What's my favorite part of a portrait?
"I would have to say it's a split between putting the highlight in the eye and signing the work."
James F Landis
Pastel Portrait Artist

Meet James

Let’s head to south central Missouri to the little town of Mountain Grove, where James lives and works with his wife (and college sweetheart), Colleen, and their 12 beautiful children.

Why a portrait?

Throughout history portraits have been commissioned to honor a person and their life. Some were painted of famous people, others of parents or children. Some for their beauty, some for their power, still others for their apparent insignificance in the world; all for the purpose of honoring that person in their particular time in history.

The portrait, well executed, will be treasured by those who follow after. Whether the portrait or artist reaches any notoriety is of no significance. The pastel portrait is the best way to capture the spirit of the person; who they are, what they are like. For this reason portraits have and will always be sought after. After all, are not some people worthy of honor?

~James F Landis

“I thoroughly enjoy bringing out the details of a portrait through pastels.”

~James F Landis

Portrait Process & Pricing

“The birth of an heirloom.”

Phone Call

This important first step will enable me to gain knowledge of your expectations and will clarify whether I am the best artist to meet those expectations. If a path forward looks to be possible, we will then discuss the details of the portrait; dress, mood, pose, background will be established, along with the business matters of the portrait process. A contract will be drawn up, and when it’s signed work can begin.

The Meeting

The more I know of the subject, the more that can be painted into the portrait. A portrait is more than a physical form — it is also a presence. I would prefer to meet with the subject (if possible) to spend time around them, talking and observing the things that define their individuality.


I will at this time gather photos not only of the chosen pose but also candid shots that can help me in the process of capturing the spirit of the subject. A photo will be chosen at this time as the image to be painted. I will then return to my studio to begin the painting.

The Work

I will endeavor to be in contact with you throughout the process and keep you updated as to the progress of the painting. A completion time is not predictable, although the average time it takes me to complete a portrait is four weeks.


Payment will be made in two parts: 50% at the start of the process, and the remainder upon delivery. Satisfaction is guaranteed.

Travel Expenses

In the event that I have to travel, all expenses will be the responsibility of the client. I will be diligent in keeping expenses to a minimum.


Shipping is not my first choice for delivery. Pastel is a very fragile medium (one of its few drawbacks). My first choice would be private delivery. In the event that shipping is the only option, all care will be taken to assure that the painting will arrive safely. Shipping expenses are the responsibility of the client.


Your choice of framing is not a small matter. Pastel must be framed behind glass for its protection. There are several options in frame styles, sizes, and colors. These will all be subject to the surroundings of where the painting will be hung. For this reason I would suggest working with a professional framer in your area.


I do offer a basic black walnut frame for an additional cost. These frames are unique in that I sawed the tree down, milled the lumber on a band mill, air-dried it for over a year, dimensioned the wood in the shop, stained and finished the stock, and built the frame! They truly are unique, but I must stress, they are utilitarian and will not complement the artwork the way a finely detailed frame would. I see them as a well-built temporary frame for transport and protection, which carries an element of value due to the artist’s involvement in its creation.


Contact artist for pricing.

James F Landis

I grew up on a dairy farm in beautiful upstate New York. My two older brothers and I spent most of our time and energy exploring our playground, the foothills of the Adirondack mountains, which left little time for artistic pursuits. When I was twelve years old my grandmother, Mrs. Elmira Landis, signed me up for art lessons at a local craft store. Unfortunately, construction paper, paste and the dull hum of the fluorescent lights were no match for raft building, catching tadpoles and busting ten-foot cattails on the edge of our pond! The art classes came to a quick end.

It wasn’t until years later and a series of unforeseen events while enlisted in the Air Force that I began to realize the benefits and challenges of art. When my service time ended, I was ready for Grandma’s art class, and I enrolled in the State University of New York, receiving fine arts instruction through the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York.

Upon earning an associate’s degree in fine art in 1990, I was ready to spend my days painting, but a far greater power moved me to the employment sector — marriage. In 1991 I got a job at a printing company in Saratoga Springs, New York, and learned the new skills of digital imaging.

Six years later, and with a growing family, we moved to the rugged Ozark mountains in southwest Missouri. Once again, I found myself back on the farm, this time as a ranch foreman for a neighbor, a labor that kept me occupied for the next eighteen years. Although, not completely occupied — in my spare time I painted several pastel paintings as gifts.

In a happy meeting of art and practical life, I found that the skills learned in the classroom transferred effortlessly to many different occupations. My employer, an attorney, also had numerous offices that I renovated or trimmed out. The trim was unique in that not only did I design and construct the compound moldings, but I also cut down the black walnut trees and milled the lumber on a portable band mill, air-drying the wood to preserve the deep chocolate brown color of the tree known as “Ozark Gold.”

At the same time I embraced a more intimate use of the wood in the crafting of fine furniture. In the construction of these pieces of furniture it’s possible — and more desirable — to use non-electric hand tools (exactly the way it was done in colonial times). For me, the use of these hand tools was therapeutic — no noise, no dust, just the smell of the wood and the piles of curled-up wood shavings growing around my feet. My furniture designs follow my interests: the graceful, classical and restrained styles of the periods from the Queen Anne to the Federal (approx. 1702–1823).

These days, thanks to a series of changes, painting has been revived in my life. Specifically, I have felt called to portraiture. This is a style of painting that has always challenged me for its restrictions and its requirement to capture the spirit of the person. However, it’s not only the challenges that attract me to portraiture, but also the rewards. With each portrait, I’m producing a piece of artwork that represents the most valuable things in people’s lives — other people.

In portraiture I experience a process: the challenge motivates and issues a call . . . a struggle ensues . . . victory graces me in the form of a completed portrait. The spoils of the battle are the smiles of the recipients of a treasured portrait.

The burden I feel during the production of a piece of art is tempered with a truth learned in college. Early on, I learned that art is subjective. Not everyone will like what you produce: the greatest artists in history had critics — how many more will I? But in no way does this prevent me from striving to extract from myself the greatest portion of the talents given me.

Every commission is approached with the utmost respect and reverence for not only the people involved, but also the product that is meant to endure for future generations. Every commission I receive is pursued with the goal of the resultant artwork being the very best I can produce.



(417) 425-2172


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