St. Albert High students face up to Halloween

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Trick or treat make-up goes to school

Turning Meagan Cameron into a corpse bride/avatar character was no easy task.

It was an exercise that involved a lot of contortionism, a cellphone search on Google and more than a few giggles, but the St. Albert High student and her friends were up to the task.

The look of the 16-year-old’s face kept changing as she and fellow St. Albert High cosmetology students Hailey McIlhone and Adrienne McGarrigle flipped through an Internet photo gallery of scary Halloween characters and then tried to duplicate what they saw.

“Maybe you should outline my mouth. Make it darker. Make it bigger. Make it redder. Here, let me outline my own mouth,” said a somewhat helpless Cameron. For ease of working, McIlhone had placed Cameron’s head on the guillotine-shaped divot that was cut into the porcelain sink. That meant Cameron had to hold the cellphone straight up in the air so that it was high enough up for the entire crew to see.

McGarrigle sat in the chair beside Cameron and acted as a consultant. Every time a new picture appeared on Cameron’s cellphone, McGarrigle leapt from her chair so she could lean closely over Cameron to study McIlhone’s artwork.

The student stylists almost appeared to be unconsciously mimicking a routine from Abbott and Costello Meets the Mummy because there was so much discussion. McIlhone kept painting Cameron’s face, while McGarrigle attempted to study the chemistry of the whole thing and Cameron just got bluer and bluer.

“Do you want to look dead?” McGarrigle asked her friend. Then she popped back into her chair for some quick textbook cramming. Then she’d jump up again. “I think you need more of this baby-blue colour if you want to look like a bride corpse.”

“No! I think we need to use more white or maybe more silver,” McIlhone said. Since she held the make-up brush, she also had the most power over the situation. She gave Cameron’s skin a corpse-like hue.

“Maybe we need to change her eyebrows too,” said McIlhone as she smeared make-up around Cameron’s nose and outlined weird shapes on the girl’s forehead.

The exercise was part of an ongoing study in Assunta Runco’s Grade 11 cosmetology class, where the students are learning about colours and the effects of makeup upon different skin tones. Prior to Monday’s class the students had already worked on mannequin heads.

“They are learning colour application and the basic techniques of applying makeup in creative ways. They are also learning to work as a team,” Runco said.

Runco explained that the students who take cosmetology may get credit for the hours they spend in the high school labs when they apply to schools such as Marvel Beauty College.

“If they have 15 credits after Grade 12, they are given credit for 375 hours of instruction at a beauty college,” the teacher said.

The students worked on their fellow cosmetology classmates’ faces but also on volunteers, such as Austin Haining, who agreed to have his face painted orange for the occasion. Kelsi Cannon got a gigantic row of black teeth painted over her own lips.

“I’m not sure if I’ll be a clown or a zombie,” said Cannon, who tried to keep from smiling as her stylist, Sarah Allen, drew heavy black lines above her “client’s” mouth. Every time Cannon’s lips started to twist upwards, Allen’s artwork would jiggle so that there was a different black smear on the girl’s face.

“It’s a look for a day,” Runco assured the students. “The makeup washes off with soap and water and the hair dye is temporary and will make no chemical changes,” she said.

Nancy Aas said she likes to watch shows such as the Academy Awards to see how the stylists have made-up the stars’ hair and faces. Then she tries to copy the techniques.

“You see someone like Lady Gaga, who seems to have such random hair and extreme makeup but it’s so simple once you know the basics,” she said.

With time running out and the class ending, the stylists made a few hurried changes. There was a hint of sadness as everyone knew that with Halloween still a week away, all the art would disappear and the make-up would be washed off with a cloth.

Allen dusted one more swipe of creamy-coloured make-up across Cannon’s face so that the girl became paler but also fiercer looking. The clown was gone and was replaced by a pink-haired zombie.

Haining stuck with his volunteer stint until his hair was stiff with green spray, his face was pumpkin orange and his eyebrows were white. Then he hustled down to the boys’ shower and got rid of his new persona as quickly as he could.

“It feels wet on my face. Actually, it feels juicy,” Haining said. “I don’t really like it.”

McIlhone took one last minute to more carefully outline wedge-shaped brows on Cameron’s face and the transformation was complete. Cameron was no longer Corpse Bride.

“I’m an Avatar,” she said as she happily sat up and looked in a mirror. “I like it better than being a Corpse Bride.”

Aas had painted her volunteer’s face with bright green to resemble a witch. As she surveyed the results, the make-up artist had mixed emotions.

“It looks OK, but it’s harder to do this on a real face than it is on the mannequin,” she said. “But if I can do a not bad job of it here, I can always do it better when I do it for real.”

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Susan Jones has been a freelance writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2009, following a 20-year career at the St. Albert Gazette. Susan writes about homes, gardens, community events and people.