Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our Portraits Our Selves…Self as Model and Muse

The second in a series exploring the female self-portrait in contemporary realism.

“The good thing about painting a self portrait is that the model always shows up. Bad thing is, sometimes the artist doesn’t.”



Posing for yourself

Sometimes an artist paints herself as a model, or actor in her own painting. Unlike the classic self-portrait, these paintings are often about something other than who the artist “is” as an artist…and sometimes explore issues the artist has a very personal connection to. They are self-portraits…with a twist.

The reason you use yourself as model and muse often begins with the convenience factor (see the quote above.) When your model knows the exact expression and feel you’re trying to achieve in your work, she’s an invaluable muse whose presence and creativity is vital to the painting. And if you’re lucky, and your face and body possess the qualities your painting needs, it’s truly a win-win.

And yet, even these types of paintings still elicit the same old tiresome comments about beauty and narcissism.

chaos theory 4 by Diane Feissel

chaos theory 7 by Diane Feissel

chaos theory 11 by Diane Feissel

Diane Feissel extensively explored the theme of “chaos”, using her own face, a familiar, convenient and iconic one…blurred, in motion, abstracted and representative of turmoil. These conceptual paintings, only minimally reminiscent of Diane herself, still spurred a French man at her art show in Paris, to use the word “narcissiste” (with a charming French accent of course) because she painted her own image so often.

Can’t see me like this! by Sharon Pomales

XXL Volume and Curl by Sharon Pomales

Why do people assume that painting yourself is an act of vanity? Sharon Pomales explores the theme of vanity in a series by that name. Not meant as self-portraits per se, but she was the most agreeable model to pose with foils in her hair and while putting on eyeliner.

Girl in Blue by Teresa Oaxaca

Teresa Oaxaca paints and draws herself often. Her art, her life, her look…her “brand” is a decadent baroque feast. She dresses and lives in the world that her paintings show. Of these paintings of herself, she says, “I make so many I will say that I don’t really think of them as self-portraits. Rather I am using myself as a model to convert expressions or ideas.”

Girl in Pink by Teresa Oaxaca

Suburban pastoral by Haley Hasler

Haley Hasler, who depicts incredibly complex fantasies of motherhood in crisply painted, seemingly light-hearted yet also serious detail, exclusively uses herself as the central mother character. Balancing cakes, babies, mice, violins and ponies, posing as topiaries, brunches and hamster pagaents, she embodies the sophisticated tongue-in-cheek bliss of motherhood and perfectly plays the role her paintings demand. The depth, richness and lines of her own face in these works play an integral role in showing the dazzling, magical, hard-working complexity of motherhood.
Portrait as Topiary by Haley Hasler

And yet, viewers have asked why she doesn’t Botox her face in these paintings…you might as well tell John Singer Sargent to clean up his room and make his bed before he’s allowed to paint it.

The Artist in his Studio by John Singer Sargent

“The self portrait has become important to me because I am not interested in portraying ‘Girl, Interrupted’ or, the woman being watched. Rather, it is the woman…the self, the interior…doing the Looking. Humor is a provocative tool.”

Portrait as a Sunday Brunch by Haley Hasler

“We have been trained that looking at a woman must be confined to what is typically ‘Male Looking’; from the outside, loaded with desire and appraisal of the surface exterior on display. What does an artist do when she is inside that body, and looking at the outside of it from within?

The beauty of art and painting is that the medium is meant to go beyond surface appearance, beyond cliché, beyond what we think we know. In representing ourselves we are literally “Re-Presenting.” Provocative and frightening, yes. Be prepared for incomprehension, and the occasional animosity that comes when we challenge the status quo, challenge the obligation to prettify, smooth out and display [ourselves] as a commodity for appraisal.”

Haley has a response to the usual compliments viewers will give a female artist…that her portrait doesn’t do her justice, that she’s so much prettier.
“Pardon me, but why do you think that the way you perceive me has any bearing on my own art-making act? Why do you freely insist that you know better?”
Admittedly she hasn’t actually said this to anyone yet, but I’d love to be there when she does!

Sidestepping the beauty issue with humor

Poof by Jennifer Balkan

Jennifer Balkans self-portraits sneak up on the viewer and skirt the pretty issue with humor, poignancy and painterliness.

Patriotic by Jennifer Balkan

JenniferBalkan uses her own image for her painting concepts, which have a light-hearted airy feel to them. She says that, “Because my pieces often have some absurd element to them, people usually just laugh when they see them. My recent ones though have taken on a wee more serious we’ll see what the reaction is.”

