Whether you requested a belly painting by me or by someone else, here’s the list of things I advice to do in preparation of the painting.
Chose a Picture
I usually ask my pregnant clients to come up with an idea for a picture first. While I am happy to advice and nudge them into a ‘doable’ version of their imagination, the final painting usually is most loved if the choice comes from the heart.
There are, however, a few limitations I have to impose on the choice of the picture:
- Nothing photorealistic images such as ‘a realistic painting of a baby’. Main reason here is that that would take a loooong time – and no success is guaranteed (I have to work with my talent here, there is only that much ;)). A normal painting takes 2 hours already, which can be already exhausting in the final stages of a pregnancy and a photorealistic image would take even more hours. Besides that, it is really not easy to get that done with the paint that can be used on skin.
- Reasonably detailed. Same as for photorealistic images, something too detailed just takes too long. I remember the Death Star took me nearly 4 hours to paint. If you are unsure, look at my posts to get a feeling for the level of details.
When you are not sure what you should pick as a picture, here’s a list of questions to get you going:
- Is there a character, thing, song, movie, or theme that you associate with the baby? Some running gag or nickname that you have for them already?
- Did you complete the name finding for the kid already? Does the name inspire some picture? (e.g. “Violet” to flowers).
- Does the kid’s zodiac sign inspire you to a picture?
- Is there something you wish for the baby’s future that can be captured in a picture?
- Do you have a hobby, topic, favorite movie/story/book/song that you would like to have on your belly?
- Is there a story/theme/thing that has a special meaning in your family and that you would like to give your baby as inspiration?
- Can you think of something round that would be funny to have on your (by then) huge belly?
Finding the right picture can take a while. I usually help my friends by sending ideas back and forth till they come to a conclusion. What I need to get started:
- A description of the idea – I am trying to grasp what is important for you in this picture so that I can transport this well.
- If possible, provide me with a few examples – for example by doing an image search. I don’t need one exact image to copy from it. I can work with a selection of images that picture something along the lines that you want.
- If you have very specific requests a pre-sketch can help. If you cannot sketch well enough, I can help with that.
Preparations in the weeks before the paining
Here’s some things I advice to do a few weeks (or even months), before we do your paining:
- Start the search for a picture (as it can take a while). See my hints above.
- Set up a date and time with me. For a baby belly painting the belly needs to be big enough and that gives us only a limited time window to do it. I advice to do it somewhere between 7th month and birth. As I also have a full schedule, I love you to agree on a date with me early.
- (Optionally) hire someone for the photos. My focus is on the paintings, I am not a photographer. Hence I advice to organize a photographer if you want the painting being photographed in high quality. It does not have to be a professional photographer – a friend (or the dad to be?) with the proper equipment can do a fine job as well.
- (Optionally) organize equipment for a time-lapse. I had several friends who set up a camera for a time-lapse video. If you are able to organize the tech for that, I am happy to have my work documented like that.
Preparations on the day of the painting
To make the day most comfortable for you and to increase the chances for a great painting, I advice to follow this:
- Chose your clothes for the paining. They obviously have to leave the belly free, but cover what you want to have covered. It can be a bra or bikini top and some yoga pants for example. Make sure the fabric is washable, because it can happen that some paint gets on it.
- For the pictures, it works best if the clothes themselves are not too colorful or have distracting patterns. You want the eyes to focus on belly painting and not distract them from it. It is of course an option to wear different clothes during the painting and later for the photos. That’s up to you. After the painting, the colors will dry fast, hence it is possible to change clothes (cautiously).
- Don’t put body lotion on the belly on that day. Lotion will make the skin more fatty and might have a ‘lotus’ effect, which results in the paint not sticking to the skin.
- Make sure the room where you want me to pain is well heated. You will spend some time there partially exposed. You should not feel uncomfortable.
- Chose a suitable chair. You should not be able to ‘sink’ in (like a comfy armchair), because then I cannot reach all sides of your belly. You should sit fairly straight up. Kitchen chairs and most desk chairs work well. However, it should also be comfortable enough that you can spend a while on it.
- Make sure you are feeling fine otherwise. Drink enough, eat enough, take your meds and get enough rest before the painting. (Yes, I sound like your Mom ;)) Although sitting around for 2 hours does not sound hard, it can be more exhausting than you think. However, we make as many breaks as you need – whether you need to stretch or change position or lie down for a few minutes.
As get the question a lot: for my belly paintings I use Kryolan theatre make-up paint of the type “Aqua Color”. This make-up is used by professional make-up artists in theatre and movie productions. They are tested to be allergy-friendly and can be worn on skin for several hours.
I use water color brushes which are exclusively used for body paintings (hence there is no residue paint of other types of paint on it).