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My name is Sid Chidiac, the Chocolate Painter. The first body painting I did was when I exhibited in Austria. I was backstage, finished with hanging my paintings on the wall, when the people in charge of the exhibit asked if there was anything more I can do to add to the exhibition and to the experience. I looked around and thought of what I can do. There was a tall black woman backstage and I just thought to ask her if she would mind being painted in chocolate on stage, in front of everyone. To my liking, she said yes. I went on stage and began painting her body in white chocolate in front of everyone and it became a hit. Next thing you know, I am painting models in chocolate in every exhibition I do around the world. It became my signature opening for every exhibition. Painting nude human bodies brings a lot of pleasure to people. It is exciting, it is different. Who knows what goes through their mind when they are watching me paint these nude bodies in chocolate. When I see someone standing there not moving, just watching, you can tell their is a certain speed going through their head and how fast their brain is actively moving. I am painting something they like: people love chocolate; people love the human anatomy. Whether they are thinking about licking the chocolate or touching the nude body, these are two actions that humans love. One person can not judge another for this.
For body paintings, I always use Barry Callebaut Belgium chocolate. It is the best chocolate you can ever put your hands on, especially me for me to work with. It is very fine, high quality chocolate. It is well balanced for art and very rich in cocoa. This is the first chocolate I have ever put my hands on and I feel very comfortable with it. I’ve tried to work with other chocolate, it was cheaper quality but I was not comfortable with it at all. Now, I always stick with Barry Callebaut.
When I look for a subject to paint, I always look for something that inspires me, something that wakes up my soul and urges me to create a masterpiece. When I painted Oprah I thought, she is a public figure, a well respected African-American woman. Sometimes I get so inspired I feel like I am connected with the person and can feel their soul. It’s like having a huge chocolate cake in front of you and you don’t want to get up until you finish it completely. When I was working on the Oprah painting, I just kept wanting to paint more and more. Everything in my soul was opening up. There was a lot of enjoyment doing this portrait. The more I thought I was done, the more I would go back to continue working on the painting until I was completely satisfied with it. I painted Oprah in 2014. It only took 6 hours to paint, actually. Like I said, I could not stop painting, so once I started, I was so inspired to keep going and going, I could not put that brush down. I was in a quiet, pleasant environment with no tension around me. The reason I painted the second one was because the first one that was exhibited in Kuwait City was ruined. I hate this story. I was done exhibiting in Kuwait City and they shipped my artwork back to America. I got back to JFK airport, opened my bag, and saw shattered pieces everywhere. I was frozen, I couldn’t move. I just started taking pieces of chocolate and eating it with everyone staring at me. The person I dealt with in Kuwait City was not exactly 100% positive, nor apologetic about this terrible incident. Anyway, I painted a second Oprah last year because I wanted to keep one in my possession since I felt so connected with this subject. I have more experience painting with chocolate now than the first time I painted Oprah around 10 years ago. The second one turned out 100 times better and I am completely satisfied with it.
Elvis chocolate painting
I was away on a long trip and hadn’t painting in such a long time. The only thing going through my mind was how badly I wanted a brush in my hand, I was starting to feel guilty without one. It was like being stuck in a desert for days and then finally getting a bottle of water. That’s what happened to me when I began painting the portrait of Elvis.
I tried to keep it as light as I can. I didn’t include too much detail in the cheeks and face because his features like his eyes, nose and mouth are very strong and I didn’t want to take the attention away from those features. The more I painted Elvis, the more I felt like my soul was painting it. I just wanted to make it right, not too much detail and not too little.
Whatever I did, I wanted it to look exactly like him. My soul was desperate to make it perfect. I was desperate to paint. The strokes came naturally depending on the facial feature. I was staring at a portrait of Elvis and trying to perfectly execute the image through my paint brush.
I added more chocolate for darker features like eyebrows and hair. It is very hard to describe how exactly I paint because for me, my soul is painting. It is not nearly technical, it all happens inside of me. I put myself in a relaxed environment and clear my mind and it just came out and became a masterpiece. That is what makes a good artist – painting from your soul. I don’t want to talk about myself but I want my painting to talk about me. I want people to see that when they look at painting, the artist must be good to achieve that quality of work. The painting should be able to tell a story about the painter.
I know I am done with a painting when I step back with my paintbrush and just look at it and think “wow”. There is a certain happiness and energy that makes me stop and stare at the painting, not wanting to touch it at all. If I painted anymore, it could destroy it. The painting itself talks to you and tells you that it is completed. There is a certain wave length between my eyes and the painting where I know it is complete. I physically can’t paint anymore because my eyes and soul know that it is in fact complete.
If you want to visit heaven before you die, come to Australia…
the land of beauty.
- Sid Chidiac