Wilted by Jennifer Balkan


Sidestepping the beauty issue with cancer

Of her battle with cancer, and the three self-portraits that she created as a result, Karen Yee says, “I guess because of the sensitive nature of the theme, I have received only positive feedback. Of course, I accept this most readily.”

Self Portrait by Karen Yee
Karen says, the simply titled, Self Portrait came about because of a discussion she had in a supportive group meeting with metastatic breast cancer patients.  “I said that living with cancer felt like constantly being under the sword of Damocles.  So I decided to portray that in a painting.  I am sitting on a throne with a cushion to recline on, to portray my good life.  The dagger represents the constant threat that the cancer could become active again at any moment.  My red necklace represents my hope, and shows that I havent given up the fight.”

What Lies In Wait by Karen Yee

Karen painted What Lies In Wait, after a conversation with her doctor about a particular medication that caused strange side effects. “He was reluctant to take me off the medicine, saying he was afraid the cancer would become active again.  I told him I knew the cancer was at the door, and I didn’t want to open it and let it in even a little bit.  Thus the painting.”

I shall close this installment of Our Portraits Our Selves with Karen’s self-portrait as a warrior, which I believe needs no explanation at all.

Fight Like A Girl by Karen Yee

In upcoming blogs we’ll explore the smile, relationships, turbulence, defiance, doppelgangers and nudes in the female artist self-portrait.

by Judy Takács
Cecilia Beaux Forum

Chair New Media Relations
Portrait Society of America

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Portraits Our Selves…the Classic Self-Portrait

The first in a series exploring the female self-portrait in contemporary realism.

You’re so much prettier in real life!

You’re such a narcissist, always painting yourself!


These are among the top comments women artists get when we show paintings of ourselves. 

In trying to be complimentary, edgy or friendly, the art viewing public betrays that they don’t really know what to make of this thing called a “self-portrait”. They’re also grasping at whatever straws they can to try to start the discussion.

And, if you don’t start doing some ’splaining, you know what’s coming next; the viewer will confess they can’t even draw a stick figure (not true; they can and they have) and then ask how long it took you to do that… (in art years? a lifetime) After that you might as well talk about the weather and the home team because all hope for a meaningful discussion has left on the high school bus headed to the division championships down-state.

In polling artists whose faces and bodies have been the subject of their self-portraits, a distinction quickly becomes apparent and must be made clear. As an artist, the reasons you might want to depict yourself in art, fall into two loose categories; the classic self-portrait and the use of self as model and muse. And of course there are many variations in between. 

The first of a blog series about self-portraits, we’ll examine what I shall call the classic self-portrait.

Designed by the artist to say something true and meaningful about herself,  classic self-portraits are honest expressions with humble and sincere titles like “Self Portrait with Gray Hair,” like Stanka Kordic’s drawing below.

Stanka Kordic, Self-Portrait with Gray Hair
Sophie Ploeg, Self-Portrait with Lace Collar

Of her classic self-portrait, Sophie Ploeg says,  “I have let go of the notion that painting a ‘self-portrait’ must, somehow, show the real, true, deep inside me. That is just impossible so I paint what I like. I paint what is interesting. A mood, a texture, a colour combination, anything. Whether my nose is too big or not—I am too old to care.”

Much of Sophie’s work explores antique lace, in intimate and intricate detail. Her Self Portrait with Lace Collar was exhibited in the 2013 BP Portrait Award Show at the National Gallery in London. The following year she exhibited again at the National Gallery, this time it was seven new works created because of her BP Travel Award. Her proposed mission was to travel the great museums of Europe seeking out antique lace in art and life and use it to inspire more amazing art.

Terry Strickland, The Stake-Out
Terry Strickland painted herself as her alter ego or secret self, to kick off her epic Incognito Project where she asked her friends to dress up like their alter egos. Even with the staging involved, Terry’s painting is a classic self-portrait because it really is about Terry.

“This was the first piece from my Incognito Project. I thought if I was going to ask people to reveal their alter egos I should be willing to reveal mine. I see myself as a voyeur, an observer of humans. I was playing off film noir, but saw myself in the role of the [traditional 1940s] detective rather than the femme fatale, but it seemed wrong for me to dress like [a male detective]. I am a very feminine person so I dressed as the femme fatale in the role of detective. I've never smoked but for some reason I always envisioned this painting of me smoking. Everyone seems to like this painting and the only unusual comment I got was from a woman who told me that she used to smoke and I was definitely holding the cigarette like a man, I took that to mean like a person with authority. So I like that—I think a feminine/sexy person can also have power.”

