Looking For Turtles

Jan 30, 2020

Over the past seven years I’ve dipped my toe in and out of portraiture. It’s a bit intimidating trying to make a likeness of someone but I think I’ve achieved that. So, to change things up I’ve decided to look at it from a different angle.

I have three highly individual grandchildren, as children are. They range from unabashed star of the show to reluctant model, with another in-between, both literally and figuratively. Stuffed animals, superheroes, sippy cups, stethoscopes, Legos, glitter glue, pirates, tea sets, puzzles, books and nerf blasters litter the floors of their lives. How to express all of that in a formal portrait? That’s a tall order.

So instead of setting them in front of a bookshelf wearing stiff fabrics and lockets I’m trying to find images that, instead of being portraits, express a sense of their childhoods.

* * *

Last August I escorted a rather cantankerous group to an Audubon site for a little outing. This one made the most of the time looking valiantly for signs of life. I snapped the photo as the snapping turtles evaded detection.

I was a little disappointed that a lot of my photos from that day didn’t pan out. It was overcast and grandchild cooperation was limited. But after all was said and done, this one floated to the top. It conveyed the intense curiosity this boy has always had and the moody sky was reminiscent of his uncooperative siblings. In the end it was the perfect expression of the day.

* * *

Which brings me back to my new way of thinking. Instead of painting portraits of children, I intend to paint kids caught at living a child’s life. Do you have digital images of your children and/or grandchildren that would fit into this new body of work? If so, I’d love to see them and maybe I could work them into my portfolio.

To participate please email me your image with “A Child’s Life Images” in the subject line and I’ll let you know if it works both from tech-y/photo and artistic perspectives (please read restrictions below). I’m happy to answer any questions you might have so please feel free to ask.


Painting: Looking For Turtles © 2020 Lissa Banks


Image parameters and general rules of the road:

  • Images must be digital format and of high resolution (72 dpi accepted if the image itself is very large form). Don’t worry about the technical stuff too much. I can easily tell if the image will work or not.
  • If it does work, I will ask you to sign a permission form for me to use the work.
  • Crisp, clear images are critical to the success of the painting. Blurry or “soft” images won’t work.
  • No naked kids, seriously.
  • Posed or studio photos are not what I am aiming for. Think kids doing homework, hanging from the monkey bars, discovering a slimy insect, eating cereal, putting on shoes. I’m looking for photos that tell a story of everyday life of children living at the beginning of the 21st century, nothing special per se, just real stuff.
  • Not all submitted images will be used, after all I only produce at most twelve paintings per year!

Now here’s the legalese:

  • The image you share with me must be one you took yourself. I’m a stickler about copyright infringement.
  • Acceptance of your image does not imply any claim to ownership of the finished painting. Of course, you may want to purchase it in the end but that’s not the intent nor does my accepting it create that sort of contractual agreement here.
  • If I do use your image I retain copyright of the painting and any copies or facsimiles that may be made from the original work throughout my lifetime and beyond consistent with copyright laws.
  • Out of respect for your privacy, I will not identify your child or family name unless it is your expressed wish to do so.
  • Nor will I plaster your child's image on mugs, totes, beach towels, etc..


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