"This fearless wonder of a machine that has not yet taken us out of this world. When it does, I hope our scars are soft and perfect and woven so gently we can breathe down into them."
Excerpt from "Threads of our Scars".
I am fascinated with the concept of Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of aggrandizing broken pottery, thereby rendering the broken pieces more valuable.
Scars and their stories, our broken bits, are something we don't explore fully enough with storytelling and art. Let's change that dialogue, especially that of the internal.
Model; D'yon Holmes aka; Art of Dyon
Photography; Keith Dixon Studios
I have gathered these photos for the purpose of sharing with a 6th grade classroom this week. All photographs are by Destinee Blau Photography, other than a couple (which are labeled) by Keith Dixon Studios and 1, or 2 phone shots I took.
They are in no particular order at this point in time and yes, there are more photos of me than there should be, strictly as the talk is about being the key makeup artist. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing these with students at Greeneville Middle School! They are some of the most dedicated fans EVER!
For those interested, the book trailers are Serafina and the Black Cloak, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, and Serafina and the Splintered Heart.
Produced by Bonesteel Films in Asheville NC.
Author Robert Beatty.
Books published by Disney Hyperion.
I've been doing makeup for the better part of two decades now. One thing that I've learned in these years of working with hundreds upon hundreds of faces, is that we all have different definitions for things, makeup being no exception.
I've had clients sit down in my chair saying "I want a natural look", and then pull up a photo of Kim Kardashian's over-the-top glamour to show me the "natural" look they want. I try to respectfully educate them on my definition of natural and find out what they are really trying to express. Because natural in my world, does not only mean brown/gold eyeshadow.
In the makeup world, natural definitely has a broad definition, but we lean towards the "less is more" side when working with a natural beauty application. These styles are important for makeup artists to master when it comes to commercial work especially.
My natural looks tend to emphasize features over color, subtlety over drama, precision over broad application, and working with colors that are present in the hair and skin.
What does natural mean to you? If you want a natural makeup look, be sure that the person you are hiring has examples of this in their portfolio. Make sure you're both on the same page with your definitions, and that you work together ahead of your special event to achieve that perfect style you want.
Here are some of the characteristics of the perfect natural makeup look, according to my personal preferences. This is by no means exhaustive, or "right", but the list of things I find appealing. I hope it can help you create your own natural looks;
1) Skin is polished, brightened, slightly transparent, and skin-like. You see flawless, not obvious signs of foundation or texture. Tinted moisturizers or sheered down foundation are one way to achieve this. You can apply coverage only where needed, rather than all over the face as well. A soft, but dense brush can help the product blend into the skin more perfectly.
2) We work with colors present in the skin, hair, and potentially the eyes. These tend to be browns/golds/soft beige/soft pink but can also include charcoals/grey, anything that the eye tends to read as contour/highlights or colors present even when makeup is not applied.
3)Eyeliner and eyeshadow tends to emphasize the eye without being about the product. You notice eyes rather than makeup. There are several ways to achieve an emphasis on the eyes, without using a lot of product, including liner that is soft-edged and tucked into the roots of the lashes.
4)Blush and lip color tend to look like it is radiating from within, slightly transparent and close to colors that are already in the skin. Airbrush is an especially appealing way to add a transparent hue of natural color. Cream blushes are ideal for dry and/or mature skin, sheered down with a blush brush that is fairly dense with shorter bristles.
5)Mascara as well as eyeliner, can be applied to only the top lid, leaving the under-eye area open and clean. This can look more natural and subtle, even if you choose to wear a bit more makeup on the lid. Under eye liner and color sends us towards a more dramatic look very quickly. Nude eyeliner can add a bit of brightening and polish for the under-eye area if you tend to have dark circles or redness near the eye.
6) Consider a moisturizing lip gloss, or lip stain for a transparent pop of color.
7)Set your makeup with a few light spritzes of rose water for a dewy, natural glow without shine. Only use a setting powder where it is needed, using a small brush.
In closing, remember that "natural" means different things to different people and if you are used to wearing makeup every day, your natural is not the same as someone who generally wears nothing.
Preference is queen when it comes to choosing makeup looks you love! So don't be afraid to express your own preferences, even when it comes to natural makeup.
Pro product tips;
Tinted moisturizer by the Balm
Dual action concealer, rose water spray, and eyeshadow palettes by Serenity + Scott
Rose Helichrysum face lotion by Mountains to Sea for preparing skin
All of these products, and more advice available at the studio. :)
Hamilton/Wilkes wedding in the Bahamas!
