Many exhausting hours pass by as I rush to type the last few words on my computer screen, not wanting the sunny Saturday afternoon to waste away. I hit the save button and jump out of bed. I glance at the time displayed on my phone and see that it is only three o'clock in the afternoon. I have the rest of the weekend to unwind and forget about the stresses of school. “What should I do to relax myself and lift my mood?” I think as I position the last decorative pillow on my freshly made bed. Immediately, I glance over at the array of makeup brushes and lipsticks sitting in their designated glass cups and know exactly what would make me feel at ease.
Running over to my vanity, I unlock my phone and scroll through the images of my favorite makeup artists to gain inspiration. One image catches my eye after several minutes of examining photos of artists with avant garde and editorial makeup looks. Inspiration and creativity flow through my mind and project a vivid image of what I would produce on canvas.
Intently I gaze upon the image of a girl with blue shimmer eyeshadow in the center of her face resembling a masquerade mask. Teal glitter shimmers under her eye, and around the left eye flutters a halo of blue, 3-D, stick-on butterflies. Black lipstick tops her lips with an iridescent green shimmer. Blue cream veils her eyebrows, black eyeshadow covers her lids, and navy pigment lies along her hairline. All the intricate details move me, and instantly I know what look I want to create.
A warm and energizing feeling of inspiration washes over me and the calming scent of a lavender candle fills my nose as I rapidly gather the materials I will need and place them in front of me, ready to begin my work. Upbeat pop music blasts through my speakers and buzzes in my ears while I prime the blank canvas. Using my damp beauty sponge, I apply the base, trying not to cover the background completely. Carving out the contours of the canvas with my tools, I use a mix of warm and cool toned bronzers. I add some blush to the background to add a pop of color. With the base of the canvas complete, I move on to details and begin the artwork I clearly envision.
Excitement fills me as my arms become jittery and my heart beats so loud I can hear it drumming in my ears. I grasp the small blending brush and rest the soft bristles on my lids. My brown eyes, a feature I am confident in and want to stand out, transform into a lighter brown as I use complementary color shadows. Diffusion of the golden and warm orange hues around my eyelids and past the brow bone highlights my eyes and causes them to radiate a honey colored glow. I decide to add a yellow stripe of eyeliner along the crease of my eye to give dimension and uniqueness to the look. Already, the canvas is brought to life by the different elements of the artwork.
A few coats of black mascara brush against my lashes and brown pigment tops my eyebrows, giving the look its finishing touches. My goal is not to cover up my natural lashes or pretend that I have thick eyebrows. I do this to emphasize that I am a Middle Eastern woman with naturally long, dark lashes and bushy, bold brows. I am proud of these features, and makeup allows me to accentuate them. My purpose is to accent the traits that I am most fond of and build confidence within myself in addition to relaxing and creating a masterpiece.
As I swipe the last stroke of the peach colored lipstick and the last spritz of setting spray settles on the canvas, I examine the reflection of my art in the mirror. The assorted shades on my eyelids and the contours of my cheekbones aid in the expression of my creativity and personality.
What stares back at me in the mirror resembles abstract wings of a Monarch butterfly flitting across a golden sunset. Even though my creation is not as elaborate as the girl’s art in the photo, I feel it represents my true self. I feel empowered, I feel brave, I feel talented, I feel confident.
It seems I was working a short time; however, the light that once shined through the big window in front of me slowly fades. Another glimpse of my phone reveals it to be 5:45 in the evening, and the natural light that brings out the true colors of the art is nearly gone. It is too late to take a picture of the completed work, but I will remember for a long time the way it looks and the way it makes me feel.
Although makeup is an art form, many people view cosmetics as just a way to mask insecurities or to “make themselves look better” rather than being the equivalent of painting on a canvas. They don’t see beyond the superficial aspects of cosmetics because the majority only use it for those reasons. Especially those who feel that they can’t be seen unless they have makeup on. Some people who don’t use makeup at all feel that is unnecessary or pointless. It may not be the desired art medium for many or be used at all, but cosmetics has more depth than is commonly perceived. In contrast, many people view makeup as an underappreciated form of art and expression. I enter my happy place as soon as I pick up a brush and prep the canvas; makeup is my outlet for self-expression and a way for me to feel unique and confident in a world where I usually feel the opposite.