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Getting to Know Your Child

Laurel, Age 5, Oil on canvas

Laurel, Age 5, Oil on canvas

Some portrait artists work from photographs others have taken, but I don't. Getting to know the child I paint is a very important part of my process, and I couldn't create a portrait without it.

Actually, it's my mission to help children feel loved and valued for who they are by capturing their personality. I can't do that if I haven't met them!

I recently completed this commission for a family in Memphis of their daughter, Laurel. Laurel is five years old and the youngest in her family. She's sweet, thoughtful, and polite. It's clear she was ready to have her portrait hang alongside her brother and sister's:)

My time spent with the children helps make the portrait better. Plus, it's just more fun. When I go back to my studio to paint, I draw on my experience of being with that child plus the pictures I take. It makes for a richer, more life-like portrait. 





Over Christmas I did this portrait of sweet little Charlotte. A few years ago I did a portrait of her older brother, Trip, and their mom Lindsey was one of my first clients.

Charlotte has such a beautiful face. I love her dark hair and light eyes. When we met she was playing with her dolls, in her adorably decorated little girl's room. 

And her brother Trip was running around with a Nerf gun!

It's always great getting to work with the same families over the years, painting their children as they come of age and watching how they grow and change through the years. As an artist, it feels great that they want me to paint all their kids.

I also enjoy seeing where a collector hangs her portrait, whether that be in the family room, or dining room, or I've even seen one in the kitchen!

It's such rewarding work to capture these kids at such a special time in their life. I love getting to know them, and honoring them and their parent's love for them in a portrait.

I really have the best job!






She almost lost her daughter, but never gave up hope

5-year-old Maggie

5-year-old Maggie

PPROM (Preterm premature rupture of membranes) is a rare condition that happens when the amniotic sack breaks too early in pregnancy.


It sounds horrible, and it is. My friend Lee Cordon, writer of etiquette blog Do Say Give, experienced it with her daughter Maggie.


Because a baby can’t develop lungs without amniotic fluid, Maggie had little to no chance of surviving outside the womb. So the doctors encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy.


But Lee refused to give up. She’d gotten to know this baby, felt her kicking, and knew ending the pregnancy just wasn’t the right thing to do.


So she did the only thing she could – went home and prayed for a miracle, along with her family and church. She stared a blog to keep people updated. 


Lee says it was during this time her faith was the strongest. “When you don’t have any other hope, you have to rely on the promises of the Lord.”


During the seven weeks she was in the hospital, she remembers a distinct moment when she felt God providing for her. A kind hospital cleaning lady who she saw regularly told her the baby was going to be OK. She said a prayer for her in Spanish and told her to believe. Lee says she was a guardian angel.


Maggie was born 29 weeks through an emergency C-section. Lee wanted to be awake for the first few moments of her daughter’s life, knowing they might be the last.


She was rushed to the NICU and amazingly, lived. The doctors couldn’t believe it. Maggie was a miracle.


Still, the doctors said she would have major disabilities.


Maggie came home and they spent the first three years going to appointments. Lee says it was a big blur of all-nighters and feeding tubes.


But Maggie made it, and she’s doing great now – running, playing, and doing things normal kids do. She’s bright and happy, with a fighter’s spirit. She still has therapy, but Lee and her husband can't complain. She’s alive, and that’s something they thought might not happen.


For moms going through a similar experience, Lee says never give up hope.


“During periods of hardship and suffering a tiny glimmer of hope can get you through the most difficult days. Cling to that hope and don't ever give it up.”


Have you gone through something similar? Leave a comment below.





Anna Jane

Anna Jane Johnson, Age 4, Oil on canvas

Anna Jane Johnson, Age 4, Oil on canvas

I met precious little Anna Jane last December in Austin. Her mom, Ellyn, had saw my feature story in Memphis Magazine and contacted me about a commission.  


Even though I don't live there any more (proud Texan now) I frequently travel to do commissions. I met Ellyn and Anna Jane when they were coming through Austin on a family trip, and took the pictures at their hotel. 


Anna Jane is 4, and I just loved capturing her at this special time in her life. I remember thinking how delicate her features were, and her personality was friendly but also a little reserved. I think her expression really captures that. 


I usually take the pictures in the family's home, but because we were in a hotel I didn't want much of the background to show. I think it works really well for this portrait, because the focus is all on her. I kept the background loose and with a soft palette that compliments her perfectly.


Ellyn was really nice and easy to work with. I always ask the moms who commission me to share the best piece of advice they'd give to a mom-to-be. Ellyn said,


"Take care of find a moment of pleasure in every day, whether it's reading a book, a manicure, a TV show, sipping a cup of hot tea or coffee, a devotion, meditation, exercising, etc. A few quiet minutes a day helps you to focus, be more present, and in turn, be a better mom."