Friday, May 28, 2010

The Voyeur in Me: Happy to be a Fly on the Wall

Few things are more inspiring to me than (1) breaking out of a routine, and (2) keeping company with those who are really passionate about what they do.

I didn't realize until this past Wednesday, that changing up some of my MUA routine would be a catharsis. Not only would I purge some of my old habits, but I would condense, downsize, and economize the way I would look at my own makeup artistry. All of this because I had the opportunity to go on-location to observe a photo shoot where I would play no role. This day, the voyeuristic side of me would be placated: I would be that fly on the wall. This is rather ironic to me because my kids and I often play "If you could have any super-human power, what would it be?" My answer is often, "I'd be invisible." There's so much to learn when you're invisible. In yoga, a good teacher once told me if I became quiet and really listened (intuition. . .perhaps, God?), answers would come to me. This was one of those moments.

My dear friend, Angela, pictured above (an amazing yogini and beautiful soul) is putting together what will surely be an amazing modeling portfolio, and I was blessed to be present for what I would call her breakthrough photo shoot. I was along for moral support, but also in the capacity of observing MUA. She made certain the photographer and working MUA did not mind my presence.

The Makeup Artist. When I arrived, Angela was having her makeup applied by Marta Maria, whom I would liken to the eye of a storm. . .calm and reassured by her expertise. Marta splits her time between France and Charleston; she was a makeup artist during Charleston Fashion Week, and currently has work featured in Marie Claire magazine. She is an artist first; makeup is one of her media; she's also a painter. What struck me most was her implicit understanding of light. This is an extension of her knowledge of color, product, and client. (A conversation with her about France's midday light left me wanting my passport updated ASAP so I could make the trip. Marta says a visit to the French countryside is all it takes to make one realize the inspiration behind the works of Van Gogh, Gaugain, and others; pastel colors abound.) But it was also her understanding of the photographer and how she works and what she likes that made this such a success.

The Photographer. Diana Deaver is the storm. When this petite lady walked in the room, the energy shifted from sedate to charged. Diana immediately surveyed all clothing, accessories, lighting, and Marta's work. Until that moment, I've never witnessed a photo shoot where the photographer had such a stake in the makeup. Her first words to Marta were, "I love the lightness under her eyes, but I'd like a darker contrast on her lids." Evidently, Diana has been known to do makeup herself. She knows what she wants, comes prepared with a vision for the shoot, and is perfectly prepared to execute it on her own, if need be. However this day, she was working with her friend Marta, and she knew and trusted her capabilities.

Many makeup artists like to check out what other MUA's use. I'm no exception. . . I asked Marta if I could check out her kit as it's quite different than mine. She showed up with an overnight bag that held a couple of boxes. Those boxes house many samples of products: NARS, T.LeClerc, Maybelline, Revlon (which Marta says she finds best for powder foundation), brushes, applicators, and several other things. Her kit is so compact, yet she has everything she needs and then some.

Here's the thing about both Marta and Diana: they are master multi-taskers. Marta carries relatively little makeup with her, but she's a mixologist. She puts things together to come up with new colors, shades, tones, hues, and textures. Marta uses her fingers often to apply and blend out colors. A cosmetic wedge was the other tool she used most. Diana has an eye for the unusual: among the items of clothing, there was a black satin bra that she turned upside down, and fashioned a neck cuff out of; it was stunning in that capacity. She told me she once used a glass bottle to quickly make a necklace for one of her models; no doubt the results were outstanding.

As I sit here and write, I realize this could easily be a multi-chaptered blog. There was so much to take in that day. I haven't even told you about the synergy these two artists had with one another. At different times, these were things I heard them say about one another. . .

Marta (to Angela about Diana): "I have a feeling, and can see her vision. . .where she's going with this. . ."

Diana to Marta: "I trust you completely."

Well, as you can see, the results are stupendous. Everything aligned that day: a beautiful model brought her expression and talents to play; a light-oriented makeup artist with no ego stepped up to the plate and delivered a flawless face using mostly her fingers and few products; and a photographic genius talked, finessed, and directed her subject to this level of perfection.

