PAINT: Getting To Know Angela Rene Roberts
Angela Rene Roberts swirls body paint on naked body canvases in order to create extraordinary works of walking art. Her talents have been wildly celebrated, earning her numerous awards and quite a bit of media attention—including a stint on season one of Skin Wars.
This 24-year-old also poses in front of cameras as a freelance model, conforms and creates as a special effects makeup artist and has dabbled in graphic design.
Since this multi-dimensional muse has been on both sides of the artistic equation, we wanted to hear Angela’s thoughts on everything from beauty norms to her most striking pieces. Needless to say, we were thrilled when she was willing to oblige us.
How has being a model influenced your perspective on beauty? And how has being an artist impacted or changed your understanding of what being beautiful actually entails?
"True beauty" comes from within. I have stretchmarks, scars and many outer flaws, but I am a hard-working model.
As an artist, skin is not what describes the beauty, that is just part of my canvas. To be dynamic and expressive in front of the camera regardless of the challenges is powerful and beautiful to me. A person embracing what they have regardless of “flaws” is beautiful!
We are blown away by your body painting prowess. What caused you to take up such an interesting endeavor?
I loved art throughout my childhood as an athlete. Those who wanted the best for me often discouraged the artist part. After a college track injury and scholarship loss, I returned to dreams of modeling and art while battling depression. I met Cully Firmin while looking for photographers to help build my modeling portfolio. He saw my childhood drawings online before we met and was interested in me as an artist too. He introduced me to makeup artistry and fine-art body painting.
He showed me his modeling portfolio that included body paints in over 20 countries. Coming from a conservative Catholic family, I wasn’t sure about body painting at first. But when I modeled my first body paint in 2012, I had never felt more alive. I wanted to help others transform with the experience that helped me overcome depression. To share in my clients’ and models’ experiences and help them embrace their bodies and beauty comfortably has so much energy a lifeless canvas can’t give.
I also express myself through my body art designs, with experiences both good and bad. It is art therapy for me too!
Cully and I married four years later in body paint! Our wedding was a grand performance with the help of great friends and artists from around the world.
Which projects of yours do people seem to be most intrigued by?
The da Vinci tribute was inspired by my scientist/artist husband. It was my first time painting Cully over 3 years ago.
We still get questions and comments about it by people from around the world. I was very intimidated to paint Cully! He had modeled for many of the best body painting artists in the world. I was struggling in doubt and frustration. I almost destroyed it with wet-wipes. Cully stopped me and told me I could just relax and practice. No need for pictures and public display. Then after a silent spell in front of the mirror, he said "Don’t wash anything off". He told me to just continue with no other advice.
He saw the paint again after 2 more hours of building. I thought he didn’t like it but he said we would photograph it and let others be the judge. The worldwide attention that followed was a shock to me. I love the paint because it is on Cully, but I still critique it harshly today.
Lots of people are also responding to my recent maternal body paints. I connect more deeply with my pregnant models’ issues as my struggles to become a mother continue.
Safe and Sound on model Marcy Meche is a semi-camouflage with the baby zebra hidden from a lion in the stripes of his mother. The ultrasound image in an apple is symbolic of the phrase “apple of my eye”.
Hidden Gift is another maternal body paint with the model camouflaged against a blanket. The gift is motherhood and a baby is somewhat obscured within the flower on her stomach.
Never Forgotten is on a mother who elected adoption as a better life for her baby. The elephant’s memory draws water near the Koi swimming in circles of regret and optimistic hope.
The recent terrorist attacks inspired Paris We Are With You. The Eiffel Tower is in flames and a boy is running in distress. But he waves his French flag high while an American bald eagle rises to his aid.
I just wanted to show support with a strong commitment. The response of people on social networks was overwhelming. And many publications and fundraisers asked for permission to use it.
On a totally superficial note, you're drop-dead gorgeous. What's your daily beauty routine like?
Thank you for the compliment!
When the schedule allows, I eat a little snack, and thoroughly enjoy my treadmill in the morning. I usually run at least 3 miles, do a little weight training with dumbbells followed by some isometric exercises which are often challenging poses for drawing and photo-shoots. Then I take a hot shower or luxurious bath, eat a balanced meal and start my work day.
How do you prep for photo-shoots?
For photo-shoots, I practice poses while packing my makeup and accessories. Practicing athletic poses and tricky dance postures is a great warm-up exercise.
Preparing mentally is important to overcome self-conscious issues and to overcome Mother Nature’s untimely afflictions. I model many daredevil challenges that involve a lot of strength and concentration. If I’m providing clothing, I try many different combinations. I try to be creative and give the photographer new looks.
If I’m modeling nude, I can still get creative with my natural hair, and love working with wigs too. And well, if they need me to do my own makeup, that can be very interesting! I can keep it simple and natural too.