Body Painting Exhibit at Vanderelli Hall in Franklinton

With eight brushes in her left hand and one in her right, Lynn Hetherington Becker set to work on her canvas.

Shortly after starting, she asked her “web” to get a little closer. Then she wondered aloud if the temperature in the room was okay. Could she pull a hair out?

On this recent Sunday, Gwen AP (that’s her artist name) was Becker’s canvas.

As Becker coated Gwen’s midsection in turquoise and cobalt blue and swirled around her breasts in beautiful metallic gold, the two women chatted about motherhood, fashion and their lives as artists.

Artist and model Gwen AP from Westerville is painted by Lynn Hetherington Becker at Becker's in Dublin.

“I always start with the torso,” Becker said, encircling her model’s navel with her brush. “I want to give you freedom with your arms and legs for as long as possible.”

Soon, Gwen AP would be covered head to toe in colorful body paint as Becker, inspired by an intricate Indian mandala design, transformed her into something magical in the middle of Becker’s living room in Dublin.

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Barely an hour into a roughly eight-hour process, which also involved fitting a wig, costumes and a photo shoot with a local photographer, Gwen AP could already sense Becker’s extraordinary talent.

“I can feel how symmetrical you are – it’s crazy,” Gwen told AP. “It’s so smooth.”

After being painted by Lynn Hetherington Becker, model Kat Trakas poses in photographer Renee Needham's garage studio.  A heater was running nearby to keep Trakas warm.  When Becker paints, his models are usually nude or mostly.

‘Freak Show: Deliciously Twisted Body Art’ Exposed

Photos of the woman covered in glossy paint will be part of Becker’s first solo art exhibition, “Freak Show: Delightfully Twisted Body Art,” which opened Friday at Vanderelli Hall in Franklinton.

Dozens of photographs of her body paint, which she has been working on since January 2021, are on display.

Becker is not your typical artist and not just because of his unique medium.

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Business by day, art by night

A 44-year-old suburban single mother with three children, including a grown daughter and two teenage sons, Becker runs a small daycare center from her home five days a week.

At night and on weekends, Becker creates her art, whether it’s making costumes (she won the grand prize at HighBall Halloween) or drawing on bare chests, legs and other areas of the body. models.

“Most people are naked,” Becker said of her models on the show, who are in their 20s and 50s. And while most are cisgender women, they also include a transgender man and woman. “I don’t even see it anymore, I painted so many naked bodies.”

For her, however, the flesh is a great place to showcase her artistic talents.

Lynn Hetherington Becker from Dublin paints model Lex Neuenschwander.

“I really think it’s fun, exciting and challenging to draw on a moving canvas with outlines and every person is different,” she said. “They move, sneeze, breathe, have to go to the bathroom and it’s fleeting – temporary – which is bittersweet, because it won’t be there for long.”

Although she has always created art, particularly using acrylic paints, since she was a child, she only started her body painting journey in 2014, when she was looking for extra income after her divorce.

This led her to do makeup at events – a business that took off. Then she moved on to henna and finally full body paint.

Over time, she had a few paintings exhibited in group exhibitions, but she set herself the goal of having her own exhibition.

And she wanted the event to showcase her body paint and give the medium a platform.

“Body painting isn’t really recognized as an art form here,” Becker said. “Of course some people do it for Halloween, but in other parts of the country it’s a real art form and not just at certain times of the year.”

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“Different” strokes

AJ Vanderelli is thrilled to be showcasing this different medium in her gallery during the month of April.

“I love the way she expresses herself through body paint,” Vanderelli said. “It’s a form of expression and while some wouldn’t consider it art, I believe it is.”

The opening reception will be immersive and provide “pizazz,” Vanderelli said.

Lex Neuenschwander, 31, will be in some of the photographs from the show. She was painted twice by Becker and modeled one of Becker’s HighBall winning pieces, which will also be on display throughout “Freak Show”.

Seeing herself painted as a robot and a neon pink cheetah with spots all over her was beyond what Neuenschwander expected.

“I am impressed with the realism with which she is able to do things,” Neuenschwander said. “With body paint, it can be cartoonish or you can definitely tell there’s body paint on it, but hers makes you do a double take.”

Becker said it took her a while to figure out how to work with body paint because it’s very different from the quick-drying acrylics she uses to paint a wall, canvas or other inanimate object.

Body paint should get wet, she continued, and should be easily removable with water.

Brushes, paint and a cup of coffee are on hand as Dublin's Lynn Hetherington Becker paints from home.

“It’s a different consistency,” Becker said. “If it’s too liquid, it drools. If it’s too dry, you can’t put it on. And the shading is different.

Plus, she often has to consider body types and skin color — she always tries to use a diverse group of models — for designs.

Neuenschwander said Becker nailed the robot character she painted. The model felt fierce and looked like a character straight out of a Marvel movie.

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The whole experience, she continued, was emotional.

“It’s the most intimate thing – to be that intimate with an artist and intimate with yourself,” Neuenschwander said. “You are a walking canvas for someone. You can be someone completely different for a while.

This is one of Becker’s greatest draws: the connection she creates with those she paints and how she can empower people, especially women, through body painting.

“It’s always very special for everyone I paint,” Becker said. “It makes me really happy to see them happy.”

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