Mascara Tree Sketch

There’s a clip on YouTube of a man drawing Bette Davis with mascara. It’s speeded up, and it may be edited, but the result is amazing. He uses the mascara wand as a brush and makes it work with line, shading and value.

After seeing it, I wondered if it was real. So I grabbed by two mascaras–Avon and L’Oreal Voluminous, both in brown/black, and went to work. Surprisingly, neither one had enough color to make it work well. The Avon wand was also quite flexible, great for applying mascara to eyelashes (after all, that was what it was designed for) making it hard to control.

A trip to the drug store, and I had my teen-reliable mascara–Maybelline in double black. The bottom of the container is pink, the top green. I don’t think it’s changed in 30 years. And it worked.

The trunk worked best because the uneven application makes great rough spots. The branches benefit from the the application of the brush held so the bristles create the long leaves of the willow tree.

Ink, brush, paper: cheap. Art in mascara: Not priceless, but washable.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. She is a collage artist and teaches workshops, but not in mascara painting. Yet. Image: “Don’t weep, willow” Mascara on paper. (c) 2008 Quinn McDonald, All rights reserved.

10 thoughts on “Mascara Tree Sketch

  1. Eye shadows can be used on paper to color it just as chalks and pastels do (eye shadows are made up of mica particles just like the commercial art supply Pearl Ex, only the eye shadows are cosmetic grade: the late Sandy Lemons of Lemontree Designs used to sell cosmetic grade mica powder in vivid colors at half the price of the same quantity of Pearl Ex). You can also use cosmetics to color fabric on dolls (in fact, several books recommend cosmetic blush for doll blush). You can mix the eye shadow powders with acrylic gloss medium to make a more permanent application.
    Don’t know why no one thought of using mascara + brush before, especially since we’re always using cotton swabs, sponge brushes and old makeup brushes as media applicators or for cleaning up.
    Fingernail polish remover as a transfer medium for glossy magazine images and baby powder to deaden the sticky of tape residues..

    —-Great suggestions. Can’t wait to try some of them! –Q

  2. Oooooooooo… now I have a use for the old cosmetics I see at the Junk Stores. Thank you Gail!!

    –If you find something interesting, share! If you don’t want to post it on your blog, send it along to me–it would be a great follow-up! –Q

  3. Welllll… There’s nothing for it, off to Wally World for good ol’ Maybelline!!

    Why can’t you be true?”


    —-I’ve gotten a few emails on the mascara tree, saying, “Maybe it’s Maybelline, maybe it’s . . .” So much more than just a drawing! –Q

  4. fascinating – I have seen the Bette Davis sketch. Wonder what you could do with other cosmetics? My daughter has dabbled in using pearly eye shadows to excellent effect.

    —Now THERE’s and idea! I’ve used sparkley watercolor on my face, but I’ve never tried it the other way around.

  5. How wonderful to see something so useful and beautiful out of that horrid substance that makes most women who use it look so perfectly dreadful! Fran

    —Actually, Fran, I like it better on paper than on me! Looks better, too.

  6. Quinn, wow! This is amazing! I appreciate the beauty and simplicity you’ve captured with an essence of stillness. Great piece using a woman’s essential tool. Who would have thought! Genece

    —It was a LOT of fun. Because I know how fast mascara dries, I did the sketch really fast. I touched up afterwards–just like we do with our eye makeup. It also surprised me how long it took to dry. About 30 minutes in 3 percent humidity. –Q

  7. Sorry, I don’t know why my previous comment says Anonymous.

    —Because WordPress goes through small moments of weirdness from time to time. I’ve shown up as Anonymous, too, from time to time. Or maybe it’s a sign. Yeah, I know. . .mascara as art medium? Who knew? –Q

  8. Hey, Quinn, this is something. I really like your tree.


    —I’m amazed at how well the medium works. I used waterproof mascara, so I could thin it with a little distilled water. But then I’d have ink. Nah, I think I’ll stick with what I have.

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