One of the most common questions people ask me is how I have found body painting and why I have chosen it as my career. It's always a bit tricky one to explain as I can't quite remember when the real interest was born, and now I can't quite remember how my life was without body painting. But I will try and tell you a little bit about this love story.
Ever since I was a child I have loved painting and drawing, but I never really saw myself becoming an artist. I felt I wasn't perhaps creative enough or bohemian enough (yeah, all the artist stereotypes), and I also believed one has to have a job that makes your living but isn't fun. For some reason after high school and getting into the maths department at a university, I ended up ditching those proper career plans and moved to England to study to become a make-up artist. It was something artistic, something I thought I could try.
The make-up college was amazing and I felt I had found my way. During those two years I was introduced to body painting too, but I thought it is just a small thing I could do within make-up artistry. But some spark was lit up. I remember one of my friends reminding me throughout my first 6 years as a make-up artist that if I ever wanted to practice body painting, she would love to be my model. Again I don't remember why or how I found the World Bodypainting Festival website in January 2007. But that's when I called this friend of mine and asked her to be my model for the festival. Signing up for the competition at this festival (unknown to me at that point) gave me a push to start practicing body painting. I got the motivation as I didn't want to go there and embarrass myself for not knowing how to paint at all. So I practiced six months, on my own, with DVD's and books I ordered from abroad, attended the competition and made it to the finals. I was 34th, and for me it felt like a victory. Just like the whole experience.
The World Bodypainting Festival (WBF) in Austria is the mecca for lovers of this art form. I realised that from the first moment there. Thousands of people, a week full of activities and everything about body painting - it showed me a totally new world, something I didn't know body painting could be. I guess that first year at the WBF was the matchmaker for me and this art form. Since then, I haven't needed an extra push or motivation to practice and learn more, it has all been automatic and pure joy.
Over these years I have attended many workshops abroad, painted my friends in my living room, spent thousands of hours on internet researching other artists around the world and finding inspirational pictures. I have taken art courses in the open university to improve my general painting skills. My family and friends probably agree that I have lived and breathed body painting, and over the years it has become inseparable part of me.
So why body painting?
It's a combination of many things that make it fascinating. Human body is probably the most interesting and beautiful surface to work on, with endless possibilities. It's a three-dimensional, moving, breathing canvas, full of life and with a soul. I think body art speaks to all of us as human beings, we all understand human body. So I love the reactions of other people, the interest and curiosity that is awakened when they see body painting.
It's the energy I get to share with my model. the interaction with them, that makes this art form very natural to me. You get to share something profound through paint and the model brings my art to life through their body. It is very special.
I like the challenge I am faced with every time - I need to finish my painting on the spot, I can't keep on creating a body painting piece for months like you could with a normal canvas. I don't think my models would appreciate it much! Having only a day to create the whole painting also suits my impatient nature - I don't even want to think about how many unfinished drawings and normal paintings I have hidden in my drawers! I also like it that my artwork lasts only a few hours and then it is washed away - sometimes it's even a relief - but it continues to live in the photographs and memories.
I have come so far from when I started my journey with body painting, but I know we will go a lot further together. This is not just my career or a job, nor a hobby as many people think. This is my way of expressing myself and my creative needs. This is my path, a true passion in my heart, something I now know was meant for me.
Riina's world of body painting
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