I've long been fascinated vessels… Jars, boxes, houses, things that can be filled with other things. As it turns out, the human body is another vessel. A vessel made of iron and copper, carbon and star stuff.Read More
"It's appeal is primitive. It's applications unlimited. The world of bodypainting awaits."
From the earliest of our anthropological origins, humans have taken to utilizing the resources around them for the purpose of decoration. Self decoration on human skin seems to go with the territory of simply being human.
Every tribe, every society, every culture across history has found this form of self-expression necessary and often useful. The Surma tribes of Ethiopia who use pigments near the rivers to decorate their skin, the Maori of New Zealand whose face tattoos served as both decoration and identification, the aboriginals of Australia, in Asia, Russia and South America, humans decorate the body for ritual, for artistic expression, as status, and as an identifier.
Let's look at a few of these bodypainters, and the way they expressed stories on skin.
The Surma tribes of Ethiopia use clay by the river to paint their skin, often as simple decorations without any ritual significance. They often use botanicals to enhance their designs, and as stamps to create patterns of circles. The males paint themselves during the yearly stick fights, these designs do having ritual significance.
Ancient egyptians used lead carbonite to decorate skin. Lip, cheek, nail, and eye art were the norm. they were also known for painting newborns in white clay as protection.
The Aborgines of Australia use lines and circles to identify family, tribe and even ancestral land. It is spiritual in nature and deeply important to them. The motifs and designs are passed down and honored rather than being created anew.
In the Amazon Basin, many tribes are known for decorating their skin. Further south in Brazil, the Kyopo tribe use colorful beads and feathers, in addition to face and bodypainting in order to connect to the spirits in everything. Hence the use of animal or insect-like markings, what they believe their ancestors learned from in order to create community and culture.
Hindu and Sikh ritual celebrations have long involved body art in the form of henna. The henna plant is ground into a paste and mixed with oils or other botanicals to adjust color. Designs placed on skin prior to an important ritual celebrate fertility, prosperity, love, good luck, or protection. The earliest written reference to Henna/Mehndi was found on a table in what is now Syria, dating back to 2100 BC.
European orthodox Christians began decrying the use of bodypainting as pagan, and banned it in 1,000 CE
It did not return to fashion in european cultures until around the 1960's when it became a form of social activism and artistic expression, though there are still several tribes in existence today that never lost this ancient and spiritual form of décor in their culture.
Tribal cultures have always used materials that were readily accessible in their regions for the purpose of bodypainting. Red Ochre is created with iron oxides (magnetite and hematite), yellow ochre (from Limonite), charcoal from burned wood, ashes, clay, talc, copper, berries, roots and other pigments from nature made the first and longest used bodypaints thus far.
As we can see with even minimal research, is that human beings love to use a variety of mediums and tools to express things that are important to them. From culture and ritual, to identity and self-expression, bodypainting has long been enjoyable, meaningful and part of our lineage.
In the modern era of bodypainting, we are enjoying a resurgence of acceptance with this art form. Multiple competitions, exhibitions, classes, and gatherings around the world can be found in modern times. The most prestigious of these events is the World Bodypainting Festival currently being held yearly in Seeboden Austria. http://www.bodypainting-festival.com/en/
You can expect to find artists from around the world represented there. Multiple categories of competition exist over several days. Education from a variety of world-renowned artists is also an important part of the festival.
Categories for competition include; Brush and Sponge, Special Effects, Face Painting, UV/Night, Installation, Airbrush, and more.
Each day presents different themes for artists to interpret as they create these transient works of original art. Judges are brought in from all over the world as well; individuals who represent the top of their respective industries.
Over 50 countries are represented by the various competitors, and people travel far to attend this spectacular event.
The World Bodypainting Festival, as well as the governing body, The World Bodypainting Association were the creation of Alex Barendregt. He and his wife Anna still oversee the festival and association.
Some of the WBA sanctioned events throughout the world include competitions in ; Germany, South Korea, Serbia, France, Italy, Latvia, Russia, Netherlands, and the United States. The most prestigious bodypainting competition in all of North America is Living Art America. http://www.livingartamerica.com/
Living Art America is the official North American Championships, also drawing artists from all over the world for a several day event, culminating in two days of competition in Professional, Emerging and UV categories. Organized by 5X world champions Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco, along with Ken Goldwasser and Randi Layne, this championship takes place yearly in Greensboro North Carolina, formerly in Atlanta Georgia.