What I learned from Marta: my artistry lies not in my kit, but within me. What I learned from Diana: cultivate a passion for what you do; it will sustain you and put energy in your surroundings.

I'd say my super-human power came true that day: I got to be invisible and drink all this in. It was a powerful learning experience, and I thank all involved.

Makeup and Hair by Marta Maria.
Model: Angela Finley
Dresses: Belle Couture Bridal
Photographer: Diana Deaver

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Makeup Show NYC, May 16 & 17

Monique Boyer, Director of Artist Relations for MAC Cosmetics

Just one of many body painting demos by MAC

Make Up For Ever display

Wow, how time flies when you're having fun . . . such a cliche, but sooo true. It's been nearly two weeks since I've blogged. A lot has been going on, though: trial runs, weddings, photo shoots, and a long weekend in one of my favorite places in this world: New York City.

For those of you waiting with baited breath about my part two of "Brows. . ." well, I hate to disappoint, so I'll pick that subject up again in the next few days ;) And rather than inundate you with a long diatribe about how PHENOMENAL my New York/Makeup Show weekend was, I'll just hit the highlights for now. There will be blogs forthcoming about all the amazing lines that were represented. Suffice it to say, I had to buy two new bags (in addition to the one I checked at the airport) to transport all my goodies back safely.

One of the aspects of my job that I love so very much is continuing education. The Makeup Show is a bi-coastal event, taking place in Los Angeles in the winter, and NYC in the spring. Scores of cosmetics lines are represented, and everyone comes showing their best wares, newest techniques, upcoming trends, and Lots and LOTS of product for sale. For a makeup junkie such as myself, it's the closest thing to nirvana that I'll come to, other than actually doing my job. . . making people look good. I am a better makeup artist for having attended this function.

I'll talk specifics later on, but I did want to comment on some of the photos I've included. One of the highlights of my visit was meeting Monique Boyer who is the Director of Artist Relations for MAC Cosmetics. What an impressive lady she is. MAC was well-represented with a large booth focusing mainly on their Pro line and elaborate demonstrations of body painting.

Make Up For Ever and Smashbox were other hugely popular brands as evidenced by the 2+ hours I waited in these lines just to purchase these products. . . TOTALLY worth the wait because I had the opportunity to speak with makeup artists from all over the country, as well as press/media, beauty editors and bloggers who cover events such as this. Just to hear what other MUAs like, and their tricks, and savvy. . . that was an education in itself.

So, once again, my heart is full and feeling blessed for being able to take part in this phenomenal trade show.

Thanks to my husband for going with; my in-laws Jeb and Sandy for holding down the fort with my kiddos so we could make this trip; and the New York Yankees for providing my husband much joy with a 9th inning win over the Boston Red Sox!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm an Eyebrow Girl! Part One.

Check out Megan's eyebrows. . .they don't happen by accident. I don't know where Megan's makeup artist begins but s/he really does a fine job with her brows.

The first thing I do when I begin work with any client, is reach for my eyebrow brush. It's a reflex. . . I need to see what I have to work with. I, as do many MUAs, feel the eyebrow provides the "frame" for the rest of the face. Same thing with myself: the first thing I do before applying any makeup to my own face is to groom my brows. You've heard of "good hair days". . . well, I need to determine if it's going to be a "good brow day."

Two months ago, I was having dinner with a group of other MUA's from Charleston (The Makeup Mavens), and I looked across the table and really noticed Elizabeth's phenomenal eyebrows. Elizabeth Quinton is also a former MAC artist and I quickly fell into "MAC talk" with her. She has the eyebrows I love. . . full, gracefully arched, clean. . . what I call "statement-brows." I was eager to hear her routine, products used, etc. but she quickly deferred her brow-blessing to another person: Heather Faucette of Glow Spa in Mt. Pleasant. Elizabeth swore by this gal, saying she was the brow-maker. Hmm. File that info away and fast forward. . .

