It usually seems quite odd when I tell people who ask me about my origins in bodypainting that my mum brought me into it.
Who would want their daughter to perform and pose naked for a bunch of strangers?
Bodypainting is so much more though. For years the community has been fighting against the claim of pornography, pictures censored and artists banned from social media.
And yet it has no sexual intention at all.
What is Bodypainting in the first place?
Bodypainting is art, created to transform the human body into whatever is on the artist’s mind; melting body forms and skin structures with well-chosen designs and colors. To me, bodypainting is the expression on its finest, challenging all senses of the observers while playing with their imagination. Bodypainting has the power to bring fantasies to life and create the gate to another world, to show what humankind is capable of becoming, in a very analog and honest way.
I got into bodypainting when I was 17.
The World Bodypainting Festival, the annual world championships in Bodypainting, take place close to my hometown every year.
My mum informed me about beginner workshops one year, so I joined. I got quickly torn into it deeper and started practicing painting myself. After a year and when I was of age, I decided it’s time to try modeling myself.
Why, oh why would you want someone to paint your body?
Have you ever looked into the eyes of a child that sees a fairy for the first time?
Well, I have.
And I can tell you, this very moment of someone staring at you with their mouths open because they are so amazed by whom or what they see in front of them, will give you the first reason to give bodypainting a try. The best thing about modeling is that your whole body is transformed into something supernatural that before only existed in the artist’s mind.
Step by step, hour by hour you can feel how piece by piece of yourself is taken away, covered by design, hidden under layers of color. Until in the end, when you are completely covered in paint and you put on your fancy high heels, put in the contact lenses, fix the wig and headpiece and step in front of the mirror for the first time.
This feeling is what keeps me awake while my body feels tired and sore from standing still: When I finally see myself fully transformed into another me.
Let’s get real: You are going to be naked
The biggest concern new-comer model has, is stripping down.
There are a few exceptions, but generally, you will be naked.
This has to be clear. The less you wear, the more vivid the painting becomes as there are no textiles distracting from the natural flow of your body lines. Being naked means wearing a small G-String at the most, sometimes only a simple latex piece that is glued on your private parts, eventually nipple covers.
This can be frightening. You should try it anyway, if not exactly because of that.
Being naked in fact is not such a big deal.
The hard part is putting your shirt off.
This uncomfortable feeling of sitting in front of someone naked while they are not. The second the artist covers your nipples though, you will feel relieved. Interestingly, every female model I talked with about that said exactly this:
Once you have a hint of paint on your nipples, you lose the feeling of being naked. You can, in fact, feel the paint; how it is placed on your body, how your skin sucks it up, how the liquid builds a thin layer on top of you. It feels a little like wearing a neoprene.
What if the artist/photographer doesn’t like my body?
So first of all…
Bodypainting does not require “model measurements”.
In my experience, for example, most bodypainting models are actually pretty small, as their bodies are much faster to paint. The preferred body shape and size however always depend on the artist’s design idea:
Some need very small and slim models, others tall and curvy ones, and others prefer to work with men.
So, to sum it up:
You basically can’t be judged on looks as your beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. When I started bodypainting 5 years ago, I was 10kg lighter. I remember telling my artist Nicole that I felt sorry I had gained weight, she just laughed at me being silly because she wouldn’t have even noticed. To make yourself even more comfortable about the whole situation, you won’t see any cellulite once your skin is covered as certainly as the fact that you won’t see a six-pack.
The paint sucks up everything, so basically, every model starts with the same base. The more comfortable you feel in your body, however, will show off in the pictures afterward. So just be proud of who you are and let people recognize that.
How Bodypainting modeling helped me to grow self-esteem
Since I do bodypainting, I know what my body is capable of. I would never have imagined I could stand or sit still for 6-8 hours, concentrating on my breath, my moves supporting the artist while trying to stay comfortable and not to faint.
I learned to take care of myself.
And how to be in total control of the present. That whatever I have in mind, my body is capable of doing. I have learned to use my body as a tool for communication and started listening more to my body language.
Why am I standing this tense right now?
Why am I making myself this small?
Just pretending to be ok in this very moment, to feel awesome and expressing it with my posture slowly rising up, my chin towards the sky and mouth relaxed, gives me an overall feeling of relaxation.
DIY: How to use Bodypainting yourself to grow body consciousness
You do not have to find an artist first to try out bodypainting. Go grab a friend for a girls’ night or your partner for a special date to focus on your body consciousness. In the meantime, you can also check the Nude Yoga to help you with the same purpose.
Here is a guide on how to create a bodypainting retreat:
1. Organising colors & brushes
Bodypainting colors are skin neutral make-up. Good brands I’d recommend are Mehron, Superstar or Diamond FX.They offer very high quality at good prices. Use brushes and sponges to apply the colors on the body.
2. Preparing the space
Make sure the place is safe and cozy and that you have everything you might need already around. Water for cleaning brushes, makeup remover, towels or bathrobes, some healthy snacks, and drinks. Good music! And candles if you like.
3. Preparing the model
When modeling doesn’t use body lotion a day in advance, oily skin is more resistant to the colors and can make it harder to paint. Don’t drink too much coffee that day and eat healthily.
4. The painting process: focus on respect & connectedness
Don’t force your painting partner to strip down immediately. Leave it up to the model. Start with painting parts like the arms, legs or back. Move your brush with the breathing body and try to find out which forms support the natural body shape and which don’t. You will realize that different body parts take various colors differently.
Explore art on a moving canvas.
For the model:
Focus on your body transformed into something abstract. Support the artist by moving your body a little with the brushes, feel when you have to sit still and when is a good time to shake an arm. Tell your friend/partner any time you feel unwell or uncomfortable with a situation.
5. Focus on your feelings
Talk about how you feel like, what is on your mind, what you are afraid of and how your thoughts are changing throughout the process. Concentrate on your surroundings.
As the model, focus on your body posture, how it changes your mood when tensing your muscles or relaxing them. Listen to the music. Try to feel comfortable and strong in what you are doing.
As the artist, focus on the art itself. How the paint is working on the skin, the body shapes are transformed, the music goes with your lines. Switch positions after a while.
6. Celebrate your bodies
Once you feel you are done, go on and take pictures of one another. Try to pose as the figure you are representing, find out who you are and how this new you could want to move, how it expresses his feelings. You can be very weird.
Just have fun, enjoy being someone else and celebrate your body.
7. Clean yourself
Take a shower. It works best if you first just rinse off your body for a few minutes with not too hot water, so the pores don’t open. Then use soap and sponge to get rid of everything.
8. Reflect & talk about it
Go through the pictures once more with some tea or beer and talk about your experiences, how you felt like in both positions. What you learned already, what you discovered about your body. Do make yourself some compliments on your pictures too, the poses and the expressions you made, how happy you look.
Don’t you think this could be you every day?
Go and discover your girl/men power inside you.