Leslie Baker enjoys working with people and developing stories through her art. Her aim when painting a portrait is to do more than capture a likeness; she adds character and nuance. The mood and setting need to be evocative of the subject. Baker works from life and enjoys the process of discovery that comes with beginning a portrait. She starts by making a series of sketches of the face and noting the client’s gestures and coloring. Drawing allows the artist to “think through” and is an important step in the process as it gives time to study the client in depth and get to know them better. During the first sitting which can last from 1-3 hours, the artist and client will also make decisions about size of the painting, clothing choices, possible settings (outside/inside/informal/formal) and where the piece will be displayed. When working with children, several short sessions are best and sometimes she will ask the parents to put in a movie during the first sketching session. To reduce length of sitting Baker also takes reference photographs. If doing an animal portrait, she likes to work from life if possible and take reference photographs.
During the second session the artist and client will make the final decisions about clothing, size, and background. Baker will do a small color study for reference, noting skin tones, eye and hair color. Once back in the studio, she will create another series of pencil or charcoal drawings to establish the concept of the final painting. This will be shown and approved by the client before beginning the portrait. While it is preferable for the client to be available thereafter for short sessions as the painting progresses, this is not always possible. If not, the artist will work in her studio and send the client updates on the progress through emails. A last session is desirable but not required.