Beyond the Face of a Portrait

by Courtney Cerniglia

Many turn to art in times of stress, sadness, or struggle. Personally, I enjoy how spreading paint across a canvas washes away thoughts from my mind as I focus on the color and shapes transforming in front of me. It’s a way to experience mindfulness and reconnect back to oneself, or to express emotions or ideas that may be difficult to put into words.


Lauren Stinski describes art as “cathartic,” which I think is a beautiful description of art. Cathartic is another word for release, and Lauren uses art to release emotion and anxiety from her mind and bring something beautiful into existence with a painting. Since she’s struggled with depression, social anxiety, and other disorders, art serves as her method of relieving her mind from things out of her control. “Creating art has always been a therapeutic and easy way to express how I was feeling without having to talk to anyone about it,” Lauren shares. “It has always been very cathartic for me.”


Lauren graduated from Lawrence University in Fine Art and has since focused on portraiture in acrylic and oil. She loves the expressions of color and integrating hues into her pieces. Lauren’s current work focuses on portraits of famous leaders and actresses. She explains the allure. “Actresses are symbols with outward perfection. Yet, in reality, many of them struggle with mental disorders or abuse that went or go unknown.” You can see her fascination with this concept in her portraits of actresses like Judy Garland.


She also enjoys painting people who through their lives improved the lives of others in some way. In remembrance, she’s done portraits of John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When she paints a portrait of someone, spending so much time on the fine details of their face and features, she finishes feeling as if she knows them more intimately.


“Art provides mindfulness and being in the now. Especially in the times we’ve been facing – so much noise – immersing oneself in art drowns all else out. The mind isn’t chattering when focused on a piece of work in front of you.” She also recognizes art’s ability to act as a voice, whether to raise concern, critique societal norms, or celebrate beauty.


Lauren describes the power of art, “There are no rules in art. People of all races, religions, and creeds can use it to express themselves. You are permitted creative freedom. You don’t need to be a certain age or have a specific ability. It’s accessible to everyone and that’s what makes it beautiful. It doesn’t exclude and it needs no reason for existing.”


For more of Lauren’s work and to contact her for commissions, visit her website