Sunday, July 27, 2014

Klimt's "The Kiss" Makeup

I've been excited to create this look for a few months now, but kept putting it off because it seemed so daunting. And sure enough, this was by far my most time-consuming look to date. I started it at 11am, and began taking my final photos around 5:30pm, though I did take a few breaks here and there! It's also the first look where I strayed off my face with the makeup, applying the gold pigment to my hair, ears and neck for a more fully-realized makeup creation. I'm really pleased with it!

When I told my cousin Amy about this upcoming post, she sent me a fascinating article titled "Your Brain on Klimt" by Eric Kandel from the Columbia University Magazine not only about Klimt but the intersection of neuroscience & art in the early 20th Century. It's worth reading all the way through, but the facts concerning Klimt were particularly interesting to me. For instance, he tended to portray women as much more liberated and sexual beings than other artists at the time. In fact, there are sexual symbols in the The Kiss, a seemingly innocently romantic painting. After becoming friends with Emil Zuckerlandl, an anatomist and pathologist, Klimt began studying biology. He routinely "looked through microscopes, and began to incorporate images of cells and other structures into his paintings. The oval shapes you see as decorative elements in some of the paintings were meant to represent ova, for instance, and rectangular shapes were his symbols for sperm." So, let's just gloss over the fact that I'm essentially painting sperm on my face in this look!

I didn't do a step-by-step, again, just because the process was long and energy-consuming enough without stopping for photos at each step. But below I've broken down which products I used in which elements of the face if you're interested. Enjoy!

The finished look in an overall shot

Products used:

  • MAC Pro Longwear Foundation in NW15
  • MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW15
  • bareMinerals Foundation in Fair C10
  • NYX Powder Blush in Taupe
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion
  • Smashbox The Master Class Palette: Butter & Nectar
  • Cargo Eyeshadow Duo in Omaha (the navy shade only)
  • Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Brown (for tightlining & contour over the gold pigment)
  • Benefit's They're Real Mascara
  • Ricky's NYC Eyelashes in #42
  • Ardell Natural Eyelashes (painted gold with Mehron)
  • Duo Lash Adhesive
  • YSL Rouge Pur Couture in Beige Tribute #10
  • MAC Dazzleglass in Dressed to Dazzle

The gold:

  • Mehron Metallic Powder & Mixing Liquid in Gold from Amazon

The swirls & spots:

  • Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel in #79 & #82
  • Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Brown
  • NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils in Milk & Black Bean
  • Inglot Duraline

The rectangles:

  • NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils in Milk & Black Bean

There came a point in applying the gold and the base for the eye that I thought, "Woah, I really like this as it is!" So I just wanted to include these two shots of the makeup before the more literal translations from Klimt's painting came into play. Really just highlighting the gold element here!

Here you can see better the second detail from the painting I incorporated: the black and white rectangles on the man. I think of this face as split between masculine and feminine: the tension between these stark shapes and the soft, colorful ovals is really interesting to me, and something I want to explore more in another look. For this time, I didn't want the look to get too costume-y so I kept these elements simple. 

As you probably noticed in the description of products, I used two sets of lashes, one of which I painted gold with the Mehron kit. I was hoping that by painting them gold, with my eyes closed there would be this beautiful and seamless transition from eyelid to lash; but alas, the band was still pretty visible.

I hope you enjoyed these photos as much I as enjoyed creating them, and maybe you'll be inspired to rock a gold eye tomorrow; gold pigment on the face might be a bit much for the office. Thanks for reading and tell me in the comments: what painting do you want to see recreated in makeup form next?

Bonus shot: my hand/palette after the madness!


  1. This is my new favorite! It's absolutely transcendent; your talent and creativity never fail to inspire!

    1. Thanks so much Ms. P-B! I still think sometimes of how you would always read my poems at Austin and provide encouragement. It meant a lot in a school that didn't always feel like a great place to be creative.