Other well known bodypainting events in the United States include; Face and Body Art International Convention (FABAIC) http://www.fabaic.com/, and NYC Bodypainting Day http://bodypaintingday.org/
Notable bodypainters include;
Craig Tracy of Skin Wars fame (featured judge) owns The Craig Tracy Gallery in New Orleans LA. http://craigtracy.com/ His bodypainting gallery and fine art approach to bodypainting has influenced many artists and created a broader appreciation for the art form. He consistently judges at a variety of competitions around the world.
Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco of Living Brush, located in Greensboro NC http://www.livingbrush.com/ are two of the four organizers for Living Art America, the North American championships. They travel the world teaching and judging competitions, as well as having the distinct honor of being the only artists to have won five world championships back to back in different categories over four years.
Gesine Marwedel from Germany, paints ethereal pieces often depicting delicate animals. Her pieces often go viral in social media and are quickly reconizable. http://www.gesine-marwedel.de/ Her flamingo bodypainting is quite possibly her most famous.
Johannes Stotter of Italy is another artist whose pieces often go viral online. His most famous is the Chameleon, crawling along a branch but when revealed, is actually two bodypainted females. http://www.johannesstoetterart.com/ His camouflage paintings of animals are hard to recognize as the human form without very careful inspection.
Modern bodypainting tools and supplies are readily available and safe for human skin. Paints and cosmetics that have cosmetic grade ingredients are the only products painters should be using on clients.
The term “non-toxic” has been used in reference to acrylic paints and other substances that are actually NOT safe for skin. The problem with this approach, is that the product is only “non-toxic” when used in accordance with its accepted protocol. Skin is not an approved use for any acrylic paint, or many other products made for other purposes. Anyone using products other than cosmetic grade/FDA approved paints should be questioned.
The following is a sampling of products and companies who create safe and richly pigmented paints for the purpose of face and bodypainting;
Water based paint cakes are one of the most popular and easily accessible products on the market. They only require water and paint brushes in order to be utilized, come in a large variety of textures and colors, and are easy to transport and sanitize.
Companies making water soluble cake paints include;
Cameleon (base line/metal line) http://cameleonpaint.us/,
Mehron (Paradise AQ)https://www.mehron.com/paradise-aq/,
Kryolan (Aquacolor) https://us.kryolan.com/product-lines/aquacolor,
FAB http://sillyfarm.com/shop/face-painting-supplies/face-paint/fab-makeup, or http://www.facepaintshop.com/fab-face-and-body-paint/
Many artists in the bodypainting world use airbrush systems, and this adds to the list of products and tools one could potentially utilize. Airbrushing requires both a compressor for forced air, plus at least one airbrush which come in a huge variety of styles.
Airbrush paints are specifically designed to use in an airbrush system and include water soluble varieties, hybrids (alcohol based but fairly quick to remove) and alcohol based paints for the best durabilty.
Hybrid and alcohol based paints are made by companies like Proaiir http://www.showoffsba.com/,
and European body art http://www.showoffsba.com/.
Water soluble paints for airbrush are made by companies such as Cameleon (airline) http://cameleonpaint.us/,
and Mehron (lux) https://www.mehron.com/lux-airbrush/
Some of the favorite airbrush companies according to most artists, are Iwata http://www.iwata-medea.com/ and Paasche http://www.paascheairbrush.com/ who sell both high quality airbrushes and compressors for both novice and professional.
There is also a wide variety of loose pigments, mixing mediums, and special effects one could use in conjunction with any of the above. Cosmetic companies offer such a wide variety of options now, all safe for skin and common at bodypainting events and competitions.
Bodypainting is showing up in commercials and films, magazines and festivals. It's resurgence in the modern world is something everyone can access, from students wanting to learn this amazing art form, to the public who wants to view temporary works of art, and professionals earning a living in this industry.
It's appeal is primitive. It's applications unlimited. The world of bodypainting awaits.
Your wedding day is one of the most important events of your life. One of the most planned, cherished and exhausting days you will encounter. You’ve thought of everything...the cake is amazing, the dress is a dream, your location, your planner, your rings...all of it perfect. But what about your makeup? Sometimes, that is the last thing on your mind on that special day and yet, it is one of the most important facets to consider.
