Interview of Merike Pesonen

Merike Pesonen is one of the few body painting artists from Finland.She participated several times to the European Body Painting Festival in Seeboden and I met her there in 2002.

Question : 1. A few words about the country, town or village where you live; do you have children?; what kind of studies you have done or your profession? What is your artistic background? What do you like most in life?

Merike: .I'm from Finland, from a little and beautiful town called Mikkeli (Saint Michel) where I live and work. I have there my own make-up school called Great Look, where I teach to my students make-up and masks for theatres, films and so on.
I have studied for my profession in Helsinki in maskering school Make Face Professional.
I have three children, two cats and one rat.

(Merike Pesonen at work and model Elina - Photograph (C) )

Question : 2. how have you discovered body painting? Describe the circumstances. How did you start doing body painting yourself? Have you done a lot or a few? Have you participed in events, competition? Which ones ?

Merike: During my studying time I had a good opportunity to learn body painting and I liked it since first time, then I started to practice more and more. I have been doing body painting in Finland in festivals, different kind of happenings, shows and so on, for already five years, also I took part in competitions, in Finnish Championship where I have won third places and International Champions fourth place.

(Body painting by Merike Pesonen - Photograph (C))

Question : 3. What do you like most in body painting? What do you find most difficult? What products do you use (paints and accessories for special effects)? What is your inspiration? How do you find ideas for new body paintings?

Merike: What I like most in body painting is that the subject - model - is a living person and that's why the design is also living and moving on that body.Most interesting is to find ways to produce the design or idea which I have in my mind. Also it is always a big challenge to make ideas working and look good.
My ideas just come suddenly in my mind, I don't think about them much before, I just get to the idea, I dont practise it, I jump on it.
The materials that I use are latex, glue,brush, colours of Grimas, airbrush, wax and false parts. I also use some materials which come to my mind, once I wanted to do something crazy with sticking plaster.

( Body painting by Merike Pesonen - Model: Zlotta - European Body Painting Festival 2001, Seeboden)

Question : 4. Do you have always the same model or so you have several models? How did you meet them? Describe your relationship with the model during the work. Do you work home, in a studio? Do you work sometimes outside, in the open? Have you been painted yourself? What was the feeling? Did you enjoy the experience?

Merike: .I have the same models for a long time, one is my own daughter. I have good relationship with them, also during the work. I met some of my models in the courses that I was teaching them.
Mostly I work in my own school, but of course any where needed. In Finland body painting is not yet very well known, so I go to show this form of art in happenings, festivals etc.
I never painted myself, I prefer to paint other people.

Question : 5. (question for the model) How do you feel when you are painted? Confortable, uneasy, clothed, naked? Was it difficult the first time or not? Do you give suggestions or opinions while you are being painted, or you don't say anything about the work while your sister paints. Which bodypainting has left you with the best memories? Where was it and why?

Model (Sandra): Yes, sometimes I feel naked when I' m in stage, painted. I feel comfortable if there are other models around, but if there are no other models, it feels a little bit unconfortable. The first time I was very young and it was a little bit scary experience because I was nervous and tense.
But when the body paint was ready and photographers started taking photos, that I liked as now I also like to be the centre of attention when somebody takes photos of me. And of course I have some suggestions and opinions while she is painting me.

( Body painting by Merike Pesonen - Models: Elina and Sandra - European Body Painting Festival 2002, Seeboden- Photograph (C) by Robert )

Question : 6. Anything to say about you plans? Something you would like to do and you have not done yet? Anything that you would like to ask to people who will read this interview.

Merike: My future plans- well I like to work abroad and where needed. This year I will go Austria and Brazil. About Brazil, there is one big International Dance Show in Brazil this year, before that, we have been to Canada.I will go there with this Dance Club group, my daughter is part of this group and taking dance lessons.There will be group of 13 girls and I will go with them to do the make-up for the show and take care of them.

( Body painting by Merike Pesonen - Model: Sandra- European Body Painting Festival 2002, Seeboden- Photograph (C) by Robert )

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