charcoal drawing of child

Child Portrait | Memphis, TN  

Lately I've realized how much I love to paint portraits of children. When I started this business, I just assumed that I'd paint men in suits like most other portrait artists. But as the years have gone by, I think I've really discovered my niche with children.


I have painted portraits of adults before, but they just aren't as fun and exciting as painting kids. I really love the kids I paint. I love the process of hanging out with them and getting to know them before I paint their portraits. I want to see where they hang out and what they like to do.


A friend I was chatting with the other day pointed out that it really makes a difference who the portrait painter is. When my friend was little, she had her portrait painted by an older man, and it was sort of awkward and uncomfortable because of their age and gender differences. They couldn't really connect.


The children I paint portraits of are generally pretty relaxed and comfortable. The portrait process is pretty foreign to them, and they tend to stiff up. They don't know how to act in front of a camera. So I make friends with them so they will open up and be natural with me.


In a way, I guess I feel called to paint children. I never thought of myself as a kid-person before, but the more I’m around them the more I appreciate their individuality and uniqueness. And plus they’re just really cute. I don’t have to make them look younger or thinner (I’ve “fixed" things like missing teeth before) but in general I don't do much changing because kids are perfect just the way they are.


A client of mine, Kristen, sent me the sweetest email the other day. She said that there was a group of people over for a dinner party at her house and everyone saw the portrait I did of her daughter Caroline. One of her friends and her husband both agreed that this was the first charcoal portrait they have seen (other friends of theirs have had some done by other local artists) that truly captured the child.  They commented that every other one they have seen had something that was a little "off" about it, but that I totally nailed it!


I could tell Kristen was really proud and obviously, it made me feel great.


By Kate Bradley 3 April 2014, 1:10 PM