Contemporary Realism - August Burns -
August Burns, “Roller Derby Queen,” 20 x 30 in. “This painting was originally done a number of years ago, just before the subject, a young friend, got her first full sleeve tattoo and started skating,” August says. “She is now a champion skater in roller derby for the Seattle, Washington, team Rose City Rollers. The current version of this portrait was created to explore the depth of the sitter beyond her beauty. It is painted in oils, over a red oxide grisaille.”

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, August Burns.

August Burns is an award-winning portrait and figurative painter who seeks to capture the character and essence of her subjects through her art. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited in galleries and shows throughout the United States.

Growing up outside of New York City, August received her early training in the studio of a master artist, where she learned the fundamentals of traditional oil painting and had the opportunity to explore the great museums there. As a young artist, she was captivated by the beauty and mastery of some of the most celebrated paintings in history.

She went on to study art in college but left disillusioned by the focus on abstract expressionism and the lack of skill-based training. She went on to have a distinguished career in women’s health, which provided the opportunity to work with women in more than two dozen countries around the world. This work has inspired her love of the human face and the beauty of the portrait.

August returned to painting 15 years ago and studied with many renowned contemporary artists in the U.S., including Daniel Greene, Stephen Early, Alyssa Monks, and Rob Liberace. In 2016, she was selected to paint the official portrait of Governor Peter Shumlin, which now hangs in the Vermont State House in Montpelier. August works out of her studio in Middlesex, Vermont.

Contemporary Realism - August Burns -
August Burns, “Mirror, Mirror,” 16 x 20 in. “Inspired in part by Antonio Garcia Lopez, I explore the beauty of color in describing a young woman’s reflection. Oil on linen over red oxide.”
Contemporary Realism - August Burns -
August Burns, “Portrait of a Young Artist,” 36 x 24 in.
“This is a portrait of my student, Fiona, who I have worked with since she was twelve. She comes from a small rural town with few resources, yet she is a gifted young artist. We exchange lessons for sitting. In this painting I wanted to explore her natural beauty but portray her with all of her strength of character and determination.”

Learn more about the artist at

Related > Browse portrait and figure workshops in the style of realism here.