Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Christmas Gift to You... Patty Bailey Sheets. Well, you can't actually have her. But you can know who she is. Which might be more valuable than anything I could wrap up and fit under the tree.

Patty painted a portrait of Anna Jane. She delivered it the week before Christmas of last year.

My grandmother is an artist. My sister Emily and I grew up with portraits of ourselves and other family members in our house. I loved them. I have several paintings of myself as a little girl. They are beautiful works of art. She sketched a portrait of Anna Jane when she was two. In the background are a faint pair of angel wings.

I have always known that I wanted portraits of my children. Last spring I began to look for artists in the area. Somehow I came across and used that to search for artists. In my case, I desperately wanted to find someone local. Artists are usually willing to travel, but of course, you have to pay for that. I think I found Patty and fell in love with her work before I realized that she was local.

I'm getting ready to sound a little groovy, but it's worth saying: I think that an artist's work can speak to you. I know that there are many talented artists out there, but when I saw Patty's work, I knew that we were a perfect match. I have seen other local artists who are incredibly talented, but don't get the same feeling from their art that I do from Patty's.

We arranged a meeting and I drove to her house. I asked to see her work and the photographs of the children that she had painted. I know that there are some beautiful pieces of artwork out there, but they don't always look like the child. This was very important to me. I wanted Anna Jane's portrait to look like Anna Jane.

I was stunned at the likeness between the photographs of the children and the paintings that she showed me. She can capture a child's physical appearance and their spirit and make a beautiful piece of art. That was a very important sentence. Read it again if you need to. I'll wait.

I made Anna Jane an outfit to wear...


and we met Patty at Old Salem. I searched portraits to see what kind of atmosphere I wanted her in and got an idea of the poses I liked best. I chose Old Salem because I went to school there and Dave worked there. And it's absolutely beautiful. Lots of meaning for us.

We took loads of photos and Patty returned the ones that would be "portrait-worthy." I chose this one of Anna Jane sitting.

Picture 010

I loved her little toes curling on the steps...


and her pudgy fingers reaching the wooden fence...


Patty asked me for one word to describe Anna Jane. I said "sweet." Dave's word was "silly."


I think she was able to capture Anna Jane's entire personality in this painting.


In the past months, as I have shared my family and my home on this blog, I have wanted very much to share this as one of the most valuable things to me. Patty gave me permission to share with you, but I am not an art photographer!!
There is no way that these photographs do the painting justice!

So, Merry Christmas! Call Patty. Or visit her. Or at the very least, know that she is talented and professional and sweet-as-pie. And she's there if you need your kid hanging on the I did!



  1. The portrait, the artist and your writing are all fabulous. The portrait would also look great in MY house!

  2. That came out beautiful. :) Just added you to my blogroll. You have some great posts on here. :) Happy New Year!!

  3. found you from TSP! What a beautiful family and a gorgeous portrait! Your daughter will treasure that sweet heirloom for years to come!

  4. I saw your link on TSP today and am so glad I did! I may need to give Miss Patty a call!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about Patty's work, Katherine. She wants more than anything to capture the spirit of each indiviual, and she works very hard (and frets very much) to achieve it. Patty's hope is that a stranger looking at the portait will somehow know that person for who they truly are. Your post is such a wonderful affirmation.