Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Manifesting Monet for Baichasca

Continuing the Baichasca Art movement, I spent another fun-filled and creative day with photographer Paul Baichoo and one of our long-suffering models Rosie Fawke (she keeps coming back...I don't know why!).

Baichasca Art was created as a natural outflowing of the obsessive photography testing that goes on constantly in Paul's Waterloo studio. We have spent about a year doing a lot of experimental projects, many veering on the edge of crazy, but we both believe in pushing boundaries and thinking outside of the box. Also, a lot of the inspiration for our work stems from our love of art in general and the desire to create something new that is rooted in tradition.

A year later Baichasca now has a growing portfolio of work and more of a definite direction and motivation. Along with each work, Paul now films the process of creating the piece which has proved to be very popular and a great way for us to go back and assess our methods and progress.

It was very exciting to finally create the Monet inspired piece, which I have personally been quite nervous about as it is an immense challenge. To give the work more dimension I prepared a new bald cap and built texture using papier maché to emulate brush strokes in a more exaggerated and 3D form and give the piece more structure. I then painted the entire bald cap with acrylic paint, applying it in thick daubs and numerous layers.

Rosie was most obliging in having this strange object glued to her face! I also applied torn strips of paper to her cheekbones (using pros-aid which is a prosthetic makeup glue) and extended the acrylic down the sides of her face in this manner. The final blending was done with various shades of MAC Full Cover foundation (I did not buy this, it came with my school makeup kit a long time ago! I don't buy MAC as they are owned by Esteé Lauder who test on animals).

To enhance the painterly nature of the work I applied all the paints and makeup with squared-off artist acrylic brushes.

As always once the piece was completed I thought of a hundred things I could have done differently or better, but that is the nature of experimentation and learning. Overall we were all pleased with the final result.

Check out Baichasca on our blog: 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

My manifesto against animal testing

The use of animal testing, research and experimentation is a direct reflection of the state of humanity now. There is a so-called ‘debate’ over the ethics of all of this, but I call this mere distraction from the facts.

We live on a planet where supposedly highly evolved human beings are creating a system in which a vast proportion of the human population is dying for want of food and water. Humans are dying because they do not have access to clean water and are therefore riddled with diseases that they have no medicines for and not enough nutrients in their bodies to fight.

Medicine. Who gets it? We do. Us. The first-world. Here in England we have the NHS, and complain as much as you will about its inefficiencies…at the end of the day if you are sick you get free medical assistance. If you have asthma you can get medication. If you have pneumonia, you can go to hospital for free. If you have HIV you can get the latest medicines in development.

My ethical argument against animal testing goes like this: the people who benefit from animal testing and animal research are generally not the people who most need it. The vast majority of medicines developed through animal research are sold in pharmacies in developed countries and serve to plump the pockets of the pharmaceutical executives.

Even more saddening is the fact that what the second- and third-world need most urgently is simpler than medication. It is food. And water. Food and water. We spend all this money on animal research when what is more urgently required is easier and cheaper to provide, and would be money better spent.

Food. And water.

The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving. That means that 66.6% of the world is in want of food.

However radical it may sound, I propose that before we even consider animal testing for ANY purpose, let us feed our fellow man. Let us ensure as a species that we take seriously our ‘highly evolved’ brains and make sure our brothers and sisters around the world can live with basic human rights. Surely this is much higher on the priority list than any form of animal research?

Food. Water. Shelter. Dignity. You can’t medicate that. Animal research cannot help with that.

This brings me back to the first line of this entry: Animal testing, research and experimentation is a direct reflection of the state of humanity now. It is not even something we should be engaging in if we are as highly evolved as we like to think we are. We should be feeding the starving masses and effecting change to minimise the suffering inflicted on our own species every day. But we don’t. We turn a blind eye and manufacture gooey colourful things to plaster our faces and bodies with to make us feel more attractive and JUSTIFY animal testing because we don’t want to put anything toxic on our persons and Nurofen is great for a hangover.

We are out of touch with what we are doing and why we are doing it and what really matters. We mindlessly agree with the mass opinion and do not look at ourselves and they way we live and at least take responsibility for our small part in this world.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

In honour of the majestic whiteness...

