About me

As Seen in Robb Report
Mark Hess Portrait painter


In all things; my aim, my passion.

Mark Hess oil portrait Washington Civil War postage stamps

I have been drawing and painting and designing and building things for as long as I can remember. My parent’s instilled in me a love of work, a love of art, a love of people and a creative curiosity that has always pushed me to discover new techniques and to delve into various disciplines. I’ve been a rodeo bull rider, an award winning illustrator, high end restaurant graphics designer (NYC, Las Vegas & Palm Beach), packaging designer, website marketer and designer, business creator, landscape designer, but at my core, and always most importantly, a portrait painter.

I’ve received hundreds of awards from art journals and organizations worldwide.

  • Sixteen paintings in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
  • My first gold medal was in 1976 at the age of 22.
  • Editor’s Pick in Robb Report April, 2015.
  • Multiple works in the permanent collection of the National Postal Museum, Washington, DC
  • I’ve been exhibited in museums including the Georges Pompidou Museum, Paris; the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA; the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC., The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC., The National Postal Museum in Washington, DC., Housatonic Museum of Art, CT, etc.
  • I’ve created 46 U.S. Postal Stamps, 40 of which were “voted best of their year”, as well as 12 United Nations stamps
  • Clients include individuals and major Fortune 500 companies and others such as IBM, Xerox, 3M, CBS, ABC, American Express, MasterCard, Mobil, New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Esquire, Forbes, Business Week, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Notre Dame, Stanford, AIG, RCA, U.S. Postal Service, AT&T, Warner Comm., United Nations, etc.
  • Works in the collections of Time Warner, Malcolm Forbes, Smithsonian Museum, Donald Trump, Charlie Palmer, National Portrait Gallery, Oklahoma State House, National Postal Museum, Andrus Children’s Center, John and Susan Scofield, the Draime Foundation, Fordham University, Maurice and Carolyn Cunniffe, Bard College, Paul and Joan Rosenbaum, Robert Dallas II, Natural History Museum, NYC, Jeff and Jennifer Draime, Susan Hoag, etc.
  • Listed in Who’s Who in American Art

Portrait painting has a long and noble history. Once only attainable by the very wealthiest, such as Kings and Queens, the painted portrait is now widely appreciated by countless millions as a venerable and beautiful way to capture the soul and likeness of precious children, captains of business, politicians and loved ones for future generations to remember and appreciate. A good photograph captures an instant in time and may instill in the viewer a sense of the subject, whereas a finely painted portrait should not only capture a true likeness, but also be a work of art in a larger sense; a treasured heirloom; an idealized depiction; with a sense of the “story” of the subjects’ life.

A good portrait will not just be a painted photograph but something more. It will impart a sense of who the sitter is and perhaps what they accomplished; it might include mementos, favorite things or objects that are/were important to understanding the subject. It should create a dialog with the viewer and raise questions; a good portrait might include a special setting or place of significance. And it should portray the subject in a realistic, yet idealized way so as to share the life of the person and invite contemplation.

A few testimonials:

“Mark has painted five portraits for Fordham University (two rather heroic-sized portraits of Archbishop John Hughes, our founder, as well as portraits of three of our major donors), all of which have received rave reviews from all who have seen them. And with good reason. In each case, Mark was able to capture the spirit, character and essence of each of the subjects.  (One of his donor portraits was so well done that the donor’s wife asked him to do a second one–which now graces the formal living room in their Connecticut home.)” 

– Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President Fordham University

“This portrait, done entirely by photos we supplied, not only captured the very essence of this impressive man but also hit just the right note with the selection of campus images Mark used as background.  We couldn’t have been happier with his work.”

–Sheri Bloom, Director of Development, Andrus Children’s Center

“We really do love that portrait. I smile every time I go by it!
We attended the unveiling of my husband’s portrait last year at the opening of The Cunniffe House at Fordham University. There was a spontaneous and positive reaction to Mark’s painting for its wonderful likeness and for its composition. We immediately ordered a second portrait for our living room. It elicits the same happy reaction from our family and friends.”

–Maurice “Mo” and Carolyn Cunniffe, Fordham alumni and benefactors,
M. Cunniffe is Chairman/CEO of Vista Capital Corporation

“I had the good fortune of locating Mark Hess through one of his colleagues for some commissions I wanted to source. Not only did he embrace my initial thoughts for the works he brought them to life in a form well beyond what I had first imagined. If you have a project requiring the skills of a sensitive, knowledgeable, enthusiastic artist, you do not need to look any further. Mark Hess is for you.”

Stated with all sincerity,
–Jeff Draime, Board of Directors, Walker Art Museum

“Mark Hess is talented, professional, flexible, creative in his approach to each project, and a delight to work with. We have commissioned several portraits for the University – of historical figures – and of generous donors to significant projects – and all are beautiful, relevant, and meticulously prepared and presented.”

–Liz Manigan, Assistant Vice President for Development and University Events, Fordham University 

“Unfortunately testimonials have become so full of hyperbole that it makes it difficult to write about an artist’s work without it being dismissed offhand. I hope that my estimations of Mark’s work will not be received that way. So I will continue; his portraits, his magazine covers are skillful, thoughtful and imaginative beyond the ordinary. They are also aesthetically seductive — which is another way of saying you want to continue to look at them beyond the current electronic imperatives to keep scanning  and often incisive in what they have been commissioned to do. There are literally dozens of examples of engaging Hess portraits that bring to life some of the oft photographed mugs of notables… as well as recreating historical figures and events. 
These are only minimal reminders of the quality of his art; his reach is truly special. In short, Mark Hess is an intelligent, talented artist. Now if this is not hyperbole, then the word has no meaning, but it is, in my small, impoverished estimation, also true.”

–Burton Silverman, master realist and portrait artist

“Mark, We unveiled the portrait at the picnic. It truly brought tears to the eyes of many of the employees and family. GREAT WORK on your part.

-Robert (Bobby) Dallas II, CEO, The Dallas Group of America, Inc.

“Mark Hess’s professionalism and patience are crucial qualities for the success of his US postage stamps. Especially for something like the Civil War series, with all of its enthusiasts, the research is beyond comprehensive–including everything from the length of beards to the size of, and distance between buttons. The experts love to pick these things apart and find mistakes. Somehow Mark kept his head above it all, made voluminous changes, and got through it without any factual inaccuracies. As for his artistic contribution, we chose him because there is a unique charm to his paintings… they’re highly interpretive.”

-Terry McCaffrey, Creative Director and Manager of Stamp Development, US Postal Service

“One of the first things I asked Mark to do was a huge oil painting on canvas for my restaurant (he also painted many others, both small and large). He did incredible research and came up with the idea of depicting historically significant chefs with their most famous dishes. Of course he insisted on the authenticity of every detail… I trust Mark’s take on many aspects of my business and he doesn’t have a big ego about his work, which makes him extremely flexible and easy to work with.”

–Charlie Palmer, American celebrity chef, restaurateur, hotel owner and author

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