SOMERS, N.Y. – Jennifer Siciliano of Somers left her job teaching art to become a face-painter and body-painter, and besides earning a living, she's having a lot of fun.
After a number of years as an art teacher, Siciliano was feeling burned out, so she tried her hand at the latest craze, painting faces at parties and events.
“Westchester is a great place for a face-painter because people are willing to pay for their kids’ entertainment,” she said. “If someone had told me I’d end up doing that, I’d have said they’re kidding. I couldn’t imagine myself having that much fun.”
At an art convention in 2011, Siciliano met the well-known body painter Mark Reid. “Then I realized there was another whole world out there,” she said. “I wondered, do I have the guts? I always thought of it as a sort of Sports Illustrated centerfold thing.”
Nevertheless, Siciliano took some classes with Reid and soon learned there was a lot more depth to the art. “Instead of painting a person on canvas, the person becomes the canvas. You’re not painting a nude and hanging it on the wall. You’re painting a nearly nude person and making it a work of art.
“It feels like performance art, but it’s larger than life. It’s moving and dynamic. People don’t feel naked when it’s finished. They feel totally clothed. Nobody feels strange.”
When Siciliano’s cousin, a 9/11 first responder, mentioned he was going to Ground Zero for the 10th anniversary, she decided to go along and give him an appropriate paint-job.
“We wondered if people would think it was insensitive, but everyone seemed to enjoy it,” she said.
Although body-painting has not yet caught on as an art form, Siciliano has high hopes of developing a business similar to her face-painting work. The difference, in part, is that body-painting is much more time-consuming.
“I’m working on my speed right now,” she said. This weekend she is entering a competition in Philadelphia, where she will be limited to a four-hour time slot. “You’ve really got to work quickly.”
The competition’s theme is “Up in the Air – Under the Sea.” Siciliano said being undersea reminded her of being repressed, so her work will try to reflect the life of a Victorian woman.
If you decide to become a work of art, rest assured that the paints wash off easily. They are similar to theatrical make-up. They are FDA-approved and, said Siciliano, “safer than lipstick.”
For a peek at some of Siciliano’s work, go to her website.