There is a small studio nestled on the second floor of a building in the heart of Belleville. It’s an art-filled place with colourful paintings hanging on every wall. Inside, Melissa Brant meticulously paints each stroke on a model’s arm with a small brush, her gaze focused on every centimetre of the painting.
Brant is a body painting artist. She lives and breathes in colours, textures, and shapes.
“I was born an artist,” she said. “I never took art lessons. I just continued to create myself and experiment, experience new things, and keep trying. I love to create, so I’m always creating. It’s natural for me.”
Brant previously studied to become a makeup artist. However, it wasn’t enough to satisfy her. Later, Brant started doing more creative makeup looks, which led her to bigger and better things with body paint. For her, the human body was not just a canvas, but a living, breathing masterpiece waiting to be brought to life.
Brant’s body painting sessions typically take place one on one.
“We just kind of have a simple conversation at first. I explain to them that I’m going to start painting them while we have a conversation,” she said. “And then I intuitively through their energy and my energy and how it’s flowing, just start painting and letting the art just flow through my hands.”
The body paintings that Brant creates are based on her inspiration at that moment. She doesn’t have any expectations or ideas before starting a piece.
“I actually think that it’s a very mindless process, to be honest. I’m not even there. I kind of don’t even see the work that I’m doing,” she said. “I just grab the colours, whatever feels good to me, and I just put it on the body, and I just continue to flow like that until I feel like the artwork is done.”
But for Brant, the best part of the whole process is not when she’s in the process of painting, but when she gets to see people’s reactions after they’re done being painted.
“It’s the best to see someone light up, to see them shine, and just to see them excited about looking at themselves, which is not not something we get to see all of the time…someone’s own excitement at seeing themselves and their own beauty.”
People who have been painted by Brant are always impressed with the artwork she creates on their bodies.
“It’s so personal,” shared Chantal Carter, a volunteer who had been painted by Brant. “It was such a wonderful experience and a very meditative one of somebody creating art on my body. I didn’t see what she was doing while she was painting. So, when I got to see it in the mirror, it was mind-blowing. Now I’m thinking about getting a tattoo sleeve because it’s kind of fun.”
For Brant, body painting is not just a job, but a way of life. It’s a way for her to express herself, connect with others, and bring beauty into the world. Each piece she creates is a collaboration, a merging of her artistic vision with the person’s personal style and story. As long as there are people who want to be transformed into works of art, Brant will be there, ready and eager to make it happen.