“The Pink Princess” 5.5″ x 7.5″ open, gouache casien wood, 2013


         A pretty portrait of a child is often only of interest to it’s family.  I have tried to paint my daughter before but have never been fully satisfied with the results, technically or aesthetically.  This is a painting of my daughter, Molly.  I wanted something that was specifically her:  capturing some part of her personality without being cloying or saccharine.  This is the first image of her I’ve done that really reads for me.  A gorgeous bundle of sweetness, imagination and imperiousness all rolled into a pink Disney dress on an Ikea throne.

           It’s very hard for me to paint small children for one simple reason: they are out of proportion!  I was schooled in proportion and anatomy before I could read.  My mother is an artist and my earliest teacher.  She taught me all the golden rules of anatomy for adults, not children.  Kids are a whole different ballgame: their heads are to big, their faces are distorted… maddening, most of my attempts wind up looking like distorted adults.


             I was once commissioned to paint two identical portraits of a toddler for a divorced couple living on either side of the Atlantic.  I painted them simultaneously, side by side, measuring with calipers as I went along.  They were identical in every regard but, for some reason which I couldn’t resolve, one captured the essence of the child while the other seemed lifeless.  When I presented them to the father (who’d ordered them) he immediately pointed to the lively one and said “That one’s mine.”  The other was shipped off to the UK.  I hope the mother liked it, it only suffered when compared to it’s twin.

          Molly thinks this painting looks mean.  I had to promise her, and my wife, that I would paint a “pretty” picture of her in exchange for being allowed to finish this one.

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