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Staring at Jim Lehrer
posted: June 9, 2011

Thanks to Michael Hogue at the Dallas Morning News for asking me to do this portrait of retiring PBS Newshour anchor/host Jim Lehrer. Michael asked for a straightforward, realistic portrait, which is fine, but not what I'm usually asked to do. Michael's always good about letting me do my thing, and when I feel that trust I usually do pretty decent work.
After sending a very basic likeness sketch for approval I decided to treat this as I would a real life painting and just start from scratch - no working over a sketch, just start painting. After a while, it sdtarted to look like something, and before you know it, there's Jim, looking back sort of smiling at me saying " I knew you could do it".

Tim O'Brien and family visited us while we were on Martha's Vineyard last summer. As he was leaving one of my kids sprinted by. "Oh, I didn't get a chance to stare at your kids", he said. I was pretty blown away, although I shouldn't have been. That's exactly what I do, what most artists who paint people do, I'd just never heard it stated so painly and accurately. So, given the usual constraints of an illustration assignment, this was my best shot at staring last week.
15 comments
John Dykes June 9, 2011
Mighty cool, Dale... love the subtle range of color you have going on.
Brian Stauffer June 10, 2011
Jesus, Dale. That's some amazing detail.
Alex Nabaum June 10, 2011
Jim "Chuck Close" Lehrer, fantastic! The mouth twist really adds to it also.
Tim OBrien June 10, 2011
As I said when you added this to your gallery, it's a wonderful portrait. Sometimes high detail does not work well when trying to be sympathetic to a subject. Mocking someone is one thing, but the opposite might require a more kind hand. Still, this detail works as Lehrer is such a kind faced man and I agree, that smile is a perfect description of who he is. Not wanted to break into a full smile, he often twists it to keep it under wraps. As for looking at your kids, I just wanted to make sure they got Maria's good looks and not too sullied by yours, Dale. ;-)
Dale June 10, 2011
John, Brian, thanks. Alex, I was going to wax poetic about my love of Chuck Close, Gottfried Helnwein, Andrew Wyeth, etc., but quickly realized that it would be like lifting weights next to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tim, yeah, I double dipped. What the hell, I felt like posting this and I thought traffic wise it was an okay time to do so. Thanks for your kind comment here and in the gallery. And as for the kids not being sullied by my gene pool, amen to that!
Victor Juhasz June 10, 2011
Outstanding. Everything about the portrait works, including, and most importantly, a strong sense of empathy with your subject.
sock June 11, 2011
great stuff dale. and on a wacom cintiq? they should pay for that blog header!
Dale June 12, 2011
Thanks Victor! Thanks Felix, from your keyboard to Wacom's ears.
Rob Dunlavey June 13, 2011
Dale, it's amazing how subtle and direct your portraits can be. You really got inside the personality. When I see you again, I expect to see you smiling like Lehrer too.
Dale June 13, 2011
Thanks Rob, but you give me too much credit. I just scribble until it looks like something.
Nick June 13, 2011
.Dale- Damn dude u r good. Nice work. Hope you are well! Nick
fisher June 14, 2011
That took some serious coffee consumption is my guess, wonderful!
Robert Saunders June 14, 2011
I'm bowled over by this piece, Dale.
Adam McCauley June 14, 2011
Wow, this is awesome Dale. Love the expression you chose, and you did an incredible job of capturing it. I'm almost scared to look at it.
Wanda August 26, 2011
i just discovered your work on the cover of utne magazine from last month. incredible! 1.do you teach classes on portraiture? 2.could i afford one? 3. what program(s) do you use to get such lifelike effects?
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