Monday, 20 April 2015

Art attack

As I'm freelance, my work life is typically either crazy busy or completely dead. I've been going through a slow patch the last month or so and whenever this happens I have to keep myself busy creatively to avoid going completely stir crazy. I tend to take on about five projects at once and this time the main one has been getting back into painting and illustration.

I've filled my days drawing animals and kind of fell into quite a specific style I hadn't really worked in before but came to me naturally and is something I've fallen in love with. As I write this I've just finished my biggest piece, an A3 triceratops commission.

It's been a little scary working at double the size I'm used to, and nerve wracking creating a piece that's suddenly not only on my terms. Fortunately I ended up with a very happy customer, and I was also super pleased with how it turned out. All the time and love I poured into this piece paid off.

Below are some of the pieces I've been creating over the past month, I've pretty much just been drawing animals I like, choosing ones I can give interesting textures. I've got them all available for purchase in my Society6 shop and I've linked them beneath the images. There they can be bought as prints but also in an array of other formats from phone covers to shower curtains.

I actually have a Giveaway running where someone can win the original of this alligator piece on my new art based Instagram account. If you're interested in entering you can find me at @rafflesbizarreart.

There's a couple of other pieces on my Society6 and Instagram too but these are my favs and I'm looking forward to starting an exciting new one tonight which will be a little bit different, a little more imaginative too.

I'd love to hear what you guys thing of my work, I've been having a wonderful time dabbling in illustration again and am even considering getting some prints done of a few of the pieces and trying to sell them.

So my question is: are these the kind of artworks you would buy as prints and if so which is your favourite and the one you'd most likely put on your wall?

Of course I am also available for commissions, just drop me an email if you'd like to discuss that.

Thanks for reading! I'm so glad to be back on my lonely little blog!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

United Makeup Artists Expo - Pro Kit Haul

No your eyes do not deceive you, I really am updating my blog after months away. I'm not going to go into a lengthy description of what I've been up to, lets just say work and life got in the way, it can be tough being a freelancer. I also can't make any promises about how often I'll be blogging, but for now I'm excited to be back!

Last weekend I attended the United Makeup Artists Expo in Islington. It's a similar idea to IMATS but UK based so on a smaller scale, but with lots of wonderful artists demoing their skills and doing presentations as well as an array of great brands selling their wares, mostly at discounted prices.

While I was there I made a serious dent in my bank balance and picked up a ton of new products for my kit so as I've shared my IMATS hauls on here in the past I thought it would be fun to do that again for this one.

As you can see, I did the shopping aspect of the show justice. I did spend a lot but everything I got was discounted, some of the savings were amazing and only two of these things are for personal use so I don't feel too guilty about it.

These first items are all for special effects work, which is the area of makeup I am most passionate about. This is actually me being restrained, I could have spent an absolute fortune updating my fx kit.
Illustrator palettes - These are alcohol activated paints which I mainly use for painting prosthetic appliances but they are waterproof so are great straight on the skin too when you want something with a little longevity. They apply as transparent washes so are great for subtle skin tones or things such as veining and bruising where it needs to look like the colour is under the skin.
Le Maq Pro - Le Maq Pro is one of my favourite brands for use in film and tv, I almost exclusively use their foundations and concealers these days. This palette is a little different as it's a selection of shades for creating some nice corpse effects, their products are wax based so a lot more buildable and subtle than greasepaints. The Pink bottle on the right is an activator that can be used in conjuction with this to dilute the consistency.
Maekup - the rest of the products are by the brand Maekup which can be hard to get hold of but is usually stocked in pro makeup stores in London and online. I grabbed a big bag of gelatine which I use for making prosthetic appliances when I'm not working in silicone and is my favourite of its kind. A couple of products for simulating psoriasis and dry lips and lastly those handy empty pots which are something I always need for decanting products on set.

Makeup Forever - I've used their HD translucent powder in the past and loved it but have been waiting for an occasion like UMAE to grab another when it would be a little cheaper. It is super fine so doesn't leave as much residue as other brands whilst still keeping the skin nice and matte.
Emj - This pencil roll wasn't something I expected to pick up but something I really do need. Currently all my lip and eye pencils are in clear zip bags which has been okay but I find I only ever use a small portion of them because I can't see what I have. Now they can all be laid out on my makeup station which will make life a lot easier.
OCC - I used these tinted moisturisers on a CBBC job a couple of weeks ago, they aren't something I would use on many actresses or models but are perfect for men and kids as they don't really add any colour, they just even out the skin, that's if you match to their skintone correctly. By the time I came to buy these I had already spent a lot of money so I just grabbed three shades to start with which covers most skintones when mixed, I am so happy to have these in my kit though.
Zoeva - Zoeva is fast becoming a favourite and I've been buying a fair few of their brushes ever since I first got some at IMATS last summer. I picked up three more, mostly because I couldn't resist, but I always figure it's something I can never have too many of...right? I also grabbed one of their eyeliner pencils because it is seriously the strongest, creamiest liner I've ever found. This is one of the gifts I bought myself as I had been using a black powder shadow by Illamasqua on my waterline to get an intense black but this is the perfect replacement.