Taylor and Bo are from the Tri-cities region and took us along to work at their wedding. It was an amazing destination wedding at The Atlantis on Paradise Island, and I'm honored to have been Taylor's makeup artist.
She's been a client for several years now, and it was so much fun to be there for her special day. I created this "Bahamian Sunset" look for rehearsal night. It consisted of orange/peachy/warm hues, set off by turquoise under-eye liner.
Wedding day we focused on smokey gold/beige/browns for a classic look on the eye, and a pop of color on the lip with a bright island hot pink.
The entire weekend was so beautiful and perfect. You couldn't ask for a more stunning location or fun group of people.
I went from makeup artist to photography assistant, with Keith Dixon Studios who captured the entire weekend with lovely candid and expressive photos. Be sure to check out his stunning work below, as well as more of his photographic art at his website. Sure, I'm biased! I did marry the guy after all. ;)
One thing that took my breathe away last weekend, were the Junkanoo dancers. You can't stop smiling as they dance and play their instruments, but even moreso, it made me tear-up at the raw Bahamian authenticity and unbridled expressiveness. Absolutely an experience I would recommend for anyone!
Also, if anyone is looking to do a destination wedding in the Bahamas, the first person you should contact is Marva Munroe, founder of Chic Bahamas weddings, who is the maven of wedding planning. She's the best combination of gentle and fiercely focused. Your second call should be to us, for your glamour and photographic needs of course! ;)
Congratulations to Taylor and Bo! I'm so happy for both of you and it was an absolute pleasure to work with you on your special day.
We look forward to another visit to the islands soon, if the stars align!
Here are a few images of their magical island weekend;
I'll be hosting some fantastic opportunities for learning new makeup skills in February!
Here is what's coming your way, as well as a Basic Eye Technique class for 25.00 on February 12th from 6-7;30pm at the studio.
Class information can be found in the "Events" section on the Faces by Ren page on Facebook, and registration/payment can be made on Square.
Busy season is just around the corner, leaving me little time for teaching. I hope you can take advantage of the winter classes!
I truly intended to do a newsletter monthly, but life has been incredibly busy and fulfilling with very little time to sit and catch up.
Seasonal may have to do for now!
Fall class schedule
I have an awesome series for all you hard-working people! This is a fun, easy-going, basics series with the busy human in mind. It's also easy on your budget.
Monday night makeup; just the basics, none of the fuss. These will run for seven weeks, starting on November 6th. 25.00 per class, or 145.00 for the entire series! That's a savings of 30.00 if you do all 7 weeks. One filled-up hour, with time for questions and shopping after class. 6:00pm-7:00pm
These are focused, packed with information and demonstration so you can get the most in a short time. It's one hour with no rush, no fuss! The focus is on learning and fun.
Every class is a wonderful stand-alone but is laid out in a manner to build upon the previous class if attendees wish to layer their learning.
Because the classes are wrapped all around the holidays, it's a great chance to come play, shop, and learn all at once!
Sign up for individual classes in the FbR online shop; (scroll to bottom of page where "class registrations" are listed and choose your date/dates) or email me at email@example.com to take advantage of the 7-week inclusive price; Faces by Ren online shop
Note; all classes are individually listed in events on the Faces by Ren Facebook business page.
November 6th; The foundation before foundation; Glowing skin and how to prep-your-face. Makeup only goes on as well as you've prepped. Do you really need that expensive primer? What steps are important and what can we let go? Reveal it or cover it? Let's talk about the most important foundation of makeup...your SKIN.
November 13th; Build a solid foundation; What is the difference between concealer and foundation? Is flawless the goal or full coverage? These mysteries and more will be covered (get it?) in this fun and informational class. More is not always better unless we are talking chocolate. So let's explore what flawless means to you and how to achieve a clean, smooth face that is ready to face the challenges of the day.
November 20th; Highlight/contour for the non-Instagram celebrity. I know, I know...we've all seen the videos where they contour and highlight as if they're getting ready for a theater production. That's all good and fun, but you don't have time for that nonsense. How about some subtle, every-day techniques that anyone can add to their routine in minutes? It's fun and you'll knew where the glow goes.