And many classic self-portraits show the artist in the act of painting.
Sadie Valerie, Self-Portrait at 41
Sadie Valerie discusses her self-portrait and says…
“Any sort of self-expression is narcissistic. It's weird we hear it more as applied to self-portraiture. I wonder if women hear the accusation more than men? There’s that tough line for women [to toe]. We are supposed to look “good” within a very narrow range of acceptability, but we are also not supposed to look like we try hard at conforming to the ideal, much less think too much about it.

As for my own 3/4 length self-portrait, I was pretty intentional about draping myself in black from the apron-bib down, just to side-step the issue for now. To be mired in the “do I look acceptable” train of thought AND the “planning a painting” train of thought at the same time causes a sort of circuit-overload. Usually those two trains of thought are better left separated.”


Alexandra Tyng, Canvas’ Eye View

Alexandra Tyng responded, “Too intense for what?” when she was told by several people that she looked “too intense” in her self-portrait. Alex also says, “Because, to be honest, I am an intense person.”

Alex’s answer to the common question “Why don’t you paint yourself smiling?” is very logical. “Because I don’t smile when I’m painting,” she says.

Alex explains, “Now I worry so much less about how I portray myself, and I’m happier with the results. Maybe I’m past the age when I’m supposed to look sexy or maybe I’m supposed to look like a character, but what can I do about it except be honest? If I made myself look younger and more glamorous, it would be pathetic. I want to celebrate life, not bemoan the aging process.”

Though, ten years ago she was told by a friend that a self-portrait she painted made her look “too severe, not as attractive as she really was.” “I immediately put it in the closet. Today I took it out of the closet and decided he was right. In my desire to be honest, I had veered too far in a negative direction.

Linda Tracey Brandon, Self-Portrait with a Palette

Linda Tracey Brandon says that her portrait, with its red background makes her husband uncomfortable. “My husband won’t let it into the house because he thinks it looks like I’ve painted myself in Hell or something. Which, incidentally, gave me an idea for another painting, which I’m starting to work on. ”
Nancy Bea Miller, Painting Girl
Nancy Bea Miller’s self-portrait shows her in the act of painting while wearing a Muslim Hijab. She notes that people often mistake this head covering for a Christian nun’s veil, but that this ambiguity makes for a more interesting painting.

“I am engaged on a series of artwork (and research) on head covering, its history, significance, politics and aesthetics. This is just one of several head-covering pieces I have made to date using different coverings from different cultures and religions. I have discovered that when you actually don another culture's garments you get a different perspective on that culture, and it is far more intimate than just looking at someone wearing the garment. I’ve always found different culture’s head-coverings, to be very beautiful and visually arresting. I am intrigued by what head covering signifies as well as its aesthetic.  I buy and am sometimes given all kinds of head coverings...this one was billed as an “all-purpose hijab, useful for emergency situations.” It’s plain white nylon and you can roll it up and stuff it in your purse easily, then whip it out and put it on when you need to.” Nancy says, “I think it is fascinating to look at the similarities in design and intention between very different cultures.”

A timeless form of figurative art, the classic self-portrait has been created by just about everyone who calls themselves an artist. Often they are the most coveted, rare, debated and personal works left to us by artists from history. And in the days before photography, the Self-Portrait was often the only record of what a painter actually looked like.

Elisa Counis, Self-Portrait.
Women in the Act of Painting talks about what little we know of this
exquisitely talented painter from the early 1800s.
The self-portraits left to us by women artists in history are an especially important record; they verify that a particular female artist actually EXISTED, and there is a body of work out there for which she should be given credit.

Nancy Bea Miller has for years now, written a blog that deals with just this issue, “Women in the Act of Painting.” Many of the works she features are self-portraits that poignantly illustrate just how few of these incredibly talented female artists we’ve actually heard of.

Stay tuned to this blog for further installments on the theme of the female self-portrait in contemporary realism! We have just scratched the surface on this fascinating subject!

by Judy Takács
Cecilia Beaux Forum

Chair New Media Relations
Portrait Society of America


Monday, July 7, 2014

Triple Identity…Making a name for yourself when you actually have three

A Triptych by Candice Bohannon, “Understanding” “Insight” and “Seeking”

Assassins and many married women artists have something in common…

John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray…and…well, Judy Takács Pendergast, Terry Moore Strickland, Candice Bohannon Reyes, Ann Kraft Walker, Linda Tracey Brandon, Kyrin Ealy Hobson, Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco, Anna Rose Bain, Sadie Jernigan Valeri, Linda Harris Reynolds, Susan Cone Porges, Nancy Bea Miller

We have three names. Of course, that’s where the similarities end.

