Worlds of swirl: Kathryn Beals for Laura Mercier

As soon as I laid eyes on the mesmerizing swirls of this Laura Mercier bronzing compact I knew it was a Museum must-have.  Only when I visited their website to find the official name of the compact for the summer exhibition label did I discover that this beauty was the work of California-based artist Kathryn Beals

Laura Mercier Mediterranean Escape bronzer

Laura Mercier Mediterranean Escape bronzer

I was hypnotized by the marbleized pattern well as the color scheme of celestial blues with ribbons of gold. 

Laura Mercier Mediterranean Escape bronzer

Laura Mercier Mediterranean Escape bronzer

I believe the bronzer is a cream formula so it began "sweating" a bit when I placed it the windowsill to take photos. 

Laura Mercier Mediterranean Escape bronzer

Beals, a self-taught artist raised in British Columbia, is a third-generation painter who began selling her artwork at the age of 13.  Her love of the outdoors led her to pursue a career in forestry studying aspen trees.  She eventually switched to painting full-time, and both her professional background and camping adventures in the Northwest made landscapes her primary subject matter. 

Kathryn Beals, Death Valley Superbloom

Her technique changed in 2017, when she discovered "fluid pouring" in which streams of variously colored acrylic paint are poured onto a canvas to form abstract, yet organic-looking, imagery. "[I] immediately fell in love with the way fluid paintings come out looking like something in nature; from cells to rocks to aerial photos to galaxies," she says. In this way they function sort of as nature's inkblots in that the finished product can resemble different natural phenomena to different viewers: one might see a night sky or geological formation while another sees a microscopic organism or ocean waves, or it could be all of these simultaneously. Beals also credits her grapheme color synesthesia - meaning she sees words and numbers in color - and migraine auras as key influences on the patterns she creates.

Kathryn Beals, Pink and Yellow

Kathryn Beals, Ocean Colors

Beals began experimenting with incorporating metallic leaf into her abstract works to add a bit of structure and sheen to them. She pioneered a unique metal leafing technique by using liquid adhesive to outline natural details (trees, rivers, etc.) and applying gold, silver or copper leaf on top. The paintings are then topped off with a layer of shiny resin for a reflective, three-dimensional effect. Earlier this year she launched her own online course to train other artists in this technique. All of Beals' series are based on nature - riverbeds, forests, and glaciers seem to be her favorite sources of inspiration.

Kathryn Beals, Gold and Sunrise

Kathryn Beals, Gold Aurora Borealis

Kathryn Beals, Glacier series 2

Kathryn Beals, Glacier series 2 detail

Kathryn Beals, Riverbed series 7

Kathryn Beals, Riverbed series 11 - green geode

Kathryn Beals, Riverbed series 6

Kathryn Beals, Riverbed series 6 detail

To give you a better sense of Beals' process I've included this video. I love how it combines a slightly haphazard technique (acrylic pouring) with a more intricate one (metal leaf outlines) to create a perfect marriage of abstraction and traditional landscapes. It also looks like she's left-handed, and you know how cool I think lefties are.

I enjoy Beals' work, but I'm even more impressed by her charitable mindset. She is fully devoted to donating a good portion of the proceeds from her art sales to various nonprofits. She explains, "I want to remember my connection to forestry and the outdoors in my work, so I use my art to raise funding for conservation nonprofits. As a cancer survivor, I want to give back, so I plan to do a benefit series every year with my artwork." In the past Beals has given The Nature Conservancy, the American Cancer Society, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Doctors Without Borders, among others. Her most recent series this month raised over $5,000 for Leave No Trace, an organization that educates those who manage public lands and the public itself on reducing their environmental impact. From 2017 till now, Beals has donated over $20,000 to charitable organizations and hopes to raise $100,000 in her lifetime. I'd say she's well on her way! And, uh, I also know a museum she could donate to. ;)

Anyway, I was pretty excited to find that Beals had posted the original artwork that was used for the Laura Mercier bronzer at her Instagram.

Kathryn Beals

Of course I had to highlight the section that's on the case.

Laura Mercier Mediterranean Escape bronzer/work by Kathryn Beals
(images from and @kathrynbeals)

I'm still itching to know how the collab came about and why Laura Mercier selected Beals for this piece.  I left a comment on the artist's Instagram to no avail, but that's par for the course I suppose given how infrequently artists actually respond to my requests.  Oh well.  I think the company may just happened to have been one of the over 6 million views of this 2018 viral Facebook video/artist interview, and approached Beals for a collab.  But I'd like to talk with the artist and get her views on makeup and beauty, especially since she looks to be bare-faced most of the time - I'd be curious to know if she'd actually use the product her artwork appeared on.  I also think it would have been really cool if Laura Mercier had added clear acrylic on top of the case to make it resemble one of Beals' finished pieces even more.  (Check out NARS's Man Ray lipstick coffrets if you can't picture what I'm talking about.)