This past Saturday, I called up Glow Spa and secured my eyebrow waxing appointment with Elizabeth's brow lady. Heather was everything EQ said she was: studious, meticulous, and opinionated. And that's a great thing. . . I want someone in the know, who has an opinion, and can tell me what will look great on me. Immediately I felt comfortable and knew my brows would be taken to the next level: cleaned up, trimmed, no stragglers, or "sticks." I have pretty decent eyebrows to begin with, but they definitely needed some maintenance, and Heather, in her gentle way, told me what I needed to do. . . what she needed to do to help me achieve my brow-vision.

I left Glow Spa with Elizabeth-esque brows and an appointment for a follow-up in three weeks.

Thank you, Elizabeth for your sage advice. And thank you, Heather for your guidance and steady hand.

p.s. ". . .Eyebrow Girl, Part 2" will be about the actual products I use to achieve the look I like. . . but definitely, the place to begin is with a well-manicured eye brow by a great esthetician.

Friday, May 7, 2010

MAC's Chromagraphic Pencils, an Insta-Fave!

It's easy to overlook these quiet titans. . . but they are Titans nonetheless. They sit on the display, unassuming yet asking to be picked up. . . if you do, don't put it down. . . get yours immediately, because they are selling out as I type this.

MAC's recent Pret-A-Papier launch included these Chromagraphic Pencils. They are flesh-toned, soft lining pencils, which are quickly proving to be my newest multi-taskers.

My first use of them was to clean up the outside of any lip application. They are especially wonderful on a classic, red lip. I use these after I apply lip liner, lipstick, and gloss. It helps prevent any bleeding edges or feathering of color. Lightly line the outside of the lip with this pencil. If you press hard, it will leave a noticeable skin-colored line. But I go back with either my finger or a cosmetic wedge/sponge, and blend it gently. The effect is clean and precise.

These pencils are also approved for use in the eye area. I like this applied directly to the waterline (the bottom lash line closest to the eye), as a freshener. The flesh-tone helps make the eyes "pop" and makes all makeup there appear cleaner and neater.

In a pinch, these could be used as spot concealers. They come in two formulations: NC15 / NW20 (great if you have fair skin) and NW25/NC30 (appropriate for medium to deeper skin tones).

The last time I checked, these pencils are sold out at MAC's online store. So, rush out to your nearest MAC counter and pick yours up today. This is a must-have for your makeup drawer!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Concealer Wars, Continued. . .

Chances are that if you asked a makeup artist what their favorite item of makeup is, they will not say "concealer" because it's not very glamourous. However, I'm going to say "Concealer!" because it's the one item I use that makes a noticeable difference immediately. Bye-bye blemishes, so-long redness, sayonara dark circles!

Concealer is the work horse of my makeup kit. After a little skin prep, it's the one item I spend most time mulling over. My eye is constantly looking at any imperfection and thinking "how can I minimize, or get rid of that?" My answer is nearly always with my concealer. Now, there are certainly other tricks and other factors that come into play. . . the condition of the skin (hence, 'skin prep'). For example, dehydrated or oily skin, needs to be neutralized, or brought back to a stasis so that the concealer can properly do it's job and sit evenly on the skin.

For drier skin types, I like the LORAC Double Feature concealer pictured above. It is a creamy stick on one end, that can be applied directly under eyes or on top of blemishes. A roller-ball is encased on this end, presumably to roll over and spread out the concealer. And although the concept of that roller-ball is interesting, I prefer my fluffy MAC #217 brush to blend it out. The other end of this unit houses a highlighter that has a doe-foot applicator, so you can dot it on over the highest edges of cheekbones, brow bones, or wherever you'd like a little shimmer. I would consider this a lightweight concealer, great for spring and summer.

For skin that's oilier, Make Up Forever's Full Cover Concealer, works wonders. It's main attraction for many is that it's waterproof, which especially for brides, is a huge plus. The coverage is spectacular, evening out most dark circles and covering redness. I use my #217 brush to apply this thick, creamy formulation. It's quite blendable, and noticeably more stay-put.

So, my love of concealer continues, which means, I'll always be trying new ones and telling you about the newest in my arsenal of coverage. Both of these products can be found at your nearest Sephora or online at