Last but most definitely not least is my Inglot palettes. I actually went up on three separate occasions because I just couldn't resist. They are however all things I needed topping up in my kit, minus the perfume palette at the top which was the other item I treated myself with.
Yes you heard correctly, that is cream perfume. I had no intention of buying this but swatched each scent on a different finger then didn't know what to do with it so wiped it on a wrist, combining them to create the most perfect scent. (in my opinion) I can't really describe it except to say that it's fresh but not overly feminine and I'm a big fan of unisex perfumes.
I don't want to go into too much detail for the other palettes as I will do a separate blog post with the shade names and swatches but I decided to create a contour palette, a dusky blush palette and a neutral eye shadow palette, all of which are mattes as I mainly work in film where I don't use a lot of shimmer. I've always loved Inglot and am yet to find a product of theirs I don't rate highly so it was time to inject a little more into my kit.

That's everything folks! I'd love to hear what you think of my choices, I hope it was interesting seeing a haul that was bought for work rather than personal use.

If you were a regular reader I'm sorry I've been absent so long, and if any of you came back to read this I'd love it if you left me a little comment telling me so. I'm going to spend a couple hours catching up on my own favourite blogs now before getting back to an illustration commission.

Lastly, I've been selling a load of clothes on Ebay over the past few weeks to save some money for a trip later in the year and there's a bunch ending tonight if you fancy checking them out here.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Review: Fun gifts from Toxic Fox

Evening festive friends! I hope you don't mind me posting yet another review, work has been keeping me super busy and I've not had a chance to write anything else in between. I wanted to get this particular post up sooner because the site I'm talking about today is a great source of Christmas gift ideas! Of course it's not too late to get your orders in, so if you like what I share below be sure to head over for a browse.

Toxic Fox contacted me on Twitter asking if I'd like to check out some of their products. I took a little look at the site and was impressed by the variety of gifts they had on offer, after sending them some of my favourite items I left it up to them to pick something to send me.

I was completely surprised to find a big box full of the goodies above which is super generous but they also got me down to a T, everything is right up my street...which says a lot about me I guess!

These shot glasses are so much fun, not only are they so festive and adorable but the screw tops mean they can double as little flasks. Perfect for spiking your cinema sodas over Christmas, or is that just me? These would make a great present for both sexes, a work secret Santa gift or that awkward family member you can never find something for.

BBQ Mealworms*
(Couldn't find these on the site but did find this massive variety box of edible bugs)

The Scorpion vodka and BBQ Mealworms are a little more niche, not everyone is going to enjoy these but I think they're good fun personally. They'd make good stocking fillers for fearless younger siblings or adventurous friends.

Saving the best til last are these awesome katana bookends which are magnetic to create the illusion of the books being pierced by the blade. I've gonna have to add a few more books between mine though, it's looking a little stumpy. I think these are a great price and really cool present, there's not many people I know that wouldn't love these. Who doesn't love a gimmick? 

I'm super impressed with everything I received from Toxic Fox and wanted to link to a few other favourites before you swoop off to check it all out for yourself.

I absolutely adore sites like this which actually do have something for everything and are brimming full of gift inspiration which can start to get hard to muster after the initial Christmas shopping flurry.

I'd love to know what your favourite things on the site are and if you've spotted anything you'll be ordering before Christmas? I'm getting straight back on the site as soon as this has gone live to see if I can get any more little bits for my own family.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Review: Karin Herzog face and eye creams

This post has been a very long time coming but has given me the opportunity to use these products for over a month before sharing my thoughts. It's always hard to review skincare because you need the time to get used to different formulas before you can give an informed opinion but I feel I've had the perfect amount of time with these products to be able to do so.

I wasn't particularly familiar with Karin Herzog before receiving these samples but after doing my research I learned KH is a Swiss brand created by Dr Paul Herzog with the encouragement of his wife and the brand's namesake, Karin. The products focus on using active oxygen for cosmetic application, which you can read more about here.

