When encountering people on a daily basis, most of us are lucky to pick up the basics. Our boss has curly hair. Our friend is tall. Our brother has blue eyes. It is the artists of the world — artists like Leaf Moore — that look deeper into the faces of those around them and capture a unique beauty that is only realized after you see their artwork firsthand.

When I saw Leaf’s paintings for the first time, I was blown away. She took a person’s photo and brought it to life. A little girl, sucking on her first two fingers, seemed to stare down at me from the canvas — her brown eyes as real and complex as if I was holding her. Each detailed portrait seems to freeze a moment in time — a moment that may one day be only a faint memory. Leaf said that many parents want a detailed portrait of their child doing something that they may grow out of as they get older, whether it is a funny facial expression or a favorite outfit.

Leaf and her amazing talent are new to the Searcy community. Leaf taught art at a university in her native China for 15 years before marrying Searcy citizen Mark Moore and moving to the United States. Mark, who served as director of Planned Giving in the Advancement office at Harding University for a number of years, moved to China in 2005 to teach at another university. Though his original plan was to travel the world, he ended up liking China so much that he eventually spent three years there. Mark and Leaf met during his stay there and the two were married — with a ceremony in China in March of last year and a ceremony here in December. Leaf and her daughter, Qing Qing, who is a 6th grader at Harding Academy, are adjusting to Searcy life. The friendliness and welcoming spirit of the people of Searcy have helped her with the transition process.

Though she brings with her the techniques and traditions of Chinese art, she is by no means a traditional Chinese artist. She adds her own touch of flair and grace to each piece, making you wonder how she created such fluid lines. Her art is displayed around town in places like Beth Davis Interiors, New China Buffet and Everett’s. A visiting scholar in the art department at Harding University, she will also have her own art show August 31st in the gallery of the art building on campus. Students and other visitors will get a taste of her talent with watercolors, as well as her other passion: fashion design.

Artist Robert Ryan, when asked about his art, said, “I often concentrate on the eyes and lips; they are great indicators of mood and feeling, and I find that I can project character into my portraits by bringing the viewer’s attention to these areas.” Likewise, Leaf is able to probe to the very heart of the person. She sees each curve of the face, each slightly crooked smile, and she paints a true picture.

To browse through some of Leaf’s work, go to paintingsbyleaf.blogspot.com. If you are interested in contacting Leaf about a painting of your own, e-mail her at xinleaf7[at]gmail[dot]com.