You Don’t Have to Choose Between Success & Your Soul
When a very talented artist emailed me asking if she could “paint me” I, of course, said yes. When she told me she really meant paint “on me” and I would be naked, and in public, I hesitated, but knew in my gut that it was going to be a powerful experience. Then she told me her series was about celebrating the many different forms of the female body AND that my work had a role in inspiring this series. That did it, I was all in.
Trina Merry is a visual artist who paints on people and documents the work with photography and video. “I love that my work is literally alive- it has a heartbeat and a breath,” Trina told me. Trina has recently been featured on CNN. You can watch her feature here.
Trina has been working on a camouflage series where she paints people into the background of iconic places all over the world. In fact, Trina told me that our last Live More Weigh Less challenge actually inspired her to take the trip! I asked her to share her story below:
From Trina: My friend Melissa Hoffman (also Sarah’s friend and makeup artist) joined the Live More Weigh Less Lifestyle instagram challenge and I thought- I can buy myself flowers and flaunt red lipstick? What a fun idea! I joined in and felt happier and observed that my days were more holistically-focused. I was inspired and re-examined my beliefs about my life and body.
The first series that really culminated from this inspiration and self-examination was my “Lost in Wonder” series, where I traveled to the “Wonders of the World” making gorgeous, meaningful art. It was a very courageous move for me to do such heavy travel and really pursue my passion on a global level. In the end I decided traveling around the world and painting was more productive than sitting at home worrying about how I looked in a bikini.
I found myself rock climbing in the Wadi Rum desert, swimming in gorgeous cenotes in Mexico, covering my not perfect body in Dead Sea mud, cave exploring on Easter Island, climbing stairs to a monastery in Petra, walking the Great wall of China and across the desert by the Giza Pyramids for the perfect shot, hiking in Machu Picchu and so much more! And yes, I even went bikini shopping in Buenos Aires where they appreciate and celebrate curves. I started changing the way I ate and adding more protein to my diet so I could try keeping up with my Navy Seal trained male model and I felt stronger and sexier than ever. It really is true- deciding to live more made me feel so beautiful. I’m glad I didn’t wait and just took that step of courage to do what I love.
I’ve joined Live More Weigh Less and am looking forward to my next adventure. I am currently touring around the United States and want to travel this winter to where indigenous cultures are still practicing bodypaint.
I mean, this is truly Live More Weigh Less at it’s best. I’m so proud of Trina.
SO! Trina was in San Francisco doing a “twist” on this camouflage series…
From Trina: “San Francisco: Visions from the Fog” has an interesting twist. It is a female body positive series that examines various stages of womanhood- including a baby, two pregnant women and an older former Vogue model. I have seen other women transformed through my art for the last 9 years and now, these women and pursuing this art form are changing me.
The works were informed by classical art history paintings including works by Raphael, Botticelli, Giotto, Manet, Matisse, and Frida Kahlo.
I love painting pregnant models- it’s always touching when I’m painting a maternity belly and the baby presses back against the paintbrush. Also, getting to paint my fresh baby nephew and a mature female model were new and very moving experiences for me.
On the day we were painting, I was pretty nervous. I had no idea how hundreds of tourists on Lombard Street (the curviest/steepest road in the world) in downtown San Francisco were going to react to a naked pregnant woman hanging out.
Trina gave us (me and Melissa Hoffman the other woman in the piece) a thong and pasties to wear, which helped a lot but as I dropped my robe to allow her to paint me, my heart started beating a million miles an hour. Were people going to laugh? Were we going to get arrested?
After just a few minutes we were gathering quite a crowd of international tourists from all around the world. What was so surprising was that people just stood around quietly observing Trina painting us as if they were staring at Frida Kahlo’s “Two Fridas” itself. A few men in their early twenties did walk by, point and giggle, but it was clear that it was out of their discomfort and not out of disrespect.
Many parents with young children brought them over to explain that I was pregnant and to point out how beautiful we are. Families, children and pregnant women wanted a picture with us and you could tell it was because they were really quite impressed with the art and our courage.
The biggest lesson I learned from the day, and the real heart behind Trina’s work is that beauty does not come in one form of a young-slim-victoria-secret-model-esque person. Beauty comes in every form imaginable. Just like art, our bodies should be celebrated by what makes them unique, not the same.
P.S. Here are a couple more photos from Trina’s San Francisco series.
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.