Skip navigation


We start every year with a portrait class. We have artists of all levels creating and painting together.  It really is fun. One thing I am always amazed by is the effort they put into portraiture. For some reason, we just can’t approach a portrait of a person or pet, that we know, without wanting that “likeness”.  I think it is that and that alone that gives portraiture the “Oh, that’s hard” label. I enjoy portraits of all kinds: abstract, distorted, funky. I try to stress that we will always capture an essence of what we are working on and that it is the body of work that counts. We artists just need to relax into the journey.  That said, this was my personal challenge this year for a portraiture likeness. This is my Brother-in-law and I will await the verdict (from those who know him) because I never know when I have rendered a likeness.


  1. Wise words Leslie, I must remember them myself

    • Me too. There’s something to be said about capturing the essence of things and moving on to create a body of work. Thank you for this comment.

  2. Well said and well done.

  3. Leslie
    I can often draw a similarity to a person, rarely a likeness.
    Nice sketch – I hope your family agree you caught his likeness.

    • The verdict is in and I have captured him. I agree with you, though. Similarities come off much more than likeness and the body of work becomes a the story, the journey. Like your birds! Each one captures an essence, a position, a similarity until you tell the story, as much as you can; and then? voila! Likeness, journey, movement, and on and on.
      Thank you for this comment.

  4. I find it hard work to get a likeness. And I think most artists want to get a likeness when doing a portrait. But that being said, it’s always fun to do a portrait. And to try for the essence of a person or pet.

    I like your Maine Man. Since I don’t know your brother-in-law, the likeness doesn’t matter to me, but the overall painting does. I like him in the forefront with the boats in the background. That add interest, but don’t overwhelm the subject. He looks very handsome with his salt and pepper hair and goatee staring off into the distance.

    I look forward to hear what your sister has to say. 🙂

    • Sister says it is him. Everything you listed to the boats in the background and the goatee on the chin were considerations in how to put this together. Also to fade out the bottom so I didn’t drag those ropes to the edge of the page or chop his legs off. …and I agree with you that it is always fun doing a portrait. We talk, in class, about portraits like this one being designed for family members of the subjects.
      Then there are those portraits where the subject is doing something that tells a story: or the artist explores shape, line or techniques that push it into that realm where all viewers can come to the experience:
      Thank you, Carol! 🙂

  5. Successfully painting the stance and likeness of a person that one knows very well is very difficult for me. I can spend hours on one detail and by that time the painting gets overworked. You did well with the painting of your brother in law.

    • It has been difficult for me, too, bilomatthews. I can page through drawings and paintings of figures and portraits, throughout the years, where I have recorded pieces and parts and even when I get it, it seems like something has been left out. Perhaps we record moments in time. There’s always more to do. I love visiting your pages and viewing your recordings of what you see. Thank you for this comment!

      • Thank you, Leslie. I just haven’t had the time to post any of my observations on my daily walks. Too many art projects going at once! But I enjoy reading yours and others who are able to keep their art projects focused.

  6. It’s a beautiful painting. Success!

  7. Very exciting work – thanks for looking at mine!

    • Thank you, Anne! I am so glad you visited and let me know you are posting. I really like your work!

  8. Leslie, I will try and remember your encouraging words on portraits. I like his attitude and stance. well done.

  9. Looks like you enjoyed doing this :), can see it in the painting… the breeziness and the feel good factor of this portrait can be felt right away also showing me a bit of the time and space this was captured in…

    • I did enjoy this painting. There is something about trying something you don’t think you could ever do justice with. The rope lines were one challenge. Getting that roiling sky in in one sweep and have it read right was another, not to mention it was my brother-in-law and had to have some semblance of him. Thank you for this wonderful comment, Divya.

  10. Wonderful work as always Leslie!

    • Hi Stranger! Always good to hear from you Ryan. I liked your fall leaves painting! Thank you for this comment!

  11. Nice combination of sea, sky and person. People are hard. He looks good to me. LOL

    • Thank you, Ruth. This one did beg to be painted but had it sitting aside for a couple years believing I couldn’t do it justice.

  12. Pure essence captured! I can feel the wind and the movement just by the rendition of his hair, a brilliant portraiture in movement!

    • Oh thank you, Padmaja! I was hoping that the way I painted the water, sky and hair that the “windy” would translate.

  13. This stands as a fantastic painting Lesley – it will look amazing in a frame on a wall. You’ve put the detail into the man, drawing the eye to him, allowing the gaze to move on to the ropes and then the background vessels and water. Agreed, obtaining a true likeness has to be the most difficult think when doing a portrait. It’s so easy to concentrate on the painting technique to the detriment of the resemblance.

    • I think this one will get that frame, June. My sister already mentioned she would like this and that I caught him. Thank you for noting the composition. I had to crop it some but my sister has listened to me about composition and has been working on it with her photography. I considered everything you mentioned, here, as I painted this. Thank you for noticing and mentioning those things!

  14. I love your composition in this: it speaks a lot about the person. Fantastic colors and light! I love it!

    • Thank you! I can’t take credit for much of the composition as my sister almost had it. I just cropped some of the back of it as she had him standing in the center and I wanted more space in front than back.

  15. You got him! 38 years with this guy, I should know 😉 …plus, you recreated a really good memory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: