or sometimes bodypainting, is a form of body art. Unlike tattoo and other forms of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours, or at most (in the case of Mehndi or "henna tattoo") a couple of weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting. Body painting is also referred to as (a form of) temporary tattoo; large scale or full-body painting is more commonly referred to as body painting, while smaller or more detailed work is generally referred to as temporary tattoos.
Traditional body painting
Body painting was very common used in the early 12th to mid 14th century by religious practitioners in rituals. This is an example of Gothic Art. It was common in the areas of countries we now refer to as France and Germany. Examples were displayed on frescoes, but primarily worn by members of the church clergy under robes. Primarily symbols on the arms, chest and back, these forms of identification led to Dalecarlian form of writing found in many northern European countries.
Body painting with clay and other natural pigments existed in most, if not all, tribalist cultures. Often worn during ceremonies, it still survives in this ancient form among the indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and parts of Africa. A semi-permanent form of body painting known as Mehndi, using dyes made of henna (hence also known rather erroneously as "henna tattoo"), was and is still practiced in India and the Middle East, especially on brides. Since the late 1990s, Mehndi has become popular amongst young women in the Western world.
Indigenous peoples of South America traditionally use annatto, huito, or wet charcoal to decorate their faces and bodies. Huito is semi-permanent, and it generally takes weeks for this black dye to fade.
Actors and clowns around the world have painted their faces--and sometimes bodies--for centuries, and continue to do so today. More subdued form of face paints for everyday occasions evolved into the cosmetics we know today.
Modern body painting
A young woman with a butterfly painted on her chest.
There has been a revival of body painting in the Western society since the 1960s, in part prompted by the liberalization of social mores regarding nudity and often comes in sensationalist or exhibitionist forms. Even today there is a constant debate about the legitimacy of body painting as an art form. The current modern revival could be said to date back to the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago where Max Factor and his model were arrested for causing a public disturbance when he bodypainted her with his new make-up formulated for Hollywood films.
Body art today evolves to the works more directed towards personal mythologies, as Jana Sterbak, Rebecca Horn, Youri Messen-Jaschin or Javier Perez.
Body painting is not always large pieces on fully nude bodies, but can involve smaller pieces on displayed areas of otherwise clothed bodies.
Body painting led to a minor alternative art movement in the 1950s and 1960s, which involved covering a model in paint and then having the model touch or roll on a canvas or other medium to transfer the paint. French artist Yves Klein is perhaps the most famous for this, with his series of paintings 'Anthropometries'. The effect produced by this technique creates an image-transfer from the model's body to the medium. This includes all the curves of the model's body (typically female) being reflected in the outline of the image. This technique was not necessarily monotone; multiple colors on different body parts sometimes produced interesting effects.
Joanne Gair is a leading body paint artist whose work appeared for the tenth consecutive year in the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She burst into prominence with a August 1992 Vanity Fair Demi's Birthday Suit cover of Demi Moore. Her Disappearing Model was part of the highest rated episode of Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Two body painted women in a PETA protest against the fur trade.
Body painting is commonly used as a method of gaining attention in political protests, for instance those by PETA against Burberry.
Body painting festivals
Georgetown University fans with painted torsos in Atlanta. Such painting is common in many sports.
Body painting festivals happen annually across the world, bringing together professional body painters as well as keen amateurs. Body paintings can also typically be seen at football matches, at rave parties, and at certain festivals. The World Bodypainting Festival in Seeboden in Austria is the biggest art event in the bodypainting theme and thousands of visitors admire the wonderful work of the participants.
Bodypaint festivals that take place in the US include North American Body Painting Championship and the Face Painting and Body Art Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fine art body painting
Reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night as body painting.
The 1960s supermodel Veruschka is often cited as being many body painters' muse.Her images in the book Transfigurations with photographer Holger Trulzsch have frequently been emulated.Other well-known works include Serge Diakonoff's books A Fleur de Peau and Diakonoff and Joanne Gair's Paint a licious.
Since the early 1990s bodypainting has become more widely accepted in the United States, and more and more body artists are beginning to come onto the national community.
Starting in late 2006 Sacramento art galleries started to use fine art bodypainting as performance art to draw new patrons.
In 2006 the first gallery dedicated exclusively to fine art bodypainting was opened in New Orleans by World Bodypainting Festival Champion and Judge, Craig Tracy. The Painted Alive Gallery is on Royal Street in the French Quarter.
In 2009, a popular late night talk show Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC network , featured a New York based artist Danny Setiawan who creates reproductions of masterpieces by famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and Gustav Klimt on human bodies aiming to make fine art appealing for his contemporaries who normally would not consider themselves as art enthusiasts.
Body painting in the commercial arena
Many artists work professionally as body painters across the world. Their work is seen regularly in television commercials, such as the Natrel Plus campaign featuring models camouflaged as trees. Body painters also work frequently in the film arena especially in science fiction with more and more elaborate alien creations being body painted. Stills advertising also used body painting with hundreds of body painting looks on the pages of the world's magazines every year.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, published annually, has in recent years featured a section of models that were body painted, attired in renditions of swimsuits or sports jerseys. Sometimes accessories are used such as bows or buttons. Some allege this allows SI to skirt their own no-nudity guideline.
