Egg tempera portrait paintings
Elena Vladimir Baranoff, "Awakening, A Self-Portrait," 2017, egg tempera, 8 x 10 in.

With a love for genuine egg tempera, Elena Vladimir Baranoff takes us behind the scenes of her inspiration for painting, and exploring identity.

Awakening: Reflection On Self-Portraiture And Creativity


Self-portraiture presents a unique occasion for a painter to immerse oneself in a moving exploration of identity and inspiration.

Created in 2017 in the ancient medium of genuine egg tempera, so rarely practiced by fine artists in our modern age, “Awakening” is the first self-portrait in my professional artistic life, presenting a personal point of view as a modern-day artist.

Painting with egg tempera
The egg yolk: Quintessence of egg tempera; Photo copyright Elena Vladimir Baranoff

Being a fine art painter, who envisions and originates artwork on themes of fairy tales, legends, and myths, in «Awakening» I depicted myself in the enthralling process of composing an auteur painting inspired by Charles Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

Detail of the self-portrait
Detail of the self-portrait

You see me in the very pose I take each and every day, my upper body arched over the paintings I create, forearms supported by a rest, hand holding a tiny custom squirrel hair brush, in the company of my constant companion, a wooden case containing freshly prepared egg tempera paints.

In my painted composition, the enchanting maiden reposes in magic slumber, locked in a high tower soaring above a bewitched city, waiting to be awakened.

Thus, the title “Awakening” was given to the self-portrait, whose leitmotif is the rebirth of neglected beauty in the world of fine art today. “Awakening” stands for the triumph of artistry and the exquisite in visual art.

Detail of the self-portrait
Detail of the self-portrait

Myriads of delicate brushstrokes, fluid translucent washes, applied by a single finely pointed brush barely touching the painted surface, form the intricate lacework of the entire painting.

My signature technique in genuine egg tempera has reached such a level that allows me to create freely, first and foremost concentrating on and thinking of the intellectual framework of a painting, and how, through art, I can convey the meaning and internal feeling of an artwork.

The beginning point of every work of art, its heart, is the idea. When an idea is born, a genuine artist visualizes the future artwork in the imagination and knows its complete look.

From there the creator just needs to materialize the idea and show it to the world. The richer the imagination of the artist, stronger the talent, masterly the skills, the more captivating and moving an artwork is.

One of the distinctive qualities of my paintings is musicality. Each artwork possesses a sense of rhythm, dynamic, balance and lyricism, communicated through the finest details, reaching harmony in the composition itself, its color formula and emotional vibrancy.

In my artwork the search and discovery of harmony is foremost. Harmony is impossible to explain in words. Words don’t have the power to express what harmony is, but when one sees it, meets with it, in any form, one senses its presence.

The other individual quality of my paintings is color. Color plays a most important role in my art; through the color palette of an artwork I convey emotion, character, flavor.

Egg tempera portrait paintings
Cabinet of vibrant and “passionate” dry pigments; Photo copyright Elena Vladimir Baranoff

In music, when we hear a certain combination of notes, tempo and tonality, we can become wistful, even cry, or experience euphoria and bliss. Just so, in art, through color and its endless variety of combinations, a painter can communicate a wide-ranging gamut of feelings.

I aim to give my paintings soul and depth. To capture emotions and have an artwork, in all its intensity, resonate with viewers, stirring up reaction and conversation.

I believe a painter is an ambassador of culture, committed to treat oneself as an artistic individual and look like one, gifting people aesthetic visual pleasure. Being a fine artist, I adore beautiful fabric designs by talented textile artists and in support of their art, shall in every way possible display such craftsmanship in my clothes.

The entire ensemble presented in my self-portrait consists of sincere elements: a shawl gifted to me by my mother, laced around the head to fasten my hair, a kaftan designed and sewn by me from intertwined cotton Russian rogozhka fabric, comfortable and relaxed, it brightens up the day with its marvelous printed motif.

Creating paintings inspired by fairy tales and captivating stories, ornamented in original attire helps me to immerse myself in the irresistible worlds I compose with my fine squirrel brushes and genuine egg tempera paints.

Egg tempera trinity: Egg, dry pigment, fine squirrel brush; Photo copyright Elena Vladimir Baranoff

Connect with Elena Vladimir Baranoff: Visit her website here

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