How to Do Body Painting

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Body painting is an ancient art that stretches through the ages, from henna work on hands, to the simplistic war paint of indigenous cultures. Body painting for art's sake emerged post-1960s as a result of increased acceptance of nudity. A few steps can help you begin body painting.

  • Assess your own abilities. Elaborate body painting like you might see among the World Body Painting Association portfolios certainly takes advanced artistic talent. However, anyone can dabble in body painting for fun. Decide how far you want to go with your endeavor and study accordingly.

  • Buy the materials. Most body painters work with oil- and water-based paints. The choice depends on the longevity required of the artwork and the conditions under which the painting will take place (climate and such). You'll also need brushes. Rudimentary brushes will get you by, but if you wish to practice advanced shading and layering techniques, you'll need an extensive collection.

  • Jump right in. Whether you practice on your child's face or decide to undertake a full body painting, try various techniques, approaches, and designs to get a feel for painting on the human body. It's a wildly different experience from painting on a lifeless canvas.

  • Have a plan. Body painting is an intensive process, and you should pre-plan your mode of attack before beginning a painting. Explore pictures online or in books or just take inspiration from everyday life.

  • Be flexible. Even the best plan will change as you work. Art is about being flexible and handling problems as they come. Painting on the human body presents its own unique set of challenges, so be flexible and open-minded to change as you create your art.

  • Get in touch with others. Body painting organizations have begun to crop up across the country, so seek out body painting exhibitions in your area to meet other body painters.

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