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Saturday in the Studio


Saturday in the Studio

Children's Art Activity

This month I hosted a Back-to-School painting party for moms and kids to bring their backpacks, TOMS, or school supplies to decorate.  

It's part of a new series of events called Saturday in the Studio, which will take place on the first Saturday of the month in my private live/work studio in the South Main arts district. It's open to anyone who joins my email newsletter.


The results were amazing. I was absolutely in love with Callie’s hand-painted TOMS. This girl’s going to have the coolest kicks in school, no doubt.


Callie, putting us all to shame


Among the guests who attended was my friend Julie, who is the assistant curator at the Dixon, and her adorable two-year-old daughter Marie.


Marie used her superb painting skills to create this abstract piece.


Marie, the early years


It’s a privelage for me to help moms and their children celebrate their relationships and make memories. That’s the mission of my creative enterprise and the fuel behind my work.


I remember how important it was for me to have parents who supported and fostered my creativity, so I love helping others do the same.


Back-to-School Painting Party


After the activity, I took the girls back into my studio to show them where I work. As a young girl who dreamed of one day being a full-time artist, it would have meant a lot to actually visit a working artist’s studio and paint with her.


The Beauty of Childhood


The Beauty of Childhood

children's portrait drawing

I was once asked if I preferred painting children or adults. Children, I said, hands down. It's the pure, angelic beauty of childhood that inspires me. Children don't need makeup or touch-ups; they are perfect just they way they are. I'm captured by their beautiful skin, glossy hair, and chubby cheeks and I love celebrating that in a work of art.

I was talking to a grandmother yesterday and we were admiring her granddaughter's alabaster skin. Your skin looks its best when you are a child, she said. Amen to that!

Recently I finished a portrait of beautiful little Gracie. Last year I drew her older sister, Caroline, and their mom told me Gracie wanted to know when it would be "her time with Ms. Kate."


Child's Portrait, Charcoal, Gracie, Memphis, TN


Gracie was a perfect little model. She was so relaxed and natural in front of the camera. It made my job easy. As I was going through her photos, I considered drawing her with a different, more serious expression on her face. But in the end decided a smile was more fitting to her personality. Gracie is always smiling, it seems.

And I have to talk about her hair, which her crowning glory. Gracie loves her hair so I wanted to make it the focal point of her portrait. As she grows up, her hair will change and she will have different cuts and styles, but her mom will always remember how much she loved her long hair - the pride she took in it.

Her mom Kristen has told me that she could not love her daughters' portraits more. She said they were worth every penny.

I know the kind of bond Kristen has her daughters from the time I've spent around them, and it's an honor for me to celebrate that and give her something she will treasure forever - portraits of her precious daughters.

What are the most beautiful features on your child, that you wish you could bottle up?



This Time Is Ours


This Time Is Ours


Twins Matthew and Mitchell may have been born together, but their personalities are very different. Mitchell is boisterous and outgoing, while Matthew is calm and contemplative. I took their pictures one sunny afternoon, which also happened to be the boy's birthday party. It was "Fireman" themed, naturally. There was red a yellow everywhere, with a giant stuffed dalmatian, and sandwiches from Firehouse subs. But the best part was the bounce-y gym stationed outside that the kids had an absolute blast playing in.

Matthew and Mitchell were decked out, looking adorable in their red shirts, fireman hats, and goulashes. Before I can begin a portrait I have to spend time with the children, doing the things they love to do.


Charcoal portrait, Matthew, Memphis, TN


I knew I had to capture Matthew in his fireman hat. I loved the idea of drawing him in something that he loves; that is so unique to him. It captures that spirit and magic of childhood- that complete joy and abandonment of being who you are and doing what you love. I also loved that their parents, Anne and Thayne, would forever remember their boys at this specific age and time.




And Mitchell- purely lost in the moment, having the time of his life.

Thayne and Anne were moved when they saw the portraits. Especially Thayne. He said that the boys would have their own lives when they got older, but this time was his and Anne’s.

A new grandmother expressed this same sentiment to me. She said when you’re a young mom you think you’ll remember those early childhood years, but now that her daughter is grown she’s realized you don’t remember them. You’ll have some pictures, she said, but you wont have something that really captures a specific time.

Capture those precious years. Reserve your child’s portrait today.


Tanner, Cannon, and Walter


Tanner, Cannon, and Walter

hand painted portraits of children

It's been an exciting week in my studio. Recently I finished a big project: three full-length oil portraits of five-year-old boys Cannon, Walter, and Tanner. I have loved getting to know my collectors, Deede and Scott, and there three adorable triplets.

From the moment I met Deede, I could tell how much her boys meant to her. She showed me their baby pictures and told me about how each one has their own personality. Of course, all three like playing sports and climbing trees, but when I met them I could see what she meant.


Cannon is mischievous and rambunctious. Definitely not an introvert. When I was taking his picture, he took me all over the house, showed me his toys, and performed all his ninja moves for me. His portrait captures him "in- action," which I think is appropriate for someone with his out-going personality. He’s also got that twinkle in his eye, which Scott said means, "I’m about to do something, but I’m cute so you can’t stop me."

Oil Portrait of Child, Memphis, TN

Tanner is shy and so sweet. He has the cutest little rasp-y voice and was perhaps the easiest to photograph, a natural in front of the camera. I didn't have to tell him to how to smile or pose. Deede said he always wants to toss the baseball, so it's perfect to have him with his ball and glove.


And Walter. Walter is the same age as his brothers (obviosuly) but he’s a little bigger and he stood out to me as the leader. He was quite and confident, and a little shy in front of the camera. But I saw him in his element hitting balls with his dad. You can tell the other boys look up to him.

It was such a blessing for me to celebrate the uniqueness of Scott and Deede's children. It was inspiring to see them in their natural element- playing outside, climbing and exploring, and having adventures. I love their similarities, as well as their distinct personalities.

As the boys grow up, I know it will mean so much to their parents to have captured this special time in their lives.


Celebrating Mothers


Celebrating Mothers

Houseal Family Portrait

By Kate Bradley 28 March 2014, 1:10 PM The relationship a mom has with her child is special. The Bible says that we were knit together in our mothers wombs, so mothers are our first connection to the world. It's a blessing to be a mom!

I hear people say that you don’t’ realize your capacity to love until you have a child. I believe that’s true. I see it in the faces of the moms I work with. When a portrait brings tears to their eyes, I feel how much they love their children. I hope to have kids of my own one day so I can experience that love.


Webb's Child Portrait Unveiled


My client and friend Micki came to my studio yesterday to see the finished portrait of her son Henry. She gasped when she saw it. She said what a little rascal he is. Later, she told me she and her husband were thrilled that I was able to once again capture the magic of their children!

I just love that. There is a magic in childhood.

My portraits are symbols of that motherly love. All the time, energy and sacrifice it takes to raise kids. You really do give your lives to them.

Growing up, my mom worked so we could have a good life. There were probably some dreams she sacrificed so she could take care of me and my sister. She made sure I had all my school supplies, took care of me when I was sick, and put me in art class. She's also my favorite shopping buddy. I know I can always trust and rely on her. She will always speak truth to me (sometimes annoyingly so.) But I know she's right. And that she has my best interest at heart.

As Mother's Day approaches, I feel especially blessed to celebrate the awesome, beautiful role of motherhood. The moms I paint for care so, so much about their children. What an honor to spotlight that relationship in my work.


Houseal | Family Portrait | Kate Bradley