Gente que Cuenta

by Leonor Henríquez

KelseyHoward Atril press
The glance, s/f

leer en español

      Since I was little, I have liked to paint portraits.

My teacher at the time, Luis Álvarez de Lugo, a distinguished Venezuelan painter, taught me the techniques, the proportions of a human face, which is divided into three zones: a third from the hairline to the eyebrows, another third from the eyebrows to the tip of the nose, and another one from the latter to the chin; between eye and eye, the distance of an imaginary eye. Ears aligned between eyes and nose and stop counting.

I remember that I tried very hard, and in the end my teacher saw my creation, and motivated me by telling me (or lying to me) that it was very good, then he gave it three strokes of light. The portrait took on new life. The person in question, before my very clumsy approach, suddenly appeared there, in front of me, clear, alive.

It’s what’s called the master touch, the one I lack.

Recently, I decided to paint a portrait of someone I love and know very well.

I placed the canvas in front of me and with my charcoal I made the first strokes.

I decided to forget about proportions and sketched just what I “felt like.”

Then I chose the colors, the textures.

Once again, I ignored what I saw in the photograph and decided to give freedom to what they call free style.

For the skin I chose, not the colors that I saw in the photo, but the colors that the aura, or ethereal body of my friend, suggested to me, the one that surrounds each person and that we must see beyond.

I looked closely and found it somewhere between pink and purple. Later I discovered that this combination represents the union between heart and mind.

Very accurate indeed, although I think the person in question is more  heart.

Lastly, the eyes.

The most difficult thing is to search for the soul within the eyes, beyond the pupils, beyond infinity.

I knew I was close to finishing my portrait.

I dipped the brush in the whitest of whites and dabbed it on the eyes, nose, and mouth.

There it was, terrible, but honest.

My self portrait.

www.atril .press Leonor Henríquez e1670869356570

Leonor Henríquez (Caracas, Venezuela) Civil Engineer by training (UCAB 1985), writer and apprentice poet by vocation. From her time in engineering emerged her Office Stories (1997), another way of seeing the corporate world. Her latest publications include reflections on grief, Hopecrumbs (2020) ( and “The Adventures of Chispita” (2021) ( an allegory of life inside Mom’s belly.
Today she shares her “impulsive meditations” from Calgary, Canada, where she lives.

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