The Best Stories to Tell

Some of my very favorite projects start with simple family moments. 

Take the Parmenter family for example.

Bridget contacted me to do a custom portrait of her husband and children as a Father's Day gift. She  wasn't sure exactly what she was looking for, but gave me a brief glimpse into what their relationship is like:

I’m picturing an illustration of him pretending with them in some way. He does a great job taking the kids bears and making them come to life at bed time. I’d love something that expresses their adoration for him.
— Bridget

With the idea of bedtime pretending in my head, I took a short tour through her (unbelievably lovely) Instagram photos. Seeing her family in action, in their day to day moments like that, gave me a strong feeling for who they were, both individually and together.  This is the part I honestly get the most excited about--when I feel a connection with a family and really get a sense of who they are. I love seeing that, and the excitement of exploring how to capture that best. Each portrait is really a completely new experience this way, when it's centered around the family and their story. I'm just here to help tell it.

Here's a quick little view of some of Bridget's lovely photography, and her wonderful, fun-loving, bookish family! Please do check out the rest of her fantastic work on her Instagram @bridget_parmenter_clp.



Bridget's images are full of wonder, magic, and bursting with stories and adventure. After seeing and learning a bit more about them, an image popped into my head. Normally I don't do concept sketches before the actual project begins, but I couldn't help it with this one, I was so excited. I worked up a sketch and sent it to Bridget with her quote:

Custom Portrait Concept Sketch
Oh my goodness. I am in tears about how you already captured them in such a wonderful and endearing way. I honestly can’t think of a more perfect image of the three of them.
— bridget, after seeing my concept sketch

So we went for it! And even though I tried several other concepts just to make sure we had explored all the other options, we ended up sticking with the original concept almost exactly. Sometimes you just can't beat that original gut feeling and natural story that springs up. Here's the progression from (slightly) edited concept, to linework, to final colored portrait:


Parmenter Family Custom Portrait Concept
Custom Family Portrait Linework
Custom Family Portrait Color

During this whole process, Bridget had a chance to review the piece in progress and ask for changes. We went back and forth for awhile to make sure it was just exactly what she --and her kids--wanted for their special gift.

Honestly, I was sad to see this project end! But how lovely to see, shortly afterward, a post on Bridget's instagram:

Custom Family Portrait in use
This personalized illustration of my husband and children acting out a story with bears is by the talented @gracieklumpp This is probably my most favorite thing that I’ve ever given someone as a gift. And I LOVE giving gifts!!! This is so special to us.
— Bridget


Working with families like the Parmenter's make me feel like the luckiest illustrator ever--it truly is such a joy to hear and celebrate and tell your stories.

I'm getting ready to start a new batch of custom portraits for the holiday season, and I'd love for you and yours to be a part of it! 


All photographs courtesy of Bridget Parmenter of Charlie Little Photography