And, for the married women artists, at some point in our lives we face the decision of what to do with our husband’s name.

For the better part of the last century, there wasn’t a decision to make. When you got married, you changed your last name to your husband’s last name. From that point forward, as a couple you might even be referred to as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith; your actual identity being irrelevant to the more important fact that you were now the wife of John Smith.

I’m seeing this archaic (and to me, offensive) custom used less and less lately, but it will appear on a formal invitation now and then to remind me that polite society doesn’t really care who I am. Here’s hoping it goes the way of chastity belts, scold’s bridles and foot binding and eventually disappears.

But, the name issue still confronts every woman who marries…and rears its head again if you have children.

And surprisingly, for many of the artists questioned, name decisions became an issue yet again when they discovered that facebook would be more than a fun way to connect with grade school buddies. Facebook would be a vital marketing tool and venue for building your brand as an artist.

So, even if, long ago, you decided to brand your art identity with ONE last name, as soon as you include your maiden and married names in your facebook identity, you, and your art become known by both names.

In other words, it’s hard to become known as “Coke” when you’re also known as “Coke-Pepsi”.

So your choices are…

Don’t change your name

Leave it alone, sign your paintings “Coke”, let “Coke” be on your passport and drivers license, and name your kids whatever you and your husband agree on. Usually the compromise is that the kids are “Dylan, Maddie and Emma Pepsi”. (Not sure why this is the case, we’re the ones that do ALL the work, but that’s a soapbox for another day :) If you chose this option, just accept that you’ll sometimes be referred to as “Mrs. Pepsi” by the principal and the dentist.

Do change your name

Drop your maiden name completely and start branding as the new name. Sometimes the new name is a better one…maybe “Pepsi” rolls off the tongue much more easily than “Coke.”

Judith Barker thought so, when she married Dewey Carducci. Every city in Italy has a Via Carducci named after Nobel Laureaute Gosue Carducci, and the name just sings art, romance and love. Judith Carducci, founding chair of the Cecilia Beaux Forum, even waited until her wedding night in 1961 to sign Carducci to a portrait she painted of her new husband.

When Sadie Jernigan married, she changed her name to the classic Italian Valeri (pronounced VaLAIRey). She says that she had not yet “come into her own” as an artist at that point, so the Valeri was a beautiful change at an opportune time. To honor her father’s name, though, she signs her paintings SJV. And, of course on facebook, many of us have come to know her as Sadie Jernigan Valeri. Now we also know that as an artist and director and founder of the Sadie Valeri Atelier in San Francisco, she is Sadie Valeri.

Stephanie J. Parenti chose to change to and keep her husband’s name, Deshpande, even after they divorced...because she always found the name intriguing and liked its Indian origin. “I like it that I’m the only person I know of with my name out there” She doesn’t believe in numerology, but since her lucky number is nine, she likes that now her first and last name both have nine characters and that seven of the nine letters are also in her first name. She took Deshpande before the social media boom, and doesn’t include her maiden name, Parenti in her facebook profile name, Stephanie Deshpande.

Change and shuffle your names

Move your maiden/artist name to the middle and take your husbands name as your family name.

Some artists choose to brand with all three names…

Ann Kraft Walker says she keeps Kraft to honor her parents “who supported and believed in my like no one else.”

Linda Harris already had a thriving portrait career when she married. Wanting people to know that she was the same artist, she kept the tradition of her mother and grandmother and made her artist/maiden name her middle name and now goes by Linda Harris Reynolds.

Linda Tracey Brandon does the same; Tracey being her maiden name. She felt it distinguished her art identity from the more ordinary Linda Brandon. Since all three are technically first names, she gets a lot of people calling her Tracey or even Brandon.

In the tradition of William Merrit Chase and John Singer Sargent these women successfully and recognizably chose to use the three names together.