As we are all either pretty much trapped at home or rushing to get home in lieu of the impending snow, I admitted defeat and paid homage to the power of the relentless weather by staying in and re-working an old shoot in photoshop.

So far I have this completed image, which reflects the icy and melancholic sentiment of London's first heavy snow for 2012.

The weather and this image have inspired me greatly and I will be working through these old shots in my spare time to create more reflections of London's icy Queen.
© Paul Baichoo
Model: Georgiana Josephine Lee
Makeup and Hair: Sarah Frasca
Post Production: Sarah Frasca

Friday, 6 January 2012

Is Illamasqua becoming a cult?

If so, I am their faithful disciple.

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I LOVE Illamasqua. I'm what is known in marketing jargon as a maven, and if I love something you will never hear the end of it. I will tell everyone I know, interested or not (needless to say the same applies if I hate something).

So, my latest love affair with a new Illamasqua product has begun. And people, this is love...deep, fulfilling, intense and all-consuming passion. You must, must, must go to your nearest Illamasqua store or counter as a matter of urgency so you too can fall into the pool of bliss that is...

Oh Freak! What words are sufficient to describe thee? You are all my darkest secrets and desires alchemised into a fragrance of such depth, texture and intensity as to render me giddy!

Ok, I'm no Shakespeare so I will not torture you any further with attempts at prose.

On its release, I admit scrambling to their flagship store like a teenage rock fan rushing to buy a new single, my heart beating a little faster as I approached the Freak display. The first hit of the fragrance after application was very unusual and heady and I honestly was not sure about it. So I applied it liberally and left, reasoning that I could analyse the development of the scent on my skin.

The next day I had forgotten about it (I know - unforgivable). Then I put on my scarf and was enveloped in an emotional mist of olfactory bliss. Memories came flooding back. I had flashbacks of the mountainous forests where I played as a child, of intense moments from my past, the sensation of glistening skin beneath my fingertips...I was confused, trying to figure out why my hair was standing on end (it was early - my brain doesn't function before noon). Of course it was the remnants of Freak perfume. I went out and bought it that day.

A fragrance of such quality and complexity can only be composed from the most exquisite essential oils. I did a little research for myself (and you) so I could glean some understanding of how the elements of this perfume could take me on such an emotional ride:

Top notes

Opium Flower oil is used as a carrier oil and has many beneficial medicinal properties. It is used in folk medicine as a treatment for tumours and is a natural analgesic (painkiller).

Black Davana is a herbal oil with a balsamic, rum-like odour, which together with Belladonna create a powerful emotional impression. Belladonna, also known as Deadly Nightshade, was used in Victorian times by Venetian women to dilate their pupils thus making them more attractive. It has a long history in magic and witchcraft both as a poison and a medicine.

Heart notes

Poison Hemlock has a soft, musky scent and also has a history in folk medicine as a cure for cancer.

Queen of the Night blossom, by far the most fascinating ingredient, only flowers once a year at night. It has a soft, sweet floral scent that is highly fragrant.

Datura has a regal, floral scent.

Base notes

Oud comes from Agarwood trees and has a deep, woody fragrance. It is an extremely rare oil and incredibly expensive.

Myrrh has a musty fragrance and blends beautifully with Frankincense, which is woodier in scent. Both oils have amazing medicinal properties and are hugely beneficial to the respiratory tract.

So, finally there is a beautifully crafted, high-end fragrance that is cruelty free! Freak is a sophisticated upgrade on my previous scent (1000 Kisses Deep by Lush). Inevitably, Illamasqua has done it again...blown my mind. First there was their lipstick in 'Disciple'. Then there was Skin Base foundation. Now we have Freak. Thank you Illamasqua - I cannot wait to see what's next. No pressure.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the amazing makeup for the Freak campaign, designed by the phenomenal Alex Box:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year, New Website and The 1920's Borg Project

Just being able to type the numbers 2012 consecutively gives me a thrill! From the many conversations I have had with people about last year, the consensus seems to be that it was a shocker - traumatic, tumultuous and terrible! Personally I would describe it as the steepest learning curve of my life and although I do not regret it, I am happy to bid it farewell.

