Passion through portraiture

Passion through portraiture

Student artist Bailee Roberts has used this past year to push her creative boundaries.
Published: June 7, 2021

Bailee Roberts, a student artist at SU, hopes to capture the human experience by painting portraits and use her talent to help others.

After cramming her art supplies in her dorm room for virtual painting classes during the fall semester, Bailee Roberts is back in the studio doing what she loves: painting people.

“Painting, for me, has always been immensely personal,” the Syracuse University sophomore said. “Any time I’m stressed, any time I’m upset, any time I’m sad, I’ll just pick up a paintbrush and start painting. It’s really therapeutic, and it’s a way for me to kind of zen out and focus on myself, and de-stress and detach from reality a little bit,” said Roberts.

Roberts is a sociology major with a double minor in art and psychology. With her combination of interests, she hopes to pursue art therapy in the future. Initially, she was unsure how to incorporate her background in art with her newfound interest in sociology and psychology, but then her mother’s friend introduced her to art therapy and she was hooked.

“You’re getting people to express themselves by doing art, by drawing what they’re feeling, what they’re upset about, what they’re thinking about, and looking into those things and using therapy practices but with art,” she said excitedly.

Roberts grew up in Altadena, California, where she never experienced a “traditional” education. Roberts’ grandfather sparked her interest in art from a young age. She grew up watching him paint and was inspired to pursue art herself.

Her love for her grandfather and his relationship with art fueled Roberts to develop her own art, so much so that her parents placed her in schools that incorporated the classic school subjects into a curriculum centered around arts.

Roberts went to elementary school and art school separately. In middle school and high school, she participated in dual enrollment programs that provided regular classes as well as an art conservatory so that she could cultivate a strong foundation academically and artistically.

While Roberts’ artistic training explored a variety of subjects, she feels the most connected to portraiture.

“There’s something so captivating about human expression. When you look at a canvas and it’s a portrait, you find yourself really interacting with the canvas in a way that you don’t with any other art,” said Roberts.

Roberts believes that emotion is intertwined with portraiture more intensely than with other forms of painting. She feels that people who are viewing portraiture look to find personal details about the subject in the paintings, making their experience with the art more intimate.

“They really want to find themselves in it,” said Roberts.

Roberts wants her work to be relatable and she hopes her audience is able to see pieces of their own identities in the portraiture that she produces so that it can “speak to them in a personal and unique way.”