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 Tuesdays, June 2o-July 25, 2-4 PM.

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.

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…

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
Smoldering Wick, Part 2: the Photo Shoot

Smoldering Wick, Part 2: the Photo Shoot

In a previous post, I shared before how when I was going through a difficult time, God encouraged me with a verse in Isaiah 42 that inspired the painting “Smoldering Wick.” I sketched out the idea, and then the sketch sat around for a few years before I got the chance to actually paint it.   There were many distractions–a part time job, painting commissions, and my own procrastination. I wanted the painting to be just right. Waiting for the ideal circumstances, I delayed starting the project. But finally, one day I realized unless I actually just took some steps to start the painting, it would never happen. So I asked my brother-in-law, Zach, to come over to my house for a photo shoot. Why a photo shoot? It’s not like I run a model agency! Here’s why… When you are trying to do a realistic painting, you can’t just “invent” the realism. At least I can’t. Maybe some can. But I think history bears out that the best realistic paintings of all time–like Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” or Caravaggio’s “Conversion of St. Paul” were painted using real-life models posed specifically for the artists to paint from. In other words, they didn’t just paint from memory. They used a reference. I am not comparing myself to either Rembrandt or Caravaggio, by the way. But their work inspires me. One day then, Zach came over to my house, which I transformed into something like a theater stage or movie set. Well, one room at least. My wife gave me permission to do that for a few hours, as long as I... 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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