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The Greatest Feeling in the World


The Greatest Feeling in the World

child portrait charcoal memphis tn

Whitney says that there are days as a mom when she just wants to throw in the towel. But she knows she can't, because that's not what moms do. What makes it all worth it is when your little one throws that unsolicited, "I love you," as the scoot out the door, or the huge hug around the neck as if you have been gone for days.  It's moments like these that keep your fears at bay.  

I asked Whitney to be part of a new book I'm putting together on wisdom from mothers. I'm talking to some of the moms I've worked with and asking them to share their biggest challenges and greatest lessons learned from parenthood. Their answers have been surprising, hilarious and touching. I’ve learned that all moms struggle with feeling like they aren’t good enough, even the “perfect” moms who seem to have it all together (you know who I’m talking about).


As someone who is single and hopes to one day have a family of her own, these insights have been really valuable. Note to single ladies: enjoy those late nights and "New Girl" binges while you can.


tennessee portrait artist


Whitney said that when you become a mom it's the greatest feeling in the world, but it can also be the scariest. You love this brand new baby so much it sometimes hurts. It's up to you and your spouse to nourish, give affection, wisdom, discipline, life lessons, and so many other things.


painted portraits of children


As a mom to two young girls, Whitney has learned that ALL kids are different. Her daughters, Whitney and Grace, are at two totally opposite ends of the spectrum – one loves sports and the other art – and she loves it! It’s opened her eyes to many different adventures. It's like what Lauren said – your children are going to be who God created them to be. Don't try to force them to be something they're not.


Whitney also said that being a mom has taught her to go with the flow. Schedules are great and necessary, but when something does not happen in "1-2-3" order it's not the end of the world.


Her advice for a mom-to-be is to make sure to take time for yourself.  Whether it's taking a tennis lesson, closing the door and reading a book for an hour or going to dinner with your husband. Happy moms make for happy kids and husbands!  And seriously, when mom's not happy, no one is happy!






Portrait of Jennings


Portrait of Jennings

Portrait painting of child



I loved Jennings from the moment I met her. She is just so warm and engaging. Throughout the portrait process, I have enjoyed getting to spend time with her and discovering her personality. When I came to her house for the first time, she invited me back to her room and showed me all her toys.Her older sister Hayden is also wonderful. Seriously, she is like a little adult. I want to be both of their friends.

This month I had Jennings, Hayden, and their friend Louise over to my studio for a play-date art lesson. We did self-portraits.

From left to right: Jennings and Louise with their self-portraits


photo (1)

This is the proposal for the portrait of Jennings, which I will complete next month.

photo (1)


Proposals are small versions of the portrait. I don't develop the face or any of the details. They are just done to give the parents an idea for the composition, pose and colors- the big picture stuff. In conjunction with the painted proposal I show them the photos I want to work from.

When I'm creating a proposal, I take into account all the parents' preferences for the facial expression, setting, and pose. For instance, my client Jenna showed me some pictures she liked of Jennings when she was younger. And Jennings' hair is blonder in the summer, so Jenna asked if I could paint it that way.

Although my portraits are interpretations of a child through my eyes, I want to make sure that I capture the way the parents see them as well. I know that I am painting their most prized possessions, so I do everything I can to ease their fears about how the portrait will turn out.




Aha! Moments

By Kate Bradley 19 September 2013, 10:20AM Someone asked me the other day if I preferred painting children or adults. Children, hands down, I said (no offense to all the grown-ups out there). For one, you don’t have to make them look younger, thinner or more beautiful. They are perfect just the way they are.

I was at the Dixon recently to see their current exhibit, Picturing America. My dear friend Julie was leading the tour. (Side note: If you have not been on a tour with Julie, stop what you are doing now and go. She makes learning about art so enjoyable and refreshing.) We stopped at a portrait of two European boys playing outside, one with a yo-yo. Julie told us that up until about the mid-eighteenth century, all children in portraits looked like small adults. Stiff, regally dressed, and very serious. Until that point, children weren’t considered individuals. Childhood was just a way to get to adulthood and so children were reflected in their portraits they way their parents wanted them to become.

The stuff of nightmares.This is a boy, btw. A boy with a walking cane.

Then things began to shift. Childhood began to be considered as a special time. Children were recognized as the individuals that they are, with their own personalities and interests. And so the portraits of children became much more lively and expressive, often depicting them in outdoors, associated with nature.


Meet Ansel. Ansel enjoys rabbits, decorative headwear, and macrame.

But seriously, HUGE improvement over Creepy Shrunken Person.

I had one of those “a-ha!” moments. Or rather, something I already new was reminded to me in a delightful way. This is the essence of what I do: celebrating childhood. I always seek to represent the individual personality of the children in my portraits, but I had never really considered why. I don’t just want to stick every child I paint in front of a garden- there are plenty of those portraits.  I want their portrait to reflect who they are as individuals: their interests, their personalities, and their uniqueness. Why? Because childhood is special. Wow, I thought. What a privilege it is to get to paint these precious and fleeting moments. To preserve them forever in a commissioned work of art. I’m truly honored.

Hunter Humphreys