Cassab, Judy (1920–2015) By Philp, Angela
Judy Cassab was a celebrated portrait and landscape painter, as well as a printmaker. Painting in her own distinctive expressionist style, her work employed both figurative and abstract elements. Known for her capacity to catch effective likenesses of her sitters, she prefered to dig deeper into character and focus on the psychology of her subject. Once claiming she wanted to bring the portrait “back into the twentieth century,” she worked intuitively, doing very limited sketches before beginning a painting. After making what she called “shorthand notes” she then focused on the color of the painting, what she refered to as the “inner colour” of the sitter, so they might be a “blue” person or a “yellow” person. Rather than starting with a white canvas she used this “inner” color as the base and then the portrait itself and other colors were built up over the top, with the base color setting the unifying rhythm. This way she ensured there was no radical schism between the background or the clothes and the face itself. This technique is evident in her Portrait of Margo Lewers from 1967, in which the overall color unifies the composition.