I was immediately impressed with the items I was sent because of the sleek, sophisticated packaging, they look luxurious from the outset which is a quality I would expect being that the products are on the higher end of the price scale.

Day & Night Face Cream: Despite this face cream being designed for day and night I have only been using it in the evenings. It's a lovely, creamy consistency but slightly too heavy for me to personally have on all day under makeup. £57 might seem a little steep but it is a big old tub and you only need roughly a pea-sized amount each time, it also comes with a handy scoop so you don't make a mess. I wasn't sure I liked the scent at first, which isn't overpowering but is slightly more mature than I'm used to, however it grew on me pretty fast and I actually really like it now. I've used this face cream every day for nearly a month and I've found it's been very good to my skin, particularly with the change in weather. I've avoided the dry skin sneak attack that usually happens when the temperature drops and actually reduced the amount of breakouts.

Eye cream: Since my last eye cream review I had been converted to this additional step in my beauty regime. I was eager to try out a different eye cream and see if it brought about the same results. This is a much lighter consistency from the face cream but once again, you only need a really tiny amount. I didn't see a huge difference in my dark circles which is an element it aims to reduce, however given that I'd been working 14 hour days with minimal sleep most of this time, I'm just happy they didn't get any worse. On the whole however the skin around my eyes looks brighter and hydrated so I'm definitely impressed. I'm not sure I'd be able to part with £42 however, but ask me again in another couple of months of using this!

Overall I'm really pleased with these Karin Herzog products and would definitely consider trying other products by the brand on the basis of the two I've been using. I'm so glad these are lasting a long time, I'm always preaching to others the importance of looking after your skin but I don't practice what I preach nearly enough and it makes a nice change to treat my skin with such luxurious products.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Review + Giveaway: Modern Vintage Style

You all know what a jewellery lover I am, having run my own handmade jewellery business for about 8 years until recently. I'm always on the internet looking at what adornments are on offer so I jumped at the chance to review a piece from the brand Modern Vintage Style.

MVS offer a gorgeous array of vintage and handmade gemstone jewellery with a range of different stones, colours and styles. I was lucky enough to be offered a piece of my choice and also sent an extra item to give away to one of you as an early Christmas present!

Now as gorgeous as all of MVS' jewellery is, I don't often wear dainty jewellery but I fell in love with the Yellow Quartz Necklace* which retails at £36. I'm very much in favour of gold tones these days and I thought this would be lovely over a sheer shirt or for a hint of colour with a smart, monochrome outfit. 

The piece I was sent for the giveaway is described in the note I received as a 'Blue topaz quartz gemstone 6 Swarovski crystal necklace, it's a striking shade of blue on a silver chain.

It's funny that I was so drawn to this piece as yellow isn't really a colour I usually go for but I think this particular shade, and the shape of the pendant combined with the gold gives it a really vintage feel and is quite unique. The chain is vermeil which is gold-plated sterling silver and therefore good quality and not going to turn my neck green.

As you can see it's bordering on a choker on me as I have quite a large neck but the chain is 16" so on anyone with a more slender neck it would hang nicely on the chest. I generally prefer my necklaces longer anyway so had already thought I might want to add a little extension chain on the end so it hangs lower. I love how it looks with this paisley patterned shirt though! It's going to be a lovely occasion piece when worn on it's own or a nice addition to a layered necklace look.


Here you can see the giveaway necklace a bit better, the faceted gems are so gorgeous and this also hangs on a 16" chain. This is actually a one of piece specially for this giveaway also priced at £36 which is quite exciting.

If you'd like to enter to win this one of a kind necklace in time for Christmas you can enter via Rafflecopter below. This will run for approximately three weeks and is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As I mentioned previously Modern Vintage Style have a lovely range of different jewellery which would make wonderful gifts this Christmas, or a special treat for yourself perhaps. So make sure you head over to the website and check out what else they have to offer.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Halloween's been and gone, so what about YouTube?

I started my YouTube channel very reluctantly after my first few Halloween makeup tutorials had gone live on the blog. I had a lot of people asking if I did video tutorials as well and as much as I didn't want to get into YT, I could see how much easier it would be to follow a video than a written blog post.

Funnily enough it only took me one video to fall in love with it and I then continued to film my remaining 6 Halloween looks. There was never a plan for a proper channel, I just wanted to give my Halloween tutorials a little more oomph and make sure they could be recreated if anyone fancied. However I've since decided I want to continue making videos, it's just another fun activity I can do when I have the free time and yet another creative outlet to experiment with.

