Proper Lighting for body painting in nightclubs

Bodypainters get asked to paint in some of the most interesting locations. Concerts, trade

shows, galleries, private homes and strip clubs (painting at strip clubs is not as fun as it sounds;

trust me on this one) so lighting is something that is always a concern. Most venues are good

about having proper lighting if they have dealt with body painters in the past but venues like

clubs and such tend to like the lights down low. This is fine for dancing but not painting.

In low light conditions you are color blind. Your eyes require white light to distinguish color.

Now if you add the pulsing strobes of a hopping disco that adds even more visual hurdles to

overcome. So in most club conditions you will be lucky to tell the difference between blue and


Here I am in a Gothic dance club. The owners had gone to great lengths to make sure that

the club had the correct spooky atmosphere. Shadows everywhere and other than the bar,

everything was bathed in blood-red light. This was an impressive feat of lighting for a club. I

was asked to paint on denizens and add to the overall spooky "night life". For the most part I

could see and did not make an issue of it till I opened my kit. Inside everything looked red or

purple. I had to look at the label on the bottom of the kryolan aquacolor just to see what color it

was (most of the time that did not work because I had cleaned that container so many times the

label had dissolved away or was unreadable). You do what you can. So I put out a paper towel

across the table and wrote with a texta (marker for my US friends) what each of the colors were

on the paper towel. This helped for choosing colors but not for the actual bodypainting. It's hard

to see what looks good or not. Lucky for me my patrons were already a few drinks in before they

were brave enough to get painted. After a few beers most people are happy with anything that is

better than what they could do themselves. Very rarely did I encounter someone who was really


The other possibility is black light... Not enough or too much.

Ways to combat this for face painting (Night club style).

- Have a flashlight just in case. I aim it at my working area.

- Those stupid looking head lamps. (Sure, you look like a dork but you can see).

- Extra batteries (I like to have rechargables and a charger).

- Scope out the venue the night before with the lighting in its full glory.

- Pre-label all your makeup so everything can be read in all lighting conditions, including UV.

For Event Bodypainting (Say you are painting only on a model that night)

- Bring your own lights.

- Extension cords (leads).

- Power strip.

- Extra light bulbs.

- Map out your area ahead of time so you have a good idea how you are going to be set up.

- Lights with clips are your best friend.

- If there is a person who handles the lights for the venue... buy him/ her a beer!! You want this

person to like you.

I like to take a model to the club the week before... have her all painted up and walk her to the

various different locations in the club to see how the various colors will react with the lighting

they have when they are not expecting a bodypainter. This will also give you an idea how your

clients are going to see themselves as they are walking through the club.