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Painting a positive message
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Body and face-painting rock star twins Brian and Nick Wolfe recently hosted a workshop in Covington showcasing their talent and teaching fellow artists to create masterpieces on skin.

The Wolfe brothers demonstrated their speedy and detailed techniques for seven women who gathered at Outrageous Events on Old Atlanta Highway last week.

"I am just so awed every time I see them do something," said Joni Morgan, who traveled from Easley, S.C., for the workshop.

The twins started out drawing monsters and taking Halloween costumes to extremes as boys. Brian Wolfe said when they turned 30, they realized they were unhappy working normal jobs.

They decided to aim the front end of their car toward Orlando, Fla. They took jobs transforming performers with make-up at Universal Studios.

"We said at least we'll be poor and happy and doing what we like," Wolfe said.

Eventually, it became evident the brothers' talent far surpassed any of the other make-up artists at Universal Studios.

"The rule was five minutes or less," Brian said, "but we were painting masterpieces in five minutes or less."

So, they began painting for guests at all the Disney parks and SeaWorld and training other artists who came to work at new parks opening such as Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Soon, reporters were writing articles about them. They decided to write a book about their techniques and, after demonstrating their work at dozens of conventions, trade shows and festivals, development and marketing companies began to approach them for endorsements.

Finally, they found a paint product line worthy of carrying their name. The brothers chose the products because of their color quality, ease of application and comfortable wear.

"The black you can get the consistency of water, but it goes on jet black, not charcoal like others," Brian said.

The Wolfe brothers now have more than 500 products such as make-up kits and how-to books bearing their names in stores like Halloween Express as well as online.

Brian and Nick's most recent claim to fame stems from their winning the silver medal at World Body Painting Festival earlier this year in Austria.

"It was like the Olympics," Brian said. "There were flags everywhere."

They had competed in 2006 for the first time and came home with 10th place.

"If you don't place, you don't get on TV," Brian said.

The brothers decided to give a flashier performance this year in order to gain the judges' and audience's attention.

Since they once played in a metal band, they entered the stage wielding guitars, shredding original riffs while their thong-clad model danced to the rhythm.

After the brothers were finished with the model, she looked as if a bomb had blown most of her skin off, exposing bones and intestines amid anatomically correct muscles.

"Now we can brag - when it comes to painting naked women, we're the second best in the world," Wolfe said.

Even though the brothers received second place, they had no animosity toward the girl from London who won the gold medal - she was a former student of theirs.

"We couldn't be prouder - and even the third place winner uses our make-up," Brian said.

They hope they can take home the gold in 2008, but for now are enjoying hosting two-day workshops around the country and attending conventions such as this weekend's Dragoncon in Atlanta, where they morphed themselves and others into characters from the Marvel Zombie comic series.

Brian said his favorite subjects to paint are bald women because they provide him with more of a canvas. He said he prefers to paint beautiful women as monsters because it creates an interesting juxtaposition.

"It's my favorite because you can see the beauty right through the makeup," Brian said. "It's something horrible and beautiful at the same time - I can't look away."

He said he and his brother love their job because there is no negative aspect of it. Brian also enjoys watching those whom they paint begin to act like what they are painted as and all the attention they receive from others.

"What we do really is magic," Brian said.

Many have asked the brothers why they don't work in Hollywood.

"Because that's what everybody else does," Brian said.

More than 800 make-up artists have their names on the Hollywood union roster, according to Brian, who added no one pays attention to what artist does the make-up for major films.

"If we went to Hollywood and started working, we'd be sweeping floors," Brian said.

Plus, the brothers have fun teaching other skin artists to be faster and better at what they do.

Jordan explained she came to the brothers' workshop because she had started painting faces at festivals and corporate events with her cousin, Vonnie Hicks of Toccoa, who also attended the workshop.

"My daughter told me about it. She said 'mother they're having a class in Covington and you've got to go,'" Hicks said.

Hicks and Jordan and the other attendees learned Thursday how to paint the Wolfe Brother's famous Half-face, which is a basic character that, if you add things like fangs, horns or different textures, can turn into a vampire, devil or The Thing from Fantastic Four.

The cousins said they both would call their hometown newspapers about their experience at the workshop.

"I just want other people to get infected with this fun," Morgan said.

Brain said he and his brother want the same. He explained their workshop is not just about how to paint quickly and well with sponges and thin brushes, but also about achieving goals.

"Our message is you can do whatever you want," Brian said. "If we can fly around the world and paint naked ladies and hang out with cool people, then whatever your cockamamie scheme is you can do it too as long as you really focus on it and don't step on anybody's toes along the way."