Portraiture isn't exactly a lost art, although fewer painters choose it as their area of specialty now than they did in the time of Renoir. The demand has changed a bit since the camera was invented. Even well-intentioned, sentimental people who ache to capture the charm of their 6-year-olds, or their moms, dads and grandmothers, spend great wads of cash at some high-priced photography studio, only to be slightly disappointed in the great, glossy, hyper-realistic, frozen midsmile images that they dutifully hang over the fireplace. There is, of course, an alternative. Dallas boasts one of the most innovative, creative and recognized portrait artists in the Southwest. Known for her expressive nature and wide-open personality, Connie Connally paints unique and personal portraits that reveal little nuances and details about her subjects that surprise and delight the people who commission her work. She has a nontraditional approach to portrait "sitting," preferring to visit her subjects in their homes, making animated sketches and taking photographs while she talks with them. Connally takes her research into the studio and comes out with dramatic, detailed faces with exaggerated cheekbones, poignant and expressive eyes and determined chins. Connally's instant affinity with the people she paints is her secret, although years of study and work have honed her technique. In 2000, she crafted 90 portraits into a piece of fine art called "People I Know," which debuted at Craighead-Green Gallery and was selected for exhibitions through 2003 at galleries throughout the Southwest and California.