Beauty or Beast?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2008

Makeup can turn a man into a monster or accent the beauty of a woman.

It can make you look young or old, beautiful or ugly.

Makeup is an essential tool for many women and every actor, but it’s the makeup artists that make the transformation happen.

Email newsletter signup

Bringing out the beauty

The makeup a woman wears often reflects her personality, two local makeup artists said.

Tina Cox has spent seven years helping women craft new faces. Tiffiany Clark has learned fast in one year of doing the same.

“Personality has a lot to do with it,” Clark said. “Some women like a lot of makeup, and some like their makeup to look natural.”

Generally, the more outgoing a woman is, the more makeup she likes to wear, the two agreed.

“People who are more laid back stick with neutrals and pastels,” Clark said.

To help transform a face, the two ask the client what she likes and how she wants to present herself.

Cox and Clark themselves are a study in contrasts. In soft, muted shades, Cox prefers the natural look, while Clark spices things up a little with more vibrant colors.

One way isn’t better than the other, they said.

It’s just the image you want to portray.

And even with a little punch, makeup should look soft and blended, they agree.

Both have had the occasional interesting client. One bride-to-be wanted her makeup to match her 1950s flapper-style dress, so the girls went with muted eyes and bright lipstick.

It would have looked out of place anywhere else, but the combination worked.

“If you had just walked in and seen her in (the salon), you would think, ‘This is a bride?’” Cox said. “But with her theme, it looked great.”

For Cox and Clark, makeup is ultimately about self-respect and self-image.

“I wear mine because it’s all about self-esteem,” Cox said. “The day’s I don’t wear it, I feel down and depressed. It makes me feel good about myself.”

Clark sees makeup as an artistic opportunity.

“I like it because I can be creative,” Clark said. “It’s not because of other people. It’s something I like to do. We all like to look nice.”

Creating the beast

Darlene McCune and her makeup bag can make a monster out of anyone.

But it was her artwork on Casey Gilbert this December that made him one of the scariest characters in the Natchez Little Theatre’s repertoire — “A Natchez Christmas Carol’s” the ghost of Jacob Marley.

Along with the chains and powdered gray hair, the makeup was a vital part of becoming the character.

“He looks like he’s worn out from walking the earth for seven years,” Gilbert said.

McCune and Gilbert both have experience in the theatre, and after a while, they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

And over the years, their makeup techniques have become pretty effective.

Perhaps too effective.

“When I walk out, people, especially young kids, are startled,” Gilbert said.

Startled might be putting it mildly. The costume elicits screams every time.

“We’ve cleared the front two rows before,” he said, grinning.

Courtney Taylor, too, has spent years in the theatre. There are some tricks to stage makeup, she said. For one thing, there’s a lot more of it.

“If I’m not aging myself, I’m trying to give my face color — a lot of color,” Taylor said. “The lights are so bright they make you look dead. It looks like a lot of color up close, but when you’re out there, it looks natural.”

The color and placing of makeup can truly transform an actor. For example, blush higher on the cheeks makes for a younger look, while lower draws the face down for an older look.

“For an actor putting on makeup is part of getting into character,” Taylor said. “As I’m putting on my makeup, I’m becoming my character.”

You don’t have to take a class in theatre makeup to get the hang of creating the character.

Marylee Williams, 15, has been in the Little Theatre for three or four years. Already, she knows the basics and is helping the younger children.

Not only does your character have to look alive and the appropriate age, but the time period of the play makes a difference, too.

“(In the Victorian era), you wouldn’t wear a lot of eye shadow, so we don’t wear a lot in the play,” Marylee said.

No exception is made for male actors. They get makeup, too.

Dwight Williams, 16, said it took him a while to get used to the idea of wearing makeup, even if it is on the stage.

“As you go along, you learn,” Dwight said. “People like me, guys my age, we wouldn’t have any idea and might think it was silly.”

But for actors, makeup is a must. And there are some upsides to painting your face and creating a character, Gilbert said.

“I have a lot more fun when I’m in costume,” Gilbert said. “It’s fun walking out onstage to see people’s reactions.”