Childhood: a portrait.


Every six months or so I like to create a portrait of my children. It's my way of capturing their spirit outside of the conventional pictures, as if in the act of drawing them I can somehow cement their childhood character into my memory more effectively and with greater retrospection.

In the past, my work of them has been more traditional; usually, their faces fit the full frame and the negative space was often left muted. I wanted to push my composition this time in an effort to not only capture their faces, but also their fleeting childhood. 

The image of my daughter, Harper, is from the first snowfall this year, when she had to stop and pause in the middle of a parking lot so she could catch a falling flake on her tongue. I was in a rush that day and a somewhat annoyed with her delay, but seeing her face turned up to the sky attempting to catch the snow between giggles made me pause, and reminded me to appreciate the small moments of simple happiness. She is symbolized as a Goldfinch; a small and skittish bird that can be both curious and cautious. The body of the bird curves around the contour of her face, guarding her innocence. The tulips on the bottom are the flowers that are always in bloom on her birthday; they will forever remind me of those first few weeks of motherhood when I felt so full of love, yet so clueless. (I still feel this way most of the time.) Finally, of course there are her hands. A miniature version of my husbands, she is holding a butterfly with an outstretched finger on the right and reaching her hand forward as if to present her brother in the middle. 

And then there is my son, Bennett, dressed up as The Flash with his familiar spirited expression.  Usually wearing some type of costume, either as a superhero or Star Wars character, Bennett is known for thrusting himself into any conversation with imaginative play.  While his affinity for interruption can be annoying, I appreciate his eagerness... most of the time.  He is represented as a Cardinal on the move, a bold and outgoing bird.  His two hands on the top are flanked by peonys, the flowers that are in bloom when he was born.  

The last image is the onlooking owl, representing my husband and I as we wisely (or a least the best we can!) watch over them.  

I like my art to always invoke a memory, like a organized snapshot of a jumbled set of feelings.   This drawing was more a labor of love than anything else, taking me just around 40 hours to complete.  

This drawing was completed on 18"x24" Canson Bristol Paper with Caran d'Ache graphite pencils.