Regina Bartkoff

Growing up in the suburbs of New York City I was handed a life that I could not relate to but didn’t know why. Things that interested people my age there held no excitement for me. I walked around blind, in my own world, trying to fit in and failing all the time. Art and acting were for those obviously gifted and vibrant people who knew what they wanted to do at an early age. I didn’t know what I wanted. The first glimpse at another world was through reading, it was an escape but I didn’t consider that I too could also contribute to this world and write. I was extremely shy, and awkward, I had no friends. It wasn’t till my early twenties when I accidentally met a director of theatre plays that I stumbled into the theatre world and fell in love with acting and began studying the craft. Afraid and timid in real life, on stage I could feel that fear and convert it to sheer adrenaline, there I was absolutely fearless. My writing is for the most part still confined to my diaries. I also always loved paintings, but again didn’t consider that I could also paint or draw. It wasn’t till I met my husband, Charles Schick, who literally just told me to do it, get some paints and turpentine and go, did I just start in, and that’s pretty much what I do now. I didn’t care for the few drawing classes I took for some reason, totally opposite from acting classes which I loved attending. So in the beginning I drew a lot from people I loved, Vincent Van Gogh, Kathe Kollwitz, Michelangelo, Frida Kahlo, Caspar David Friedrich, Edward Hopper, Georges De La Tour.

I don’t plan my paintings, I don’t make sketches, I begin and the marks I make suggest something else. It’s sometimes surprising what comes out, a whole series of bridges or staircases, for example. I don’t think about the meaning. Sometimes I see the meaning later, after the painting is done. I think painting for me is like acting. It is a cathartic release, still a shy person in many ways I feel like I can’t express myself in daily life. It is simply a way of life, it’s how I like to spend my time, it brings relief to a certain loneliness and melancholy that has followed me around most of my life. It brings excitement and hope, hope for a better life, for a real life, I have something to do.


Self Portrait

Image 1 of 28

Self Portrait. Pastel on paper, 18"x24". Done in one day. After the first Iraq war. The night of the invasion. Also used for our Medea production. (Private collection)

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