I believe that I mentioned in my first, introductory blog post that I am, and always was, an artistically inclined kinda gal. Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, I’m well aware that I’m no Van Gogh (I mean, I have both my ears, right?) or Monet, two of my all time favourites from the Impressionist period. I do have two of my own own creations hanging in my home, but they are a far cry from high art and I doubt they’ll ever be worth anything, even when I’m dead. My point is, really, that I have an affinity for artistic expression and to that end studied art in school, even at the university level. Sure, it was only one course on baroque art, but still. The phrase “at the university level” makes me sound smart. Lol. While I never pursued painting in any serious way post high school, art is very much a part of who I am, how I see the world and express myself in everything from the way I decorate my home to the way I dress. As a makeup artist, I employ the principles of colour and light theory each and every time I make someone up. I’d like to pass on some of the basics to you, my dear reader, because I’m a sharing and caring kinda gal.
Let’s start with colour temperature. Sounds a bit kooky, I know, but colours are either warm (red undertones) or cool (blue undertones). Even purple, which is a mixture of red and blue, is either a warm purple or cool purple depending on what the exact balance of red to blue is. Colour temperature matters like this: people with warm attributes normally look best in warm colours while people with cool attributes normally look best in cool colours. Let’s take me for example. I am a freckly redhead, your quintessential, warm attribute , poster child. While I happen to not like how true reds look on me, golds, coppers, olives, moss greens, deep plums, rusts, chocolatey browns, cappuccinos, creams and taupes are all good, go to colours for me. I can totally rock a good, dark, rich navy but powder blues and other really cool colours just don’t do anything for me. If you pay close attention to looks I do on myself, I may use “cool” colours, but they always have a hint of warmth to them, or I bring it in with another, complimentary colour. Otherwise, it may look alright but it doesn’t look great. To asses your own colour temperature, take a white towel (cool) and a cream or yellowy towel (warm) and, one at a time, drape them over your chest and shoulders while looking in a mirror. Switch between the two and pay close attention to whether it enhances or dulls your appearance. The towel that perks you up is the temperature that you are. Now keep in mind, just because you’re a warm or a cool (and some of you may be both!) doesn’t limit you, it just guides you. A warm can wear cool colours, and vice versa, but she’ll have to be a little more careful about which ones she chooses. Capiche?
Moving right along to colour schemes. There are 3 basic options: monochromatic, anaolgous and complimentary. A monochromatic scheme is achieved when you use different shades and tints of the same colour (shades are darker versions and tints are lighter versions of the colour). So that would be something like applying taupe on your lid, a soft to medium brown in your crease and deep chocolate brown on the outer corner. An analogous scheme uses colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Blues and greens, yellows and oranges, reds and purples…well, shades thereof anyway. Lol. A complimentary scheme uses colours that are across from each other on the colour wheel. Good makeup examples of this are purples/plums and golds (purple and yellow are across on the wheel, gold is close enough), blues and corals, greens and pinks. Understanding how these colour schemes work can help you put together a better, more harmonious look next time you put on your makeup.
Finally, let’s discuss the element of depth and the fact that lighter colours make things appear bigger and further away while darker colours make things appear smaller and closer. This concept can affect everything from how you apply your eye makeup to how you contour your face. For example, if you want to make close set eyes appear further apart, apply a very light eye shadow to the inner corners and viola! You create visual space which makes your eyes appear to be further apart than they are. With wide set eyes, you would do the opposite and try to create a shadow in the inner corners to visually bring the eyes closer together. In some ways, highlighting and contouring seem to work in direct opposition to this principle insofar as using a light colour to highlight your cheekbones brings them forward while using a darker shade beneath your cheekbone makes that area appear to recede (normally the light colour pushes back and the dark colour comes forward). This is because you’re working more with capturing light and creating shadows than with depth based on tone. I’ll get into the nitty gritty details of highlighting and contouring in another post (and my feelings on the extreme way in which these techniques are used nowadays) but basically you are just trying to mimic and enhance the way light naturally falls on your face to create depth and give your face a more sculpted look.
I could probably keep rambling about the ways in which I see makeup as a true form of art on a human canvas, but I’m sure my husband would prefer that I accomplish something around this mess we call a house, so I’m going to leave it here for now. I hope you enjoyed reading my little exposition on some of the elements of art I use in my personal and professional makeup applications and that you can employ them to create your next makeup masterpiece too!
Have a beautiful day,