What do you think of this bronzer and of Beals's work?  If you had to choose, would you buy this one or MAC's Electric Wonder collection?

MM Summer 2019 exhibition

MM summer.2019.poster.2pp

As you might have guessed from the lack of activity around these parts, I am sad to report that things have remained quite difficult on the personal front.  I don't want to go into details, but let me just say that finding quality, affordable ongoing care for stroke patients is a never-ending quest that eats up every second of spare time and mental energy, not to mention the time spent traveling to another state to visit at least once a week.  And being forced to sell your parents' home where they've lived for over 40 years is far more gut-wrenching than I ever expected, despite bracing myself for it for years.  :(  In spite of all this I was determined to put up a summer exhibition, especially given that I haven't done an exhibition in an entire year!  It's more or less a mishmash of themes from previous years:  the Greek/Mediterranean feel and bathing beauty are from the 2016 exhibition, fruit and critters are from summer 2017, tropical jungle palms/flowers and birds from 2015 and 2018, respectively, and shells are a nod to the one of the themes from 2013.  This doesn't mean I don't have ideas, it's just that I couldn't do the more in-depth theme I wanted this year.  As you'll see, I also made up for the total absence of mermaids in last year's summer exhibition.

The Makeup Museum summer 2019 exhibition

The Makeup Museum summer 2019 exhibition

The Makeup Museum summer 2019 exhibition

Starting at the top row, left to right:

Some vintage shell-themed pretties, along with a fairly bizarre Cutex ad.  Oddly enough, this is only one of 5 cosmetics ads from the '50s/60s that feature women's heads underwater.  I'm sure there's a lot more to be said about that...

Vintage Cutex ad and shell compacts

Stratton shell compact

Vintage shell compact


Loved this Bésame Peter Pan Mermaid Lagoon collection!  Kind of an odd choice for a holiday release, but when we're talking about vintage-inspired mermaids the seasonal appropriateness doesn't matter.  I just wish I could have fit more of the collection on the shelf - the fragrance and lipstick are adorable.

Bésame mermaid lagoon

Besame mermaid lagoon palette

Besame shell highlighter


Another brand that turned the tables on traditional holiday motifs in 2018 was Tarte.  While the pineapple palette is cute, it quickly became a source of rage for me - you'll see why later. 

Tarte pineapple palette

Tarte pineapple throne

Tarte pineapple eyelash curler

I cannot believe I haven't featured this 1956 Lancôme ad until now.  Equally unbelievable was the fact that sometime last fall I scored this delightful compact featuring a happy bunch of mer-people.

Lancome skincare ad, 1956

Vogue Vanities mermaid compact, ca. 1950s

Second row, left to right:

Millions of peaches, peaches for pretty is this Sulwhasoo Peach Blossom Utopia collection?!  I wanted to write about it last spring when it was released, but couldn't find a ton of info on the artist so I scrapped it. 

Sulwhasoo Peach Blossom

Sulwhasoo Peach Blossom


This is kind of a sad shelf for me.  It looks okay but it was not what I had planned.

Rodin Olio Lusso mermaid collection

Rodin Olio Lusso mermaid highlighter


During the exhibition's installation, as I was hammering in the Cutex ad over the top left shelf, the Tarte pineapple palette fell and hit almost every object below on its way down.  If you've ever seen "The Price is Right", it was sort of like a destructive version of Plinko.  I was on the top step of a ladder so I couldn't move quickly enough to catch the palette before it destroyed some items in its path.  The end result was the complete breakage of a piece from one of my most beloved collections:  the body oil from last summer's Rodin Olio Lusso x Donald Robertson mermaid collection.  The powders in the Tarte palette also shattered; fortunately I had intended on always displaying the palette closed, and the rug did not sustain much damage.  Plus the oil is still available so I will order another.  In the meantime I could at least display the box for it.  I'm also grateful the mermaid highlighting powder didn't fall and break as that item is long gone.

exhibition installation disaster

exhibition installation disaster

exhibition installation disaster

exhibition installation disaster

I picked up these beauties from Richard Hudnut last year.  The discoloration you see towards the bottom of the Sweet Orchid box (right below the Hudnut name) is from the aforementioned oil spill - that area was in pristine condition prior to the disaster.

Richard Hudnut Gardenia and Sweet Orchid powder boxes


This was a sneaky but lovely release from Laura Mercier.  I haven't purchased anything Museum-worthy from the brand since possibly 2009.  As soon as I saw the heavenly blue and gold swirls I was sold.  Then I found out an artist was behind the beautiful marbling effect, which made it even better.  If I have time I'd like to get a post up about her work because it's really gorgeous.  MAC's version is more generic/less artistic, but still pretty.

