Artist of the Month: Mia Bergeron

18 Sep 2007

0701aom2_450x600_2Mia Bergeron, a classically trained portraitist and figure artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is our January Artist of the Month.

by Edith Zimmerman

2006, oil on linen, 22 x 26.
All artwork this article
collection the artist.

Our January Artist of the Month is Mia Bergeron, a painter living and working in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Trained in the classical method, Bergeron’s preferred subject matter is the human form within a landscape. Describing her philosophy on painting, Bergeron quotes 19th-century French writer Guy de Maupassant: “The realist, if he is an artist, will seek not to show us a banal photograph of life, but to give us a vision more complete, more seizing, more probing than reality itself.” For Bergeron, this translates into the challenge of portraying her subjects with both technical prowess and sensitivity to the intangible. “Each sitter comes with a unique personal story, and it is the combination of the medium’s subtle flexibility and the wonderful opportunity to connect with people that has led me to pursue portrait painting as my primary focus,” she says. “I look to artists such as Sargent, Velázquez, Zorn, Sorolla, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Degas as inspirations to naturalistic paths of expression.”

Although the artist prefers to work from life, many of her subjects are too young to sit for several hours. “If a model can manage to sit for me, the outcome is much more impressive and enjoyable, but sometimes this is impossible,” the artist admits. “In those cases, I take pictures of them in my studio, which has a north-facing window with very cool, constant light.

2005, oil on linen, 24 x 36.

“If I work from photos, I usually insist on finishing the painting from life,” Bergeron explains. “There are certain qualities of a face—an attitude that only the eye is capable of capturing. Fortunately, I’ve found that most people are intrigued by the rapport that develops between artist and sitter, and are hence more willing to give their time.”

Bergeron was trained in, and often employs, the sight-size method for capturing life-size likeness. “Every portrait begins differently,” she says, “but I always try to look for an interesting pattern of lights and darks. Having a studio that faces north helps control the values and colors.”

Although she works almost exclusively in oil, Bergeron is broadening her scope by experimenting with watercolor. She also hopes to paint more nudes and figures outdoors, “as I think it would be the next step in truly capturing something of the human condition.”

Bergeron studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, and at the Charles H. Cecil Studio, in Florence, Italy, where she also taught portrait-painting.

0701aom3_472x600 0701aom4_521x600 0701aom5_450x600_2
Michel Bergeron
2005, charcoal, 22 x 26
2005, oil on linen, 20 x 24.
Sketch of Alex
2006, oil on linen, 18 x 24.

Edith Zimmerman is the editorial assistant of American Artist.

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emile b klein wrote
on 30 Jan 2007 4:26 PM
Good going Mia, I am pleased always to see the movement of Firenze's finest coming into the art world.
Juan Villarreal Urrutia wrote
on 31 Jan 2007 2:29 PM
Mia, I work in Cancun in 1975, and I have a friend,Donalad Bergeron,he lived in Port St.Joe Fl. but worked with me in Protexa, a big mexican company. Ok. I want to felicitate for your work, it's super. I'm an artist too, I have a web site thank you, by
Allan M. Malkasian wrote
on 24 May 2007 8:20 PM
I am attempting to find an artist, who painted in the early seventies, and signed the pictures by the name of you know of any such artist, or could you be that artist...I have one of this artist paintings, and wish to contact the artist. thank you.
on 17 Apr 2009 11:56 AM

This Illinois-based artist has a degree in animation but found her true calling was painting portraits

on 12 Jun 2012 11:45 PM

This Illinois-based artist has a degree in animation but found her true calling was painting portraits