Dots: The Art of Deity Face-Painting by Radha Katha dasi
I discovered this book, as well as the whole form of worship it represents, by the kindly influence of Silence Maestas* (author of Walking the Heartroad and Worshiping Loki). It’s published by the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry, which is to say that its author is a devotee of Krishna and Radha who helps to beautify the statues used in worship, both as a way of intensifying the experience of worshippers and as an offering to the deities themselves.
Some form or other of this art existed and continues to exist in many of our hearth cultures, as well as having been adopted into some strands of Catholicism. Perhaps you’ve seen an adorned Mary, or read about Nerthus or Athene or one of a number of other Goddesses being ritually washed and dressed in new clothes on special occasions. So it’s interesting to look at how such arts have developed where nothing has gotten in their way.
When I sent for the book I expected guidance on painting statues to best capture divine qualities, work with the material of the statue, and so on, since statues for worship have features painted on to enliven them. What I found was a step past that that I hadn’t expected: the idea of using washable paints to give the statues “face paint” in the same sense that we do face painting on living people.
A simple list of tools and products is given, along with practice sheets for learning the most useful brush strokes. From there, the book is divided by level of difficulty. Each design is described in terms of the strokes used, then graphically broken down into steps. Full color pictures show how the final design looks both by itself and in a suggested placement on the face, in a couple of different color ways. A couple of pages on color theory are also included to help with further experimentations. Most of the designs are floral motifs, with a few fans and abstracts, and one featuring berries. It would be very feasible to put together a variety of seasonal looks from the options given.
Dots is available at http://lifeartista.businesscatalyst.com/dots.html.
*Silence, as it happens, is developing a project for giving people a chance to visit active altars virtually. See link for details.