You know people who always know how to fill their days with a hobby or two? I do. Mom and my old friend Marika. Yet, while Mom has been unwaveringly into reading and gardening, Marika moves from a hobby to another every few years. Her latest leisure pursuit? Makeup artistry.
Ironically, none of us is a makeup junkie in our daily lives although I am, perhaps, a tad bit more familiar with makeup art, at least at the receiving end, due to my stage dancing in the past and TV appearances in more recent time. I sat on the makeup chair often enough to understand that good makeup is not about painting your face with colors following a rigid template. A good makeup is to accentuate your assets while ‘correcting’ your less than desirable features, should you have any. Every face is different, hence the need to artfully assess the face and decide what to apply, to leave as is, and to put the spotlight on. And with the plethora of choices out there it’s like an endless adventure every time we play around with makeup– which was why, when Marika asked if I wanted to help sitting as a practice model, I immediately said yes.
Then in my two days as a practice model, where I got to watch and listen as Marika slowly in taking her lessons, I ended up learning that it was much more of art than I’d already figured out.
First and foremost, before anything else, is the art of making your face a fresh, even-toned canvas, by laying the correct foundation. And that’s the trickiest part for skin tone varies greatly between one person to another even within same race, and one person’s complexion can vary from one day to another. It actually happened, as on the 2nd lesson I arrived with some reddish spots from a treatment for melasma the day before, and poor Marika had to ‘tame’ the redness and relearn the correct foundation mix from a dozen of pots and bottles in her standard kit.
And that’s the thing that struck me most. Beyond dozens of foundation jars and eyeshadow pots that make a fabulous Instagram picture, a standard makeup artist kit, at least what Marika’s instructor mandates his students to carry, stores things that are supposed to work exactly when things go awry. I was introduced to a crealine-based cleanser/toner that, used after your usual cleansing regime, lifts leftover traces of dirt and shrinks the pores. I discovered an unassuming tube of creamy moisturizer that gives extra moist sans oil that makes foundation blends better in your skin. I learned of different face sprays that calm down irritation before anything else can be applied, or set in the makeup after everything else has been applied. When and how much to apply, again, depends on the face of the minute and as such, another expertly artistic judgment.
The other pivotal act of art, if you will, is in the application. Whether it is brushing, patting, tapping, filling, shaping, spraying—the hands have to be as light as a feather, yet as steady as a rock. The key is, as the dancer in me closely eyeing the instructor’s movements, is in the wrist. The more agile one’s wrist flicks, the better one touches as a makeup artist. And that agility, as any dancer astutely understands, comes from constant practices more than physical genetics (Marika’s instructor, one of Jakarta’s renowned makeup artists, is a stocky and tattooed man, mind you).
Crafting art comes from a free heart, and the instructor helped setting the mood by playing great ‘70s music throughout the lesson, yet he interestingly also taught Marika the discipline to work from one side, so she’ll be flexible in any confined space when working as a professional makeup artist later. I doubt Marika will ever leave her cushioned, high-paying, finance career in the multinational company she’s in now, but it’s good to see a makeup art instructor preparing his students to be mindful of the personal space of colleagues and clients—a notion that is still foreign to many Indonesians who often equate the need for personal space with aloofness.
Agility. Freedom. Flexibility. The featherlike flick of wrist and the steely mindful discipline. Like the bouncy spring of summer trampoline.
What started out as a fun distraction to me ended up a rich learning session. Aside from learning how a good watercolor paint brush sometimes works better than a fancy makeup brush, I now know that my undertone is actually almost pink salmon, my small upper lip curves with such definition it shapes like Mount Fuji, and that if stroked strongly with wrong palette my upper facial bone structure may end up looking just a notch below Maleficient. I went home and started rummaging through my makeup box, throwing out what doesn’t work and vowing to make more efforts looking presentable, at least having optimally blended moisturizer-foundation on, the next time I leave the house.
In the meantime, as I tap-tapping my laptop writing this column, I take small breaks in between to flick my far-from-featherlike wrists around.