Laura Mercier bronzer

MAC Electric Wonder highlighter

MAC Electric Wonder lipstick


Third row, left to right:

If you follow me on Instagram you might remember how much I adored this little gal.  Now her princess counterpart swam in to keep her company! 

Vintage princess mermaid lipstick holder

Unfortunately she also sustained some injury due to the Tarte palette fall, but at least it's only the side of the holder.

Vintage mermaid lipstick holder

I remember being both excited and dismayed at the release of Too-Faced Tutti Frutti collection last August.  While I loved the plethora of pineapples - my favorite fruit and one of my favorite motifs - I was disappointed it was released a year after the Museum's summer 2017 exhibition as it would have been perfect for the fruity theme.

Too-Faced Tutti Frutti pineapple

Too-Faced pineapple highlighting drops

I really didn't think Anna Sui could top the jellyfish-laden aquarium collection from 2017, but here we are.  Just precious.

Anna Sui summer 2019 makeup

I love the makeup, but the mini fragrance was also insanely cute.

Anna Sui summer 2019 makeup

Anna Sui summer 2019 mermaid compact

Anna Sui summer 2019 mermaid blush

Anna Sui summer 2019 mermaid highlighter


Here are the images I included in the background so you can see the mermaid print better.


(images from

The Volupté seahorse compact was featured in the summer 2014 exhibition.  This year, I was able to add Elgin's beautiful ruby and turquoise rhinestone encrusted version, along with an original ad.  Someday I hope incorporate a sparkly vintage Ciner compact and Estée Lauder's more recent one.

Vintage seahorse compacts

Elgin compact ad, 1949

Bottom row, left to right:

Guerlain truly spoiled us this year with their Terracotta bronzers. 

Guerlain Terracotta 2019

Guerlain terracotta bronzers 2019


Here are some better versions of the vase and wreath photos.  It's a shame the Met didn't have a shot of the top of this vase, which has the most similar pattern to the Guerlain Hestia Island bronzer.

Greek oil flask

Golden laurel wreath
(images from and

Uh oh, a vintage mermaid lipstick army has invaded the Museum!  But I think the bathing beauty by Boots 17 should be able to keep them from misbehaving.  (Unless they're vicious killer mermaids who feast on human flesh).

Vintage Boots 17 and New Fashion lipsticks

Vintage mermaid lipsticks


I simply couldn't pass up the pattern and texture of YSL's summer palettes.  Clarins, true to form, served up another gorgeous bronzer as well.

YSL summer 2019 palettes

Clarins summer 2019 bronzer

Clarins 2019 bronzer

Lastly we have LM Ladurée's summer collection, which was stunning inside and out and smells heavenly too. 

LM Ladurée summer 2019

LM Ladurée summer 2019


So that about wraps it up for summer 2019!  Thank you for bearing with a regurgitation of previous summer themes.  Despite the lack of originality I still think it was visually appealing.  What piece was your favorite?  Are you looking forward to next year's exhibition, which already has a theme and title?  I'm debating whether to put in a few more pieces I couldn't fit this time around even though they're not quite in line with the concept I've chosen...but I guess I have a whole year to think about it.  ;) 

Curator's Corner, April 2019

CC logoSeeing as how I couldn't get it together for a February recap and obviously got sidetracked over the past 6 weeks, I figured I'd start fresh with the April installment of Curator's Corner.  Here's the monthly rewind. 

- So gimmicky yet I'd love to visit this YSL pop-up.

- In packaging news, pens and pencils are experiencing a sharp increase in popularity, while modular makeup gets a Lego-inspired twist.

- Would you like some toast to go with the buttery skin trend?

- Just a gentle reminder that inclusivity in the beauty industry doesn't end with base makeup

- In honor of Earth Day:  the good, the bad and the ugly in beauty recycling and waste reduction.

- Interesting piece on how house brands are getting the "exclusive" treatment.

- Whenever I finally get around to watching the new Pet Sematary I'm going to keep an eye out for Church's makeup.

- I've read this article on digitally applied makeup several times and still can't wrap my head around how it actually works. 

- One of beauty's most infamous cult products turns 20.  Happy birthday, O! 

- Speaking of '90s makeup...

The random:

- Continuing with the '90s theme, in sad nostalgic news, the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's passing occurred on April 5, while a documentary on deceased Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

- Normally I refuse to spend more than $15-$20 on pajamas (Old Navy is my go-to), but I had to splurge on these adorable mermaid jammies.  There's also a shorts version.

- Despite all the turmoil on the personal front, I managed to pop up to NYC for a couple hours to catch the amazingly comprehensive Hilma af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim, which turned out to be the most visited show in the museum's history.  It did not disappoint!

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint

As I predicted, af Klint's work is even more breathtaking in person.  I was thrilled to have gotten a chance to see it.

How has your spring been?