November 27th; It's not-so-basic; Basic eyeshadow techniques and how to adjust your routine to your lifestyle. Looking your best has never been more straightforward. A few brushes and a bit of information can take the intimidation of eyeshadow away. It's easy-peasy.
December 4th; Eyeliner techniques; There are pencils, gel, liquid, and there are even eyeshadows for this as well! Let's look at a variety of ways to line the eyes including the tricksy ways that don't look like eyeliner. A different technique for different personal styles, moods, or events.
December 11th; Beat your brow; You know you want to beat them some days! I don't mean bold, I mean brows have a mind of their own right? How can the average fabulous human get some control and fill without looking like they belong to someone else? Again, it's all about personal style and most people just want to tame those bad boys. Simple, clean techniques and products that will have you smiling about how cooperative your brows are behaving.
December 18th; False lash application; The beasty of all beasties! We love them and we hate them. False lashes are one of the most glamorous effects for photo shoots and special events but most people struggle with application on their own eyes. This is one thing you will want to practice regularly, but I'm here to start you out on the right lash. ;) With proper information and practice, you'll have those fabulous lashes you need for just the right occasion. I highly recommend taking this class with a friend so you can help each other later!
The Serenity Project in NYC!
On October 21st we were in NYC for the Opening reception of the Serenity Project. All 16 participants had their selected underwater bodypainting printed on glass and hung for one night only at Venue57.
It was a beautiful night from so many vantage points. Seeing 10 of the 16 participants and their reaction to both the calendar and the art was magic. Being in uptown NYC with a 9th floor view wasn't so bad either.
Metavivor president and MBC patient Beth Fairchild put the entire event together with a posse of volunteers who poured their heart and soul into this.
You can keep up with the project, watch the interview videos, and see new images as they are launched each month over at the MBC Info. Center website.
All funds raised through the project benefit Metavivor Research and Support.
You can purchase a calendar featuring an underwater photograph of each participant, and all 35.00 will go directly to metastatic research. Check out the calendars in the Metavivor shop.
Living Art America; the North American Bodypainting Championships
Above image of model Brittney Isphording by Photographer Bonnie Austin Stanley
In Mid-October we were once again in Greensboro NC for the most prestigious bodypainting championship in all of North America.
I was fortunate to have Tiffany Beckler as my assistant this year, and in spite of not being well prepared, we managed a 5th place in the pro category!
The overall theme was "Heal the Body, Heal the World". Tiffany suggested that we paint the Serenity Project on our model and once it was suggested, I couldn't let that idea go. It was brilliant!
We painted some of the underwater images on the model, and in homage to the two women who died from MBC for both Keith and myself, we painted portraits of them as well. My Mum (Cheryl Bidwell) and Keith's former wife (Serenity Dixon, for whom the project is named) both died from MBC and are the reason we have such a deep connection to this work.
Competition is mostly about connecting with my big, messy, beautiful bodypainting family. It's always humbling to be there and to have such opportunities nearby.
Once again, model Brittney Isphording wore the art like a true champion and some of the flowers which were part of the design, were in honor of her Grandmother who is a breast cancer survivor.
Model Brittney Isphording
Assistant Tiffany Beckler
Photographer Keith Dixon Studios
Travel brush sets and other holiday yum
Just a quick reminder that the travel sets are available this time of year and I'll be placing orders as interest dictates. Please be sure to contact me right away if you'd like to reserve a set before holiday season gets crazy.
These are professional level brushes that are in a compact, easy-to-carry size. Just as soft and durable as the full size Serenity + Scott brushes. 60.00 per set, including travel bag.
Another great gift idea are the Mountains to Sea skin care baskets, complete with Anti-aging face lotion, Sea salt scrub, Calendula healing stick, and Rosemary body lotion. All of these luscious products are nestled in a wood box at the affordable price of 75.00
Hand crafted. Small batch. Sustainably sourced and preservative free.
Last, but certainly not least is one of my favorite gift ideas; the Serenity + Scott eyeshadow palettes. Nine richly pigmented eyeshadows nestled in a custom palette.
I especially enjoy building color sets for people using a bit of information about the preferences of the person receiving them. From natural to bold, let me customize a palette for you! Paraben, gluten, cruelty free beauty for 80.00 per 9-shadow palette. Custom 3-shadow palettes are 30.00 and all are re-fillable for 8.00 per eyeshadow.
Customized gifts. Personal service. Beautiful local products. Glamour for everyone. I'm brewing the tea now.....
