Portraits to Comfort, Encourage and Inspire


Hi, I’m Matt Philleo. Since 1991, I have been creating detailed, realistic pencil drawings and acrylic paintings on commission and exhibition.

My goal is, through beautiful and emotive art, to bring comfort, encouragement, and inspiration, especially to the discouraged and brokenhearted, so they can experience true and lasting peace.

Please contact me if you have any questions and visit my blog posts to see my most current work. If you’d like to be added to my personal and confidential email list, sign up right here.

To learn more about my custom portraits, visit TraditionStudio.com, my official commissioned artwork page

Thanks for visiting!


14″ x 17″

Pencil on Paper


  • Portrait Painting Classes: at my studio (Artisan Forge Studios, 1106 Mondovi Rd, Eau Claire, WI) on Mondays, 2-4 PM; Exact dates TBA

This course will benefit the beginner and advanced artist alike in learning how to paint incredibly realistic portraits of people you know, from photo and from life.

As a professional portrait artist, I will share my over 23 years of portrait painting experience with you, taking you on a step-by-step journey in portrait painting, by personally teaching, demonstrating, and critiquing so you have the skills you need to succeed.

My no-nonsense method will quickly elevate you from the most simple level of painting to advanced portraiture.

The best part?

You will walk away from the class with a great portrait that you will be proud to show. All materials, including paint, brushes and canvas are included. You supply the photo you want to paint from. Although this course is designed for adults, older children who are serious in learning how to draw may also participate. 

To sign up, or if you have any questions, contact me.


  • “Open Draw” Tuesdays 1-3pm, at my studio–Artisan Forge Studios


Learn how to draw by watching me at work. This will not be an active class session, with intensive instruction, but feel free to bring your own sketch pad and draw a still life or do a live portrait drawing from clothed models.

A fantastic way to spend the afternoon.

You will come away with a greater confidence in your drawing skills, and enjoy the company of fellow artists over a cup of coffee.

Here’s the Latest From My Blog…

Why Not to Give Up on Your Acrylic Portrait Painting

Why Not to Give Up on Your Acrylic Portrait Painting

It’s easy to get frustrated in the middle of painting an acrylic portrait. Possibly your skin tones aren’t looking natural, or the values are off. Maybe the portrait just doesn’t look like the person you’re trying to capture. When you’re going for realism, and it just isn’t happening, what do you do? Although you may be tempted to give up, don’t. I want to give you 3 reasons why: 1. You will save time, paint and materials. Let’s face it. Painting is a labor of love. As artists, we could choose more lucrative jobs, where our exchange of time for money paid better. But we put a lot of hours into creating a high-quality unique work of art. So if you have put several hours into a painting only to scrap it and start over, you lost that time. In addition, you lost money with the cost of canvas, paint, and wear and tear on your brushes. Now, even if you paint just as a hobby, it’s frustrating to take the time to create something and then have nothing to show for that time you allotted in your busy schedule. Finishing the painting makes sense then, even from a purely material standpoint. 2. Pushing past a difficult point in your painting will build your resilience and grow your “artistic muscle”.  It’s easy to give up. Sticking with something when your thoughts and emotions are screaming, “This looks terrible…I’m done with this!” is way, way harder. This is similar to weightlifting. Serious bodybuilders know they won’t get great results unless they push past the pain. As they break down their... read more
A Painting of Encouragement

A Painting of Encouragement

I am thankful for my job as a portrait painting artist. I am so blessed to be able to paint portraits for a living. Many of the commissioned portraits I do are given as gifts, and they are very meaningful, especially when it is given to keep a memory alive for someone who lost a loved one. Here is a miniature portrait I finished earlier this month. It’s a 5 x 7, acrylic on hardboard. I don’t do many miniature paintings like this, so it’s always fun to challenge myself and see if I can paint the details in such a small format. This portrait was commissioned by a woman from my hometown in Merrill. She gave this as a gift to her daughter for her birthday, a portrait of her and her dad, who passed away recently.   Here is what she and some of her friends wrote on Facebook:   “My mom and Randy came over today to visit and give me my birthday present early. I was so touched it brought me to tears. She had taken a very nice photo of my dad and I, but the picture was pixelated. With dad no longer with us, she had a very talented artist paint the photo. It turned out wonderful. Thank you so much mom and Randy!!💗” When I do commissioned projects like this, I’m always amazed at the love people show each other by giving such thoughtful gifts. I’m thankful that I can do this for a living! If you would like a commissioned portrait done, just let me know. I’d love to be able... read more

"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."


"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!

Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!

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