And some have three names thrust upon them by facebook

We all know her on facebook, as Candice Bohannon Reyes, but how does she sign her paintings? Even before she married, Candice already had a three part name, with her own mother’s middle name, Leidy before the Bohannon.  When she married artist Julio Reyes, there were passionate family opinions on what to do with the Leidy, the Bohannon and the Reyes. Candice also considered the implications on her art identity. Not wanting the confusion of two artists named Reyes in the household, she changed her middle name to Bohannon and took Julio’s last name. This enables her to accept checks as Candice Bohannon and Candice Reyes. And, even though her official artist name is Candice Bohannon, the art world also knows her as Candice Bohannon Reyes, in part due to her facebook fame. This confusion has shown up on gallery name cards sometimes, she says.

Since both her and her husband’s art careers are developing in parallel, and what is good for one is good for the other, this common name seems to work beautifully for their “brand.” Candice has written a very insightful and revealing blog post about their combined art path.

Artist, Kyrin Ealy adopted Ealy as her middle name and changed her last to Hobson…a name that’s spelled like it sounds, unlike Kyrin and Ealy. She married at the beginning of her art path and signs paintings Kyrin Hobson but on facebook , she is once again Kyrin Ealy Hobson.

For years, Terry Strickland used her married name professionally, personally and in her blog. She almost never referenced her middle name, Moore, which was her maiden name …until of course, Facebook resurrected it, and to many of us now she is known as Terry Moore Strickland.

For my part, I have always signed my paintings Takács…I can paint it all-caps with straight lines, the accent is a fun design element, and since I have only one sister, and my sons are all Pendergasts, the only way my family name will live on is through my paintings. So I took the Takács as my middle name and my artist name. On facebook, however, I am Judy Takacs Pendergast and am often known by this mouthful of a name I never intended to hyphenate or use together. I’m sure it is confusing my brand and I am considering dropping the Pendergast on facebook, but don’t want to raise red flags that I have also dropped my husband!

And some lead a dual…or triple identity that changes as life changes.

Susan Cone Porges uses all three names for official documents, personal and professional…business cards, credit cards, passport. In her early married days she’d sign paintings SC Porges leaving the “C” to honor her family name, which was changed at Ellis Island from Kagan to Cohen. Later, after serving in the Second World War, her father changed Cohen to Cone, to avoid possible anti-semitism when he looked for work in advertising. And, now, in the interests of an artful simpler signature, she signs “Porges” to paintings. On facebook, however she is Susan Cone Porges, but she identifies her fabulously busy studio as Susan Porges-The Art Studio.

And Sharon Pomales changed her official name to Sharon Tousey when she married, but her artist name remains Sharon Pomales. On facebook she has adopted a true double identity, calling herself Sharon Pomales Sharon Tousey.

And then there are those who have three names already

…without even adding a name for the husband, here are some surprises I discovered in my research.

Turns out that Rose Freymuth-Frazier’s parents were children of the ’60s…unmarried and living off the grid. She was born at home with no birth certificate and her parents decided to give her both their last names. They also considered changing the whole family’s name to an entirely new one; “Thunder.” Rose herself thinks this might have been a better idea, being that her name has been butchered as Frazie Freymouth and Ms. Flymeat. Already dealing with the complexities of a dual identity from birth, Rose says that if she were to marry she’d leave well enough alone and keep her name the way it was.

I was also surprised to find out that Nancy Bea Miller’s three part name has been hers since birth. Early on, before facebook, she made the decision to identify herself as Nancy Bea in art to distinguish herself from all the Nancy Millers in the world, and has been happy with her decision.

Anna Rose Bain, since the age of 8, has been signing artwork Anna Rose. With the foresight to know she’d be taking her husband’s name when she married she never started using her own family name, Holsclaw.  She almost never signs “Bain” to a painting either though, reserving it for official portraits of judges and politicians.

And Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco, whose name is reminiscent of the painting labels at the Uffizi and the Vatican, confirmed that all four names come from her family. She follows the Italian custom where all documents and official papers show the maiden name, and do not change with marriage. The married name is used unofficially and socially only. She uses her maiden name on the internet to protect the privacy of her husband and children and to maintain a single brand identity for her art.

Pen-names, stage names, chosen names.

Just who the heck is Kristy Schmisty? And why was she accepting the award when Kristy Gordon was a finalist at the Portrait Society of America this past year?

Here’s the story. Kristy Schmisty was a pen name she gave herself from “an old punk zine” she wrote as a teenager. The name was inspired by an urban legend her mom told about people marrying into an unfortunate name situation. (we’ve all seen the R-rated memes about innocent hyphenations of ordinary last names awkwardly joined in matrimony. Don’t click if names like Butts-McCracken offend you…that’s one of the mild ones)

So, as a nod to the hilarious names that often result from name changes, Kristy chose her pen name as Kristy Schmisty.

