Our last week of "Studying Under the Masters: Portraits and Self-Portraits" is on Frida Kahlo and taught by Jane Davenport.
Frida Kahlo is a well-known self-portrait painter. At age 6 she contracted polio which left her legs different sizes and led her to dress in flowy skirts to hide her legs. It is also believed that she may have been born with Spina Bifida further deforming her legs and causing pain.
At eighteen she was riding a bus that collided with a street trolley. Frida suffered serious injuries including multiple fractures in her leg and pelvis, breaks throughout her spinal column and a broken collar bone. She was placed in a full body cast for three months. Her injuries technically healed but she suffered relapses of extreme pain causing her to be bedridden at for over a year at one point, as well as causing her to go through over thirty-five surgeries.
Frida began painting seriously to occupy her time recovering from the bus accident. Her mother made her a special easel for her to paint from her bed and her father gave her a set of oil paints.
She said she began painting portraits of herself because she was so often isolated and she was the subject she knew best. Of her 140 paintings, 55 of them were self portraits often including symbolism of her physical pain.
She said, "I don't paint my dreams, I paint my reality."
- Frida was known for her brutally honest self portraits. She had a rare gift to convey her physical pain in her paintings in a way other people could understand
- she planned her out her paintings extensively before painting them in oils
-she was labelled a surrealist painter but insisted she was not a surrealist bc she was painting what was true for herself.
What I learned
- Frida's was transparent with the way she painted, she painted exactly how she felt and what she was going through.
- She exaggerated her "ugly" features on purpose. Her unibrow and mustache were considered manly and she liked it that way. She felt it gave her a greater sense of humanity.
For my painting like hers,I tried to make a woman dressed up like she was with bright colored flowers, strong lips, and a wrap around her shoulders.