The features of our 16th president are endlessly fascinating.

At some point in time I began painting Abe Lincoln portraits. Like my numerous paintings and drawings of Bob Dylan, his face has many distinctive features that make it an endlessly engaging subject.

The trigger for that first painting was a statement I heard a long time ago: “You can’t fight a civil war and an international war at the same time.” What I understood that statement to mean was this. If we want to make a difference in the world outside us, we first need resolve our inner issues. That is, “a house divided against itself can not stand.”

It’s too bad young Abraham Lincoln pre-existed the camera. Since Lincoln’s day presidents have gotten more than their share of photos taken today, but the Kentucky/Illinois native was too early for that. And offering a big smile was not common in a day when you were instructed not to move, hold still and probably, it would appear, to be grave. The real Abe Lincoln was actually an entertaining, even hilarious, storyteller and not the humorless mask we see captured in Matthew Brady’s photos.

It would have been interesting to have a catalog of early Lincoln photos, to watch the progression as time and responsibility etched his appearance. We don’t.

Here are some of the paintings of our 16th president that I’ve produced over the years . You may call a few disrespectful, but I’d like to believe that in light of his sense of humor he just might get a kick out of a few of them.

As a painter I’ve been long fascinated with faces, and some faces I find especially compelling. Old Abe was one of these.

Originally published at on February 13, 2019

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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