Meet Natalie Irish, The Kisser of the Canvas


I’ve been obsessed with lipstick since I was in diapers, but Natalie Irish takes her love of lippies to the next level. The artist recently partnered with Urban Decay to craft a series of paintings using only the brand’s new Revolution Lipstick, including a one-of a-kind piece she drew up in the window of Sephora in Times Square. GLAM got to chat with the lipstick expert between kisses to find out the origins of her craft, her favorite formulas to work with, and how she helps her pout recover.

What sparked the idea to paint with kisses? 

I’ve always used different mediums. It was really just a matter of always trying new mediums. And I blotted some lipstick one day and said, “I can try and paint with that.” It’s just a different brush. I love using things the way they weren’t intended, you know, unconventionally. Even within the medium, I’m still trying to experiment with new ways. I’ve never really done anything quite like this one where it’s almost that watercolor, very paintery kind of smearing. Sometimes I have one where you can see the integrity of every individual lip print. This one you can’t really find a lip print. It’s all just different styles in the medium. I like it because it’s a challenge; I can’t really see what I’m doing, so I have to have good aim.

On average, how long do these paintings take? 

I did most of these [portraits in] several days apiece, just because we were in a time crunch. But usually I try to spread it out between two to three weeks because it just hurts. It just hurts my mouth. [Laughs] 

What kind of formulas do you like to work with? 

I use so many lipsticks and different brands. I even made some of my own stuff; I’ve used theatre makeup. I need something that has a lot of pigment, with a really creamy texture—that’s the main thing. Even within those colors you look at the color in the tube and you put it on canvas, sometimes it looks different or it comes out really sheer. Look at all of the values I get with just this one color because it’s so dark. If it’s light, then I have lights and then whites, so there’s not a lot of depth to the picture. That’s why I was excited to work with [the Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick] neutrals because there’s so much pigment. I know my lipstick. It’s a lot of pigment so I can get those darks, smear, and get the lights too.

How do you pamper your pout in between projects? 

I’ve been telling everyone cold beer, but I really do put ice on my mouth whenever I’m working on something. Afterwards I use Vaseline, coconut oil; there are all kinds of lip treatments. I have X Compound, which is what I’m using right now. There’s a girl in Houston who makes these; they come in other colors, but it’s all coconut oil and all natural organic ingredients. Plus, it’s local to Houston. I’m so hooked, and I love that it comes in a pot because I mix a lot with my hands for the more sheer stuff, which I don’t do a lot of. But I’ve tried it all; I have Chapstick and moisturizers in every corner of my house. I tell my poor husband, “You know you can kiss me here right?” [Points to cheek].