Years later, when facebook was young and an unknown entity, Kristy resurrected Kristy Schmisty for privacy’s sake. When facebook took off as an invaluable social media tool for artists, Kristy Schmisty was already firmly planted as her alter ego. Kristy says it has not caused problems, and is actually a fun conversation starter when people (like me) happily discover that she is also Kristy Gordon.

And I shall close this article with perhaps the strangest tale of all.

Before her career took off, artist Arabella Proffer married a music author with a killer pen name…Vendetta.  “I got married right out of college and before really showing art, I was thrust into the LA music scene where everyone was so daft they thought Vendetta was our real name. People kept calling me Isabella [instead of Arabella], so I shortened it to Bella sometimes.” Thus was born Bella Vendetta. She even had an album named after Bella Vendetta, by the band, Daydream Nation.

Then, when she began showing her art, Arabella used her actual given name…Arabella Proffer. The significant amount of recognition she had attained as Bella Vendetta was lost because no one knew who Arabella was.

Arabella investigated returning to using the lyrical Bella Vendetta name only to find that a porn star had registered the domain name and was using it professionally. Not wanting the confusion of her google searches yielding porn sites, she set forth as Arabella Proffer-Vendetta.

This proved to be a mouthful and didn’t fit easily on a line in show announcements and newspaper columns, so she returned to Arabella Proffer and has gone by that ever since.

The Vendetta name, however, is starting to gain publicity as her husband’s book, Wivenhoe Park  by Ben Vendetta rises to success, and Arabella is considering hyphenating again. People often ask her what kind of name Vendetta is…that’s when Arabella tells them it’s Ukranian.

And so these are just a very few of the many MANY name stories women artists face. Please feel free to add your own to the comments, or on the Cecilia Beaux Facebook Group page…it’s fascinating to see how others are dealing with this issue!

by Judy Takács
Cecilia Beaux Forum

Chair New Media Relation
Portrait Society of America


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Critique: Making the most of it!

by Judith B. Carducci
Chair of the Cecilia Beaux Forum

When I started painting again after a 35 year hiatus, very quickly, greatly to my surprise, my work was much better than it had been when I stopped painting in my 20s.  One reason for this is, I am convinced, that I no longer had a teacher to tell me what and what not to do, so I had to critique my own work and figure it out for myself.  That is a wonderful learning experience.  However, it has its limitations.  As the old saying goes, “He who treats himself, has a fool for a physician.”  While we expand our own knowledge, it’s good to seek out others’ as well.  Here are some things I find useful to think about in seeking critiques from others:

Marie Gabrielle Capet, “Atelier of Madame Vincent (Labille-Guiard)” 1808
Courtesy of the Women in the Act of Painting blog, written by Nancy Bea Miller


Why do I want a critique?

•   For praise, affirmation/approval?  

•   Or do I have a specific problem I want help solving?


•   If affirmation, whose opinion do I respect and value?

•   If I have a specific problem, who would best have the experience with solving such a problem?

•   Will the person I seek understand and respect MY work and not trample on my vision and try to influence me to paint like somebody else?


How will I find such a person?  Some places to look:

•   Locally, who do I know and respect?

•   In publications, whose work speaks to me?

•.  In professional societies that have critique programs and vet the artists giving the critiques (The Portrait Society of America offers critiques for members)

•   Faculty at workshops or art programs or artist professional societies and meetings

My responsibilities…

Prepare for the critique. 

•   Be clear about what help I want and need

•   Be clear about the intent of my work – what I wanted to achieve

•   Know whether I want technical help or help in clarifying my vision

•   I will accept their comments graciously without becoming offended or defensive because I understand that I have asked for criticism and that may be exactly what I get.

•   I will thank them for taking the time to look at my painting and for giving me their thoughts and ideas.

My rights…

I am the artist, it’s my work and my goals, and therefore my responsibility and right to make the decision about what I find helpful or unhelpful in the critique and whether or not to adopt any of the suggestions.

My plan…

I find it useful, after having a critique, to spend some time alone (at the very least, “sleeping on it”) looking at the work and imagining it with the changes suggested. Sometimes I will decide to make a change, and at other times the contemplation helps me to solidify my thoughts on why my work is better without the change.  This is a good cerebral/aesthetic exercise that increases one’s self-confidence that s/he knows what s/he’s doing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Social Media…in a nutshell…with bacon

The memory of the excitement of the Portrait Society of America Conference in DC may be starting to fade, but hopefully the inspiration you’ve taken home is just starting to kick in and you are using what you’ve learned and applying it to your own art life.

