contemporary realism portrait - "Audra" by Leslie Paulus
"Audra" by Leslie Paulus
This is painted in oil on linen panel from a snapshot of a dear friend I met through figure drawing. It was taken right after class with a cool bluish light falling on her from behind.

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, Leslie Paulus:

I was born into a family that fostered an appreciation for nature, stressed the importance of environmental stewardship, an understanding of history, and a love of art and beauty. I always enjoyed artwork, but didn’t study it, and never did more than dabble until about eight years ago when I tried my hand at plein air painting.

I found it a fun and rewarding way to engage with nature and appreciate the outdoors even more, particularly birds. Eventually, I obtained gallery representation for my bird paintings and began to build a small name for myself.

Painting of a mourning dove
“Mourning Dove” by Leslie Paulus
This is painted in oil on marble tile. I have bird feeders right outside my studio windows. I painted this little guy on a cold winter morning while he was all puffed up to stay warm.

A year ago I discovered portrait painting and was hooked immediately. In the way that landscape and wildlife painting touched the naturalist within, portraits speak to me of history. It feels like I’m looking through the old masters’ eyes, asking myself the same questions they must have. How shall I paint the edge of that cheek? How could I emphasize the fullness of that eye? How can I paint the light?!

contemporary realism portrait - "Audra" by Leslie Paulus
“Poppy Grown Up” by Leslie Paulus
This is a painting of my niece, in oil on linen panel. She was looking off to the side, a million miles away.

My mother taught me not to simply seek happiness in life, but contentment. Happiness is an emotion, fleeting by nature, whereas contentment is a state of being. I hope she knows I’ve found both in my art. And thank you to her for believing Mary Cassatt was the perfect artwork to hang in a child’s room.

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