How to paint over a plastic mannequin, or my sculpture for Garden of Eden installation.

Hello, my creative friends and artist lovers!

This week I'm going to tell you how I created my sculpture for Garden of Eden mannequin installation that is going to be a part of Dragon Burn festival here in Shanghai this May 2018. Dragon Burn is a Chinese version of very famous Burning Man festival.

In the beginning of March I saw a post in one of my groups in WeChat (it's a super popular Chinese social media) where a girl named Mandy called for artists to take part in the Garden of Eden installation by painting over or decoration a plastic mannequin or parts of mannequin that she actually was getting from a dumpster near by some local shopping mall, hahaha...I thought that the idea was great and I immediately told her that I was in!

The idea of painting over mannequin has been wandering around my mind since the first time I saw really beautiful transformations that happened to mannequins after some of the artist I follow in Instagram painted over them. And Garden of Eden was the best chance to finally have fun with my own mannequin and to show it to the big audience in the end!

It was a lot of fun to get the mannequin from Mandy either. Both I and Mandy collected a lot of astonished gazes when we were transporting mannequin by Shanghai metro. We also took a lot of funny pictures of HIM taking line in metro or peacefully commuting inside the train.

Our very first meet.

Well, I hope my husband was not very jealous about another (technically naked) MAN living temporary in our house. At least he didn't show it, hahaha....

Now let me tell you about the process of painting over the plastic mannequin:

The first thing you should do when you get a mannequin from dumpster is of course to clean it. My MAN was pretty clean already, so I just used baby wipes.

After your plastic mannequin is completely dry after cleaning, prior painting, you need to apply gesso. One or two coats is usually enough. Believe me and the experience of many other artists from Garden of Eden project - without gesso you will have huge problem with painting over smooth plastic surface. Your paint simple won't lay down on it!


When gesso dries up you can finally start your creative process!

I never had a clear plan of what I was going to do with my MAN. It was a pure improvisation. I just looked at my recent drawings from BZ EYE project and got an idea to cover the man in random squares that later were planned to be filled with various symbols, geometric shape, words, and other things my style.


I had drawn those squares with lead pencil first, and then I painted the background with beautiful iridescent teal color acrylic paint leaving the squares white. During two days I applied two coats of paint for deeper color effect.


After background completely dried up I started the most interesting creative part - filling in all the squares! I colored some of the squares inside to bring more diversity into my work because I'm little crazy about diversity, you know.


And I used acrylic and oil based markers to draw various symbols, geometric shapes and other things my style exactly as it was planned. Markers and paint worked really great on gessoed mannequin! So, remember once again, guys:


It took me three days (evenings, to be specific) to complete covering my MAN with all the small details. After that I grabbed my iPhone, tripod and took a dozen of photos with my BEAUTIFUL MAN before he was going to leave me and go to the festival by himself with other plastic men and women.

We look great together, don't we?!...

And here is my boy with some of his new buddies.

And of course I made a video of my MAN to record all his beauty, because even if he is going to go back into my studio after festival, I'm afraid he won't look so fresh anymore...


Do you like my man? Have you tried to paint your own mannequin? Share with me you thoughts and ideas in comments down below!

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Stay creative!

Your Jane.

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