Sharon Tait 

It was an exciting challenge to work on the make-up for the Work website. To make the characters from the painting come to life, the make-up had to carefully echo elements from the painting whilst also making each character appear real and come to life at the same time—as if they were stepping out of the Victorian times into the present day, so as a team we decided not to make the characters too painterly.

We had a working list of the shooting order for each character so we would concentrate on one figure at a time and decide as a team what changes would need to be made for that specific character. We made an initial test in front of the studio lights which altered how the make-up would appear on computer. For example, two lights made the figures appear more yellowy/orange and one special green light was used as well.

The actors got into costume and then we'd start to work on the make-up. We used a reference book that showed details of each figure to begin to alter the actors face colour to match the ones in the painting. Each character we were working on held its own challenges.

The street urchin was quite dirty from being out in the streets and near the navvies so the actress, Tess, had to be covered in lots of white face paint initially to make her look pale and then we covered her hands in brown face paints and got her to smear and drag her hands over her shoulders, back and face.

The easiest character to make-up was the navvy, as Julian, the actor for this character, was already quite pale, but the studio lights and amazing layered costume did make him sweat a lot so we used lots of talcum powder (carefully applied, with tissues covering his costume).

One thing that made the whole make-up process easier was having the original painting only a couple of minutes' walk away. So a final check was made by taking the actors up to stand by the painting and make a comparison before the final shoot. We did get some great looks from unsuspecting public on the way!

I am a visual artist and the image above is from an acrylic painting on canvas entitled Immersed. Have a look at my website.