Sunday, January 11, 2015

Our Portraits Our Selves…The Youthful Doppelgänger

The fourth in a series where we explore the female self-portrait in contemporary realism.

Standing in front of a mirror with a paint brush in your hand and a canvas in your reach is only one way to paint a self-portrait. Some artists will often use a youthful doppelgänger; a child as model… to explore themes that may be more universal. These youthful muses do not usually distract the viewer to make judgements on likeness, seriousness, narcissism and relative beauty of the adult artist who painted the work.

Stephanie Deshpande, Let the Cards Fall

Stephanie Deshpande has used her young daughter as model and muse for many of her haunting and tender portraits. She says her daughter is a  “cute substitute for [herself];” a muse who is also an avatar.

Stephanie Deshpande, as yet untitled

“In this painting, [above, using my daughter as the model], I was particularly concerned about the way I was portraying a female; looking somewhat dead. Especially since I recently discovered how horribly women are treated and portrayed in video games,  I didn’t want to reflect that at all. I tried to obscure her body, and focus less on beauty of the female form. This painting is about the stress I was feeling this summer, and how I felt I was just collapsing under the weight of it. The clothes are meant to be all my concerns around me. I’m playing with a title of Atlas Shrugged, or something equally universal, so that people won’t think I’m just portraying a child. “

At this point Stephanie’s painting remains untitled but speaks volumes.

Anna Rose Bain has the distinct artistic advantage of having two doppelgängers very close to her. She has a twin sister, whom she posed with for this double self-portrait…of sorts.

Anna Rose Bain, Twin Arts

She says, “What makes it special to me though, is that it expresses so much about us —our competitive spirit, our commitment to our given arts, our desire to be beautiful and share beauty with the world through art and music, and our love for each other.”

She has gotten some comments about the painting being, “quite erotic” which left her feeling awkward…eroticism never being the intent. She even heard, “Isn’t it kind of narcissistic to paint yourself that big?” (the painting is 48x40).

Anna Rose Bain, Cece at Three Weeks

Last May, Anna Rose gave birth to her second muse…Cece. (Short for Cecilia, and named after Cecilia Beaux no less!) Idealistically juggling the “artist as mom” dream of painting well while parenting well, Anna has painted several major self-portraits…from life…holding her baby. She started the first before Cece was even born.

Anna Rose Bain, The Wait and the Reward

Anna began painting The Wait and the Reward, while   still pregnant, but had to wait until the baby came to put the final model into the painting. This work went viral on the internet and received much love as well as passionate responses from both sides of the reproductive freedom issue. Surprisingly it even ignited racial commentary…which just shows that people will find what they look for in a work of art.

Anna Rose Bain, Proverbs 31:17 (Self Portrait at 29)

Now, several months later, Anna is continuing the self-portrait with baby theme. She’s a diligent blogger and wrote about the acrobatics of painting the awake and squirming Cece in the painting above. 

Leslie Adams, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl

Leslie Adams won the Draper Grand Prize at the 2013 Portrait Society of America International Show for her charcoal drawing of herself as a young girl

As a child she remembers taking classes at the Toledo Museum of Art, drawing at her wooden green easel (didn’t we all have one?) and seeing the “Draw Winky” ads for the “Art Instruction Schools, Inc.” in the back of her mom’s Ladies Home Journals. Though she took the college route to becoming an artist, instead of the instant success offered by the rendering of the baby deer profile…she also drew many Winkies in her day for fun, along with Lucky the Duck and the Pirate too.

This award-winning portrait of her younger self, pays tribute to Leslie’s artistic dreams that thrive today more than ever.

Stay tuned for future installments of Our Portraits Our Selves. Next time we’ll continue with the Youthful Doppelgänger theme and focus on artist Alexandra Tyng, who paints heavily symbolic portraits of intense memories from her childhood.

Written by Judy Takács
Chair New Media Relations
Cecilia Beaux Forum
Portrait Society of America

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