Natalie Arsenow creates fine art portraits, usually of women only. The inspiration comes from Old Masters on the one hand and photographs depicting actresses on the other hand. She tends to chose famous portraits from the Renaissance and  Baroque period and images of rather well-known actresses from the past and present because the audience is oftentimes able to recognize them, which creates an immediate link between the artwork and the viewer.

Drawings inspired by famous paintings

We shouldn’t forget that back in the days of the Old Masters women were legally only allowed to be muses and/or models but never artists in their own right. Even their poses are clearly steered towards a male audience and were generally showing the women as erotic, bewitching and available creatures with the single purpose to please men.

Drawings inspired by photographs of famous actresses of the past and present

When the artist draws movie stars she will regularly use images from the past because she has the impression that back then women were still perceived as more glamorous and mysterious. This second topic is also linked to the recent Me Too movement and the fact that it is still necessary even for strong, established and successful women to fight for their rights all over the world. A fact, which can basically be applied to every single profession. It’s one of the big issues that our generation has to deal with. Shockingly many societies all over the world keep on struggling with the question of equal rights, and female artists continue being extremely underrepresented in most of the museums and galleries. The prices paid for their works are only a fraction of the ones paid for those of their male counterparts. High time to change this!

And then there are a few based on images that simply draw me in like bees to honey


The artist has a lot of respect for other artists who are able to produce photo-realistic images. However, she prefers to work in a very distinct, recognizable style that cannot be imitated by a camera.

Her drawings are executed with different kinds of pencils usually in shades of grey and white. The portraits are constructed with geometrical shapes, mostly triangles and the artist creates shades by using different kinds of white, grey and graphite pencils, spacing the lines closer or further apart from each other but also by applying more or less pressure to the medium and crosshatching. This results in a very contemporary look and sometimes reaches the verge of abstraction. When seen from a distance the work will probably trick you in to thinking that it is a rather realistic painting or even a photograph. The intention is to bring the depicted women into our present day, show that things evolve and change, also in our ways of thinking, society, customs and habits.

Natalie Arsenow’s drawings are extremely intricate, detailed and therefore time-consuming to make. Luckily she enjoys the process of watching her work grow and come to life immensely. Because creating something is like watching magic unfold in front of your eyes.

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