Say cheese?

As this article explains, open-mouthed portraits are tricky. “Portraits don’t usually look so hot when the teeth are painstakingly correct.” Oops!

I loved Mary’s almost constant smile. She was a tiny, elegant woman with a beaming smile, so that’s what I emphasized. I never saw it hanging in her home and I suspect she destroyed it.

But I Digress, acrylic on canvas by Yvonne Callaway

So I made another, more “naturally” coloured. Mary also hated this portrait: “Too many teeth!” she said. Yet a stranger loved it and it has pride of place near a vintage phone in her home.

Mary, Again, acrylic on canvas by Yvonne Callaway

About the same time Andrea felt her portrait didn’t do her justice because “I’m always smiling,” she complained. (Not true.)

Soul Grown Deep, acrylic on canvas by Yvonne Callaway

What are your experiences with portraits? Do you favour the toothy grin or something other? Send images and explanations to and let’s compare.


  1. Interesting article. I do agree that the first toothy one may be a bit too toothy, but the second one of the same lady is wonderful and shows her as a vibrant and colourful individual. She looks like she’d be fun to hang out with. The third, pensive, portrait is very expressive and lovely too.


  2. Fantastic, Yvonne! Your portraits bring out a person’s personality extremely well. Mary looks cheerful and, like Susan said, fun to hang out with. Soul Grown Deep is absolutely brilliant – Andrea may not be smiling, but there is definitely a hint of a smile in her features. Mona Lisa, step aside!


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