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Personality portraits: Farwell artist paints, draw portraits

Echo Press photo by Jo Colvin Jordana Reece has developed a flair for painting portraits with oils - both from life and from photographs.1 / 3
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Jordana Reece can tell a story without saying a single word. All it takes is a stroke of her paintbrush.

"There is something about artwork that lends to the imagination and makes it seem like an old story," said the 20-year-old Farwell artist. "It's more like a treasure."

Reece can barely remember a time when she wasn't drawing. When most children were coloring in coloring books, she was copying the pictures from the books and making her own.

Reece, her parents and four siblings have always spent four months of every winter in California because of her father's job as a beekeeper.

A homeschooled student, at age 10, Reece began taking private classes with an artist there. She did this once a week for about three years, further enhancing her passion for drawing and painting. Her mother enrolled her in Community Education programs and encouraged any other venue in which she could express her artistic talent. A trip to Europe at age 15 also inspired her.

"I had never seen so much art integrated into all parts of life," she said of her three weeks backpacking through Europe. "Art seems of high importance and almost mandatory to each culture."

Early on, Reece discovered that drawing and painting portraits was her niche, with oils her preferred medium for painting.

"I have a definite passion for portraits," she said. "I feel that faces are interesting and every face is different and embodies a personality. I love being able to show that and portray someone's character or their attitude. A portrait can say a lot."

It was with her first pencil portrait that Reece discovered the joy that her art could bring to others. That portrait was of herself and one of her brothers, which she gave to her parents for Christmas.

"They really liked it," she said of their reaction.

And her next drawing elicited an even greater response. It was a pencil portrait of a toddler she babysat for in California.

"I gave it to his mom for her birthday and she cried on the spot," Reece recalled. "Knowing that it can be really important to someone and that it can mean that much to someone is so moving. It can add so much joy to a person's life. I like being able to give that art to them."

Reece knew that she wanted to pursue an education in art. At 15, before she graduated from high school, she was able to enroll early in a painting class at Alexandria Technical College (ATC). This further convinced her that portraits and oils were her passion.

After graduating from high school, she completed her education at ATC, earning a degree in communication art and design. She is currently a graphic and web designer at Northern Heart Media in Alexandria. Along with that, she does freelance graphic design and portraits - both oils and pencil portraits - from either life or by using photographs. (Her work can be viewed at the website

This fall she plans on traveling to Italy, where she wants to study fine art with a focus on portrait painting for at least a semester, possibly a year.

Her ultimate dream would be to combine the "three big things in her life - books, coffee and art."

"My dream would be to have a gallery - an art studio with a coffee shop and a book store," she mused.

Until then, Reece will pour her heart and soul into her art, and will continue to tell people's silent stories on canvas.