Thank you to those of you arose at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to attend the Cecilia Beaux Forum Panel Discussions. And apologies to those of you who wanted to attend each of
the phenomenal breakout sessions but had to pick just one.

For your benefit, we shall give you some highlights of some of the panel discussions as downloadable handouts.

Here are the notes to the Judy Takács portion of the Cecilia Beaux Forum panel about promoting your work in the 21st Century. Judy talks about Social Media and how to make it a positive part your art life.

Right and Better Left Unsaid
by Judy Takács

 Promoting Your Work in the 21st Century:

Social Media…in a nutshell…with bacon 

An overview of some of the popular social media venues…using the example of bacon…which is very popular on the internet right now.

twitter…I’m #eatingbaconrightnow  #andlovingit

instagram…here’s a photo of the bacon which I just fried and will be eating in a minute!

youtube…here is a handy instructional video I made, with a soundtrack by Yo Yo Ma laid down behind the sound of sizzling bacon. I show you how to fry bacon and then how to eat it.

linkdin…my skills include making bacon, eating bacon, talking about bacon. My contacts can endorse this. And I’m looking for a job in the bacon industry. Now I will send you a request from linkdin so you can view my profile and be amazed at all I have written about my bacon prowess. You have to take my word on this, because I have no photos besides my profile picture where my face is greasy from the bacon I have eaten.

pinterest…here you can see the many MANY professional photos and paintings of bacon that I found in random places on the internet and wanted to keep. I have pinned them to my Pinterest board which I call, “I love bacon.” Please feel free to pin some of MY bacon pictures onto YOUR Pinterest boards too!

facebook…I like bacon IMHO…LOL. Check out my album of artistic bacon photos that I have taken myself. Here’s a link to my website and a link to blog I write, Here’s photo of me with my close friend…Kevin Bacon, and a painting by my favorite artist…Francis Bacon. I tagged them both…please like, comment on and share!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CBF Panel Highlights…Publishing your Art in the 21st Century

Another fabulous and legendary Portrait Society of America Conference has just finished, and now its back to business. Thank you to those of you arose at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to attend the Cecilia Beaux Forum Panel Discussions. And apologies to those of you who, like me,  wanted to attend each of the phenomenal breakout sessions but had to pick just one.

For your benefit, over the next few weeks we will be giving you some highlights of the talks as downloadable handouts.

Kudos to Chris Saper, who heads up the Literature Committee of the Cecilia Beaux Forum, and also headed up the panel about promoting your work in the 21st Century. She was the first one to get her information to me!

“Beauty” by Chris Saper

 Promoting Your Work in the 21st Century

Chris Saper’s portion of this panel discussion was all about self-publishing.

Here are her notes from her well-researched and informative talk

Here is a chart comparing publishing options*

Here is a link to a free ebook about self-publishing*

*Courtesy Matter Deep Publishing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Inspiration By The Books at the Portrait Society Conference

Each year as I get ready for the Portrait Society of America meeting, I pack with an eye to leaving space in my luggage for all the new art books I’m going to buy.

Over the years I’ve amassed a small library of inspirational art books purchased at the veritable artists candy store that is the PSoA Book table.

Portrait of Maquoketa by Rose Frantzen
I shall always remember my first PSoA book purchase; “Portrait of Maquoketa” by Rose Frantzen. After seeing her win the face-off, watching her riveting demonstration, hearing her speak, meeting her and learning about her epic portrait project painting the citizens of her hometown, I snagged a copy of the book. Fortunately I got one before they sold out and lined up to have her sign it too. Since then I have had many breakfasts and late night snacks while poring over the 180 portraits it contains.

Breaking the Rules of Watercolor and The Intimate Eye by Burt Silverman,
New York Creative from Raymond Everett Kinstler and
Self-Portraits and Oil Painting Secrets from a Master from David Leffel
At subsequent conferences I also discovered where Burton Silverman, Raymond Everett Kinstler, and David Lefell had been hiding since I first heard about them 30 years ago from my Portrait Painting teacher, José Cintron at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Over the next couple conferences, I bought their newer books and even dragged my 30-year-old tattered, oil-paint and coffee-stained ones from my collection at home for them to sign. It was a thrill to meet these gentlemen, who were, for me living legends from my early training.