November and December First Fridays; 6-9pm
Explore downtown. Create memories. Stay out late.
Downtown is always a great time on First Fridays! November 3rd will include a block party over by the new Blowtique store. Chili cook-off at 6:30pm on Main Street with a DJ, classic car show, and 5.00 unlimited tastings! Faces by Ren will be open from 6-9pm with hot drinks and hugs for anyone willing to get out on a fall evening.
December First Friday is a full blow out party here! See below for details.
Keep up with all downtown JC First Friday events on their Facebook page.
Small Business Saturday; November 25th 9am-8pm
Downtown Johnson City is the place to be for local, personal, and unique shopping experiences! We are celebrating Small Business Saturday with the rest of our downtown merchants. Stop by for a hot drink, personalized shopping, and even eye touch-ups for 25.00.
I'll be gift wrapping any purchases made that day as well! Enjoy the less stressful environment that local businesses offer. Local food, local gifts, and local atmosphere all within walking distance.
Oh, and did I mention chocolate? Oops...silly me. The BEST part about Small Business Saturday is that several merchants will have chocolate on hand that day. You could do a whole chocolate stroll.
This is the big decision I need to make soon...what kind of chocolate, and how much? Hmmmmm....
December 1st; Studio celebration for 6-year anniversary and Wizard Cat Merlin calendar launch party!
Yes, it's been six years since Keith Dixon Studios and Faces by Ren officially opened a brick and mortar space in the Tri-cities. Those six years have been filled with grand adventures, growth, and challenges. To show our gratitude, we are celebrating!
Both studios will be open from 12pm-9pm on Friday December 1st; Open House at both 310 and 308 South Roan in Johnson City. Drinks and refreshments, our latest art collaborations on display including images from the Serenity Project, Merlin the wonder-wizard on site, Merlin calendar launch (be the first to get your limited edition handmade caldendar for 2017!), product demonstrations, live bodypainting demonstration from 3-6pm, model on site from 6-8pm down at Tipton Art Gallery for the "Warhol, Body Art, and Yoga" art show, as well as studio door prizes!
We can't wait to see you. Deep gratitude for being along for the journey whether you're new to our services or you've watched the whole crazy thing unfold. We appreciate each of you beautiful humans so much.
Flawless, lightweight, AND longwearing? You betcha! That's the beauty of airbrush.
This is the class you've been waiting for!!
Learn the ins and outs of airbrush makeup and how to use an airbrush system.
From foundation application, to maintenance of the system and how to make this work for home use, get the basics down and feel confident in a brand new skill that will set your makeup apart and let you shine! Not that t-zone sort of shine either....you know, that brilliant, bold, I've-got-the-world-by-the-tail kind of shine. ;)
This class is focused on anyone who has never used an airbrush system and is thinking about purchasing one for home use or to add this as a service for clients, though I will definitely be sharing advice and tips for those who have used an airbrush system and feel they can improve.
This is the most lightweight, flawless and long wearing foundation you'll find.
You will need to own and airbrush system or be willing to invest in one. I recommend Dinair systems for at-home or beginning-to-airbrush use. If you're looking for a more advanced system that can grow with your skills, the Neo airbrush and Neo 3-speed mini-compressor by Iwata are perfect.
Please contact me if you'd like advice about purchasing a system. firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a limited number of airbrush systems available for this class if you're not sure about purchasing a system before class. Please indicate whether you will need a loaner system and I will reserve one on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Class is 125.00 per person.
This class is offered on a limited basis. Please check the events section on the FB page or here at the blog for class listings as they come available.
Customized classes and dates available with a minimum of 5 students.
*Photo by Keith Dixon Studios, model Mellisa Oh
"Tea is about holding on to something. With both hands if you have to. You can sip it when you need to pause. "
I've got a blog called "Tea With Ren" that has long been a repository for my philosophical musings, life interests, and sharing that which inspires. I'm beginning to realize that my business is tied to that stream of thought in myriad ways.
Tea is central to my work here at the studio. Not only as my beverage of choice most days, but also as something I offer all of my clients when they come for services.
What is it about being handed a freshly brewed, steaming cup of tea? It feels like comfort. It feels like someone noticing what you prefer. It feels safe, and welcoming. Within the tea is the message I want my clients to receive. That you are welcome. That your preferences matter. That you have something comforting to sip.
Glamour doesn't have to be hurried. It can be exciting without all the noise. It can be a handmade mug of tea in your hands. It can be the way someone sees you. It can be refreshing and zen at the same time.
