Make-up artist Maria Malone-Guerbaa has taken face painting to new levels as demonstrated by photos documenting her remarkable transformation into everyone from Nelson Mandela to Angelina Jolie.
The 40-year-old Limerick native, who now lives in London with her husband Billy and their two children, recently turned herself into Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge in support of England’s first match at the World Cup.
Unlike other special effects makeup artists, Maria does not rely on any prosthetic materials and only uses paint to create her ‘faces.’
"I wanted to see how far I could get being an illusionist without using prosthetics, so I got a kick when I went to do face painting and someone asked if the nose was glued on,” she says.
"And I could say no it’s all paint, and then people asked for tutorial so then I started doing those. That made it even more popular because people could see that I was just drawing it on.”
Pictures of her artwork quickly went viral on Facebook and her work has attracted the attention of the International Make Up Artist Trade Show (IMATS), who invited her to be a guest speaker this summer.
Malone-Guerbaa told the Daily Mail that she always had a talent and passion for art. After finishing school she applied to Limerick Art College, but turned down her place.
"I felt at the time that there wasn’t anywhere for me to go with what I wanted to do, I didn’t want to be a standard artist. I loved special effects, particularly body and face art.
"I went to find out about it, but there was literally nowhere in Limerick or Ireland that specialized in that kind up of make-up art."
She moved to London, where she met her husband three weeks later. They opened a cafe in the city and eventually had two children. Maria wasn’t left much time to focus on her art. When she turned 33 she enrolled in Christine Blundell’s make-up academy, based in Camden.
Word of her talents spread and she was soon working on BBC’s "Switch" and Channel Four production "Horrible Histories."
"I had to do the make up for one of Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Howard. It was after she was beheaded so I had to make her look like she was dead, and as though she has been decapitated."
Maria had not really explored face painting, when a mother at one of her children’s school asked her to help out at the school’s summer fete.
"I was practicing on the children at home, but they used to get bored so that’s why I started painting my own face.
"I would go up to the kitchen and start painting, it developed over the years, going from this level to the next and now people asking how did I learn to paint like this?
"The famous faces are my favorite because they’ve made me very popular. They went viral on Facebook which was a shock. People were messaging me from around the world; it was mad.
"Then the make-up world and face painting world started talking to me, and people in Miami called the World Face and Body Painting Association," she said.
The association contacted Maria last summer and invited her to this year’s event.
"So that really spurred me on thinking I am doing something different, because to me I just thought I was clowning around.
"Morgan Freeman and Elvis went viral and then I decided to do more and more famous faces. They take me about four hours to do as they are very detailed, and I literally use the smallest brush – an eyeliner brush," says Maria.
Maria is currently sponsored by Superstar face paints and The Face Painting shop. She says that have been extremely supportive of her work.
Maria says that she would love to work as a makeup artist in Hollywood, but will wait until her children are a little older.
"I don’t feel comfortable about leaving them for months – which is how long it would be if I was working on a film.
"I would also love to work in England or London, which is why I tried the West End shows. I thought I could do something while I’m still near home."
Maria presented her work at the International Make Up Artist Trade Show (IMATS) in London in June.
In the near future, Maria hopes to arrange to teach classes in the UK and Holland, and prepare for her classes at the Fabiac Face & Body Art International Event in Miami next year.
"What I would like to do at the moment is teach. I think that would make me happy.
"I thought about one day working as a teacher in a make-up academy, but when you are freelance you get to do a lot of different things, which suits me because I bore easily.
"If I became better known then I would love to give back more to London, but I wouldn’t say no to anything."