Recently Emma Roberts posted something in their insta story that really spoke to me. It was one of those inspirational images - text superimposed over a picture. The picture didn't stick, I can't call it up from memory, but the words did.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. - Maya Angelou 
 I'm not sure I've ever read any better quote to explain why I do what I do. This. Pour my soul and life and mundane details into the universe. I feel it as a kind of synthesthesia. When I tell a good story, when I teach someone something, or best of all, when I can help someone feel better about themselves in whatever way they needed. This is the burden of this complicated story you've found yourself in. It is serious, but also not, It is how to do this thing, or let me explain this bit of chemistry, or here's my day, or here's why my heart is breaking.

The thing that is important to me is the story - it feels like it will burst out of me - but the medium I've chosen (blogging) requires a level of integration with the visual plain that I find deeply satisfying. It's like the strictness with which I judge products. It must be beautiful in the package, beautiful on my skin, feel good, smell good.

I want my blog to match the poetry (or lack thereof) in my words. And so it's begun, my adventure into the world of video and photography. I learned as much as I could on my non DSLR, but eventually what I wanted to do reached beyond what my little beloved point and shoot could handle. It was time to upgrade.

And it has been hard for me. Realizing how little I actually know - how much work the camera had been doing for me - is truly humbling. It also thrilled me in a way that a lot of things have not for awhile. I'm pulling myself by the bootstraps out of a pit of self-pity of my own making. Yes, it happens to me also. I looked at myself in the mirror and then I looked at the internet and then I looked back in the mirror and felt sad. I saw things I wasn't seeing in the mirror, like poreless skin, like never frizzy hair. I forgot that I like my hair to be frizzy, especially when my makeup is super done. It balances the yang to my yin. I struggle with my freckles. Mostly I love them but sometimes I feel like my pores are saucers which must be filled with spackle that will also cover my freckles.  Then I enter a shame spiral about freckle hating, but also wanting smooth, "flawless" skin.

I'm basically counting other people's blessings instead of my own.

But things have been turning around for me. I fund that kernel of gratitude and I chose to water it. Everyday I said, "This is how much water I have. I will not waste it on my weeds of doubt, on my self-pity plants. This water is for that gratitude."

And as the gratitude grew and grew, the other plants withered. I started to feel better.

I found my mojo again.

And still, there was the insurmountable challenge of teaching myself how to shoot.
Indoors now (it just got unbearable cold!)  which is so much harder to do when you have one circle light and not much else. Gawd I miss my auto-adjust, auto-focus, point and shoot so much sometimes it makes me weep. I still haven't figured out video.

I needed a win.

I wish I could tell you this tutorial in a way that was easy to follow. I wish I could make a quick and simple list. It's just not my nature, and it's just not how I do makeup. I want to teach this thing instead. This playfullness. Not so serious. Not so rigid. With room to experiment, get a little messy. It washes off. Here is my best attempt:

1. Minimal prep today because I have myself a 3 hour facial yesterday. Cleanser, SerumMoisturizer, sunscreen, some oil, eye cream. Minimal for me. No judging.

2.  I looked at my face. This is usually a good place to start when you're doing makeup.

3.Sometimes it helps me to do foundation first, like prepping the canvas. It's not to hard to throw on some extra undereye concealer to cover up anything that isn't working for me. Better to see what those bags are going to look like under makeup before I address the area. Not only does this make me feel better when I'm looking closely, but I also tend to paint shapes on my face that flatter the planes of my face - eye bags and all.

3. I love how the Beauty Blender feels bouncing on my skin so I do an extra long foundation session. Building microthin layers on top of microthin layers to create the illusion of skin texture that defies nature but still looks like skin,

4. When I got bored of that I thought, "OOOO,  shadows would be fun. Let's play with the shape of my eye today! What if I dip my brush (first one I found) into the black then just  put some under the lashes so it looks like my lashes are so thick they cast giant shadows on my cheek."

5. Digging around looking for my brush I had come across this gorgeous purple opalescent color from an early Pat McGrath edit. Unicorn color. But I wanted something sophisticated and a little smudgy, sexy. What would the unicorn powder do to my look, like on top of the shadows? I didn't know. It wasn't where I thought I was going. I couldn't get it out of my head. Abandoning the black smokey eye I had envisioned, almost against my own will, I dipped my fingers in the pot. Carefully pressed the powder on top, being extra careful not to smudge the black shadow to maintain that shape I was digging. Like I did in this video, but with a different color.

6. The subtle shift in color worked. This called for a thick mascara. Something so luscious and plump that the shadows under the eye will be mostly believable. There was a mascara I had been playing with, a glossier rep favorite,

7. Then I looked at my face again. I could see exactly where the Glossier Cloud Paint in Haze should go, where the Haloscope in quartz would go on top of it. I applied them with my fingers. Watched them melt in.

8. I'd been dying to try out the Katie Jane Hughes blurred lip trick, so this look seemed done enough that a smudged pout would stand up. So I put on the perfect red as I normally do, which is a pretty light and hand and spread with fingers.  Grabbed a flat brush like I had seen KJH do and went to town. Buffed and blurred out the pencil on the edges until it looked like I had been kissed senseless. Cleaned it up a bit with some concealer. Applied a thick coat of the gloss.

9. I drew on my brows.

I don't believe this list of steps will work if you aren't willing to be a little fearless. To draw the lines you want to color in yourself. To look at your own face and see the beautiful things you want to enhance, not just the things you lament.

What to do next? Well I took a billion selfies on my iphone. Then I remembered my little studio I've been building. That dang camera I was working so hard to learn how to use.

But of course, all that practicing and my battery was dead. Bahahahaha.

Undeterred, I used my iphone camera for the product shot (8+ is bananas, right?)

Then I sat in a comfy chair - pro tip, I never realized how helpful that was, being seated comfortably.
I posed myself and looked. Then I corrected it. Over and over again. I stayed still. I moved. I changed everything I could change. I thouched every button on the camera a few times to see what would happen. There's a back button.

The shadow posed a special challenge for my burgeoning photo skills, as it shifted colors dramatically in different lights.

Then I sent them to my iphone and I cropped. I nudged things into a straight line. I added and subtracted light, eventually realizing they looked better unmessed with. I liked this new rule, only making changes that can be done with iphoto built in on your iphone. No blur, patch, whiten.

When I stepped away from the pictures and dropped them here, there was only one possible title that I felt could capture how I felt about them - about the whole process.

I am utterly fascinated by the creative process. How other people inspire themselves. Learn things. Mix things. Break things. Change things. Grow as an artist. Tell a richer story. Tell a cleaner story. I hope you enjoyed this very detailed look into my creative process. How things wander onto these pages seemingly without my control. The act of leaving them here, finally told, lightens me so I can sleep.

A lion is preening tonight.

P.S.  Apologies in advance for the people living the live version through instagram. Sorry not sorry for somewhat anthropomorphizing the makeup that was captured in this shoot.