20 of the Best Contemporary Portrait Painters

Enjoy a curated selection of equisite artworks from global artists.

By Kevin RR Williams

ART Considering that ClinicalPosters.com is approaching 15,000 followers, the collective Pinterest boards are growing at a steady pace. The number following a single board entitled Best Painted Portraits now exceeds the 7,400 for 30+ boards in January 2016. Given this popularity, it seems appropriate to highlight noteworthy contemporary artists.

We love art as much as you do. Wherever possible, links to the original artist websites are included in each pin. Because of the limited view window for each pin, images may be cropped for maximum impact within an ideal vertical format.

ClinicalPosters.com receives no compensation or profit from the promotion of fellow artists in this manner and promptly removes upon request any who do not wish to participate. Direct interest in art commissions or purchases to the artists or their representatives. With over 1.7k pins in the Best Painted Portraits, every artist cannot be named here but there are some that routinely get repinned and others that are recurring personal favorites.

Contemporary Artist Biographies

Click on alphabetical artists’ names below to view sample image:

  1. Nick Alm (Swedish, b. 1985) ▹ pin, nickalm.com
    Alm’s style borders between realism and representational figures. Not limited to tight portraits, subjects appear thoughtful, meditative, engaged, or playful.
  2. Casey Baugh (American, b. 1984) ▹ pin, caseybaughfineart.com
    Whether figurative or portrait, nearly every mesmerizing painting by Baugh evokes a somber mood.
  3. Marcos Beccari (Brazilian) ▹ pin, marcosbeccari.com
    Using watercolor, subjects of figurative and portrait paintings often appear to be lost in their own thoughts or gazing deep within the viewer’s soul.
  4. Patrick Byrnes (South Korean, b. 1984) ▹ pin, patrickbyrnespaintings.com
    Patrick teaches drawing and painting at Grand Central Atelier, as well as workshops throughout the US.
  5. Lita Cabellut (Spanish, b. 1961) ▹ pin, litacabellut.com
    Cabellut produces somewhat abstract mixed-media expressionist paintings with vivid textures and realistic portraits unlike any other artist.
  6. Steve Caldwell (British) ▹ pin, stevecaldwell.co.uk
    Caldwell manages to depict realism within his acrylic portraits that reveal a surprise of complex textures upon closer examination.
  7. Gottfried Helnwein (German, b. 1948) ▹ pin, helnwein.com
    Using oil and acrylic, Helnwein paints masive hyperreal portraits displayed worldwide. Included in his extensive collection are a large number of self-portraits and his family of children.
  8. Yunior Hurtado* (Cuban, b. 1977) ▹ pin, yuniorhurtado.net
    Now living in Lima, Peru, Hurtado paints mostly close-up vivid portraits of beautiful smiling people wering reflective sunglasses that provide a glimpse into the subject’s geography. (* Due to autocorrect, first name has been mispelled “Junior” on many pins.)
  9. Yasunari Ikenaga (Japanese, b. 1965) ▹ pin, kenaga-yasunari.com
    Using a combination of mineral pigments, gelatin glue, soot ink on linen canvas, Ikenaga delicately paints beautiful Asian female figures and portraits wearing detailed fabric prints.
  10. Patrick E. Kramer (American, b. 1981) ▹ pin, patrickkramerart.com
    Kramer channels his OCD into extremely detailed hyperreal paintings of people, landscapes, and still life.
  11. John Larriva (American, b. 1981) ▹ pin, larriva.blogspot.com
    Larriva has a strong following that quickly draws hundreds, if not thousands of repins. The rather loose expressionist style seems to quickly convey innocent beauty in his mostly female portrait oil paintings.
  12. Jimmy Law (South African, b. 1970) ▹ pin, jimmylaw.co.za
    Working with colorful acrylic paints, self-taught Law paints close-up portraits of beautiful male and female subjects of a variety of ethnicities in an expressionist style that includes drips and grunge.
  13. Malcolm T. Liepke (American, b. 1953) ▹ pin, arcadiacontemporary.com/artists/malcolm-t-liepke
    Easily one of the most popular contemporary painters, maintaining some 20 to 30 figure paintings in progress at once, Liepke conveys captivating emotion on each canvas.
  14. Joseph Lorusso (American, b. 1966) ▹ pin, josephlorussofineart.com
    Lorusso primarily paints orange-lit barroom scenes and seductive females in an appealing style. Redhead subjects are frequently depicted with red noses.
  15. William Oxer (British) ▹ pin, william-oxer.com
    Oxer paints realistic figurative and portrait paintings with classical techniques in a manner reminiscent of aged photos with enough brush strokes to convey his dreamy style.
  16. Gabriel Picart (Spanish, b. 1962) ▹ pin, gabrielpicart.com
    Generally painting detailed city scenes or females in relaxed poses Picart is a master realist whose paintings invite the viewer to enter an imaginary world.
  17. Silvio Porzionato (Italian, b. 1971) ▹ pin, silvioporzionato.com
    Based in Moncalieri, Metropolitan City of Turin, Italy, he works primarily with oil based paints to capture striking emotion in his captivating expressionist portraits.
  18. César Santos (Cuban, b. 1982) ▹ pin, www.saatchiart.com/taurua
    This prolific oil painter frequently disguises himself and/or his wife within realistic figurative and portrait paintings. Demonstrating his versatility, the "Syncretism" series mixes iconic work by masters.
  19. Pascale Taurua (French, b. 1961) ▹ pin, www.saatchiart.com/taurua
    Oil on canvas portraits portray an inviting glamour.
  20. Philipp Weber (German) ▹ pin, philippweber.com
    Weber is an exceptional figurative and portrait hyperreal painter whose work defies photography.

Links change for various reasons — usually site redesign. We are discovering broken links to many pins sourcing collections of high-resolution images at Kai Fine Art. Without speculating on the reason, we are progressively correcting such links. When a link is changed, the repin count resets. Such a possibility is the reason artist websites are included within descriptions even if the actual works cannot be found therein.

It should be emphasized that these are 20 of the best not necessarily the best 20 portrait painters. We have only scratched the surface of thousands of talented artists. Digital illustrators and artists using pastels, charcoal, and graphite are excluded from this list. We hope you will follow the works of these and many more contemporary artists. Let us know in the comment section below if you would like to see a follow-up with more featured artists.

Tags: biography, contemporary art masters, gallery, global, recognition, worldwide