Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Paint It explores body artistry

Published:Sunday | May 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill
A spray-paint model at the Institute of Jamaica – Paint It.
A guest at the Institute of Jamaica – Paint It shows off a design she got done at Henna Threads.
Kevon Clarke (left) and Antoine Daye show off their face paint at the Institute of Jamaica – Paint It last Saturday.
People look as Eon of Eon and Robby Free Spiritz Jamaica spray-paint a model at the Institute of Jamaica – Paint It last Saturday.
Artwork on display at the Institute of Jamaica – Paint It.

Painting is a way for people to do many important things: convey ideas, express emotions, use their senses, explore colour, explore processes and outcomes, and create aesthetically pleasing works and experiences. Responding to and encouraging someone's painting is important.

The Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) recently relaunched its Saturday Openings Programme with its first activity ,'Paint It', which explored the concept of paintings in different ways. Saturday Openings consists of a host of activities for the family, especially children, as well as open and booked tours of the museum's exhibitions. This year, Saturday Openings will feature special events organised by the divisions on the first Saturday of every month.


Paint It catered to the whole family who participated in activities such as body painting, face painting and Henna designs. Body designers Eon and Robby, and Henna Threads offered these services, introducing body artistry to the IOJ.

Robby from the duo of Eon and Robby said they incorporated all aspects of live art, utilising visual images. "It was a multifaceted approach, nothing that the average person would have expected," he said.

Body painting has its origin in a widespread tradition of primitive tribes. In many cases, the painting was only used to decorate bodies but generally it was used to express sorrow, it was a mark of a special tribe or a sign to distinguish tribes.

Eon and Robby are talented body designers and they started their business about a decade ago when they discovered a lucrative niche after doing face paintings at several children and family events. The demand grew into other areas of corporate Jamaica, including branding, hotels and party events.

Face painting has also become quite advanced over the years. Some artists have perfected the art of airbrushing. Manufacturers now create face stencils, paint pencils, face glitter, and stick-on jewellery to add pizzazz to face painting pictures. Pastel paints have been developed as well to create a softer effect.

The art of face painting can be as simple or as complicated as the talent of the person painting. More adventurous and experienced painters can put a lot of detail into their pictures in an amazingly short amount of time.

Henna has been used to adorn young women's bodies as part of social and holiday celebrations. Henna was regarded as a blessing and was applied for luck as well as joy and beauty. Brides typically had the most henna, and the most complex patterns, to express their joy, and wishes for luck. Some bridal traditions were very complex where the henna process took four or five days to complete, with multiple applications and resist work.

self expression

According to Nicole Patrick-Shaw, programmes outreach manager at the IOJ, they found ways to get creative styles to depict painting in traditional and non-traditional ways. "Painting is much more than a simple activity and it is a way for persons to express themselves in their own special way. They will create a visual world on paper about things as they appear, taste and smell," Patrick-Shaw said.

Hyphiel Codner, one of the artists at the event, displayed his painting skills on ceramics. "I am experimenting right now. I have used the natural tones from the clay and have kneaded the colour into it. So at this point, I am appreciating the colour of the clay itself," Codner said.

Visitors also had the chance to tour the IOJ's most recent exhibition, Call & Response: Drums, Masques and Spirits, a companion to this year's Grounation Series, which was hosted by the Jamaica Music Museum. Chalk designing was also featured at the event, as well as drumming performances by the children of the Junior Centre.