Origin and Modern Use Of Paint
Many people picture the carnivals, festivals, and parks where people get their faces painted whenever body paint is mentioned. Or you remember the clowns in circuses. We don’t notice body painting as an art that has been among us for ages now unless reminded.
Body paint has been around us and with us since time immemorial. It has evolved and is currently being used in many industries to depict different scenarios.
In some African and Asian communities, men painted their faces when they were about to go to war. You’ve probably watched movies of old times which had African and Asian men having streaks of paint across their cheeks in preparation for war.
Current action movies also have men with guns fingering paint across their cheeks before embarking on the enemy territory.
Asian women have dots on their foreheads to indicate their marital status. Young women have their hands and feet painted with henna as a form of decoration.
These traditional body arts are what have evolved into makeup for women and event decorations for men. In America, there are body painting festivals, the most famous one being the World Body Painting Festival.
Body painting is a form of art where the artist paints artwork directly on the human skin. It involves making drawings on the human body using various types of paint.
Body painting, unlike tattooing or other forms of artwork, is temporary as it lasts for a couple of hours only. However, the use of different types of paints has made it possible for the body paint to last longer, depending on the occasion it’s used.
The Origin of Body Painting
Millennials think that body painting is a more recent phenomenon that started within the century. They may not be aware that the use of body paint begun in the Stone Age era. It only became distinctive to artists during the 20th century.
Body painting as an art dates back to prehistoric times. It is in historical records that this fantastic art was in use by ancient Africans, Europeans, Asians, and Australian cultures and is still being used by some of these cultures to date.
The technology of making modern-day body paint wasn’t available in those times, but still, our ancestors managed to create works of art on their bodies using paint. How did they do it, you may ask?
Well, they used pigmentations of charcoal, ash, clay, fruits, and plants to come up with beautiful colors that were later painted on the skin. They were able to create a variety of colors without the use of modern-day conveniences.
The reasons our four fathers painted their bodies was because of cultural celebrations and marking their status symbols. They used different colors and art design paintings on the body to symbolize different occasions and festivals such as wars, weddings, funerals, religious events, and even rights of passage, especially puberty. Spiritual leaders used different body paints from that of the community leaders. It was, therefore, effortless to recognize what post an individual represented in a community.
Specific colors and designs represented a status or marked an event. Each stroke was a symbol of something in the community. Back then, body paints were entirely meaningful and could even save lives. For example, hunters had to use camouflage colors to paint their bodies to catch their prey and protect themselves from other dangerous animals.
Some cultures in Africa and Asia, to date, still use body paint to mark different occasions, especially weddings and rights of passage, puberty specifically.
In the western world, however, body paints started making an impact during the mid-20th century. Body painting was only done by entertainers, such as actors and circus performers.
The very first person to use body paint as art was the pioneer makeup artist called Max Factor. He shocked the audience in 1933 at a Chicago World Fair when he presented a nude model covered only in body paint. He did this intending to advertise his new cosmetic collection.
This bold move by the renowned makeup artist made some artists and hippies embrace body art by painting parts of their bodies and faces during their protests.
But even after that, the art of body painting still didn’t really catch up with the general public until much later in 1992.
An actress Demi Moore appeared on the cover of the August 1992 Vanity Fair Magazine in an attire that was made purely from body paint.
Currently, body painting is an art that is entirely accepted worldwide. Austria even has an annual festival to celebrate body painting dubbed the World Body Painting Festival.
The Various Categories of Body Painting
Different artists paint the body in several styles for varying purposes.
Nude Body Paint
For years and even in some countries currently, body painting was more centered on the face arms and upper body parts.
The shock of having a nude model covered in body paint by Max Factor; and Demi Moore nude body paint that represented a skin-tight suit slowly but surely introduced the mass public into the art of body painting.
Artists are becoming bolder and showcasing more of their body art to the public.
Nude body paint is used mainly in medical schools, advertising agencies, and artistic events.
But some people still have misgivings about nudity even if the body is covered in paint.
Most states have laws against nudity. However, body paint is considered more of an art, and law enforcers do not have legal backing to enact nudity laws on them. This is because anti-nudity laws are silent on body paint, making it a grey area.
Body Paint Porn
Being that most states and countries cannot fully enforce nudity laws on nude body paint, some ill-minded individuals have taken advantage and create porn out of the art.
With the emergence of the internet, body paint porn has grown. A simple Google search by just typing body paint porn will give you a list of videos that showcase how pornography has been encouraged by nude body paint.
Sexy Body Paint
Artists have used the human body over time to portray its beauty.
The painting makes sexuality more relatable to people portraying it as nothing to be ashamed of. Though the public still has a long way to embrace this.
The reason may be that some individuals take advantage of the art to create and encourage porn.
