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  • Sam Darling


Let’s talk about the muse and how they function in the life of the artist. We all have influences that kick our artistic butts into gear.

Growing up with my grandmother Helene‘s paintings I’ve long been fascinated by the literal artist model. I took a painting class in high school where the instructor told me painters tend to add their own features when they paint other people. “If you want to look good, hire a good-looking painter.”

When my maternal grandmother lived outside of Chicago she had a friend who was also her muse. In her friend Susan Bartelt’s beauty I see a woman of chic style who could easily have fit into our family back in France. She was from international New York City herself and studied fashion design and must have adored having Helene around the small suburban town as someone who shared her refined sensibilities.

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Helene used her as an artist model many times. Here is the official portrait that now hangs in her daughter’s dining room:

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Such beauty. Although, if I ever commission a work of myself I should like to be captured in laughter.

I was taken by another muse when I visited Chateau Grimaldi outside of Nice, France.

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One of the rooms is dedicated to portraits of Suzy Solidor.

She even became known as “the most painted woman in the world” and it’s easy to see how her vibe would appeal to artists. Among muses I’ve known they share the same bigger-than-life personality that so many want to attempt to capture. They’re not necessarily the most beautiful person in the room, but they’re always the most captivating. She was also convicted of collaborating during WWII due to singing in her club for the Germans; but that’s another story.

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Muses are often singers and actors and have the rare talent of always being themselves no matter the circumstances. Always comfortable in their skin.

One of my friends, Crystal Durant, even lists Muse as one of her jobs on her Facebook. She knows what she’s about! It’s no surprise that she works with The Art Students League of New York as their model. She may strip Suzy of her title as most painted woman.

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When Crystal posts a new portrait on her Facebook I search for the features of the artist themselves as they may have been influencing their depiction of her. Perhaps we gravitate toward a muse who has qualities of ourselves we want to explore?

We could ask Robin Feinerman who did the painting above. [Trying to get credits on the rest of these outstanding works of art.]

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