Featured Artist Laara Cassells

Figurative painter Laara Cassells captures the moods and spirit of teen girls in her collection of detailed portraits. See more of her portfolio by visiting her website.


Painting portrait of a teenage girl named Jordyn curling by Laara Cassells

“Jordyn” Acrylic on Canvas, 38” x 38” x 2.5”


I am a figurative painter living in Alberta, Canada. I use acrylics on canvas or board and I like to work in series, sometimes expressing social themes. This particular series of paintings shows girls aged twelve to thirteen years old in a wide variety of moods and activities.


Painted portrait of a teenage girl named Callie by Laara Cassells

“Callie” Acrylic on Canvas, 27” x 41.5” x 2.5”


The idea began when I painted a studio portrait of a girl in Salt Lake City. She was lovely, innocent and vulnerable, and just becoming a young woman. Her image haunted me. I decided to look for those qualities in other girls and to title the series “Becoming.”


Painted portrait of a teenage girl named Adeline by Laara Cassells

“Adeline” Acrylic on Canvas, 25.75” x 38” x 2.5”


The early paintings show girls looking pensive or wistful. I also included domestic props in a couple of the paintings, such as a tea service or sewing machine. These suggest that the girls have wider choices now in how to spend their lives.


Painted portrait of a teenage girl named Clara playing the violin by Laara Cassells

“Clara” Acrylic on Canvas, 41” x 27” x 2.5”


However, as I interacted with each model, I realized that there was a lot more substance to these girls. I wanted to portray a wider vision of this age group including their strengths, perseverance and power in addition to the more passive poses or erratic moods.


Painted portrait of a teenage girl named Jade on the uneven bars by Laara Cassells

“Jade” Acrylic on Canvas, 27.75” x 44.75” x 2.5”


I advertised locally for models and discovered a number of talented girls in my area. Many were involved in sports and music and were dedicated and high achieving individuals. I did not have any experience photographing movement, but the mothers and models were patient with me. I learned to capture these fast action moments so I could paint them.


“Megan” Acrylic on Canvas, 47” x 36” x 2.5”


I always take a lot of photographs on site and then work out the composition and the background details on the computer. I manipulate the colour tones and the lighting and eliminate excess background noise until I am happy with the image.


Painted portrait of a teenage girl barrel racing by Laara Cassells

“Karlee” Acrylic on Canvas, 42” x 43” x 2.5”


In order to see the models’ faces while including the whole body, I had to build the canvases quite large.


“Kamille” Acrylic on Canvas, 20.5” x 27” x 2.5”


I decided that the series should include as many moods as I could capture. In a gallery setting I like to juxtapose the active portraits with the more passive ones. In that way, the onlooker is subject to an emotional change with each image, just as family members are subject to the volatile emotions of the young teenage daughter.


Painting portrait of two teenage sisters by Laara Cassells

“Sisters!” Acrylic on Canvas, 45” x 36” x 2.5”


I found this transitional period in the girls’ lives to be fascinating, elusive, and short-lived. For about four months the girls still had that innocence that is “pre-boys” and “pre-makeup” but right on the verge of “knowing.” In an exhibition held a year later, many of the girls attended and were unrecognisable—they had matured so much.


Artist Laara Cassells at work

Artist Laara Cassells at work


My painting style is realistic and detailed. It necessitates a concentrated study of both the physical attributes of the subject as well as the emotional. My hope is that my attempt to grasp and express what I witnessed in these girls allows the viewer to share this knowledge with me and to truly appreciate the power and potential of the girls that they know.


Artist Laara Cassells invites you to follow her on Instagram and Facebook.


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