So to bring in my New Year I have rebuilt my website. It is still undergoing changes, but on the whole I am very pleased with it.

The primary image on my website is from a project I did last year with photographer David Shih. I dubbed it "The 1920's Borg Project". At the time I was more than slightly terrified at the task I had set myself - to create a 1920's half-human, half-cyborg that still looked beautiful.

My inspiration was the incomprable film 'Metropolis' as well as works by my favourite artist, H.R. Giger.  I created a moodboard which helped immensely in consolidating my ideas and I finally managed to amalgamate the chaos in my mind into a sketch, both of which are included here.

1920's Borg Moodboard

Final conceptual sketch for Borg Woman

My materials were two ripped up laptops, a lot of pros-aide, malleable metal, waxes, glues, pins and - of course - my canvas, the very patient model Stacey Fenton.

Amazingly, I succeeded in fully realising my sketch and I was very happy and a bit surprised at how the final work materialised almost exactly as I had visualised it. The main difference was that the symmetry in the drawing was swapped around (it worked better on the model that way), but other than that one could say that the sketch literally came to life.

This piece turned out to be what I consider my first successful 'artwork', and has inspired me to be more fearless and unconventional in my approach to makeup from that point on. Subsequent to this project I have worked on many more, which you can see on my website.

So, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present to you Mrs Metropolis-Giger...the beautiful cyborg!

(Oh, and my new website, of course)...

No animals were harmed in the making of the 1920's Borg Woman!

Your feedback on my site is always appreciated.

Happy New Year xxx

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Filming with the Love Man in a Supernova

I was fortunate to be invited by my friend Ankit Love to round up a makeup and hair team for his latest music video to be released in early October. His ambitious project is called Beethoven Burst and is the main promotional video for his new album 'Forever'. Initially when he invited me to work on the video I was under the impression that simple, natural film makeup would be required. However, the idea quickly developed in his overactive mind into a full sci-fi short film complete with mermaids in space, a whole spaceship which he commissioned to be built in Elstree Studios in London, a full live band and a location day in Dover. This presented me with an amazing opportunity to come up with original, practical yet knockout makeup and hair designs which was thrilling for me.

Two of the most important aspects for myself during the prep were getting together an amazing and reliable team and making sure all the makeup and hair products and tools were covered. It took a lot of rapid searching to find my team as there was not much prep time, and I do think I lucked out on the amazing ladies that I found. My right-hand woman was Mili Currie, herself an established MUA with mountains of energy. Sofi Gorsuch and Nicola Thomas headed up the hair faction and did an amazing job making the hair concepts come to life - complete with headdresses that had to stay put while the dancers executed some hectic moves!

As for what makeup to purchase, it was no contest as I headed straight for the Illamasqua flagship store on Beak Street with my list. What a pleasure purchasing the new Skin Base Foundation in various shades, and the new and truly silky transluscent powder. I cannot over-emphasise how wonderful the Illamasqua staff are. They truly understand customer service without being overbearing, which is a subtle art. I left, as always, satisfied and uplifted.

There were loads of other bits that I had to shop around for as well, and in the end it was most fulfilling to sit down and go through my itinerary, making sure that everything was checked off. This is a shot the whole kit laid out for checking:

My 90% cruelty-free makeup and hair kit!!! (The MAC stuff is old...)

Some key cruelty-free products that I could not have done without on the shoot were:

Illamasqua primer, foundations, powders, eye-shadows, blushers, mascara etc.
Barry M Pigments and nail varnish
Weleda Calendula Cream
Urban Decay eyeshadow
GOSH nail varnish
Cass Art glitters and faux gold and silver flakes
Superdrug basics

My friend Jennifer Essex was the choreographer for the film - you can see my review of one of her shows here. Herself a well established contemporary dancer and choreographer, she has just been given a role in the new film Anna Karenina choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, which is a huge achievement. You can visit Jen's website for more information about her work and performance dates.

I can waffle on about every detail of the 4-day filming, but I think it is best illustrated through the medium of photographs. All shots © Paul Baichoo and Jennifer Essex.

DAY 1: Greenscreen shooting at Flying by Foy studios, London:

Mermaid on wires!