So it's not really about the tea. It's about what the tea represents. It's about who I want to be and how I want people to feel when they come to the studio.
Sit and have a cuppa with me. The glitter will follow.
P.S. If tea isn't your thing, that's ok. I have fizzy water too. ;)
Mugs handcrafted by Kilika Designs in Oregon
So after a terribly disappointing afternoon spent on the creation of an email blast on Square, and losing all of the content after hours of effort, I realized that newsletters could be a regular feature on the blog right here, and I'll send the link out in an email blast instead!
So check back regularly for monthly updates on classes, behind-the-scenes, and upcoming projects as well. Thank you for your continued support and for being here.
Please check out the form at the end, so you can give me some feedback on events and classes you'd like to see happen!
Upcoming community events
Faces by Ren is proud to be one of the vendors for the Women-owned business expo in Kingsport later this month. Stop by my booth, plus see over 20 other local entrepreneurs and the wonderful businesses they run. Only 5.00 and drinks/appetizers are included!
It's been a long time since I've done a bridal show! But I'm getting back into the swing of it at this intimate, small town show in Jonesborough on September 10th. Simple Elegance Bridal Show boasts a fashion show and some outstanding vendors. 12-3pm at the Jonesborough Visitors Center.
Class schedule for fall
All classes are posted as Facebook events on the Faces by Ren business page. All details, including pricing and registration information can be found there. Here is a brief synopsis;
Monday, August 14th 6-7:30pm; Basic eye techniques. This is a demonstration style class so you can get a lot of information in a short time! Learn how to blend that perfect crease, get that crisp eyeliner, and feel empowered with your makeup routine.
Sunday, August 27th, 1-5pm Intro to airbrush; Airbrush makeup is one of today's hottest trends. It sounds difficult, but with a bit of instruction you can access this amazing art form. Flawless and long wearing foundation isn't just for pros! No experience needed. Bring your system if you own one. Please let me know if you'd like to use one of my systems. I highly recommend doing so if you aren't sure about investing in an airbrush system but would still like to learn.
Saturday, September 2nd 1-3pm; Color Theory; This is one of the most fun classes! Understanding the relationships between colors can help you make better decisions about makeup and it's uses. Plus, we get to play with pigments and PLAY-DOH. Leave with a better understanding of tints and shades, complimentary and analagous color schemes, and why your eyeshadow turned to mud that one time.
*I will continue to add classes for fall, so please check the FB page often. Thank you!
The Serenity Project
Images are now rolling out monthly through Metavivor Research and Support via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We are thrilled to partner with them to shine a spotlight on people living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and to help share their stories.
Please check out the valuable work that they do, and support in any way you can.
It was an honor to help bring this project to life with their help, and with the incredible talents of Keith Dixon Studios.
Recent bodypainting commission
Teagan Bentley is an amazing ballerina (teaganveganballerina on IG). I was so excited to have her come all the way from the Pacific NW to get painted. What an amazing model!
Limited edition signed prints of "athena revisited" will be available soon. You can email me if you'd like to be placed on an interest list; email@example.com
Please feel free to fill out this brief survey when you have a minute. I value your input and look forward to creating events and classes tailored to this feedback. Thank you so much!
After the whirlwind that was April and May, we finally got back to shooting a few personal projects and catch up with clients who needed photo shoots.
Here are the results of our recent underwater explorations. All photos by Keith Dixon Studios
Model Brittney Isphording, from Greensboro NC. You may not recognize her without bodypaint, but she's been my model for the Living Art America competition since 2014. She hoops, teaches yoga, and has always been an amazing model to work with in any medium!
This is a teaser image...more to come from this collaboration soon.
Model Ivy Hawkins from Asheville. This was our first time working with her and she is absolutely phenomenal under water!
Client Kacy Barbour chose to celebrate the imminent birth of her "rainbow baby" with both an underwater photo shoot and a belly painting. I absolutely love this graceful and reflective maternity photo. Perfection.
Left; Jessica Baber is another Asheville based model we have worked with before. For those who have been following Keith's work, she met up him in the Keys for some ocean and underwater work a couple years ago. She's a natural mermaid!
Right; Josh Royston is another Asheville model as well, and has modeled for underwater work with us in the past. This time his mermaid daughter was the featured model, but I especially adore this Daddy/Daughter shot!