Bodypainting

Face and bodypainting supplies and tools

NOTE: Please do not use anything on humans that is not tested for, and safe for skin. All of these paints listed are cosmetic grade paints, with the exception of a few by Kryolan that are for use on prosthetics.

Products that are listed as "Non-toxic" are NOT approved for cosmetic use. 

Further, if you plan to use a product in the eye or lip area, it should be specifically approved for use in that area. 

Acrylic paint is not safe for human skin. Please only use skin-safe paints and do your research.

_DSC1330.jpg

Photo by Keith Dixon Studios, models D'yon Holmes and Brenna McBroom.

I get a ton of questions about what kind of paint and tools I use for bodypainting. So this is written with the intent of answering those questions, and giving people some links and information they may find helpful, whether you're interested in face/bodypainting, or just have a special photo shoot or event.

I'm going to start with the water-soluble cake paints I use. These are activated with water and a paintbrush or sponge. They are one of the paints I use most commonly, as I tend to basecoat with them even when airbrushing. I use these for facepaint most often as well.

The cake paints are not waterproof though, so any underwater or high-stress painting conditions (heat/performance/humidity), these will not work for. 

Favorite water-soluble cake paints in my kit:

Cameleon Paints based out of Europe, and with a US distributor. These paints come in regular colors, UV reactive paints, and shimmering metallics. I love the consistency for both base coating and line work. The brilliant pigmentation never disappoints. They also make some split cakes that are indispensable for face painting work.

Other products I adore by Cameleon, include their foaming soap for removal of body paint. It's an incredibly gentle soap that really helps loosen bodypaint when the day is over.

The US site also carries great paints, glitters, and face/bodypainting products made by other companies. I have several of their brushes and they are wonderful, low-cost brushes to keep in your kit.

Mehron Paradise AQ paints, based out of NYC are a staple in most every face/bodypainting kit. Most of their regular line is a very creamy, smooth paint that dries to a matte finish. They do carry some beautiful metallics as well though. These paints are utterly reliable for the most smooth base coats. They also carry several split cakes that are larger. The coconut smell is a bonus!

Other products by Mehron that I adore...the metallic loose pigments, combined with their liquid mixing medium for the most skin-safe metallic paint ever. We used this product combo on Seth Avett for the Avett Brothers Halloween 2014 concert in Asheville NC, when he was dressed as the tin man from "Wizard of Oz". This paint holds up under adverse conditions, looks like metal, and is cosmetic grade. Makes great accents over other paints as well.

My favorite brushes by Mehron are the Mark Reid series, as well as his gel "Glittermark" adhesive glitters. The gold and silver in that line are fabulous.

They also make a product called "Detailz" that allow for very quick, easy dots and fine detail work. It's a felt tip wand, soaked in paint in a small take-along bottle, which allows for the best dots you've ever made in seconds.

Be sure to browse around the Paradise AQ products as they carry both individual cakes, as well as pre-made palettes and kits.

Other excellent brands include Diamond FX, Kryolan, and FAB. All of these paints and more, can be found at one of my favorite distributors, Silly Farm.

Silly Farm is run by some of the most helpful, kind humans, who are movers and shakers in the face/bodypaint world. They offer up some great tutorial videos, as well as more products than you can fathom. 

Their Paint Pal brushes are the bomb! I also purchase all of my disposable thongs and pasties through them (Monster pasties are the BEST) and can count on them to be super helpful when I have any questions or special requests.

They sell any and all sponges you would ever need for any project, as well as beautiful glitters!

serenity project kelly davis.jpg

Moving on to airbrush products!

Airbrushing is one of the best tools/techniques for bodypainting in my opinion. What it creates in frustration over maintenance of tools/equipment, it makes up for in control and beauty.

I have a lot to learn about airbrushing, but here is what I personally use. I highly recommend spending time learning about different artists and techniques as I tend to be a bit of an outlier regarding the kind of brushes I use. Most artists who are really skilled at airbrush techniques use siphon feed brushes, I prefer gravity feed and I just can't make myself love the siphon feed, though they definitely have their uses.

