The responsibility of raising kids can be overwhelming. The list of daily tasks –making lunches, taking them to school, going to soccer games, helping them with homework – goes on and on and every day can feel like groundhog day. As my collector Deede told me when she looked at the pile of clothes in her kitchen, “It never ends, Kate!”
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All moms could use some help with the huge responsibility and challenges of raising kids. To further my mission of helping families celebrate their children, I’m working on a book of motherly wisdom that I've collected from the moms I serve.
One such mom is my friend and collector, Kristen, who recently came over to my studio with her two precious girls, Caroline and Gracie. What touched me most during our conversation was how refreshingly open and honest Kristen was about her struggles and her faith. When I asked her what are the biggest worries she faces, she laughed, saying she wasn’t sure if she could list them all.
Like most of the moms I’ve talked to, Kristen worries that she’s not parenting the right way or doing the right thing, and that she might be “screwing up” her kids. It’s a daily battle that began the day she found out Caroline was coming into the world. But, she says her faith gives her the hope and reassurance that God is in control. She can trust in Him, because He loves her and her girls even more than she does.
Without her faith, Kristen says she couldn’t be a mom.
Faced with the huge responsibility she’s been given, Kristen says one of the most important lessons she’s learned is humility. It’s easy to forget that she’s not the one in control. Like another mom said, your kids are going to be who God created them to be. Let go! Kristen says that because of God’s love for her and her girls, she can rest in the fact that He has their best interest at heart.
The most touching thing she said during our talk was how amazed and overwhelmed she is by how much she loves her girls. She says it’s a true, unconditional love that comes from God and is a picture of the way He loves us.
Her parting words of advice of a mom-to-be are? Enjoy it. You blink, and your babies are grown. So try to find joy in every stage and embrace the constant change as best you can.
Recently I began a portrait commission of Haynes Kiser. I painted his older brother, Tread, a couple of years ago. It was amazing how to see how much he’s changed since then.
Their mom, Hart, was explaining to me the difference in the personalities of her boys. Tread is the typicall older brother- sweet, calm, compliant. Haynes is rambunctious and gregarious. Tread rolls his eyes at his brother’s antics, often miming “this guy’s crazy” behind his back.
Like a lot of young boys, Haynes loves to play outside. I tried taking his picture sitting down in various locations, but I found he was his most natural self when running around, kicking the ball, and just plain having fun.
Hart and her mother both agreed the portrait study was “so him.” Hart said it looked like he was “on the go,” which is perfect for Haynes.
Like his brother, Haynes is wearing a simple linen shirt and khaki shorts- nice, but not too formal. Very appropriate for a boy who loves to run around outdoors.
What is so beautiful about the Kiser Boys, and what I'm so inspired by, is their beautiful, almost-white, blond hair and tan skin.
Haynes was very sweet and easy to work with, despite his inability to sit still for very long. And I got the impression that if he had it his way, the portrait would be of him on his trampoline. Perfect for him but not so inspiring for me as an artist.
I fell in love Haynes’ lively spirit. He wasn’t at all upset to have his pictures taken, but was relieved when he got to change back into his t-shirt and gym shorts.
Haynes told me about the bucket list he was working on for school. Among the items checked off was eating a hamburger for the first time. He excitedly reported that he’ll get $50(!!) for completing the list.
Hart has told me in the past how much her portrait means to her. From our time together, I know how deeply she loves her boys. I’m so excited to help her celebrate Haynes and gift her another gift that she will treasure.
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.
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.
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.
This is the proposal for the portrait of Jennings, which I will complete next month.
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.