Monday, May 11, 2020

The Lady Who Paints Legs

Amy Shane is a book reviewer and special events editor for the Independent Voice Newspaper in Missouri, USA, and first came to my attention on Instagram when she recreated one of my book covers...on her own body!

I'm used to seeing my artwork pop up on people's skin via the tattooist's gun - always an unexpected thrill which fills me with admiration and curiosity for the brave human who's done it - but this was different. This was a full-on, body-paint recreation of the cover in all its detail, on a difficult and unusual surface.

Amy's recreated more of my covers since, and as someone will happily talk in public or in front of an audience but doesn't exactly embrace selfie culture let alone photographing anything from the neck down, I wanted to ask her about what she does and why. This blog's normally about what I'm doing, so I thought I would probe someone else about their strange and fascinating hobby!

We, of course have the common ground of the printed book, so I think Amy and I will be in touch for a long time to come.

 She can be found on Instagram as amy_fortheloveofbooks

Please explain what your ‘real-life’ job is, and how you came to be the amazing Amy Who Paints On Her Legs?

My “real-life” job is also book related and why I ended up with an Instagram account in the first place. I am a Professional Book Reviewer, and have a newspaper column called 'For the Love of Books'. I'm nearing on eight years now, so I guess you could say I am always surrounded by books. I started on Instagram because the publishers wanted to see an online presence; honestly, I went in kicking and screaming, afraid I would never figure how it all works. 

After about eight months and totally lost on how to find my own presence, I started thinking about what books really meant to me - when you read an amazing book it’s as if you become part of it, you fall into the story, and well that’s where the idea began. I then thought about making myself part of the story and started researching paints. To be honest, I have never painted before or have taken an art class. I just doodle when I am bored. So, I bought some body paints and started playing, and the rest is history. 


My ‘Forest Queen’ was one of the first ‘leg’ paintings that you posted on Instagram. The legs seem an odd choice at first but they’re the natural resting place for a book when reading. Have you painted anywhere else? With or without success?

I originally started on my arm and hand, then my chest. I enjoyed painting on my chest (and matching lipstick to the paint colors) however, I have to paint completely backwards, which at times can be a bit complicated, especially when dealing with words. It took me awhile to realize I could just paint on my legs. My legs also give me space to get in more detail and aren’t a flat surface, which is easier for me to paint on. I still can’t paint on canvas or flat paper, it doesn’t make sense to me either, lol.

Some technicals:
What do you paint with? Do you use both hands?  

I only use Mehron Paradise AQ body paints. After a lot of research, I really value the company and the ingredients they use in their paints. They include:  aloe, cocoa butter, avocado oil, lemon grass, cucumber extract, and vitamin E so they smell and feel wonderful.  

They have also been around for over 90 years, so they have to be doing something right! I also use NYX brand spray primer (Just to get a smooth surface and prep the skin) and matte sealer just as an added protection when I am done.  I just paint with one hand. When it’s nice outside I love painting on my back porch, overlooking the cornfields (where I take pictures for  my stories). My neighbors must truly think I am nuts!

How long do they take you - from x hours to…? 

An average paint takes anywhere from 2 ½ hours to 4 hours, depending on how much detail there is, or how particular I get with myself. And yes, if any of you are wondering: I have gotten so frustrated that I have scraped the whole paint and washed it of before I changed my mind.

How do you wash it off? 

Just plain water. The whole paint washes off in about 10 seconds. Which is why I have to be super careful, and why I add the sealing spray. And yes, I have spilt water on my legs and lost the whole paint. 

What’s the criteria for choosing a book cover to reproduce? 

The cover art is really the first thing I look at, and if it is it something I can attempt to replicate. I can’t do photos, or people. Parts of faces yes, whole people – no way lol. I will also choose a book if I read the book and loved it, or by the author or publisher reaching out. Sometimes I go in themes. Really there is no rhyme or reason to my brain - lol!

Is there one you haven’t done yet that you really want to do? 

There are so many that I want to do, my list grows everyday. One older title I would love to do is 'Splintered' by AG Howard. I loved the series and the cover art. 

Do you have aspirations to create covers yourself? You’re clearly creative, with dexterous skills! 

I honestly never thought about it.  

And how many books do you have lined up to paint at the moment?  

At the present moment I have a list of 13 that are lined up with upcoming release dates,  and 3 already painted ready to be posted.

~ Thanks to Amy for answering my mildly predictable but nosy questions! ~


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