Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FACE TO FACE With the past.

Recently I had the delight of going to The Vanity Fair Portrait Exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles featuring 100 years of VF photo portraits. Great show.

It reminded me of the old days before my portrait career when I was a Hollywood makeup gal fixing the faces of stars.  See first image upper left from Vanity Fair. That's me shooting the breeze with Shelley Winters and Carroll Baker in curlers, hers not mine. I was part of a Vanity Fair 1995 mega shoot with Herb Ritts and Annie Leibovitz in 1995. And when I say mega, consider this; 210 people to shoot and one dog, 1,276 dresses, 295 bras (!!!), and 662 pairs of high heels. It was a HUGE crew in hangar with a helluva crowd to feed for lunch. I really miss craft services still. Someone swanning around offering you a custom-made eggwhite omlette and frappa-whappa coffee at 11 a.m.! 

 I know I earned way more money then than I do now. Hey, like Naomi Campbell I didn't get out of bed for less that $10,000 a day. 

 But my art was washed off at the end of the day and rarely stood the test of portfolio time, let alone a careless cup of coffee or  ciggie (models ALL smoke) smearing my perfectly applied lips. Happened ALL the time and used to really tick me off. Drink through a straw please! Forget someone crying through my perfectly curled fake lashes. That would send me DUO Glue  frickin' nuts. I don't care what caused the tears.  Makeup people aren't always treated that well. I used to HATE being called "THE MAKEUP GIRL", that I can tell you.

You are the first to arrive and the last to leave  and LOW on the roll of credits. Just look at movie credits.  Makeup people are way down the list. But if you mess up what is in your makeup chair at 4 a.m., the WHOLE day's shoot can go to pieces. 

I haven't looked at my old portfolio and magazine covers/clippings for YEARS. Kind  of turned my back on the whole darn thing after an illness made me leave my agency and eventually devote myself to "painting" art. 

But I suddenly and unexpectedly had this huge sudden sense of pride at the VF show at LACMA that I had once done this. Been part of this crazy world.

It has been so rewarding going back through the old clippings. My old life. Face to face with my past comparing notes on how my art is today compared to then. How much I know now that I didn't know then.

Can I say, (I hardly dare) that I really didn't realize how good I was as a makeup artist? That I really was artistic with all this goop. I hardly dared call myself an 'artist' in those days.

Ahhhh....sweet reunion of sorts. Certainly got me thinking...

Makeup by Johanna Spinks (bottom two images). All images Copyrighted.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jo,
Thanks so much for sharing your special photographs and stories from your former glamorous profession. As treasured as they are, how wonderful it is that your work now is tangible and will last forever. Love your Rainy Day painting too.
All the Best,
Sonia Hale

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

I'll bet Shelly Winters was a hoot! What an interesting past you have. I'm sure behind the scenes isn't nearly as glamerous . . . But now someday your work will probably be in a museum somewhere with people admiring your work.

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks gals! It has been fun to look back. Rhonda, you can come to the museum opening, my guest of honor, right?

What I remember mostly, were the LONG hours, early starts, and battling the elements, wind sun etc, while trying to get a good shot. Probably why I don't care for landscape painting too much.

Marian Fortunati said...

Johanna... I am SOOOOO glad you decided to change professions!!
All of us who are your students have gained ...

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

thanks Marian. YOU are always so gracious towards me and encouraging. I appreciate it.

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

I would be honored to be your guest at one of your openings! I was in a panic earlier this week because I had saved all my New York pics on a little drive and lost it. Fortunately after turning the house upside down, I found it in my coat pocket!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

thanks Rhonda...glad you found your CD...That was A GREAT weekend wasn't it??? You are my first invite!