We had the good fortune of connecting with Baret Boisson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Baret, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
I have a lot of favorite quotes and Gloria Steinem’s “Empathy is the most radical of human emotions.” is definitely one of them. Empathy, putting oneself in another human being’s shoes, is something we don’t seem to value in our society, and was entirely lacking from the previous administration’s rhetoric and policies. What I love about the quote, though, is the idea that empathy, kindness, and attempts to understand the other, require fortitude and resolve. It isn’t weakness, but demands courage. I created a portrait on a cigar box of Ms. Steinem and the quote as a reminder of this.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I paint both portraits and abstract pieces, and while they are very different from one another, they both vibrate with bold colors and energy. The portraits fall into two main categories: family portraits (celebrating weddings, anniversaries, birthdays or just love!) and a continuing series called “Inspiring Greatness.” I enjoy capturing my subject’s essence and creating a visual story. It means doing a lot of research about each person, even if it isn’t something that I will overtly use in my piece; just knowing what kind of music someone likes helps to create a more nuanced image of the person. Creating someone’s portrait has so much more to do with copying a photograph. The abstract pieces are much more visceral. I turn on the music, pour a glass of wine, and let the muses guide me! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Some very special people come to mind. I wouldn’t have even started painting if my friend Jamal Hammadi hadn’t invited me over to his home one evening to paint. It was one of the best experiences in my life and I never looked back. Thank you, Jamal! One of my oldest friends, Kathy Ireland, became a mentor early on. A full 10 years after I started painting, Kathy sat me down and explained how she herself- usually a very shy person- had to create a more confident, outgoing persona when it came to her work, and that I had to do the same. Because I had no formal training and didn’t start painting until I was 30, I was very timid about sharing my work with the public. I took Kathy’s advice and immediately started thinking of myself as an “artist.” So a huge shout out to Kathy. Amy Smith’s support has been a godsend. Josh Wayser and Gwenn Stroman. Jeannine Renshaw. Art advisor Mariela Ciccone. My friend Merryl Brown with whom I’ve been friends since we attended an all-girl’s boarding school together, introduced me to so many of the people who would become my friends and support network including Debby Peterson, Virginia Wigle. Beryl Kreisel. Elizabeth Slaught. Cynthia Spivey and Jo Saxon. Todd Kellstein has given me so much guidance, and Lynda Weinman has been an incredible source of encouragement and support.
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