One of the most popular forms of body art today is female body painting. While other forms of body art like tattoos can last forever, body painting is primarily a temporary art form which lasts only for some hours or maybe a day or two if maintained properly. If henna is used in body painting however, it can last up to several weeks.
Female body painting is definitely back in vogue, but it is hardly a new concept. It has been a prevalent tradition in several ancient cultures some of whom have carried the tradition down to the present day. Some of these cultures used colored sand or dust to create what they generally called magic paintings.
Body painting is the oldest form of art. Since prehistoric times, humans have been adorning their bodies and body parts with natural pigments, paints, tattoos, dyes, clay and even ashes. These were meant to ward off tribal enemies or evil spirits and to celebrate any auspicious occasion with the power of latent magic. This is still evident in the native tribal populace of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and even parts of Africa. India and the entire Middle East have shown a partiality for Henna which is not only remained popular but has also spread to the western world. The indigenous population of Latin America has recorded the use of use annatto, huito- which is kind of black dye, or wet charcoal for their body painting purposes.
Female body painting of course has been the most diverse and most in demand. The evidence of which is available with the wide range of cosmetic products in the market just for face paint and highlights. Though there is still a fierce controversy about the status of body painting as a true art form, there is no doubt of its popularity. This is evident in not just the proliferation of body artists and body parlors, but also the major body painting festivals that take place in the US and Europe.
There was a revival of the female body painting trend since the 1960s when liberalization of thought and culture gave way for social taboos to be replaced by cultural freedom. Nudity was no longer a suspect and the flower culture had driven away all biding taboos for those who wanted out of the strict social norms.
Female body painting requires some basic guidelines which one must keeping mind before opting for any particular artist. They should be non-toxic, non-allergenic, and be easily washable. They should be applied by hands, airbrush, paint brush, or natural sea sponge, all thoroughly cleaned and sterilized to avoid infections.
Female body painting involved a wide array of ideas from mythologies, rune, fine arts, alternative art, enhancing specific body parts to even current affairs. They are also event or occasion related like the latest radical protest movements to a sports event like soccer. The post 1960s era saw a huge surge in female body painting with various experimental methods like covering a model in paint and then roll her on a canvas to transfer the paint there. This created an image-transfer in monotones, multiple colors as well as stark profiles.