For thousands of years, body painting and face Body Paint has been an expression of human emotions. The art has only been mainstreamed since the rise of the screen and stage in the last century.

Public face and body painting evolved from the more simple looks of the characters in The Wizard of Oz to Mystique’s flawless appearance in the X-Men series. It has been featured in shows as varied as Wicked, The Lion King, Cirque du Soleil shows, and Swan Lake. International museums and galleries recognize body painting as fine art.

Mona Turnbull, a professional body and face artist, is one of the most respected in the industry. Her skills are highly sought after by big brands such as ScreenFace, Kryolan UK, and IMATS London.

Mona was also a part of Outlander’s TV series. Her work reached millions at the 2018 BAFTAs. As a tribute to The Shape of Water, Cirque du Soleil’s first performance, she created the make-up and body art for the opening show. Mona’s work was featured in industry magazines as well as on billboards. Mona also teaches body-painting skills at her studio workshops.

Mona has a wealth of experience and expertise. We felt she was the best person to talk about face and body paint for stage, screen, and event. Mona was kind enough to share her tips and tricks on body and face painting.

What is Body Painting?

Mona refers to face and body paint as “a form art”, where the design is created using cosmetics grade makeup and then removed at the end.

It can be time-consuming to make something temporary like a body. A complete body paint can take anywhere from 2.5 to 10 hours, depending on the complexity of the design and whether prosthetic silicone pieces will be required. Prosthetics will require additional time.

What kind of paint can be used to Body Paint?

There are many types of paint available and they can be different. They come in different forms, including solid cake (activate water), lotion, and airbrush.” Mona says water-based paint is most popular because it is easiest to get off – “Just hop in the shower!”

What tools are needed for Painting?

Mona says that you should have a variety of water-based pigmented makeup. She also suggests that you use “Clean water to activate the body paint” and a selection of brushes. I recommend a variety of sizes, including round, filbert, filbert, and tapered brushes for beginners. Mona suggests “moisturiser and skin barriers” as well as nipple covers for preparation.

How can you get rid of Body Paint?

Products for removal include a hot flannel and rich moisturiser as well as reusable makeup remover pads, micellar water, and reusable makeup remover pads.

How do you prepare for Body Paint?

Mona believes that body painting requires a certain amount of preparation. However, Mona does believe that more research is better. Sometimes it’s a more specific brief. Sometimes I arrive prepared with everything. I research the show extensively and ask many questions to find out what they are looking for. Research and preparation are key to success in everything!

Meetings and testing of the design are part of the process for a particular brief. First, I would meet with the Designer/Producer and discuss their requirements. Next, I would sketch and create a moodboard. The sketch would then be sent to the Designer for any adjustments or approval. The next step would be to create a body paint test for a model. You might need to make adjustments to the design at this stage. Depending on the requirements of the client, this test shoot can be done at either my studio or at the production’s.

If you are going to paint male or female bodies in public, it is important that the breasts of the female must be covered. Body painters in training should be aware of the fact that water-based makeup can rub off and body paint will not last more than 12 hours. You will need to touch up throughout the day while filming.

Tips and Techniques for Body and Face Painting

Mona says that safety, health and comfort are the most important aspects of painting. It’s important to be professional, but also lighthearted. Good vibes are all that you need. Mona recommends being prepared and ready to paint. However, she advises being aware of your surroundings. “I make sure that the room I paint is comfortable and warm for my artist. In case my artist gets cold, I’d bring a heater. I would bring slippers and a satin gown to dress my artist (it creates less friction, so it won’t rub off as easily).

She only uses cosmetic grade products. Another great tip she has is “Do the hands and face last so that the artist can eat and clean their hands with ease and comfort.”

How do you become a Body-Painting Artist?

  • If you have the drive, creativity and skills to become a body and face painter, anyone can do it. Mona enjoys painting “various types of artwork, from intricate, delicate, and highly detailed designs to expressive art.” I enjoy oil painting on the skin of people.
  • Mona holds a BA degree in Business & Advertising Management. She also has a background in administration at Oxford University. At first, she was self-taught in body and face art. She started with children’s face painting and then moved on to more advanced techniques.
  • After graduating from the Iver Make-up Academy, she was trained in hair- and make-up for television and film. She has not looked back. “I love body painting because it allows me the opportunity to express my artistic abilities through body art. I have the opportunity to work with many talented people and meet amazing people.