All of my airbrushes for bodypainting at this point, are Iwata Eclipse gravity feed. I have eight of them, with a quick-release system attached so I can easily switch brushes with one hose attachment. My compressor is the Aspire Pro by Badger.

The main paint I use for airbrush is the Proaiir hybrid paint. I've tried others, but nothing compares to their durability, opacity, pigmentation, and color selection. They are a TN based company which makes me really happy, and they are the company who sponsored me at the Jantana International Bodypainting Revolution at the Arnold Classic in Columbus OH in 2018. 

They make several great products as well as airbrush systems and accessories. 

This is the paint used exclusively for our underwater work, including all of the Serenity project (for Metavivor Research and Support) paintings/underwater photo shoots.

This airbrush liquid can also be applied by hand, but give yourself time to adjust to the consistency and remember that you always clean waterproof/hybrid paints with 91 or 99% rubbing alcohol! No water!

Another product I will be able to highly recommend soon, is still in the pre-production phase and should be available later this year. It's a solvent activated cake paint, that is highly waterproof and made to be applied by hand. It holds up under adverse conditions beautifully. I've tested it in underwater conditions and it's infallible.

The waterproof cake paint created by artist Tiffany Beckler will be available at Body Color Cosmetics. I especially love the "Ren Yellow". ;)


That's a quick synopsis of products and tools I use....remember to experiment and try new things always. If you're looking for information about techniques, there are loads of videos out there and great support/videos/education at Faba TV.

Leave a comment if you have any questions, and happy painting!
 

image1 (4).JPG

This ad by Proaiir features artist John Allen Poppleton (UV light/dolphin art) and my art (top right) on model Angela Rene Roberts, photographed by Keith Dixon Studios.

 

UV/Blacklight bodypaints


The important thing to know is that while there are UV reactive paints, there are not glow-in-the-dark paints that are safe for skin/cosmetic grade. People ask about these frequently, but I do not know of anything safe for human skin at this time. I recommend using fabric paint and painting bodysuits if these effect is needed.

Just keep in mind that glow-in-the-dark paints need to be charged up with bright lights for a period of time, and then  they will slowly lose their glow after that. They also look best in complete dark, which is not ideal for most performance/event uses. Color differentiations are very subtle as well, and the most common paint has a light green glow effect. 

In order to get the glow effect of a UV/blacklight paint, you will need UV/blacklights. Any regular lighting nearby will cut the effect, so surrounding the bodypaint with blacklight is your best option.

In regular light, some of these paints add a fluorescent accent, or bright pop of color, but you will only get the glow effect under blacklights. Many UV bodypaints look washed out or plain under regular light, but have a wonderful effect when lit properly.

My favorites include cake paints by Cameleon, Fab, Tag, and Kryolan. Many of these can be purchased at the Sillyfarm website linked above.

The airbrush paints I use are all by Proaiir. There's are the brightest/most intense under regular light, out of all the blacklight paints I've worked with.

UVchampionship.jpg

Underwater bodypaint collab in Fort Lauderdale

In October 2016, on our way  back home from Key West/Fantasy Fest, we stopped in Fort Lauderdale to work with some bodypainting friends at the studio of Avi Ram (Skin Wars Season 2) and collaborate on underwater designs with Keith Dixon Studios.  

I got to work with the lovely Angela Renee Roberts (Skin Wars season 1) who happens to be brilliant at underwater modeling. We had a great day, learned a lot, and generally had an amazing time. 

I love my bodypaint family! 

The other artists involved that day, I highly recommend checking out. Their work is stellar and I"m grateful to have opportunities to work with all of them.

Breanna Cooke does bodypainting, special effects, graphic design, and costuming.
Anja Yamaji is known for makeup, bodypainting, and acting.

Pro tip:We all used ProAiir hybrid airbrush paint exclusively. 
Very grateful to have amazing products to use for this unusual art form.

Proaiir later used one of the images in an ad, next to the work of John Poppleton, whose work I have long admired. He's known for his UV "bodyscapes". Scroll down to check it out!

Bodypainting; a brief history

"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/,
FAB http://sillyfarm.com/shop/body-painting-supplies/body-paint/airbrush-body-paint/fab-hybrid-airbrush-makeup,
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.