Not your average artist

By admin
01 August 2013

Freelance body-painting artist Jeanne-Mare Raubenheimer, better known as Jim, recently represented SA at the World Body Painting Championships in Austria.

Jeanne-Mare Raubenheimer (30), better known as Jim, has taken the South African art industry to new realms!

As a freelance body-painting artist she’s represented SA, securing a spot in fifth place at the World Body Painting Championships in Austria recently.

For her designs at the world championships, she was allowed seven hours to apply any prosthetics to and paint the full body of her model. “That sounds like a lot [of time] but time really does fly when you're racing against it!” she says. “It’s kind of like MasterChef, but with art!”

The talented artist is just one of two full-time special-effects body painters who’ve embraced this art form as a career in South Africa. With her model, Robin Botha, Jim demonstrates her sought-after talent by spending two hours showing us how she applies her craft.

She relays her journey into the industry while leisurely painting Robin’s body, as if each stroke is second nature to her. Her passion for this art form is inspired by her desire to “transform” bodies, she says. “You’ve got a canvas that you can manipulate. I can create an artwork that can literally come to life and perform and embody a character. With body painting as a three-dimensional thing the options seem limitless.”

As an outgoing and friendly person, Jim says she enjoys having a canvas that can speak back to her, rather than working alone in a room. Her passion for the field of the arts transpired when she was still quite young, she says. “I have been painting since as far back as I can remember! Both my parents are artists, so I grew up surrounded by creativity, and always had paint and product at my disposal.”

But her love for body painting only began when she was a student at Cape Town creative arts and media school CityVarsity. “After having won [annual body-painting competition Bodyspectra] three times during my studies, I was so sold on the art of body painting I went online to find out how I could take this art form further. That’s when I found the world champs website and have been endeavouring each year since to go and take part!”

With 45 nations represented, the competition at the world championships proved to be fierce. “The quality of the artists who compete, they really are the best body painters in the world that you're up against in this competition,” says Jim. About attending the championships with body art depicting a lion and a springbok, she says, “I want people to know exactly where I come from. I want it recognised in my work.”

As it’s a rather new art form in South Africa, some people are sceptical about the nudity involved with it. “People are not always open to the idea of it, and can’t always look past it to see how it’s been turned into an art form. Having said that though it most definitely is a growing art form in its own right, and more and more books etc are being published on it, more exhibitions are happening. I have a friend who has the first purely body-painting art gallery in the [United] States.”

“Some people do look at me a little weirdly when I tell them what I do for a living, but my career choice most certainly is a conversation starter! Some friends may have thought it a rather weird career choice at first, but have actually ended up modelling for me at some point!”

As she paints Robin’s back she says the unique contours of the human body provide less of a challenge and more of an opportunity to explore art in a different way. “My work is often very character and performance driven, so I do tend to think more about how movement will contribute to a design though, not just one single pose.”

Just like canvas artists have unique styles and trademarks that can be picked up in their work, the same can be said for the art of body painting and this is something Jim says she works hard to achieve. “I do always aim for people to pick up on my style. I love when people look at a body painting and can say that work belongs to this artist; this is one of the big steps in having body painting as a recognisable art form. And having your work recognised by people is a huge honour. Each goal I accomplish is replaced by another. Your next painting always has potential to be better than your last, your rank in a competition can always be bettered. So I am always pushing myself to keep climbing.”

Here's our video capturing the process from beginning to perfection!

To see more of her work, visit her personal website:

-       Faiza Mallick

Find Love!