I love painting in Africa. I feel true creative freedom there. I draw what I want, I have no limitations or restrictions;
I can stop and think; I don’t run around after models, nor am I preoccupied with other distractions.
When I visit a part of Africa where I had never been before, I have every optimal condition for creativity. My trips to Africa enrich my painting abilities. These are trips that allow me to expand my ability to cope with the various tasks facing me.
The rules of the game are different in Africa. Your business card means nothing here; it does not open any doors here. Even if you are one of the most famous people in the world, no one will recognize you – your reputation does not precede you, and there is no red carpet waiting for you. If you cannot communicate using the local dialect, no one will make the effort to understand you and your foreign language.
When you visit Africa, all you can really do is remove the mask you adopted over the years, grab a few colors and start working. Only after you get something done, after creating something with your bare hands and from the heart – only then will Africa reach out to you. Only then will perfect strangers, unusual and unfamiliar people, will pay you some attention, smile and thank you.
Dark skin requires special understanding and high skills in using color.
This goes beyond skin tone as it requires an understanding of nuances pertaining to the local way of life and the locals’ mentality and psychological characteristics. The skin here is darker – skin that is exposed to the sun without sunscreen or any other type of protection, devoid cleaning wipes and sometimes even simple water and proper nutrition. This results in strong skin pigmentation, signs of aging and other daily changes.
Here, skin can also bear intentional marking signaling certain tribal affiliations. Something, the harsh conditions cause prominent inflammation. The first task at hand, therefore, is creating a smooth base on which to work. It is only after there is a proper foundation that you can begin thinking about color schemes and the application of light and shadow.
The practical aspects:
- Color scheme: The foundation cannot be white or cream, but rather coffee and brown tones would work better, sometimes combined with purple, or an orange-red tint. It is also very important to avoid products that may result in grey tones. My experience has taught me that watercolors look wonderful on dark skin, and covers it well.
- Technique: Which painting technique to choose? Shadowing? Shadows with foundation? Pencils? Watercolors? Creams?
- Heat: How do you overcome the heat that causes the skin to absorb the makeup? How do you prevent the colors from fading? Using black on dark brown doesn’t work. The regular application of black eyeliner pencil and darkening the lashes also doesn’t work. Dark skin has a natural darkness to it that overcomes all of our black colors.
- Facial features: Every person is unique, but overall African facial features have much in common and are very different from European facial features: Wide-set cheekbones and jaw, Bigger or bulging eyes or small, wide-set eyes with enlarged eyelids. A prominently high or low forehead. A wide nose without a nasal bridge. Curly eyebrows and eyelashes that sometimes do not exist at all. The lips are always large.
- Beauty: How do you come to see the beauty in all of this? It is so unusual and counters what we learn and do every day. Should we consider the normal proportions? Do we augment the features or reduce them? I like to read these faces; they are like a map that leads me down the right path.
These requires attention and observation abilities. In any case, there is no room to apply standard makeup. When you look at the face, you have to try to see what you like about it and what you don’t, check where you want to create highlights or distances and what you want to accentuate or blur. It is important to augment the person’s beauty and add to their unique look.
I’ve been to Equatorial Guinea five times.
On my first visit, I discovered the sphere of opportunity that exists to paint what I desired.
So I continued to visit Africa.
I feel the need to tell how beautiful, original and special the aborigines are.
After our first few visits, we would visit Africa in small groups of excellent body art artists. We would travel there for holiday celebrations hosted by the Sofitel Hotel and also for the Miss Equatorial Guinea contest.
We have created many wonderful works of body art and makeup for fashion shows.
Today I can say with certainty that the concept of body art in Equatorial Guinea was created by the best and most talented masters there are.