Kids decked out in their finest paint-smeared smocks crowd around a table at Myrtle Philip Community School, tiny brows furrowed in concentration. Occasionally, one jumps up and runs to the side of the room to give their painting project a quick zap with a hairdryer.
They are hard at work, finishing up the latest project — a portfolio — for their art class, taught by local artist, Cary Campbell-Lopes.
Campbell-Lopes is a bit of a Jill-of-all-trades in the local art world. She trained as a graphic designer, but after she and her husband, Paolo, moved into their house in Whistler, with its sunny, wrap-around deck, she was inspired to paint her surroundings.
Things kind of spiraled from there, and since her first show at Millennium Place, she has become known around town for her huge pet portraits and elaborate body paintings.
You may have noticed Campbell-Lopes’s latest piece of art at the most recent big soiree in town, but it probably wasn’t on the wall. It was more than likely parading around the room, painted onto the skin of a scantily clad model.
She first got involved in body painting a few years ago with a project for Cornucopia, which required painting 20 women. Over the years she has found herself getting more involved with event designing, whether it be through body painting or airbrushing bodysuits on models.
“We stepped it up and took it more into an art form, where instead of dressing a model up behind the scenes and bringing her out when you’re paying for the model to sit there anyway, we actually do it in public,” Campbell-Lopes explains. “We cover the bits that we have to cover, we bring her out and we just treat that as the entertainment for the evening.”
She also creates custom-made outfits for each design, which can be pretty elaborate. For this year’s ARTrageous festival, they turned their model into a retro ski poster, taking her outfit from a g-string into a full-on retro ski suit. And for an upcoming wedding, Campbell-Lopes will transform a model into a peacock, complete with a full-plume.
“Generally, it goes on really well and it looks great, and its more impressive on a body than if it were on a canvas.”
It seems that artistic creativity runs in her blood. Her grandfather was a photographer for the Edinburgh Tattoo, her grandmother was an oil painter who made intricate hand-carved marionettes, her mother was an interior designer, and her three brothers are also artists, who work in the film industry, model-making and design.