The younger generation, however, has accepted it as the norm. In New York, for example, you can get the surprise of your life from a model painted utterly nude coming out of a wall.
But sexy body paint is here with us, and we have to embrace it even if only as a form of art.
Tattooing and body painting are often thought of as one, but tattooing is not body painting. Though a form of body art, tattooing does not fit into the criteria of body painting.
The best way to differentiate the two is that body painting is temporary, while tattooing can be made permanent or for a more extended period.
Face painting and full-body paint are the best examples of body painting.
Cosmetologists have come up with paints that are gentle to the skin letting artists have more fun pursuing their passion.
Currently, body painting is a powerful tool used for political protests, advertising, and sports gatherings.
Types of Body Paints
It’s in your interest to understand which paints are suitable for your skin. You do this by knowing the substances used to make the paints.
#1. Water-Based Body Paint
The Water-based paints are the more frequently recommended paints for your body. They are more reliable than other brands because they are safer to use.
Water-based paints are made of non-toxic substances and are preferable for full-bodypaint or nude bodypaint as they are also non-allergenic.
It is also a cheaper option for the artist because it doesn’t need frequent touch-ups.
But it doesn’t last long, so it can only be used for shorter events.
Water-based paint is the best where sensitive skin is concerned and is used explicitly on pregnant women and people who are prone to skin allergies.
The paint washes off easily, which is a good plus. All you need is soap and water.
#2. Alcohol-Based Paint
This type of paint was formerly only used for tattoos in parts of the body. Nowadays, however, it is also used on the entire body.
The need for waterproof paint has made it be used often in summer festivals and hectic performances as it can withstand sweat.
The downside to this type of paint, especially for the model is that it is hard to come off. If there is no remover suggested, alcohol can get it off, but it will take time to clear it off completely.
#3. Latex and Oil-Based Body Paint
These paints are the best for full-body coverage. They give an eye-catching piece of artwork when done on canvas, let alone being used on the body.
Models who want to be painted by latex or oil-based body paint need to shave all hair on their bodies. The reason is that the paint can wax off any hair painted over when removing it.
#4. Cream-Based Paint
Makeup artists use this type of paint a lot. The cream-based paint creates durable, innovative looks that don’t leave the skin with cracks or the wear and tear that sometimes occur with other brands.
Cream-based paint is also waterproof and sweatproof.
It doesn’t, however, dry off completely, and the artist has to use some spray or powder to prevent the body artwork from being ruined.
For this reason, regular touch-up is necessary, which can be costly for the artist.
Henna paint has been around since time immemorial. It is made from the leaves of a flowering plant found in Africa and Asia.
Henna has had various uses and is still being used as a fabric dye, hair dye, and body paint.
Currently, it is more popularly used as pigmentation for temporary tattoo designs.
Asian communities also use it frequently to mark different occasions.
There are two types of henna; the black henna and the brown henna. Though both are from a plant, the pre-made mixes of dark henna contain harmful metal additives that can seep through the skin.
Thus, black henna is very detrimental if it is continuously used over a long time.
The Best Products for Body Painting
Body painting products have revolutionized. From the use of ash, clay, fruits, flowers, and leaves of plants, to the modern-day manufactured products.
There are so many brands in the market, and choosing the best can be a daunting task. But we can help you by listing at least five top brands that you can choose.
#1. Mehron Professional Body Paint
Mehron leads in the body paint industry for being unmatched in quality. The paint has withstood the test of time, making it the best to use for long exhausting events.
Among its ingredients are avocado oil and cocoa seed butter.
The paint is ready to apply right from the shop, and there is no need for preparations or mixing. All you require is a foam applicator or whatever you are used to for the application process.
Mehron is the perfect body paint for professionals.
#2. Madison Body Paint
The paint comes in a set of twelve different colors and is very cheap as it retails for under fifteen dollars. A very fair price considering that you can mix the colors to get other distinct shades.
To top it all, it is safe for use on all kinds of skin as it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin. It’s also environmentally friendly. Artists can use it for a variety of occasions such as birthday parties, games, circus, and others.
All you have to do is add water to the brushes and paint away.
#3. Snazaroo Classic Face Paint
The paint is water-based and ideal for those working under a budget. You have to choose from the thirty-six colors which go for at least ten dollars each.
Snazaroo is also best for use on sensitive skin because it has no added fragrance that can irritate the skin, and it is easy to wash off cause it’s water-based. An added advantage to people with irritable skin as they don’t have to scrab off the paint.
#4. UV Neon Body Paint By Midnight Glo
The paint is available in a set of six at the cost of less than three dollars per color. As its name suggests, it reacts to UV lighting to bring out a beautiful neon glow.
The Neon paint is safe for use on just any skin and is easy to wash off. It can be used at night and during the day. But it brings out the fantastic glow at night when exposed to UV lighting.
