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Portrait painter Janet Boltax turns her creative eye to the mysteries of twins.
Who is not fascinated by the reality of two individuals who share the same DNA? It is a unique experience for siblings who begin life almost completely parallel in appearance and intelligence and grow up to share some remarkable similarities. And yet, twins often exhibit unexpected differences in personality, interests, and behavior.
Janet Boltax’s lifelong fascination is the basis for her project series of double portraits of twins. In conjunction with painting a portrait, she also interviews them (in the case of infants and young children, their parents). This process provides insight into the interpersonal relationship of twins and their similar and different approaches to life. Go behind the scenes with Boltax as she discusses two of her double portraits below.
Cosmic and Crescent
This is the first painting in my twin series. I met Cosmic and Crescent in a serendipitous way when I had just decided to start this series. While walking in my neighborhood, I noticed a woman struggling to get a double stroller down the stairs of her home. I asked if she needed help, and she said she welcomed it. As I approached the stroller I saw two identical pairs of curious eyes intensely staring at me. I told the woman (Shari) about my project and she agreed to participate, even though I was a complete stranger.
A couple of months later Shari welcomed me into her home for a photo session with the twins. When I arrived they were just waking up from a nap. So I offered to bring one of them downstairs while Shari picked up the other. I was surprised to find that the child showed absolutely no fear when I, a complete stranger, picked him up! Cosmic and Crescent were a delight to photograph. I ended up choosing a photo I took of them early in the process and painting a portrait of them in one of their cribs.
Lori and Alise
An artist friend of mine, Lori, has an identical twin sister living in New York. They both graciously agreed to participate in my project. But they warned me that they have actually grown to look fairly different for identical twins. Alise is heavier and slightly taller than Lori, something I discovered is not unusual for pairs of identical twins. I was interested to discover that while both are artists, they have fairly different styles and subject matter, which are reflected in their differences in personality. Lori, who is more fastidious in her appearance and personality, creates paintings that are more structured. Whereas Alise, who is more free-spirited, creates non-objective paintings that are spontaneous and unplanned.
The Art of Painting a Portrait
Keep your eye on Boltax as her portrait series of twins continues. And be sure to check out her previous projects including A Life in Transition, a series of portraits with commentary that portrays two transgender individuals transitioning, one from male to female; the other female to male. Plus, to learn about Boltax’s portrait series, Aging in America, documenting individuals ranging in age from 90 to 104, check out her profile in the September 2020 issue of Artists Magazine.
To learn more about Janet Boltax and her work, visit janetboltaxart.com.