Tag Archives: portrait

Mark Demsteader

Mark Demsteader, painter

Mark Demsteader (born 1963) is a British figurative artist. According to The Daily Telegraph, he is “one of Britain’s best-selling figurative painters,” and according to a great many people, he creates some of the most beautiful artwork by any artist alive today. (I, for one, completely agree…I find his work to be truly enchanting, both visually and viscerally.)

Born in Manchester, his formative years were spent in Manchester’s meat market where he would accompany his father (Harold Demsteader) to the family butchery and meat-packing business. Completely absorbed in the noise, smells, and sheer physicality of this environment, the young Mark learnt more about the structure of sinew, bone, and flesh—albeit livestock—than in any subsequent life drawing class.

Mark Demsteader, at work
Mark Demsteader, at work

As a teenager passionate about pursuing an artistic career, Mark completed two foundation courses: first and at Oldham and then Rochdale Colleges of Art. However, in the 1980s conceptual art dominated the mainstream market and there were little opportunities for a young figurative painter in Manchester. Forced to return to work at his father’s wholesale butchery, Mark continued to attend life classes throughout the next decade.

“Chloe Standing”
“Hannah Seated”

In the early 1990s the family business fell victim to the recession and Mark was spurred on to find a commercial outlet for his work. To allow himself time to build a portfolio, he took a job as an art technician at an Oldham grammar school for another ten years. A short course at the Slade School of Fine Art gave him an opportunity to tour the London galleries with his portfolio, but with Brit Art in the ascendency he found drawing out of favour. Eventually, a gallery in Blackheath offered him space in a mixed show where he sold six works. Mark gave notice at the grammar school soon after.

“The Crossing”

In 1997 he became a member of the Neomodern Art Group founded by Guy Denning. He has held an annual solo exhibition with Panter & Hall in the West End of London since 2004. He is now represented in Daikanyama, Japan by Art Obsession.

“Swathe” – image from Panter and Hall Gallery

Notably, he produced a surreal portrait of musician Anomie Belle for her album Flux, and 34 paintings of Harry Potter actress Emma Watson.

Anomie Belle
Emma Watson
Emma Watson
Mark Demsteader and Emma Watson



For more information:

The artist’s website: markdemsteader.com
Twitter: @markdemsteader
Facebook: Mark Demsteader
Instagram: markdemsteader
Email: mark@demsteader.com

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Mark Demsteader

Digital collage portrait by Terri Maxfield Lipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
17 April, 2017
(click image for full resolution)

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William Paxton

Today’s Artist Birthday: William Paxton

William McGregor Paxton (June 22, 1869 – 1941) was an American painter and instructor who embraced the Boston School paradigm and was a co-founder of The Guild of Boston Artists. He is known for his portraits, including those of two presidents—Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge—and interior scenes with women, including his wife. His works are in many museums in the United States.


Paxton was born on June 22, 1869 in Baltimore to James and Rose Doherty Paxton. His father moved the family and established a catering business in Newton Corner, Massachusetts in the mid-1870s.

Newton's Corner, MA - c. 1875
Newton’s Corner, MA – c. 1875

Paxton attended Cowles Art School on a scholarship he attained at the age of 18. He then went to Paris to study at École des Beaux-Arts, and according to Maryhill Museum of Art, while there he also studied at Académie Julian. He returned to Cowles and studied with Joseph DeCamp, who also taught a young lady by the name of Elizabeth Vaughan Okie. She was to soon become Paxton’s student, and later, his wife.

“Jessica,” 1890

Paxton became engaged in 1896 to Elizabeth Vaughan Okie, and they married on January 3, 1899. They traveled to Europe together and often spent their summers on Cape Cod and Cape Ann. They lived in Newton, Massachusetts, initially with his parents. By 1916 they resided in their own studio/home in Fenway Studios in Boston. They later purchased a house in Newton Center.

"Elizabeth Blaney," 1916 by William Paxton
“Elizabeth Blaney,” 1916

Paxton’s wife managed his career and modeled for many of his works, a fine example being the painting in which she was dressed for the ball. “William McGregor Paxton… benefited from an art-savvy wife who supported his career, using her energy in the bet that his offered the more secure future,” said author and art historian Rena Tobey. The couple had no children.

"Elizabeth," 1895
“Elizabeth,” 1895

Paxton taught from 1906 to 1913 at the Museum of Fine Arts School and painted at Fenway Studios in Boston. He is primarily known for his portraits and painted two presidential portraits, one of Grover Cleveland and one of Calvin Coolidge.

"Rose And Blue," 1913
“Rose And Blue,” 1913

Maryhill Museum of Art says of his artistry, “Paxton was well known for the attention he gave to the effects of light and detail in flesh and fabric. His works often present idealized views of women, such as [the] portrait (The Red Fan) of his wife Elizabeth.”

Paxton's wife Elizabeth poses for "Lady With Red Fan,"
Paxton’s wife Elizabeth poses for “Lady With Red Fan,”

His models, often daughters and wives of his patrons, were depicted as refined, cultured women of “conspicuous leisure”, and equated with the “precious aesthetic objects surround them”, like the women of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) who reflect the wealth of their husbands or fathers. He crafted elaborate compositions with models in his studio, using props that appear in several paintings.

"Nonchalance," 1941
“Nonchalance,” 1941

Paxton and several other Bostonian artists were inspired by Johannes Vermeer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art says of Paxton’s Tea Leaves (1909) in their collection, “In a windowless parlor permeated by soft light, a dreamy atmosphere, and the sounds of silence, two elegant women pass the time by doing very little or nothing at all. Paxton hints at a narrative, but he asks that the viewer invent it, recapitulating the ambiguity of Vermeer’s paintings, which he admired.

"Tea Leaves," 1909
“Tea Leaves,” 1909

Paxton employed a technique where only one area in his compositions was entirely in focus, while the rest was somewhat blurred, something he called “binocular vision” and credited to Vermeer. He began to employ this system in his own work, including The New Necklace, where only the gold beads are sharply defined while the rest of the objects in the composition have softer, blurrier edges.

"The New Necklace," 1910
“The New Necklace,” 1910

Paxton is one of the key figures in the Boston School of Painting and a co-founder of The Guild of Boston Artists with Frank Weston Benson and Edmund Charles Tarbell. Between 1926 and 1927, he was interviewed by Dewitt Lockman with 85 other artists and architects associated with the National Academy of Design. Records from the interview are held at the New York Historical Society and the Archives of American Art. Paxton was made a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1928.

"Girl Combing Her Hair," 1909
“Girl Combing Her Hair,” 1909
"Waitress," 1929
“Waitress,” 1929

One afternoon in 1941, Paxton was painting his wife’s portrait in their living room. The artist suddenly felt faint, and then suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 72 years of age.

Paxton's self portrait, c.
Paxton’s self portrait, c. 1935


An exhibition was held in his memory at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from November 19 through December 14, 1941. His papers—including sketches, correspondence, and photographs—are held at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Edited from:


TML Arts aims for accuracy in content and functionality in posts.
Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
or additional relative information.

See something? Say something.

Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, Wikipedia,
Find-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of
wonderful information and images.