Children and Their Portraits

I am very honored to become one of the 25 top finalists in the Portrait Society of America International Portrait Competition 2016.  This time for a drawing, “Yin and Yang” (graphite/charcoal, 18x24).  2430 works were competing this year.  The final judging and an award ceremony will be held in Reston, VA during the PSoA Art of the Portrait Conference, April 14-17.  (Added - My drawing Yin and Yang was awarded 1st Place Drawing by PSoA).  Please check out all the finalists’ works this year at  This competition is becoming more international every year, which is so good to see.  I always learn new names that I then follow for years.  And the Conference is a great opportunity to learn and to meet artists, to feel you belong to a community (and realize that Facebooking and Instagraming are not even close to the real human interactions).

My first Certificate of Excellence from PSoA in 2011 was also a portrait of a child (my son Casey, then about 5 or 6).  This time it’s a drawing of a friend’s son.  The idea was the bond between  the boy and the dog, the comfort and security of this pair.  “Yin and Yang” – they complete each other.  The boy is still the master, on top, but without the support of this dog he will fall.  And I was again very interested in textures and pushing the charcoal and graphite, actually painting with charcoal (never knew that it can be painted with using water, acetone and brushes). 

I know that portraits of children are not the most popular subject matter – but kids provide such innocent models, and are so accepting, so willing to pose (even if for a fleeting second), that how can you not.  Being a mother, knowing my kids so well that I can draw them from memory, I continue to use them as models (whether they like it or not).  As with any portrait commission of a child, the key is to present them as serious human beings, curious and smart, as young individuals with their own personalities.  I can’t relate to overly cute smiley portraits, they bother me.   It’s not about just the likeness (and the smile just makes it way too sugar coated).  It’s about capturing that fleeting gesture, that personality, something in their eyes that to me is adult-like. 

I am including some examples of works I did over the years with children as my models*.  I will never stop drawing and painting (and hopefully sometime sculpting) children. 

Thank you again, PSoA.

*(except for the first image, the rest are paintings of my kids.  The first image is being published with permission of the boy's mother)