The Art of Beauty by Linda Mason Workshop is an environment of constant and diverse creative production. At this Grand Street storefront, Mason’s longstanding career in makeup and art, as well as her extensive knowledge of and talents in these fields, is both displayed and shared. From her own line of cosmetics and her hand silk-screened line of clothing and accessories, to her paintings, photographs, glass and mixed-media works, the Workshop represents a convergence of high art and beauty that is so unique to Mason’s business, and, in fact, to Mason herself.
It’s no surprise, then, that Mason’s shop should attract talents of all kinds. The Art of Beauty sees a constant flow of musicians, singers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, writers, and aspiring makeup artists in the form of clients, collaborators, admirers, and students. Mason has established a successful school for makeup, offering an opportunity for others to learn her long-perfected techniques, her mastery of color, as well as a familiarization with the industry itself. The four available courses, Basics, Intensive, Advanced, and Freestyle, attract eager and gifted students, old and young, in various stages of their makeup career, from all over the world.In her most recent Intensive class held this past fall, Mason taught a small class of just two students, Jamie Della Selva and Anastasia Pashanina.
She found these young two women in particular to be exemplary representatives of the diversity of talented, interesting, and driven personalities she encounters through her school. As painters themselves, Jamie and Anastasia were initially attracted to Mason’s makeup course after seeing her paintings and other artworks. Both women each credit their mothers for encouraging them as painters since a young age, and their individual artistic gifts would show to be a great advantage during Mason’s instruction.
Anastasia hails from Russia, where she attended art school. After a brief stint with modeling in Japan, she returned to painting, a process she describes to be “like meditation for me. I can express myself, my feelings and thoughts, all of my confessions on the canvas. I have more freedom of expression than when I use words.” She paints with an airy, impressionistic realism, capable of but not confined to exacting lines. It was while doing a portrait of her friend who works in fashion editorial that she was first given the idea to try her hand at makeup.
Anastasia took her first course in makeup at MosMakeschool in Moscow. It was here that she was introduced to both Mason’s product line as well as her artwork. She remembers, “Her paintings and products were so full of color, so outstanding and cheerful that I immediately decided to go and see Linda in NYC and take a course in her school.” Where the class in Moscow was more focused on technique, Anastasia was seeking a different kind of expression and freedom with color and line. Mason’s class provided a forum for her experimentation with makeup, leaving her with a new inspiration and confidence. “I want to focus on my makeup and travel around the world and meet a lot of people,” she said. “I want to work with magazines. Famous magazines.”
Unlike Anastasia, the class was a starting point for Jamie, who had only ever applied makeup on her sisters before her first day at the Workshop. Her lifelong artistic practice perhaps contributed to her natural abilities in transforming a woman’s face. Jamie’s paintings manage to portray a sort of discomforting and eerie murkiness while maintaining a soft beauty and elegance. Her work is highly self-expressive and personal to her; a career in makeup, she explains, is a sort of compromise. Refusing to change anything about her artwork in order to make sales, makeup, she hopes, will be “my way of staying with something artistic while potentially earning a stable living.”
Painting will remain a focus for Jamie, but Linda’s class has opened a new horizon for her. “I learned a lot. I learned that I loved it, actually. Now I know what I want to do.” She envisions the road ahead of her, still unclear and in its beginning stages, taking any number of turns. The creativity allowed in editorial is highly attractive to Jamie, as is the idea of the character formation required of theater makeup; runway, she says, she’s not counting out either. Residing in New Jersey, only a short commute away from Manhattan, her opportunities and potential are great.
As practicing artists, Anastasia and Jamie both possess exceptional understandings of color, spatial relationships, the importance of line and texture, and overall aesthetic judgment. With such advantages, these women excelled under Mason’s instruction and advice. Anastasia was able to step out of her comfort zone of perfection, while Jamie quickly familiarized herself with the application of pigment onto the contours of the face as opposed to a canvas. The looks they created on their various models over the course of the week in Mason’s class reflected in both of them a willingness to experiment, visible growth and improvement, and great promise for two long and successful careers as makeup artists.