Saturday, May 23, 2015

Barcodes and Male Models

The fashion industry is full of male models, so let's make use of their talent. This is Jack. He reminded me of a younger, American version of Francisco Lachowski so I said why not, let's do a photoshoot and test his skills out.

photography & styling by cindy chen
modeled by jack rowland

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Catharsis" - A Short Film

Catharsis –

The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

I was hesitant to post this video, because the initial reaction I knew I would get had to do with how sexual it feels. But, wary as I am, here it is, because now I’ve got your attention.

Bare and primal—these are the words that came to mind as I filmed. I always like to create something that might make you shift uncomfortably in your seat. There was something peculiarly empowering about sitting naked in the middle of my room with nothing but red, black, white paint and a camera. I was in solitary mode, staring into the empty lens and at the blinking red light, with a blind design.

I started with white. Pure streaks of platinum white are dragged lightly across my chest, my shoulders, and my face. Then, the introduction of red. The knowledge of imminent danger, bloody lashes that drip over my primed skin. 

Finally my fingers dip into the black, the color eraser and all suctioning void. Sometimes the drawings map out where the next hiding place will be. I mark it with an X. I make lines down my face, dragging dark thoughts into a gulf of red and white. The paint dries too fast. Opal, the artist within, feels a familiar hatred for her own work. Dissatisfied with the finished product. An eating fear that what I’ve done is not enough, never exactly representative of what I hoped to do, to be. I attack my own work without hesitation. I use the black void and cover everything up, rub the past away.

Now I restart with white. This time I am careful where I dab it. As my fingerprint creates a natural texture with the paint, slowly I see my face transform into a galaxy. I feel the purpose of it now, layers of masks, peeks of uncovered flesh, melded into who I’ve become.

I pull out a mirror and take a good look at myself. I laugh at how ridiculous I look. In the end I feel another weight lift. As the sun sets, I put on eyeliner and wash the galaxy away.

The work I do usually arrive from the beauty of improvisation and a singular concept. Though I have nothing but hands and body to work with, there are still no real boundaries, only those of my imagination.

Click the last screen-grab photo to see the video, or follow this link:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wintress Armor - AU Magazine Full Spread

The Wintress Armor was inspired by a prose written by a talented friend and writer.

“Ashes, ashes, they all fall down.” Only hours earlier the garden had rustled in the wind, a broad rattling like gasping, as stems and stalks strained. Now, the vast proportion of this space was coated by a scant fa├žade of snowfall. It reminded her of soot, bone-like in its intensity. This irregular canvas, impetuous in its asymmetry, brought her to the very precipice of contrast: she, with her minute exhalations of fog and faintly luminescent cheeks, and this, the totality of blankness. She is rooted to this place, enchanted or enslaved, bound by ruminations and unnatural empathies.

She daydreams of cherry blossoms and bouquets and wild petals. She conjures in her memory the silage of one meadow, its sensation an infusion between the olfactory and prismatic rapture, obliterative and pervasive—those impressions, in myriad fashions, impelling the color of the soul. A beacon of warmth, she, petrified against the freakish backdrop. Pure snow will amplify nearly anything visual, be it the whole or dismembered, ventilating or muted.

She toys with an idea from Eastern composition—this digression, though involving painting—is loosely topical, specifically in Chinese “shan shui,” literally mountain water. A practicing artist had once explained to her with very little pretense that color served to awaken a landscape in black and white; further considering this, she entertains the notion that this frigid courtyard is not annihilated, but patience itself.

She recalls a floral arrangement from a past life, like Cezanne’s palette but more severe in its divisions, raw and beauteous, an unpolished jewel. Each of its individuals, vigorous, delicate and upright. This array, much like ideas of people themselves, loosened its grip on reality as its literal concretizations failed. As it vaguely disintegrated in her mind once more, torn asunder by mere gravity, this a mere sequential, prolonged, humiliating process, stalks desiccated, petals awry and peeling and fading, all this decaying into an indiscriminate mush, brilliant only in its stolid march towards gross uniformity, she pauses.

The air seems poised to reveal, dotted by billions of ivory specks. Towards an audience of none, she gestures without gesturing. The evocation is ingrained in her features, angular, stately, sentinel-like, yet vivacious. She notices sinuous instances of ebony, these delineating and slicing up the landscape. She sees a barren space waiting to be awoken. And she, in death-like fixity, is to do precisely that.
- Dennis Ma

Full discretion, my model was not photoshopped into a snowy background. She is actually standing in a forest in the dead of winter (or as Boston would call it, March). We kept her outside for a maximum of 30 seconds, just enough time to capture the stillness. To others she is a statuesque figure in the wind. To us, she is a warrior.

