Working with Models in Body Painting - FAQ
by Robbie Pack
www.robbiespack.com 
 Fairfield, CT

 

 

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How we treat models is something I've been thinking about since body painting started at the U.S. face painting conferences. I recently commented on it after someone remarked that it's fine for models to stand on the bare floor. I added to that, refined it and offer as a FAQ since the Snazaroo site is accepting some body painting now. As more and more face painters are dabbling with body painting, I think we need to think about our treatment of the models we paint. Thus I offer some food for thought. We all know to use proper paints to allow safe application and removal. What about the process of painting someone for hours on end? What can a body painter (or face painter branching out or just trying body painting) do to make it a better experience for both the painter and the one being painted? When I was in Austria a few years ago, I went to learn as much as I could to apply to face painting. Never having painted a body before, it was a very tiring, but beneficial, several days with a very fast learning curve. Between a couple of workshops prior to and some more experienced Brits and a German taking me under their wings, and full days of painting my first 3 bodies, I learned so much in a very short time. Some things I just learned the hard way! They used a table similar to a picnic table type of setup with a table and bench. Then you and your model can take turns sitting or standing, kneeling, leaning over or against on the floor, bench or table (or even lying down on either the bench or table with some padding) depending on which part is being painted and where you are in the process. 

For example, the model can sit in the beginning if you stand while working on the front or the upper half. He/she can stand on ground level while you sit to paint the middle. He/she can stand, stand or sit or lean 
over the table while you sit or stand. They can stand on the table when you work on the legs or feet. You can also move your paints to different levels to be where you need them. This allows variety in positions and stress on different body parts in different positions. It's easier on you and your model for circulation and muscles, not to mention boredom, when both of you use a variety of positions. 

Depending on the design, some painters have used a massage table. It is well padded, but the orientation when the model is lying down is different that the painter is used to and what the public will see later unless the model is presented in a version of a reclining position. Some designs may even distort too much as some tissue shifts with vastly different positions. Another consideration is something for your model, as well as you, to stand on for all those long hours that you'll both stand no matter how you plan. This becomes especially noticeable to you as you near project completion. An impact absorbing mat like hairdressers use works very well, but even something as simple as a piece of cardboard or a towel is better than the bare floor or table (especially in a cold air conditioned room). Having something for the model to lean against for part of the time or to hold onto also helps limit model fatigue. Not moving for long periods of time is what make brides, grooms and singers in a choir take a nose dive. One important thing to tell them is to contract the calves from time to time to help keep the circulation going (just not when you are painting right there). This is especially important during crunch time when the model is probably only standing so they don't rub off any of the finished areas. Isometric exercise of other body parts and/or a stretch break from time to time will help both of artist and model.

Some artists offer to let the model paint some sections of his/her own garments,20at least the first base coat. You can finish as needed. Control the environment as much as you can. You don't want it  too hot for anyone, but also remember not to have it too cold for your model who's dressed in very little but paint. If working outside, provide shade for both of your sakes. Don't forget to eat and drink, and to offer your model things that he/she can eat and drink without affecting the makeup. A straw is helpful for drinking. Bite-sized food pieces that can be popped into the mouth without touching the lips is helpful. More than 
one model hit the deck before the end of the day in Austria when people ignored their needs. Make yourself take breaks, so your best work will be during crunch time when you need to be doing the final details that make the design pop. And last but not least, remember to throw into your kit a camera for all the pictures
and a flashlight  to check your outdoor painting area after you present your model, so you'll be able to find your favorite brush and your model's keys! Just being practical, warn your model that he/she will probably need someone to wash their back and will probably want to apply cream or oil afterwards.

Robbie Pack 

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