St. Augustine Artist Heather Aguilera and the Human Canvas

human canvas 1By Lea Hervey |

For many years St. Augustine has been thriving with artists of all ages, each with their own unique style and form, but this community has never seen anything quite like Heather Aguilera.

Instead of using the traditional method of painting on paper or canvas, Aguilera creates her masterpieces on a pre-existing work of art: the human body.

human canvas 2Since Aguilera has been drawing and painting her entire life, her profession was “never a question,” she says. “I was born a creative person … it comes naturally.”

Aguilera now owns her own business, ‘Heather’s Living Art,’ which offers many services including body art, face painting, and prenatal belly art.

How did it all begin? Aguilera explained that when she met a body painter in Miami, FL, it was a “life-changing moment” and described how it moved her to become the painter she is today.

“The human body is a work of art in itself,” she says.

Aguilera believes that body painting is more than just an art form; it connects people through friendships that last for life and heals people in ways they never thought possible.

As a single mother painting naked bodies in a somewhat conservative town, Aguilera had her doubts in the beginning. Would people be accepting of this new artistic style? Would she really be able to make a living off of painting on people?human canvas 5

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” she admitted. In the end, she decided, you just have to follow your heart and “do what you want to do.” Aguilera finds Nike’s motto “Just Do It” particularly inspiring because that is exactly how she started her own business: by tossing out her fears and going for it.

While her career offers her the opportunity to travel all over the world and make deep connections with people through her art, using a human canvas can have its downfalls.

“People have human limits,” she says. Having to stop a creative session to eat or use the bathroom can be distracting, not to mention the difficulty of sitting for long periods of time. The most challenging part of body painting, Aguilera said, is “having to finish within a time limit.” On other projects, “it doesn’t matter if you finish in two days or two weeks,” Aguilera says. With scheduled sessions, the clock is constantly ticking.

Despite having a profession that can be very challenging at times, there is no question that Aguilera loves her work.

human canvas 3“I have a lot of creative freedom,” she says. While the model and the artist typically work together to create a work of art that is meaningful to them, people tend to trust Aguilera’s natural instincts and give her the freedom to do what she does best.

Aguilera teaches Prenatal Body Art classes at Face and Body Art International Conventions around the world and has recently been featured in the Sarasota Film Festival. In 2013 she was a featured artist on SyFy Channel’s ‘Naked Vegas’ Documentary Series, and since then has work with many organizations and programs such as Vitamin Angels and the Brushed Bold ‘Donna Foundation’ Fundraiser. For more information on Aguilera, her artwork, and her accomplishments you can visit her website at

A self-portrait of Heather Aguilera

A self-portrait of Heather Aguilera

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