One thing you might not know about me is I lay awake almost every night and instead of counting sheep, I name every model I’ve painted on my trip. These are the people who have volunteered their bodies, housed a stranger, fed me, and have stolen my heart. Every time I think about all of them I am filled with so much appreciation and love. Most of these people have never met me, nor have they every been body painted. I’m so proud of all of them! I’m currently in Denver , I have 18 paintings left… HOLY SHIT!!! THank you so much everyone so far!!! xoxoxo
I woke up in Fargo, ND this morning. I’ve actually been looking forward to this day for a long time. Hahah I know right?? I promised myself a full day off in a hotel once I got to Fargo. Fargo. I stayed in bed until about noon today. Then it was time to get up and do all the shit my “day off” required me to do. Upload photos, send emails, edit images, back up video… exhausting. Drinking coffee, reading magazines, watching Game of Thrones, and masturbating sounds like a better “day off” but the show must go on. I’m pretty tired and I’m embarking on the area of the country where I don’t know many people, and I have never been to. I woke up feeling lonely and low. Then I check my phone. I had a text from my Indianapolis model checking up on me, then I heard from my Montana model, then my DC model… I was filled with love and realized that I have been meeting amazing people and making lasting connections, all over the country.
I have felt strange lately, not bad, but different. I feel young and old for my age at the same time. I see people my age marrying, having kids, buying houses, and I’m… well….living in a van. But that’s okay. I think of every new line on my face as the price I’m paying for achieving my dream and painting in the sun everyday 🙂 I don’t really get hit on like I did when I was a young cute thang, but there has been a word I have been called a lot lately…. and I think its a fair trade for hot, or beautiful. Inspiration. People have been saying that my journey is Inspirational or Inspiring them to want to go for their dreams. If nothing else comes out of this, I’m so glad it is inspiring others to go for what they’re truly passionate about. I’ll take that.
I would like to take a moment to say, when you connect with me whether it be via email, facebook, instagram, my website and you want to model for me…. donate your time and body to me… display the courage and bravery it takes to do this… no I do not want/ need to see a picture of you. That absolutely matters not. This project is about loving YOUR body. and don’t worry about me I love ALL bodies that are willing to get painted. I have painted all ages, shapes and sizes on this trip and the variety has been nothing but completely beautiful. Curves, sags, scars, stretchmarks, tattoos, facial hair, blemishes, piercings, short, tall, thin, wide, bring it on! I’m traveling and meeting different people in different places, every day, so of course I welcome different bodies, I PREFER that. If I was traveling and painting the same “perfect’ body in each state… that’d be a pretty boring book huh? The 75 or so people I have painted on this trip are all so different, but they all have a few things in common, they’re brave, they kick ass, and they will forever have a piece of my heart. 20 states left! I’m not slowing down and I’m looking forward to the rest of this life changing summer!
I have officially hit the half way point!! It almost feels strange to look back at my photos and journals and see everything thats happened, and think that its only been 100 days. As silly as this sounds, it feels like a lifetiime. I wonder how I ever had 9-5 job, health benefits, a “regular spot”. My life is the furthest from routine its ever been. Everyday is different, and not just different, COMPLETELY different. New people new places, new beer, new food, new stories, shower or no shower, bad weather or gorgeous weather (there doesn’t ever seem to be an inbetween). I am filled with so much gratitude for what not only friends and family have bestowed upon me, but aquantinces, friends of friends, and yes, even complete strangers. I was going through photos and video footage this morning and completely broke down in tears. How was I able to do this so far? What keeps me going is everyone else. Some days I’d love to eat pizza, watch tv and sleep…. but I keep going…. maybe I’ll take a day off in September. I have not only been doing my project, but I’ve been working as well. I have parked my van 5 times to fly for jobs and then come back and pick right back up. When I read that I sound like a lunatic. One of the coolest jobs I had the privilage of doing is painting Rebecca Romijn
. Not only is she a stellar model, but she’s and incredible human being, and funny as fuck! I aslo flew to Phoenix for a Dish Network Convention, it was so fun. I was able to bring my own model so I brought the oh so talented Jess Noel, who just so happens to be my sister 🙂
And the most bizzare job I’ve had is a Japanese Television Show! They flew a crew here from Tokyo just to film me! I felt so honored. Now though it was a very long and challengeing few days. It was and incredible expirence and I’ll never forget it. One person that kept me sane was my assistant Sheila Logan from http://candyfacepainting.com/. She was a complete pleasure to work with, and my total saving grace! Not only can she paint, but she really cares about the models and me. On stressful jobs like that its so nice to have a calm sweet helping hand.
Its been great! I’m currently in TN on my way to Nashville, where I’ll fly out to NYC for a few days to be Creative Director for a body art fashion show!
Love love love!!
