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When I moved to Clearwater in 1999 I had a wish Classic Painted Portrait of My Mayor and His Wife to make a classic painted portrait of my new city’s mayor (from 1999-2005). That never materialized—until now. 18 years later, his son, Brian Aungst, Jr. contacted me to paint both of his parents!

Having met them at political gatherings as mayor and wife I had an inkling of what a nice portrait I could make. However, it was to be a surprise (which I also love to do). Because of that, we couldn’t photograph them ourselves for my painting references. I had to use scavenged photos from old Christmas cards and family snapshots. That seemed appropriate since it was to be an oil portrait to celebrate their many years together. I wanted to portray them in a timeless way. Youthful, yet wise, so to speak.

When I had finished, Brian Jr. came over to my studio to pick it up. At that time he gave me a wonderful acknowledgment. He said, “I knew it was going to be good, but not this good!”

Then he and his wife presented it to his parents. Afterwards, he called and told me:
“We totally surprised them. We went to their house and set it up in the foyer on an easel with a cloth covering the painting. Then we brought them out. By this time they figured there was a painting there. They were taken aback. It was a very special moment. They were really overwhelmed. They thought it was amazing. It is definitely hanging with pride in their house.”

Then he wrote a testimonial for me to post on Google (but since I can’t seem to do that, I’ll put it here):

“Jessica perfectly captured the love and the life my Mother and Father have shared for more than 40 years.  Our family is incredibly grateful for her talent and her ability to encapsulate their love over the years from when they met in high school, when they served together when my Dad was Mayor, and in their life together as grandparents.  Her portrait preserves the essence of their wonderful life and their great love for eternity and we cannot thank her enough.”

Here is a terrific article about Brian and Karen Aungst, “Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater”:


So now you can see how the granting of my first wish became so much better than I ever imagined. What a team my mayor and his wife make! And then to be called on to supply a classic painted portrait honoring the both of them together—what a pleasure!

Be sure to let me know when you want an oil portrait painted of someone in your family!

Related posts from the portrait painter:

classic painted portrait invitation

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was more than just a very popular painter and illustrator for a good half of the 20th century. He also accomplished, throughout all of his work, what I think artists (even a portrait painter) are supposed to do. [click to continue…]

Here is a mother and children oil portrait in a short video, fairy-tale style.

As you might imagine, this oil portrait of a mother and her three children has a special story. I want to tell it to you in some detail. You’ll see the mother’s written words (which she graciously allowed me to share):

It began with an email that she wrote me. “I’ve looked through your website and all of your lovely portraits and talent. I don’t know how I started looking but my husband’s 40th birthday is coming up and I wanted to do something special for him. I have photographed our family since my little ones were born. Now my daughter is 7 and my twin boys are 10. Very rarely have I been in any photographs alone or with them.  I thought I would like to pursue this idea of a beautiful posed but editorial-looking moment that has a classic look – not extremely modern – of my children with me for him.  I would love to speak with you about this and talk about different ideas.  It feels strange to put me in the art. Perhaps just the children are better but there really isn’t much of me that exists with them.  I would love to take the second step and speak with you about this portrait.”  [click to continue…]

Twins Oil Portraits are such a happy subject to make a video about. Photography sessions with them are uniquely fun. When you look at the video, you’ll see what I mean. It’s a special thing. No wonder parents love to capture that beautiful shared youth in oil paintings. I’ve had the pleasure to paint at least 11 sets of twins so far. (I keep having the feeling there are more that have been overlooked in the hundreds of portraits I have painted.) [click to continue…]

This is the third in the series of videos that show several portraits in the same category. This one is about women’s oil portraits.

One characteristic that each of these women have is that they are mothers. All added up, they have 16 children among them. For most, I painted their children first with separate paintings for each child so they could inherit individual portraits. Then the mothers went ahead and got portraits to reflect their own personalities. [click to continue…]

This is the second in my series of videos showing several portraits that have a relation to each other. This one is about brother sister oil portraits.

From the most casual to very dressy, they record the love of siblings in the grandest of style. Two of them came from photos that the parents had made themselves. They loved the photos so much that they wanted to make them into even more meaningful memories. When they crossed paths with me, both of the families poured out their delight in meeting someone who might be able to give them just what they had dreamed about. I couldn’t help but understand when I saw their photos. [click to continue…]

I decided to make a series of short videos for YouTube showing my portraits in related groups. I could tell something about them and show how they are related. For instance, here the grandparents started an oil portrait tradition with all the oil portraits of cousins. They had 2 sons with wives and ended up with 6 grandchildren. [click to continue…]

an example of what kind of photo you want to get your photos to painted portraits

The reference photo for the oil portrait of Alexis was taken on a sunny day

Here are 4 ways on “how to get your photos to painted portraits” for people who want all the photography details. If you are not that kind of a person, however, don’t worry. Just contact me and I can personally direct you to use your photos to the best advantage.

1. Photos that you already have

When you have a favorite photo that you want painted into a prized oil portrait the best way to give me the highest quality is to send me a hi-resolution (“hi-res”) image. That means that it has a lot of megabytes (mb) so I can enlarge it to see as much detail as I want without it turning into an abstract display of [click to continue…]

Realistic portrait artist makes self-portrait in 1991

This is a self-portrait made in 1991.

When I was learning to draw and paint I used to read biographies of artists that I admired. Looking back on this, I believe that time spent on this was as effective in getting me to my artistic goal of being a realistic portrait painter as time spent making pictures.

Learning about the lives of favorite artists made me realize that my life was just as ordinary (in its own very exceptional way of course) and acceptable as theirs were. There was nothing about my life that would make it difficult for me to pursue an artistic goal. In fact, though I often thought life was terribly difficult, I actually had had [click to continue…]

casual oil portrait in jeans

Ali thought that her true self was best represented in jeans. That’s how she wants to be remembered.

Ali’s mother asked me sort of timidly what I would think about a casual oil portrait of her beautiful teenage daughter in jeans. She actually liked the idea but was worried that I might not. I exclaimed “Terrific!” without reservation. I think it is great when a teenager has an opinion about how they want to be remembered.

Soon after that we did the photoshoot and got some wonderful shots. Next and as usual, I enjoyed the time I spent with the sketch of this pretty girl becoming more and more real as she looked out at me from my easel while I painted. When the portrait was finished both mother and daughter were very proud of their new very special [click to continue…]