In the 2005 Playmates at Play at the Playboy Mansion calendar, all Playmates appeared in the calendar wearing bikinis, but Playmates Karen McDougal and Hiromi Oshima actually appeared in painted on bikinis for their respective months. In October, 2005, the Playboy magazine cover featured a foldout of two models (Sara Jean Underwood and Victoria Thornton) wearing only body paint. The February 2008 cover of Playboy magazine featured Tiffany Fallon body painted as Wonder Woman. These covers and other body paintings done for Hugh Hefner's parties at the Playboy Mansion are created for Playboy by artist Mark Frazier. Michelle Manhart, Playboy model and former Air Force Staff Sergeant, recently posed in body paint for the cover of a 2008 pin-up calendar (published by Operation Calendar).
With the success of body painting, this has led to publications on this art form and also Illusion Magazine which is aimed to painters for all abilities, showcasing work around the world.
Moche ceramic vessel depicting a man -possibly a warrior- with face painting. Larco Museum collection. Lima-Peru
Two children with painted faces.
Two men with painted faces, for the charity Children in Need.
Face painting is the artistic application of cosmetic "paint" to a person's face. There are special water-based cosmetic "paints" made for face painting; people should ask before having face paints applied what products are being used. Acrylic and tempera craft paints are not meant for use on skin and are not acceptable, nor are watercolor pencils or markers. Products not intended for use on skin can cause a variety of issues ranging from discomfort to severe allergic reactions.
From ancient times, it has been used for hunting, religious reasons, and military reasons (such as camouflage and to indicate membership in a military unit). In re-entered the popular culture during the hippie movement of the late 1960s, when it was common for young women to decorate their cheeks with flowers or peace symbols at anti-war demonstrations.
For several decades it has been a common entertainment at county fairs, large open-air markets (especially in Europe and the Americas), and other locations where children and adolescents are. Face painting is very popular among children at theme parks, parties and festivals throughout the Western world. Though the majority of face painting is geared towards children, many teenagers and adults enjoy being painted for special events, such as charity fund raisers.
There are many kinds of face paint, including:
Designs that include the emblems of favorite sports teams, cartoon characters, and other designs that are "cute" or otherwise appealing to the young.
Dramatic designs that appeal to all ages.
Costuming designs which transform the wearer into someone/something completely different, such as Jack Haley's silver face makeup as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.
Designs that endeavor to color the face in such a way to indicate solidarity with a cause, usually the outcome of a sporting contest or membership in a group.
Popular face painting designs include;
Tiger - This design, in most cases, consists of a body of orange and yellow paint, with black stripes painted on. Details include bushy eye brows and a muzzle or whiskers, alongside a black painted nose.
Clown - This design, in most cases, consists of a body of white painting. With shapes and features such as a red nose or bright eyes the model is made to take on the features of a circus clown.
Spider-Man - This is a body of red paint with white eyes and spider like black patterns on the models face. Similar to that of the mask worn by Spider-Man.
Dog - Commonly a dalmatian, this design is white with large black spots on the eyes and cheeks. A black nose is added along with whisker pores. A tongue is commonly added to give the effect of the model panting, similar to that of a dog.
Butterfly - A design consisting of the body of the butterfly being painted on the nose and the wings added across the cheeks. Wing patterns vary.
Cat - Many designs may feature under this heading. It could be a plain black tabby cat or a wild leopard. Either way, it usually consists of a neutral body of paint with bushy eyebrows and a muzzle.
It is common to find if someone is dressed in an animal costume, a black nose will be added alone to give the impression of an animal face and not just body. Sometimes, a full face is added or sometimes none at all.
Most theme parks have booths scattered around where a person can have a design painted on their face. A similar activity is the application of "instant tattoos", which are paint or ink-based designs that are put on as one unit and removed by means of water, alcohol, soap, or another mild solvent. More elaborate temporary tattoos may be made using stencils and airbrush equipment. Very recently, "glitter tattoos" have been gaining popularity. These are made by filling a stencil (or freehand painting a design) with The "Original Pink Glue" then coating the adhesive with cosmetic-grade glitter.
Use in military
A soldier applies green face paints as camouflage.
It is common in militaries all over the world for soldiers in combat scenarios to paint their faces and other exposed body parts (hands, for example) in natural colors such as green, tan, and loam for camouflage purposes.
Use in professional wrestling
Many professional wrestlers paint their faces as part of their costuming. Examples are The Ultimate Warrior, Road Warrior Animal and his tag team partner, Road Warrior Hawk, and Doink the Clown.
In the late 1980s, American professional wrestler Steve Borden, under the stage name Sting, wore colourful striped facepaint as part of his ring attire, in the National Wrestling Alliance and later, World Championship Wrestling. In the mid-1990s, the Sting character was modernised along the lines of Brandon Lee's The Crow, with black and white facepaint usually following a pattern similar to that of a scorpion. Upon joining the nWo Wolfpac stable in 1998, the facepaint was temporarily altered to red and black.
In 2002, WWE superstar Jeff Hardy began utilising facepaint in different variations. Upon being drafted to WWE's RAW brand in 2002, Hardy began wearing neon or ultraviolet body paint, that would glow in its colour under UV lighting placed on the entrance stage. Upon entering TNA Wrestling in 2003, Hardy's facepaint took on a more luminous quality, before being quietly retired in 2006, upon his WWE return. In 2008, Hardy resumed using facepaint as part of his ring attire. Hardy continues to use facepaint as a key part of his act, though he no longer wears it in on-screen non-wrestling segments.
Bodypainting with fluorescent paint.
Modern water-based face and body paints are made according to stringent guidelines, meaning these are non-toxic, usually non-allergenic, and can easily be washed away. These are either applied with hands, paint brush, and synthetic sponges or natural sea sponge, or alternatively with an airbrush.
Contrary to the popular myth perpetuated by the James Bond film Goldfinger, a person is not asphyxiated if their whole body is painted.
Liquid latex may also be used as body paint and allows although wearing latex for a prolonged period may cause heat stroke by inhibiting perspiration and care should be taken to avoid the painful removal of hair when the latex is pulled off.
Manufacturers of widely available professional body and face paint include: Kryolan, Mehron, Snazaroo, Wolfe Face Art & FX, Diamond FX, Grimas, Ben Nye and Fardel.
The same precautions that apply to cosmetics should be observed. If the skin shows any sign of allergy from a paint its use should immediately be ceased. Moreover, it should not be applied onto open wounds, nor should it be applied too close to the eyes. It is not advisable to use paints or products which have not been formulated for use on the body as these can result in serious allergic reactions.
As for Mehndi, natural brown henna dyes are safe to use; however, synthetic black dyes containing PPD can cause serious skin allergies, and should be avoided due to the substantial risk of serious injury. Jagua is a dark indigo plant based dye that is safe to use on the skin and is approved for cosmetic use in the EU.
Hand art is the application of make-up or paint to a hand to make it appear like an animal or other object. Some hand artists, like Guido Daniele, produce images that are trompe l'oeil representations of wild animals painted on people's hands.
Hand artists work closely with hand models. Hand models can be booked through specialist acting and modeling agencies usually advertising under "body part model" or "hands and feet models".
Pictures: Shopping centre bosses in Ashford say body painting artist is 'too rude'
A body painting artist has criticised shopping centre bosses in Ashford after he was ordered to cover up his near-naked models.
Artist Max Wragg said it was meant to be a stunning piece of art that went across the bodies of three women, but for some shoppers in County Square it was just too much.
He said: "I had arranged this event in advance and it was unfortunately spoilt by a handful of small-minded people.
"Hundreds of people were walking past and not one made any adverse comments to me, in fact quite a few stopped and asked what it was all about.
She said: "It is a shopping centre and, while I agreed he could do the body painting, he said there wouldn’t be any nudity.
"I think that the complainants may have thought that my models had bare breasts, however, this was not the case. They were all wearing nipple covers."
County Square manager Frances Burt said she made the decision after a few complaints from shoppers.
"While they weren’t completely nude, there were a few complaints."
Mrs Burt added: "I decided we were going to have to do something about it because there were people with children.
"If people go to the festival they have chosen to do so but this was in a public area. But he was fine about it and there wasn’t any problem."
The UK Body Painting Festival kicks off tomorrow at Bridge House in Mersham.
It begins with a painting class in the afternoon before beginning with a full programme of events on Saturday morning.
Mr Wragg added: "This happened despite me visiting the centre during the week and showing the manager pictures of artwork, explaining that the models wore underwear and nipple covers, which she said was fine.
"Last months festival in Austria attracted over 30,000 visitors and I would have liked to see the British festival also reach a mass audience.
"Sadly, my experience on Saturday does not make that very likely."
Artists shine at body painting festival
Artists Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco of Reidsville call themselves Team LivingBrush.
The name is apt.
Their canvas is the human body.
Fray and Greco placed second in the "Brush & Sponge" category of this year's World Bodypainting Festival, which took place July 12-18 in Seeboden, Austria. They won nearly $1,100 and an additional $750 to buy more body paint.
They did two paintings on Lauren Andress of New Orleans at different points during the competition, applying designs that Fray had sketched in advance. Each painting explored a different theme. One looked at subcultures; the other at sources of power.
"We're very new to the competing thing," Greco said. "Scott and I have been painting together for about six years. I was drawn to Scott because I saw his body-painting work on a woman at a festival. I chased her down and asked who had done that to her."
At first, Greco wanted to be painted. But in short order, she and Fray became a team. (They're also engaged.) She attributes Team LivingBrush's success to the attention the two artists pay to the lines of the body.
"Some people paint on the body as if it were a flat canvass. But the body has contours. We're approaching it with a more sculptor-like eye."
Fray, 45, sees painting on the body as the continuation of a long tradition.
"It's been done by every group of people in every age in every part of world," he said.