The answer is Yes! Its fucking cold!! Is that stopping me? No way… but the biggest surprise is that its not stopping my models either! These have been some of the most amazing determined courageous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. This blows any “chilly studio” outta the water. I knew that starting my project in Feb in order to finish by September was going to be hard, but I had no idea!! The tough part is I’m on a schedule and the show must go on. But I’ve been blown away by the fact that not a single model has cancelled on me due to weather. BADASSES! We’re talkin 40s and below, rain, high winds, it even snowed the other day. But with breaks, bathrobes, and shorter than average paint jobs we’ve managed to get it done. If one person mentions the lack of perfection in these paint jobs I might have to slap them, because these models are tough, and this painter cares about how long they sit or stand in the cold or the rain. All in all looking forward to June and July, but MAD respect for my models, all of them are my heroes!
So I haven’t blogged in a while, but trust me that’s a good thing… I’ve been painting my ass off! The places I’ve been and people I have met have been truly incredible! I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in years, met people I’ve never met, and shits blowing my mind. Everyday is completely different. I’ve officially driving a tons of major cities, rural dirt roads, windy roads, beachy roads, I guess you could say I’m becoming a badass van driver 🙂 I’ve always enjoyed traveling but there’s always something nice about going home and just being lazy sometimes. I’ve had to put that desire out of my head. I no longer know days of the week, or even what date it is. I’m very disorganized, my van is a wreck, my hair is becoming dred-locked. Shaving my legs has become a luxury. Home cooked meals have never tasted better. And yes, I’m pretty tired.
But what keeps me going? My models! They’re so brave! Some have modeled in 45 degree weather, some have de-robed withing 30 mins of meeting me. Some have had to walk through National monuments in their undies painted up. I have a love for humanity more than I ever have! I’ve had my van hit on the highway, the cops called on me, shitty weather, an allergic reaction to bananas while driving and I’m still happier than I’ve ever been! Some people have been weirded out that I have used craigslist as one of my methods of finding a model… but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. I posted an add in South Carolina because it’s one of the states I did not have connections in. I had two gals who are friends and co-workers reply and ask to pose together. “Of course” I said! We met at the Angel Oak outside of Charleston, which for some reason that day, was PACKED! So we left and went to another potential spot, this seemed fine. My models pastie and pantie up and were about to get started when we here in a distance, ” What the hell, honey there’s a bunch of naked girls outside! Call the cops!” . Or something along those lines. After dealing with the bible belt police already in Savannah, GA we decided not to risk it. My model Lea, said “If you’re willing to go for a drive, I know the perfect spot” and I responded ” That’s what I do these days, take me there!” We arrive an hour later at the Old Stafford Church Ruins. This church was built in 1750! That’s 100 years before Oregon was even a state! It was burned down in the American Revolution and what was left behind was STUNNING! It was drizzling outside so I had to build a canopy to paint my girls underneath in the parking lot. I told myself that I wouldn’t paint bricks on this trip because its been done A LOT in body painting. But for this one I just had to! And since they were bricks we could do a whole photo shoot trying out different spots all over the ruins.
All in all, I love the way this one came out, I love my Craigslist models, I love South Carolina, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this project!
I met up with Benji Schwimmer on Tuesday morning at my hotel in L.A. We took a few minutes to get to know each other, but it was obvious that we were best friends maybe even family in a past life. Our plan was to paint the iconic Randy’s Donuts in L.A. which Benji was super down to do. Before we left he said “Natalie, in the future when you come back I’d like to commission you to paint me in front of the Mormon Temple”. You see Benji was raised Mormon. He was a loyal and active member of the church for 27 years! But there was one thing in the way of him being fully accepted in the church… Benji is gay. And the Mormon church sees that as just another “problem” or “sin” that needs to be fixed. Benji for that reason is no longer a member of the Mormon Church. And in my opinion any church who doesn’t accept you for your race, gender, or sexuality is no church for me. So I said, ” Benji! Screw the donut shop we’re going to church!” And that’s just what we did! We arrive to a beautiful temple covered in signs that say “everyone is welcome here” which did not end up being the case. We took a tour with Elder so and so, where he proceeded to tell us “We believe everyone is created equal” and “we’re all the same in the eyes of the lord”. I wonder if he thought I was possessed by how hard I was rolling my eyes? Anyways, next we gathered our supplies and headed out in front of the church to paint. And not even 10 minutes later we’re kicking kicked off the lawn, and notified that the cops have been called as per request of the President of the Temple!! Hahah, little did they know that they added the key creative element to this piece, how did I not think of this!!?? The fence! Not that we were kicked out we had to finish with the fence in the photo. I love symbolism. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do, the story makes it even better! The paint job isn’t perfect, nothing is, but that day was priceless, I now see that this project is definitely going to evolve. As long as I continue to be open and making it about the model. That’s the best thing about body art!! 2 creative minds are better than one, Love you Benji!!