Cees Penning: An Illustrated Life

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Before digital retouching became the rage, cosmetic companies depended on one of the top photo re-touchers in the world to arch the brows, sharpen the noses, chisel the cheekbones, and curve the lips of models to make them picture perfect. Cees Penning (pronounced Kay-S) was highly sought after in the industry for over 25 years and possibly the best in his field. Using his steady hands and exceptional eye sight to re-touch film for almost all of the major cosmetic companies (Estee Lauder, Prescriptives, Shiseido, etc), that is until digital media began infiltrating his industry in the early ’90s and completely taking over in 1997. After a hugely successful career that spanned almost three decades, Penning found himself without work as computers replaced his trade.


So at age 52, he packed up and moved to Miami from New York to begin a new career as a photo-realist painter. A 6 time Mr. USA winner, Cees was also an accomplished painter. Though he has not had any formal training, he’s painted since a very early age and has an uncanny ability to create works of art that look like photos. When I interviewed him, I was struck by his amazingly positive attitude. While most would cry defeat and spend the rest of their days complaining about the unfairness of modern technology, he spent his time looking for new ways to unleash his artistic creativity! I couldn’t believe some of the pieces were oil paintings as they look so incredibly lifelike. Here are a couple of my favorites, all paintings available for sale via Cees Penning Fine Art.

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Isn’t it incredible how he uses contrast of light and dark to create the illusion of reality?

In addition to oil paintings, Cees also stumbled upon another industry dedicated to making women beautiful. He met a woman at a cocktail party hosted by a German aristocrat who had purchased one of his paintings and she told him about micro-pigmentation cosmetics, which Cees immediately recognized as something he’d excel at. He spent his life making women look beautiful on tiny pieces of film, why not make them look gorgeous in their daily lives? Cees proceeded to obtain all the education and licenses required for micro-pigmentation cosmetic make up artists and is now considered the best in the industry he happened upon by accident 10 years ago.

One of his many specialties is Eyebrow feathering (Princess Diana used to rely on this for perfect brows. Elizabeth Taylor and many other celebs still do), a technique where a handheld pen applies tiny hairlike strokes on your brows freehand (much like painting a portrait), resulting in a very natural look. Unlike other cosmetologists who use traditional machines, Cees uses only the most cutting edge products from Germany and constantly educates himself on the latest technology. If this is something you’ve been considering, you must speak to Cees first, he warns of going to technicians with only a 3 day course under their belt. In fact, a bulk of his work is un-doing damage done by other cosmetologist who lack training and artistic sense!

If you live in Florida, you can catch him in Miami where he works with four prominent plastic surgeons. He is also in Dallas and New York every other month. While in Dallas, he works out of Renee Rouleau, the upscale dayspa often featured in Allure magazine as one of top salons in the country. If you live in North Texas, call 888-211-7560 to find out Cees’ availability. Don’t forget to mention Beauty Snob sent you!

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6 thoughts on “Cees Penning: An Illustrated Life

  1. Oh wow, thanks for sharing this! This is by far the most interesting news I have read today.

    Cees is a very talented man and indeed, his willingness to learn is very inspiring!

  2. isabel on said:

    honestly, I have always wanted to try eyebrow feathering/embroidering but been too scared. after reading this I am glad I waited because Cees seems like someone I can trust to do this!

    thanks for another interesting read, this is by far the best beauty site!

  3. Rose Brown on said:

    Cees never ceases to amaze me. Ambitious, talented, professional, the only person I would ever trust to permanently paint MY face ! Love my brows…they are still totally awesome after 7 years. God Bless you Cees and I always thank you !!

  4. This post was really interesting to read! & All his paintings are amazing!!!!!!!!!

  5. Jane Blume on said:

    I love my eyebrows. It’s the best thing I have ever done and I am looking forward to Cees giving me the perfect eyeliner. Thanks to a true artist.

  6. I’ve seen his artwork and his asthetic talent as well and wonder if he does any teaching or instruction? I too have an art background and would love to learn this business and be taught by a true artist.

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