If you haven't gotten a chance to see it, here's the editorial from Artists Unknown Magazine's first issue. See the rest of the issue here:

APRIL 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Statues and Armor - Opal's Looks On the Runway

Not too long ago, the fashion club of Boston College hosted their annual fashion show. They featured Opal's Catharsis Makeup Artistry to end their runway with some couture inspired looks, and I was honored to partake in their event! Here's a look at the official photos from the show. 

on the runway: armor (white and gold)
costumes, hair, makeup and styling by cindy chen
photography by juha turalba

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Globes and Dying Colors: What I Did During Juno (The 2015 Blizzard)

This year’s winter in Boston has absolutely been brutal. The glass on my window has been fully frosted over, so that when I stare through it, I feel like I’m stuck in a snow globe and someone keeps shaking the damn thing. That is why it keeps snowing. That is why we keep slipping on invisible ice. All because we are secretly trapped in a gigantic snow globe. Cue apocalyptic screams.

In light of this situation, I must say, blizzards are the perfect scenario for impromptu photoshoots. I was pleasantly surprised (and a little terrified) when Arlo contacted me right after Juno (the snowstorm) happened, telling me to “be ready for knee-deep snow.”


I wasn’t mentally prepared, and even more hesitant when we snuck behind someone’s house. But eventually we dug our way in (meaning he shoveled a pathway) and he brought me to this breathtaking place down a slope where the entire garden-courtyard—draping foliage, disheveled leafless trees, thorn vines—was covered in a perfect thick coat of white snow.

Beautiful. Still.

Then I realized, I couldn’t feel my toes.

Our shoot was extremely time and temperature sensitive. The problem with impromptu trips into negative degree weather is that you ought to be well planned for any unforeseen obstacles. We obviously didn’t do that pre-production part very well and spent 40 minutes outside trying different things. My coat was coming on and off constantly, as we tried to capture the contrast between the nude hues of the background against the red clothes I was wearing. Neither of us checked how long we had been out there for, so when I felt the cold pain on my hands go numb, I called time. My advice for the daredevils (not that I am any of that sort) who do stupid, dangerous things for the sake of art: don’t spend forty minutes in the freezing cold. I had to be thawed like raw chicken.

death of color

photography by arlo perez
makeup and styling by cindy chen

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Maniac Doll

On another wonderful snow day named Juno, instead of simply sitting at home with a slice of pie and hot tea, I decide to pack as many photoshoots into one day as I could. The downside of doing this, however, is that the weather is unpredictable, timing is off and there is no time to plan anything. Good thing we love impromptu shoots. This time it turned out to be a Tim Burton-esque concept showing a girl's unhinging into insanity. 

Oh, and how did I get my face all smooth and shiny you ask? Well, originally I wanted to paint myself into a frosted glass sculpture. Needless to say, it was harder than I thought, as I am not very much human and not at all see-through nor translucent. Thus I turned to petroleum jelly to give my face the 'glaze' it needed. But the the texture of skin just couldn't capture the type of glassy effect I was aiming for and we altered the idea entirely into what you're about to see.

photography by juha turalba
makeup, costume design & modeled by cindy chen

Monday, January 12, 2015

Forest Meets Fantasy Series PII

The Meadow Prancer
photography, makeup & post-processing by cindy chen
model by karolin pflug

Friday, December 26, 2014

Patterns Series: Winded Gems

Edge and Elegance iii

modeled by pia weber
makeup, hair & photography by cindy chen

~ Soft curls pulled by the breeze as they lay on a bed of precious rock ~

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Makeup Tutorial: Edge and Elegance II


Start off with a clean face. Apply foundation all over. I decided to put in the highlights on top of the cheeks, right below the brow bone and on the nose.


Here, instead of shadow, I used three different shades of purple eyeshadow. Notice the cheekbone was more curved than angular. The jaw line and the sides of the face were darkened to add dimension and define the shape. The highlighted areas I enhanced with white eyeshadow. On the eye, I used the same colors as the rest, deep purples, violets and white on the inside of the eyelid. I added a little bit of brown to the eyelid crease to create more drama and some pink for the base of the lid.


Next, I lined the brow with some dark brown and applying mascara (extending those eyelashes as far as they will go). You can see the white eyeshadow more clearly in this photo.


Now we need to sketch on the pattern. The lines are drawn on with a light orange-brown cream and a straight edged brush. The contrast of edge and elegance is apparent in the wavy and straight criss-crossed lines.


Using a black makeup cream and the fine brush, carefully line the sketches and thicken them.


Use the straight edged brush to blend the black inwards to create this effect.


For the crystals, pick up the small stones with a pair of tweezers and work both sides at the same time to keep the design more or less symmetrical when placing them down on the skin. I used eyelash glue, as usual, to stick them on. Normally I would suggest dabbing the glue on the skin directly and then putting the stone on the spot, but because you are using a lot of black, the glue brush will quickly become dirty (and they are hard to clean), so I suggest simply putting a blob on the back of the gem and then placing them on the forehead.


Make sure you’re satisfied with the final touches and you’re done! (I did add an orange-brown line around the nose at the end, which I unfortunately forgot to photograph, but you can see it in the final product)

To see the full photoshoot, click on the final image below! Registered & Protected