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Platinum Swirl Barbie

Judy Ragagli, Platinum Swirl Barbie, Oil On Canvas, 30" x 24"



Hello and Welcome!

To say I love Barbie is an understatement.  I absolutely adore her!  Painting Barbie started many years ago after graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Sociology.  I was always interested in the visual arts and I didn't pursue oil painting until after I finished college.  I waited a couple of years and decided to take a hyper-realistic oil painting class.  For the first painting, I had no idea what to paint and I thought about it for a long time.  My art teacher basically said, "Paint whatever you want."  I still couldn't decide and I knew I wanted something fun, happy and lively.  I was over thinking it, so I mentioned to my teacher that I still had no idea what to paint.  He simply said, "Paint something you like."  I love Barbie, pop-culture, mid-century, vintage, so there it began..... Barbie became my subject matter.

By bringing Barbie to life through the oil painting process, my ultimate goal was to handle her differently by avoiding the cliches that have developed around her by simply painting her as I see her, an embodiment of beauty, style and class.

I also saw something deeper in Barbie that captivated me.  Sometimes she looked wistful and other times a bit moody.  She had a magical power that I was drawn to.  I see her as possessing a soul and positive spirit; her true persona extends beyond the plastic facade.  By presenting Barbie through portraiture, my goal is to create a vision of Barbie that is still and noble and to bring a mark of grace and beauty into the world.

"One word can sum up oil painter Judy Ragagli's specialty:  Barbie.  Well-poised and ready to role model, this American Icon is rendered in such a way that the portraiture wipes out the kitsch."  -Moco Loco

"The effect of her process & style culminates in a cohesive vision of the beauty and grace of Barbie."  -San Francisco Chronicle.

Judy Ragagli's studio

The Oil Painting Process

First day of class, all prepared with canvas, oil paint, brushes, ect.  I was ready to take on Barbie.   As I mentioned earlier, the final decision to paint Barbie was easy, but, what I didn't foresee was how challenging this was going to be.  And, within 5 minutes, I realized my subject matter was going to be extremely difficult.  What did I get myself into?  Why couldn't I have picked something more simple?  I couldn't change my decision because I made such a big deal about deciding what to paint....

Oil painting did not come easy for me and it was challenging.  I had a great teacher named Paul Bedard.  He taught me everything about technique and how to really look at something.  Paul's teaching technique began by mixing all the colors with only 7 tubes of oil paint.  -A tedious and very technical process.  I asked myself, "Why can't I just get a tube of flesh-colored paint?  I quickly discovered that there are many tones of color in Barbie's plastic skin and to achieve the accurate tonal properties of Barbie's flesh-colored plastic, her hair, clothes, ect., I had to mix many colors.  Paul said, the process of mixing all of your colors really helps you see what you are painting.  I soon discovered this is true and I eventually understood this.

After painting and practicing for a few years,  I realized I wasn't struggling so much with the technical process of oil painting......and, after years of painting, it finally just came together for me and I was able to precisely translate the vast and scintillating color properties of Barbie's skin, hair, and wardrobe as they interact with reflective light.

-Judy Ragagli