Following a request from one of my learners regarding how to paint children I have put together a short series of lessons as an introduction to this subject. 

A painting or drawing of a child at play has a unique charm that no other type of painting can claim.  

My intention for this series of lessons is to: teach learners the proportions of a child from age 2-10, especially the changes in the facial features, to teach learners how to draw a child at play, to teach learners how to paint a child portrait. So we started off by drawing the face of a child of 2, a child of 4-6 and a child of 10. I asked learners to use some of their own reference photographs of a small relative or themselves. The conundrum with children is that they do not sit still, so taking appropriate photos can be a problem! But indeed that is part of the charm of a child, they will always find something to occupy their mind and therefore their actions can become a composition that prompt a few “ahs”! I chose a photograph of my granddaughter, as a reference photo, who had made up a wonderful game for herself: running from one end of the living room to the other and rewarding herself every time she completed a “lap” with a tasty treat!

A child of two-three is four head heights, this can looked elongated if a limb is extended walking, as in my example. The eyebrows are midpoint on the face of a small child, not the eyes. As a child grows the face elongates, a small child has very little chin space on its face. When drawing adult shape heads if we thought of basic shapes a woman’s face is oval, a man’s face a square, but a child’s head could be represented by a circle: they have lots of puppy fat on their face, round cheeks, which gives them their unique childlike look. The eyes are big, forehead space big, and all the features on a small one’s face can be placed in a small area of a triangle in the lower half of the face. 

When painting children’ clothing – I always paint the face last. The clothing of a children should be nice bright colours, that contrast with the soft skin tones on the face. Think in terms of primary colours.  

Children’s skin tone, think pink! The most transparent colour of rose madder, crimson, any really strong red will make a beautiful wash of pink.