With this paint, you are a hundred percent guaranteed satisfaction.
#5. Unicorn Snot Vegan Glitter Gel
The name suggests a glittering effect, which is just what this paint does. It creates a sparkling, glittery effect on the application.
Anybody can apply it as there are no adhesives to add to it, making it easy to use. You just need to apply it to the areas you want to have the shimmery effect, and you are good to go.
However, you have to be careful not to touch-sensitive regions such as your eyes with the paint.
The gel dries off very fast; therefore, you can pair it off with other makeup components.
At a price of less than thirteen dollars, it’s relatively affordable.
To remove the glitter gel, you have to use makeup removers because plain soap and water may not entirely be effective.
The Uses of Body Painting
Traditionally, body painting was used as a symbol of status, for weddings, hunting, war, and spiritual events. Below are some of the traditional uses of body painting:
Status Symbol – The community leaders such as chiefs, elders, kings, queens, and princes used paint to distinguish themselves from the rest of the community. It made the community identify and show respect to their superiors.
Weddings – The bride, groom, and the women would paint themselves colorfully to mark their status and to symbolize the occasion.
Hunting – Hunters used to paint their bodies as camouflage whenever they were going out hunting. An art that has been embraced by soldiers who use paint to camouflage in the enemy zones.
War – Whenever communities were going to war with each other, the warriors painted their faces in distinct colors and patterns.
Right of Passage – To mark growth from childhood to adulthood. This was done at puberty.
Spiritual Events – Spiritual leaders and sacrifices were painted in different shades for the occasion.
Funerals – Funeral proceedings, most communities, used shades of paint and colors to mark the occasion and sometimes.
Due to artistic evolution, body painting is currently used as a form of expressing creative talent. Around the world, body painting has been accepted in various styles. It is used for so many purposes by different individuals.
So who uses body painting in the modern era?
#1. Advertising Agencies
The human eye is magnetically drawn to the human body. Artists have found out this and have managed to capture pieces of art that would otherwise go unnoticed in the form of painting on the human body.
Advertising agencies have also realized that they can capture consumers’ attention through the use of body paint.
Their clients even pay more for such advertisements because it is a sure bet as far as marketing is concerned.
Proof of this is when Max Factor used body painting to advertise his new line of cosmetics. The bold step made an impact even though not immediately.
#2. Brands and Communication Agencies
The human body is attractive to look at. Communication agencies have identified this and are currently using body painting to tell their story and brand themselves.
They understand that messages are delivered efficiently via visuals than words alone.
Art that’s created on the skin makes the message more relatable to the people because it not only catches their attention, but it also makes it memorable.
#3. Event Productions
Event planners use body paint models to lure people to their events. The images of painted bodies dancing or performing acrobatic acts is a pleasant surprise and adds some spark to a contest.
In fact, body painting is the perfect way to attract people to an exhibition. It’s a way of giving your guests some cutting edge entertainment.
#4. Artists and Performers
Artists know that body painting is much more fun than just fancy costumes and fashion outfits.
Actors have come to embrace the art more when their producers require them to paint their bodies for scenes in the movie.
Examples are Jennifer Lawrence in X-men playing the character of Mystique. She has a full-body paint that is blue in color; Shirley Eaton in the James Bond Movie Gold Finger was painted gold from head to toe.
#5. Fashion Designers
Creative ways of complementing designs through the use of body paint have emerged. Fashion designers use all forms of body paint to complement their unique designs. Painting a necklace to enhance a trendy dress or even using full-body paint to add that little extra touch in the fashion bags is catching up fast.
#6. Political Protests
Bodypaint is, on many occasions, applied by political protesters. This started in the 1960s when hippies used it to protest and showcase their way of life.
Widely known as the Hippie Movement, the protesters wanted nudity and psychedelia to be accepted as a way of life in America.
#7. Sporting Events
Sports fans and enthusiasts use body painting mostly on the face and upper body when cheering their preferred teams.
In the Olympic Games, football matches, rugby, cricket, and many other sporting events, fans naturally paint themselves with the colors of their country or jersey their favorite team is wearing.
Such artistry has made even those who are not sports fans to have some sort of entertainment by watching the various works of body-art during the events.
#8. Teaching Purposes
Some medical schools use body paint to make learning more attractive to students. The learners can concentrate more as this is a fun and more engaging way to get the students to participate in the lessons.
Students who struggle with the cadaver study of anatomy have an easier time learning about the human body.
Body painting is also suitable for medical students to learn about the clinical examination in a more relaxed and fun way.
Body painting is a body art that has been with us for decades. The world is finding more and better ways to use it to express themselves.
Though the future of this fantastic art is unknown, we can accept it for now as an art that makes learning easier and gives us an impactive way of expressing ourselves.