The Quiet Confidence of Celebrity Painter Bridget Roderman
The artist discusses her remarkable journeys and her introduction to a new phase in her paintings
By John D. Adams
To call Bridget Roderman a “celebrity painter” would be a mistake. Not because it isn’t true. Roderman IS a celebrity. On multiple fronts. But more on that later. No, it would be a mistake because it would only embarrass her. Like many artists, Roderman best expresses her emotions on canvas. To boast about her many accomplishments would be unheard of. At least from her own lips. Perhaps her quiet confidence comes from years of spending countless hours swimming. She was good enough to represent her native Czechoslovakia in multiple international swimming competitions. When, as a teenager, she and her family moved to Canada, she swam there, too. “I spent much of my childhood by myself, swimming eight hours a day. I think that kind of self-discipline, because really you are competing with yourself, helped shape who I am.”
While no success comes easily, Roderman demurs to talk much about the hard work it took for her to become first, a trophy-winning international swimmer; then, a successful print fashion model. “I was very much on my own when I modeled, too,” muses Roderman. “I didn’t do runway, but I did a lot of print and advertising.” In between two full-time successes, Roderman was always painting, too. Her mother was a painter and encouraged her daughter to follow her passion.
Journey to Oz
After and during her successful modelling career, Roderman was compelled to express the cheer and light of her own remarkable journey. “I was born and raised in the beautiful Czech Republic but unfortunately it was not a beautiful time in history,” recalled the artist. “As a young girl who had to be constantly aware in an environment controlled by fear, I quickly learned to study the faces of people and their expressions. It was my tool for survival.”
It is no accident that many of Roderman’s subjects are celebrities or colorful public personalities. Indeed, her life resembles the fantastical journey taken by Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” From a gray and sepia-toned existence, Roderman, like Dorothy, was propelled into a world of color and magical possibilities. “My family and I escaped from communist Czech Republic. Shortly after, I began a modeling career in Canada and the United States.” Contrasting worlds to say the least. “All of a sudden I was exposed to the very colorful world of fashion icons and celebrities. It was a fabulous time of my life. Each celebrity has a signature je nes c’est quoi, which I was enamored with.”
After former President Bill Clinton saw, and signed, Roderman’s powerful portrait painting of the world leader, she was driven to produce more and varied works. “That is when I was inspired to do a collection, capturing the signature ‘essence’ of celebrities and icons; and then having their literal signature on their portrait and calling the collection, ‘Celebrity Signature Art.’”
Now, after raising a wonderful family, as she and her beloved husband, Glenn, welcome their first granddaughter, Roderman’s work has passed into a new phase. “Having a grandchild, and entering the golden years of my life, I’m calling this stage in my painting ‘The Golden Series’,” says Roderman. “I am expressing the maturation of my painting style by gilding the pieces with a fun new medium for me – gold leaf.”
Her amazing homage to Salvador Dali, called “A Gilded Great” is a prime example of her new works. Roderman’s hallmarks – exquisite detail to eyes and facial expression, the physicality of movement – remain and are, indeed, better represented through her multiple layers of gold leaf and oil paint. “I use 23k gold leaf with oil on canvas,” she remarks. “It is an extremely challenging medium. It is very fragile and needs to be handled delicately. Although it looks sold once glued down and presented, you the intricate layering. Transferring this requires patience and care. I find this an entertaining metaphor for this stage in my life.”
There is no doubt that within each new journey she embarks upon, Bridget Roderman will find success. She continues to follow her passions, seizes the happiness that her life continues to bring. Yet she remains gracious, even timid, when applauded with compliments. “Sometimes, you have to keep your eyes open out of protection and fear. But, then, if you’re willing to move your eyes beyond that, there is an endless, colorful world out there. Always push yourself just a little more so you won’t ever miss life’s greatest moments.”
For more information about artist Bridget Roderman, visit www.Bridgethana.com.
John D. Adams is an award-winning writer and photographer
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