Portraits. – Being captivated by Faces.

Charles & Jan's Wedding. Oil on Canvas.

Hello again ! What a long time it has been since last I wrote a blog post.  This particular post has been delayed, partly by the busy-ness of the Festive Season; and the Portrait that is featured was a gift to my son and daughter in law. I didn’t want to reveal it till after Christmas. It is a commemorative painting of their wedding a year ago on the 4th January 2010. I would never consider myself a good portrait artist, and most of the ones I tackle are considerably flawed, including this one. Perhaps most artists would agree that portraits are particularly difficult to do really well. Many times over the years I have sworn to stop doing them, after several experiences when I was asked to make changes on ones that I’d sold. However I have always been fascinated by people’s faces, and have drawn portraits since I was at school.

A School Friend. Pastel. from about 1970
An early study. Pastel. 1974

This thought has reminded me of one of my all time favourite hymns; “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. Whenever I sing this it tends to bring tears to my eyes; when I picture the thought of gazing at the face of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and realize how unworthy I am.

But the uncanny coincidence came yesterday when I was reading a blog piece by John Piper’s wife Noel, where she mentioned the art of Lilias Trotter. Then I went in search of her art, only to find that her writings were altogether more captivating. It was there that I discovered that her piece called, ‘Focussed’ inspired Helen Lemmel to write the hymn ‘The Heavenly Vision’, which is now called, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.

This image that Lilias spoke of in ‘Focussed’ resonated so powerfully with me, as I am so riveted by faces, and especially the face of Jesus as I see him in my heart, and my mind’s eye. The way He searches our hearts and  thoughts with that perceptive and patient gaze, and loves us regardless of all our shortcomings, isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t He beautiful? Even though none of us know what He looked like and all have different interpretations of His face. If you look on Google Images you will see many of  the portraits of Jesus, and it is clear that we all see Him quite differently.

So, today, whether faces fascinate you or not; take a moment to turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s a light for a look at the Saviour,

And life more abundant and free!


Through death into life everlasting

He passed, and we follow Him there;

Over us sin no more hath dominion

For more than conquerors we are!


His Word shall not fail you, He promised;

Believe Him, and all will be well:

Then go to a world that is dying,

His perfect salvation to tell!


“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Christ the Divine Redeemer by Simon Dewey



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4 responses to “Portraits. – Being captivated by Faces.”

  1. Alex Wright Avatar
    Alex Wright

    Aunty Barbara, your paintings are so beautiful!!

    1. Dalton Avatar

      I’m not easily impressed. . . but that’s iemprssing me! :)

  2. Alex Wright Avatar
    Alex Wright

    ..and AMEN to that Hymn!

  3. veronica santagata Avatar
    veronica santagata

    Ciao Barbara!! ho scoperto il tuo sito sul blog di un’ amica! hai davvero del talento i tuoi lavori mi piacciono molto! io ho studiato 5 anni alla scuola d’arte e sono affascinata dai visi della gente! e mi piace dipingerli! i tuoi ritratti mi piacciono perchè hai saputo trasportare sulla tela la delicatezza la dolcezza e la gioia che hanno questi 2 ragazzi sul viso. Sai personalmente preferisco questi tipi di ritratti a quelli perfetti come foto perchè si vede l’emozione di chi dipinge!
    ti saluto qui dall’ Italia!

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