“I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but I never thought I would turn to my own body as the canvas.”
In that, Dawesville mother Courtney Hollins effectively sums up her work in make-up artistry, a relatively new form of art that sees artists painting on their own faces and bodies, turning what is basically a make-up tutorial into a transformation.
Ms Hollins has spent the last few years developing her style in this unique medium, and in that time, has set a standard for mind-blowing designs: steam punk skeletons, Krampus, Genie from Aladdin, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman and more have all been characters Ms Hollins has stepped into, thanks to her skills.
“I've always been into art,” she said.
“At school, it was really the only thing I was good at: I couldn't do maths, I couldn't do science. But at the same time I couldn't stop drawing, and as I got better and better at it, I realised it was what I wanted to do day-to-day, because I really got something out of it.”
Ms Hollins began training in Specialist Makeup – the arm of the industry that focuses on film and television – but it wasn’t long before she realised she needed a more creative form of output.
“At that time, I had no idea that something like [make-up artistry] would exist,” she said.
The more I worked at specialist make-up, the more I felt myself getting bored, and I knew I wanted to get back to the creativity I felt when I was painting.”
There’s a variety of reasons the medium appeals to Ms Hollins, reasons that many would probably understand.
“It’s probably most exciting because it’s personal – it’s something that I completely rely on me for,” she said.
“I can work at it at home, when the little ones are at school, at my own pace. But I can still be proud of it and show it off.”
The internet has been a huge part of both the growth of this form of art, and Ms Hollins’ own profile. Before the existence of Australian competitions, she entered several US competitions, and while her skill is obvious to see, the results still shocked her.
“I actually entered a few competitions in the States after I received all these really great responses from people online,” she said.
“I had an Instagram account, and I just started uploading shots and videos to show what I was doing. It wasn’t much, I just wanted to show off what I was doing.
“But then I had people messaging me, saying things like, ‘This is amazing! Where are you from? Why haven’t I seen your work before?’”
When Ms Hollins answers with “Dawesville”, the usual response is pretty rote.
“They usually respond with, ‘Dawesville, where the hell is that?’,” She laughed.
“And then I just say, ‘it’s between the ocean and the estuary, that’s all you need to know.’ It’s a bit strange, but good to know I’m getting so much attention from little old Mandurah.”
Clearly, the medium itself requires a lot of discipline and patience – Ms Hollins can spend between six and eight hours working on one piece – and with the relatively new FACE Australian competition coming up, she has stepped up the game once again.
Ms Hollin’s latest entry – which you can see above – is Storm, popular character of the X-Men comic series, and a tough challenge if there ever was one.
“I’ve had people messaging me and saying they don’t believe it, it’s Photoshopped,” she said.
“But the thing is I’m useless at Photoshop.
“The key is to actually forget your painting on a face, and treat it like a blank canvas.”
With all the work that goes into it, Ms Hollins thankfully has the support of her family.
She attributes her artistic bent to her father, who sadly passed away last year, but continues to be an important factor in her work.
“My family have really come together after that, and they've all been hugely supportive. Mum just loves it,” she said.
And as for her daughter, well, who couldn’t love their mum painting themselves to look like superheroes?
“She thinks it’s great,” Ms Hollins said.
“She comes home from school and she says, ‘It’s good, but it needs more blood.”