As far as the future of my channel, it will likely stay focussed on special effects and creative makeups. That's my passion and making tutorials gives me the perfect excuse to practice my art and hone my skills when I'm not on a job. Of course when I am working it can be weeks away at a time so my posting will probably be erratic.

I am going to continue with big, character makeups which is how my channel started, but also include quick and realistic effects for those interested in film/tv makeup. Since Halloween I have actually posted two of these types of tutorials already, one on making scabs and the other on how to create an aged black eye.

I'm filming away in Somerset for a couple of weeks soon so in amongst the extensive makeup prep for the film I'm going to try and fit in some blog writing and video filming time so there's stuff up while I'm away. In the meantime, do check out my channel if you haven't already, I'm only a beginner at this YouTube malarky so any pointers you have would be very welcome.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Review: Flint + Flint skincare

I'm a huge advocate on looking after your skin, always telling people in Twitter chats that the best makeup tip is working on a flawless canvas. Unfortunately I don't take my own advice nearly enough and although I always remove my makeup before bed and moisturise in the mornings, that is often where it stops. I've found myself working all waking hours and not taking the ten minutes morning and night for a skincare regime, I also don't wash my personal makeup brushes nearly often enough and I've basically got in a bit of a rut with it all.

Then I was offered some products to try from Flint + Flint, a brand I'd not yet heard of and one that boasted a full collection of skincare products that "ALL work". Their website states "We’re extremely particular. A product that doesn’t work, will never, ever make it into the Flint Plus Flint range." which is something I have a lot of respect for and  sparks great expectations of the products.

I was sent these three items to try which gives me a nice overall picture of their products. I always mention what a sucker for packaging I am so I'm sure you can imagine how pleased I was to unwrap these gorgeous boxes. The design is very slick indeed and I love that each product is colour coded by the vibrant pop in the plus signs.

The first thing I noticed about all three products was the smell, I'm not actually sure if it is a particular scent and I couldn't work out from the ingredients what it would be but I really like it. It also reminds me of some skincare I used to use a few years ago and I'm all for nostalgic smells.

Lip Hero £12: I have a trusty medicated lip balm that I use all year round to keep the cracked lips at bay but I'm always interested to try some more gentle products that don't just keep my lips from being dry but actively keep them feeling hydrated. I found that Lip Hero did just that and has become a mandatory morning and night product for me, it feels so moisturising to apply and leaves my lips everso soft. This product contains active ingredients that aid anti-ageing and promote fuller more defined lips. I can't say I've really noticed this too much but it would be a welcome result if this comes from continued use, my thin lips need all the help they can get.

Serum £48: The serum is to apply between your cleansing routine and moisturising, a step I very rarely ever take in my usual skin care regime, but I was glad that this forced me to get into the habit as I've been really loving this product. The serum has the consistency of a liquid gel and you really don't need much per application. It's a delight to massage into the skin and leaves me feeling wonderfully refreshed. Upon reading the benefits of this product I discovered it is specifically aimed to hydrate the skin and restore radiance which is something I am always looking for and I can say that after nearly three weeks of using this my skin looks a lot healthier and more nourished than it did before. 

Eye Hero £37: Lastly, Eye Hero aims to regenerate the skin and reduce fine lines whilst also easing signs fatigue. The latter is definitely the most immediate complaint I have but I've also used anti-ageing products as a preventative measure for years now. With my job and awkward schedule I often have terrible dark circles around my eyes though in general it's not a part of my face I necessarily think about too much. However using this product every day has definitely made a difference in both how the skin around my eyes looks but also how it feels. This glides onto the skin so nicely, it instantly has a cooling effect and is a really lovely product, you also only need a really tiny amount of this as well.

An all round glowing review pretty much. I'm always dubious when I see claims of products that "really work" but I can't find anything at fault here. It's been such a pleasure to use all three products and I would highly recommend them.

For me, the prices of the Serum and Eye Hero are steep, had I not had the chance to try the products out first I wouldn't have risked spending the money on them personally, however now I would definitely replace them once they've run out. I'm also now very intrigued by ALL of their other products which I trust would be just as great. Flint + Flint do offer a money back guarentee if you're not completely happy with their products which might reassure some of you contemplating whether to invest the money.

I would definitely recommend each of the three products I have tried but if like me you are worried about splashing out too much money on a brand you're unfamiliar with at first, maybe try the Lip Hero first. You can find out more info about each of the products and order them here