Anastasia Egeli - Portrait Artist
Anastasia Egeli

Anastasia Egeli - Portrait Artist


I was born to paint portraits. My grandfather, Bjorn Egeli, emigrated from Norway as a teenager and went on to paint two presidents, Eisenhower and Nixon, as well as Gen. Douglas MacArthur and several Supreme Court justices. My father, Cedric Egeli, taught scores of students in his atelier in Maryland. One of my earliest memories was sitting for a portrait by Henri Hensche, the founder of the Cape School of Art in Provincetown.

Education and Training

I studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, with Daniel Greene in New York, and then with Nelson Shanks at his Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia. Each summer, I would return to Provincetown, Massachusetts to study the color and light techniques made famous by Hensche, as well as Lois Griffel. My work has always been grounded in an appreciation for color that I learned early on.

Artistic Development

My recent portraits reflect more creative compositions and a more vibrant palette that I think better captures the essence of my clients, who tend to be artists themselves.

Early Career and Influence

Anastasia Egeli began painting portraits when she was only seven, making her debut as a painter at a Cape Cod street festival. Educated from childhood in the technical discipline demanded by classic portraiture, Anastasia began painting professionally in 1990 when she was a college student. She came by her talent naturally. Her artistic lineage can be traced back three generations and includes her late grandfather, renowned portraitist and sculptor Bjorn Egeli. Her parents, each a respected and well-known painter, have been her most influential teachers.

Technical and Academic Training

Egeli spent numerous summers studying color and light technique in both pastels and oil at the famed school of impressionism in Provincetown, Massachusetts (now the Cape School of Color). Her mentors are revered colorists Henry Hensche, Lois Griffel, and her own father, Cedric Egeli. She refined her skill for interpreting form and her drawing techniques at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and studied the techniques of oil painting with accomplished artist and teacher Daniel Greene in New York.

Artistic Philosophy

As she became increasingly proficient in the technique of portraiture, Egeli recognized that technique alone cannot accomplish a unique portrayal of a subject. She began to see that understanding the personality and idiosyncrasies of the individual is invaluable to the artist in creating a truly personal portrait. Desiring a broader human perspective, she enrolled in St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and earned a degree in philosophy and mathematics.

Portrait Process

The focus of Egeli's portraiture is the relationship of a subject to his or her surroundings and the distinctive interplay of light and color created by each person she paints. Although her subjects are of all ages, Anastasia especially enjoys creating portraits of children. She finds great beauty in the effect of natural light upon the soft, yet intricate, complexions of her young subjects. She likes to begin the creative process by visiting the subject in his or her surroundings and doing thumbnail sketches in natural light. As she makes the sketches and interacts with the subject, Egeli observes facial expressions and body language and begins to sense the individual qualities of the person she is to paint. Artist and subject together select the most comfortable environment and decide on the best lighting in which to work. Once a decision is made about the composition, Egeli takes photographs for reference and begins the portrait from a live sitting. She then returns to her studio to complete the painting. Another sitting is scheduled for final adjustments.

Artistic Legacy

All her life, Anastasia Egeli has been absorbed with "great ideas, great art. And I've liked to express the way things affect me. I love the experience of portraiture," she comments. "Each time I meet a person, I have an opportunity to get to know him or her, to sense the individual's uniqueness and to observe the light-play on the subject and surroundings. This allows me to tell a story on canvas about the person."

Family Tradition

Anastasia Egeli is a third-generation artist, carrying on the tradition of a pre-eminent family in American portrait painting. Her grandfather Bjorn Egeli emigrated from Norway as a teenager on a sailing ship and rose to paint two presidents (Eisenhower and Nixon), several Supreme Court justices, and prominent statesmen including Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Bjorn's five children all became artists.

Current Work and Teaching

Anastasia's father, Cedric, studied with Henry Hensche, the founder of the Cape Cod School of Art. He is among the most famous living portrait painters, with pieces in the collections of the Pentagon, John's Hopkins, and Duke University. Anastasia painted her first portrait at seven and by eighteen was training with Hensche in Cape Cod. Here she infused traditional techniques with the luminosity of the impressionists. Her style is a nod to the Egeli's immaculate taste for composition and the dynamic sense of color from the New England schools.

She has trained with some of the most famous portrait artists alive, including Nelson Shanks, Thomas Thurman, and Stephen Perkins, and exhibited in galleries in New York and Charlotte, N.C. Currently, Anastasia paints commission work in her studio in New York City. She teaches workshops at the Egeli studio in Maryland and color expression during the summer at the Cape School.