Nelson Shanks from Nelson Shanks and Alla Prima by Richard Schmid
At the Portrait Society book table, I was also introduced to Nelson Shanks and Richard Schmid…can you believe I’d never heard of them before I came to the Portrait Society? I bought both their books and ensured another year or so of inspiring breakfast book dates.


Visions and Voyages by Susan Lyon
And then there was the incredible Susan Lyon’s book. When my room-mate bought her book one year, I pored through it, but was already over 50 lbs in my luggage that year. I vowed to come back and buy it the following year. Fearing a sellout like Rose’s book, however, I came back the next day and bought it anyway. I could always bring it as carry-on. I knew her book as my breakfast companion would be a catalyst for delicious and meaningful brushwork for years to come.

The Incognito Project by Terry Strickland
Last year, I was thrilled to see The Incognito Project by Terry Strickland at the always crowded Portrait Society Book table. I followed her project where she enticed her friends and family to reveal their secret selves and pose for her. This was of special interest to me because there were similarities in process to my own Chicks with Balls project. Lucky for me I had already ordered the book online and didn’t have to fight for one before it sold out…but I was thrilled to finaly meet Terry after only talking to her on facebook.

Working South by Mary Whyte
And I’ll always remember the Portrait Society Conference where I saw Mary Whyte speak about her working south project. She bowled me over with her brilliant, quiet, thoughtful descriptions of her meticulously observed series chronicling the jobs of manual workers in vanishing fields. When she sat down with us for a glass of wine at the bar, it was confirmed I was in the company of a profoundly talented and gracious artist. Next chance I had, I made her book mine and had her sign it. Since then, I have been her groupie and have followed her shows to the Butler Institute and the National Arts Club in New York!

This year I’m looking forward to seeing what treasured books await me at the fabulous Portrait Society of America book table…along with seeing my own book there for the first time ever!

So, please, when you come to the conference this year, leave room in your luggage…or bring a sturdy carry-on totebag! You’ll go home with inspiration to last you a lifetime!

My Portrait Society book collection is growing!



Monday, April 7, 2014

Wake up to Cecilia Beaux Saturday Morning at the Portrait Society Conference in D.C.

Les Derniers Jours d’Enfance by Cecilia Beaux
Imag courtesy Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.

We're all having so much fun with the blog and the facebook page…and some of you may still be wondering what exactly the Cecilia Beaux Forum of the Portrait Society of America really IS.

If you are attending the Portrait Society Conference in Washington DC this year, now is your chance to find out…and to benefit from all the art, portrait and life wisdom our board and membership has to offer too! And hopefully you’ll meet some of the terrific people you’ve met online too and say, “Hey, I know you from facebook!”

You are hereby invited to attend the

Cecilia Beaux Forum Meeting and Roundtable Discussions

Saturday, April 26, 2014, 7:00am-8:30am

Reston Suite B


What is the Cecilia Beaux Forum Roundtable?

It is a unique program on Saturday morning where CBF members gather together for the annual meeting and then break into smaller groups for presentations and discussions.

Our CBF Chair, Judith Carducci, will start off with a brief overview of the Forum’s purpose and recent activities. Then, attendees will break into three groups to discuss topics relevant to the fine art portraiture. You can choose which panel below to attend.

All are welcome and encouraged (you do not have to be a CBF member to attend).

This year, the topics and panelists to choose from will be as follows:

Art of Life by Leslie Adams

Shaping Your Artistic Journey

Judith Carducci • John Siebels Walker • Leslie AdamsJennifer Welty

In this discussion, panelists will share how their diverse artistic journeys have helped to shape and define their daily lives. Topics will include managing your time between teaching and painting, shows and commissions, work and family, and even between countries.

New World by Alexandra Tyng

The Mentoring Experience

This panel will discuss experiences of artist-to-artist mentoring relationships, including the goals, value, and expectations of both the mentor and the protégée. In particular, panelists will share and discuss stories from the Cecilia Beaux Mentoring program.

Huntsman and Herdsman by Kate Stone

Promoting Your Work in the 21st Century

 This panel will discuss the various opportunities and challenges an artist will face in the “tech-savvy” twenty-first century market. There will be particular focus on social media, blogging, and digital self-publishing.

So, set your alarm clocks for early Saturday morning, grab a coffee and see what the Cecilia Beaux Forum is all about! And of course say Hi to all your new friends from the Facebook Cecilia Beaux Forum group page too!