When journalists write profiles, there always seems to be a sentence where they describe the essence of the person they're profiling. I love those sentences. I would guess they're among the most difficult parts of the article to write.
How does one capture the essence, presence, appearance of a real person in just a few words? What is it like to be in the room with them? How would they strike you if you saw them across the street?
A recent profile on Twyla Tharp the choreographer said, "she had the air of a cute green owl about to rob a bank."
I'm not a writer but I do have to write and reduce and break things down a lot. I love how other professions use words to the same effect. Time to start collecting these descriptions.