Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Portraits of Children~ A New Status Symbol

The essence of childhood is fleeting and too soon a memory. From the artist’s point of view, capturing an essence as elusive as time is an intriguing purpose to paint a portrait. But amid young parents, there is a burgeoning trend to commission artistic interpretations of their children. Child portraiture is “the new status symbol,” according to Boston Home Magazine.

I had the pleasure of being included as one of three artists showcased in the spring issue of Boston Home, in an article titled Different Strokes. Each artist offered their rendition of two brothers, children of the magazine’s senior editor, Julie Suratt. I chose to work in pastel because I find the medium especially well suited to describe the elusive nature of childhood.

There are aesthetic and practical reasons to commission a portrait in pastel. Pastel is solid pigment in stick form, which provides extensive versatility. From the aesthetic viewpoint, the artist might select a skillful interweaving of pigment forming visible gradations of color and tone to imply movement and expression of time. Pastel may be applied broadly, as solid mass or advantaged for the linear qualities. The pastel medium can be handled with bold panache or the utmost delicacy, granting the artist a varied repertoire of expression.

From a practical standpoint, the pigments don’t need drying time. Adjustments can be efficiently made; timesaving for the artist translates to cost savings for the person commissioning the portrait. Unlike oil paintings, pastels don’t need final varnishing. They can be matted and framed immediately.

Artist portraits of children become family heirlooms. With Mother’s Day approaching, Boston Home Magazine’s article is timely. Portraits of children are thoughtful, treasured gifts for mothers, and grandmothers, too.

Boston Artist, Melody Phaneuf is well known for her evocative landscape, still life, and portrait paintings. Phaneuf’s paintings are regularly on view at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street; at Fenway Studios, Boston by appointment; and North Shore Art in Gloucester from May through October. Phaneuf has exhibited her paintings at The National Arts Club in New York City, Galerie Herouet in Paris, and with Art du Monde, in Japan.

Melody The Artist Home, founded with photographer and color specialist, Martha DiMeo showcases the artist’s original paintings on tumbled marble tile murals and coasters, fine art prints and note cards. Online ordering at

Brothers, by Melody Phaneuf, 20 x 15 pastel

Commission a portrait by Melody Phaneuf
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Visit Melody at Fenway Studios


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