Leading lady Egija Zviedre looking regal!

DAYS 2 & 3: On set at Elstree Studios, London:

Touch-ups between takes.

Myself and two of our lovely assistant MUAs Yelena and Mutsumi.

Mili doubling as costumier.

Me and my right-hand lady Mili.

More touch ups with a nice, atmospheric feel!

The band in full costume and makeup.

Mr Ankit Love, artist and Director extraordinaire multitasking as always whilst in hair and makeup.

Some makeup shots from the set:

Bridge officers makeup and hair modelled by leading lady Egija.

Ritual ladies' makeup and hair.

My Very Art Deco makeup and hair design for the band,
this one applied by myself, hair by Nicola Thomas.

DAY 4: On location in Dover, fighting against the tide with a full crew!

These boys are hardcore!

Nice and breezy!

Ankit and his team hard at work.

My favourite shot of Ankit and Jen.

It's a WRAP!

Then it was off to the pub. Nice one. 

Watch this space for the final cut.

Many thanks to: 


Kali Arc productions:

Back with a Bang!

After a small hiatus I am pleased to be back on my blog and excited to be able to share new experiences and discoveries with all my readers. As a warm up, I’m going to post a variety of images from some test shoots with Paul Baichoo. Personally I love testing and think it is imperative practice for any makeup artist, to help one learn how concepts materialise and how different products react under studio light as opposed to natural light. 

Shoots always present challenges and testing builds my confidence so that on jobs I feel prepared and able to cope, improvise, innovate and make the look work. Testing is also imperative for learning how to work with different models, skin types, bone structures, hair types and tools. I personally never purchase a new brush or product and then immediately use it on a pro job. I will always wait until I have tested it so I am prepared for any potentially unexpected results. And of course possibly the most important skill I can hone through testing is speed. Improved technique always leads to more efficient, speedy application. I do not want to sacrifice quality because of time pressure, but so often on shoots there is less time than is desirable. Testing helps me minimise loss of quality through improved technique and inside-out knowledge of my kit.

All images © Paul Baichoo

Above makeup and styling inspired by the strength of Grace Jones
and the elegance of Serge Lutens perfume advertisements from the 1970s.
Karen definitely embodied the energy I was hoping to capture here.

The above image was inspired by Byzantine paintings of Mary with Baby Jesus.
Concept, headdress and makeup by Sarah Frasca.
Baby Jesus spraypainted gold by Paul Baichoo, causing much toxic damage to his person.
Styling: Massive group effort.
Art requires dedication and personal sacrifice people!

Working bridal hair and makeup with Jenny.

Things got a bit Linda Evangelista below:

A lovely edit by Paul:

Below one of my favourite tests with the amazing Katya:

Yes, Katya has a goat skull on her head. Hey, whatever works.

That's all for now folks x

Monday, 6 June 2011

Testing, testing...

Photographer: Fernando Lessa
Model: Aleksandra @ Oxygen
Makeup and hair: Sarah Frasca

Spooky trees (and model!)

Some more classic shots from Fernando Lessa...

Photographer: Fernando Lessa
Model: Karolina Maria Renor
Makeup and hair: Sarah Frasca

Monday, 2 May 2011

Nouveau Vintage

I have been pursuing some project work with Paul of the few photographers who, in this day and age, seems intersted in capturing art for art's sake. You will be seeing a lot of our work documented here over the next few weeks. This is just a sampling of a wonderful afternoon we had with our smashing model. She often resembles Cheryl Cole (how can that be a bad thing?!), but in these shots I'm feeling Natalie Portman. Anyway, whatever the resemblances, we were all thrilled with the results.

(And yes, lots of cruelty free makeup went into these shots, including Obsessive Complusive Cosmetics for the smoky eyes and blue retro flicks, and Weleda Calendula Weather Protection Cream for the shiny eyelids. Lips were glossed up care of Illamasqua, who also can claim credit for the cheekbone sculpting!)

Hair and Makeup by Sarah Frasca.
Styling by Sarah Frasca and Paul Baichoo.
All photographs © Paul Baichoo.

And, yes, those are shoes on her her head.