depending on the complexity of the requested painting, number of bodies, size and material of the wall art, etc.