Your makeup will affect how you feel about yourself that day. An amazing hairstyle and the perfect dress are oh-so-important. But we’re talking about the face you show to every guest, the face your life partner will stare into as vows are being made. It is the face that will stare back at you from every picture, for generations to come. It is the face that your photographer and videographer will capture and edit. That face needs to look and feel beautiful to you. Yes, to you.
Your personal style is the first thing to consider. No bride needs to feel overdone on her wedding day. Are you a person who wears no (or very little) makeup? Then a glamorous look for you is natural and flawless. Are you a makeup addict, with an affinity for heavy liner? Then your wedding day will surely involve some false lashes and a bit more color. A bride should consider her every day look and then take it up a step or two, to be her most glamorous self.
Other aspects of your makeup to think about:
~Is your foundation photo-friendly? A foundation that is not can lead to a pale or discolored face in flash photography. Airbrush makeup is flawless, lightweight and looks amazing both in-person and in photos. Some hand-applied foundations are photo-friendly, some are not. Find this out before your big day!
~What shapes and colors help bring out your eyes or your lips? What features do you want to focus on? Bridal makeup is typically a beauty look which means we want to play up your features and accentuate the natural colors that exist in the skin. Contouring and highlighting can accent a cheekbone, eyeshadow can open and exaggerate the eyes.
~How long will your makeup stay on? Good bridal makeup is going to last all day. You want to look as stunning at your reception as you did at your ceremony. Products and techniques that stay put are a must for brides!
~What style do you want to convey? Natural and polished or dramatic and sassy? Is your wedding based on an era? Then makeup to match will really bring the whole wedding look together. Understanding the makeup styles of different eras, understanding makeup trends for the season and knowing your personal preferences and style will help you choose a look for that day.
~Will you hire a makeup artist, use a friend or do it yourself? These are all valid choices that a bride needs to consider. If your friend does great makeup on him/herself, that does not mean they understand bridal makeup! Some friends are amazing with makeup and can do a fabulous job for your wedding. You still want to consider whether feelings will be hurt if at the pre-trial you don’t like what they do. Is the friend going to be working too hard the day of your wedding or will they enjoy that process?
If you do your makeup yourself, the same questions apply; do your makeup ahead of time exactly the way you plan to do for your wedding and have someone take a few snapshots to see how it translates. On your wedding day, will you be more stressed doing it yourself or will you enjoy that process?
When hiring a makeup artist, check out their portfolio. Find out how long they’ve been doing makeup and how many weddings they’ve done. Have they taken classes or received training? What kind of products do they use? Read through their contract and make sure you are both on the same page with every aspect of the big day. Will they do a pre-trial? Will they come to you on the wedding day? All of these questions need to be answered before you make a choice.
If choosing to hire an artist, set your pre-trial somewhere between 4-8 weeks head of the wedding. When looking through fashion and bridal magazines, save pictures of makeup that speak to you. An artist will be able to re-create looks and/or advise you on how that look will translate to your face. I recommend that brides do not use their engagement shoot as a makeup pre-trial. You really want your look for engagement and wedding day to be very different! I often use the bridal portrait as a pre-trial. If bridal portraits are not being done, just choose a day when you can also include your hair pre-trial and spend some time pampering yourself.
Brides who choose the DIY route may want to consider hiring a trusted makeup artist to give them a private lesson or two before their wedding. What a great way to treat yourself to education and skills that will be used for years to come, and give a boost of confidence for self-application on the wedding day!
In the end, do what feels the best for your wedding day. If you hire someone, make them come to you so you can relax and enjoy that day everyone has worked so hard to create. Be pampered, focus on the joy of the process and be the diva of the day. Congratulations to all of you on such a momentous occasion!
*I have worked as a professional makeup artist for over sixteen years and currently own Faces by Ren makeup and bodypainting studio in Johnson City TN. I provide brides with the very latest in bridal trends, airbrush makeup and on-location professional services as well as private lessons and classes at my studio.
Photo by Fete Photography in Asheville NC
March is not always a big wedding month, but sometimes the slow months bring some of my favorite weddings.
This is bride Hira, whose wedding was photographed by the amazing Deanna Melo Mclain.
I shot these simple photos at the studio, but I'll share the pro photos as soon as she posts.
What an absolute joy! This is Hira and her sister Abeer after makeup and hair (by the amazingly talented Shonda Westbrook) at the studio last Saturday.
You will see more of this lovely bride as they are planning an even bigger wedding later in the year. Congratulations Hira!!