Body Language: The Artwork of Craig Tracy
Craig Tracy is regarded as one of the foremost body painters, having both won and judged body painting contests around the globe and serving as a body painting guru on GSN’s “Skin Wars.”
In fact, his artwork is so detailed and mesmerizing that it is sometimes impossible to distinguish where the models begin and end.
“Because I paint on human beings I like to play with the idea of that and what the viewer is actually seeing,” Tracy says.
When creating his art, the New Orleans artist incorporates traditional paintbrushing, airbrushing, finger-painting, sponging, splattering and dripping techniques into his work. Depending on his vision, he will utilize a standalone painted model or a hand-painted background that integrates with a painted model.
He says a typical work will take about eight hours to complete. Once he has finished painting, Tracy takes photographs at the perfect angle to complete his vision.
“I don’t use any Photoshop or manipulation in my works, so everything is 100 percent authentic in the moment that it is created,” he says.
For instance, the fiery wing and flame in “Keeper” were painted onto the background, and the warm glow of the flames painted onto the model. Tracy measures everything in advance to ensure the background matches when the model is in her pose.
“I bend over backwards to keep things real, and I don’t want to ever compromise the integrity of my work because it’s so important to me,” he says. “I want people, when they have my work and they’re enjoying my work, to know the essence of it was not digital manipulation.”
In addition to his rule of no manipulation, Tracy sets up other parameters to constantly challenge himself. He uses different models for each work of art, he avoids painting clothing onto models, and doesn’t have his models cover or hide their bodies.
Tracy’s natural inspiration
Tracy credits nature as his greatest source of inspiration, but also finds ideas in music, geometry or culture. In fact, entire works of art have been created based on a single color or a particular person’s body shape.
“What I call true creativity is making something that didn’t exist before, not just regurgitating something, but literally putting things together that have never been together and doing that perhaps in a way that has never been done,” he says.
Tracy says there is an unfortunate cultural stigma attached to body painting, especially with nude models. His hope is that, through his art, he bridges the gap between nude and clothed, and provides viewers the chance to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the human body. He says he is glad for the opportunity to work with Park West Gallery to further demonstrate the beauty of body painting.
“My favorite aspect of my work and life is sharing,” he says. “I love sharing what I do with others more then I love doing what I do. I selfishly thrive on the experiences that others have while experiencing my work. It fills me with joy when my work communicates with humanity.”
Craig Tracy’s artwork is available as vibrant digital art on metal through Park West Gallery. Contact our gallery consultants for more information.