Painting on a person is quite different from painting on a canvas. For starters, a canvas doesn’t sneeze. Then there is the unique texture of the epidermis to deal with and the many angles, nooks and crannies to be found on the body. Artist Bella Arscott is well familiar with these challenges and has used them to her advantage, creating a portfolio of work that is truly dazzling.
Arscott had been experimenting and painting largely for her own entertainment when director Frank E. Flowers employed her to help bring a mermaid to life for his short film ‘Tocsin’. The subtle makeup work and appliques she used on actress Margaux Maes’s hands and skin were so impressive that she suddenly started getting bookings for other projects. Since then, she has been transforming models into mermaids, fairies, heavenly bodies and a host of other magical creatures.
What’s Hot: Where were you born?
Bella Arscott: I was born in Bucharest, Romania. I won’t reveal the year [laughs].
WH: Do you paint on canvas as well or just body art?
BA: I tried a little of everything at one point, [but] now I prefer watercolours and body painting.
WH: How long have you been a body painter?
BA: I started experimenting with body paint on myself a few years ago and then it just organically progressed to working on friends.
It kind of blew up for me from there [laughs].
WH: Are you self-taught, and if so, how did you teach yourself?
BA: When I first came to Cayman, I went to a painting class; it was oil painting and I didn’t really understand anything. There were lots of new words for me and everyone in the class was already familiar with the process.
I was struggling to keep up and understand what to do.
After a while, I decided to give it another try. I joined Gabrielle Wheaton’s sketching class at the National Gallery; that was life-changing.
Her kindness and incredible talent helped me to understand art more and develop an eye for details. After that, I began to practice more, learning from YouTube, social media, etc.
WH: What tools and paints do you use?
BA: I use all kinds of brushes, an airbrush machine and sometimes I use my fingers.
When it came to paints, I had to try few of them to find out what works best for me. I’ll use Mehron, Vibe or ProAiir, depending on the project.
WH: How long does it take to paint someone’s face and shoulders? What about a full body paint?
BA: It all depends on the design; from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
WH: What is the biggest event you have worked on so far?
BA: Working with Frank E. Flowers on the short movie ‘Tocsin’ was the most intense and challenging project I’ve had since I began this.
WH: Would you like to work in films as a body paint artist or what is your ultimate goal?
BA: My ultimate goal? That’s a tough one! [Laughs] I think I would just like to be in an environment with creative people: the arts, festivals, movies…all kinds of projects.
WH: How does your family feel about this career path?
BA: I have been incredibly lucky. I have so many people – family and friends – who have supported me along the way. My business partner, Jean Ritch, has also been fantastic.
That’s what we all need – a business partner who believes in us and helps make our dreams come true.
WH: What is it that you like about being a body paint artist?
BA: Painting on skin has a different effect on me. I like the idea of motion. The person and the paint become one.
I guess I like the idea of a live painting [smiles].
For more information about Arscott’s work, visit enchanted.ky.