Kelly Anona Kerrigan – Documenting a life on canvas

I feel most alive and most connected to the world when I am creating.  In college, I fell in love with painting.  I received a very traditional art education as an undergrad, learning the foundations of painting, drawing, and sculpture.  Our studio time was spent exploring still life setups and the human figure.  In graduate school, I branched out and explored other ways to use materials while trying to find my own vision.  Through my exploration, I discovered that my work always come back to portraiture.


Anona 2010, oil on canvas

There is something about painting a portrait that feels like a special connection that I am making with my subject.  I want to invest the time to really see a person in a way that we don’t get to do on a day to day basis.  I use portraiture to explore identity and personality, and how much we can really know each other.  I feel a rush of adrenaline when a painting starts to form on the canvas, representing my personal relationship with and interpretation of the subject.


Anona 2011, oil on canvas

When my niece, Anona, was about 10 months old, I painted her portrait.  At the time, I wasn’t thinking past that initial portrait.  I just wanted to capture her as I knew her that day.  Anona is now 7 years old, and I have painted her portrait every year since she was born.  That first portrait started an ongoing project that, for me, is about more than painting.

Anona 2012, oil on canvas and Anona with her early portraits.

Anona and I live on opposite sides of the country, so I don’t see her very often.  The distance and time between visits make it seem like she is growing up so very fast.  It is amazing to see how much she changes and exciting to watch her grow into her own unique individual.  Each year, I try to capture her in a way that feels true to my interpretation of her, and shows her personality.  In a sense, the portraits become a representation not only of Anona, but of my relationship with her.


Anona 2013, oil on canvas


Anono 2014, oil on canvas

A theme that runs through my work is one of identity and what shapes our sense of who we are and how we present ourselves in this world.  By painting Anona each year, I am watching her grow up and become who she is, while creating a lasting document of milestones throughout her life.  All of the portraits of Anona live with her on the west coast.  While compiling these pictures of the paintings today, I realized that this is the first time that I’ve looked at them all together.  I love seeing them as a group and noticing how she changes from year to year.  I’m pretty sure she enjoys seeing herself on canvas, as well.   I am determined to add to this group every year, for as long as she will let me!


Anono 2015, oil on canvas

Anono with her 2016 portrait and Anono 2016, oil on canvas


Kelly Anona Kerrigan is an artist living and working in Boston’s Fort Point Artists’ Community.  She received a BFA in painting from Boston University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. In addition to painting, she also enjoys designing and making clothing and costumes.  Some of her favorite things in life are running, nail polish, and the Red Sox.  See more of her work at

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  1. sproiettistudio

    Amazing work! Always do what you love

  2. artsny99

    Very sweet portraits !

  3. Dylan Von-Bartschi

    Hey I’m just starting out on here, can anyone read some of my posts and give me some constructive criticism?

  4. Pratyay Chakraborty

  5. rohanjawal7

    Sketches are really nice👌👌👌👌

  6. tealfeatherstudiosblog

    Wow…So much better than plain old photos….beautiful and personal.

  7. thestylebabeblog


  8. Elba Flamenco

    These are beautiful! Not only do they capture the spirit of this little girl as she grows up, but they also document the growth of the artist.

  9. Jerod Killick

    I so love this concept! Watching the changes from year to year. Super cool. Cant wait to see more! Cheers

  10. choreographingthedream

    Beautiful work! I love the idea of capturing a subject year to year- it takes the school portrait concept to a whole new level.

  11. Kuki


  12. Chukwu Innocent

    Unequal poetry’s Posting

  13. crosscountrylifeblog

    Wow! Great!

  14. Jonathan Caswell

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  15. SumitOfficial

    Wonderful concept

  16. thestylebabeblog

    Wallah !!

  17. rubyrinsang


  18. Livin' in the Moment

    These are awesome.

  19. healingpilgrim

    What a beautiful process and idea, capturing the growth and changes in Anona’s expression too. She doesn’t yet appreciate the beauty of your gifts… Your portraits are beautiful!

  20. Clare Hopkins

    Wow – your work is incredible! Those depictions of Anono are breath-taking 🙂


  21. thesoaringbutterfly

    I love this idea. What a sweet and creative way to capture moments in your niece’s childhood!

  22. wanderer894

    Your paintings are truly amazing please check out my blog it’s full of my artwork that I have accumulated over two years

  23. Roxy

    Love your blog! I have nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award. Details here:

  24. checkacola (Matt)


  25. grooveradar

    If I could have one…so nice

  26. PowerfulFlashlightWoman

    Really nice thoughts and art.

  27. Namrata D Prabhakar

    It is like watching a journey.

  28. Dave Dally

    WOW! It’s cool

  29. hilda5462

    Lovely work! 🙂

  30. Hilary

    What a beautiful gift to your niece. It seems like they should all be in a book for her, about growing up. How exciting not to know where they will lead to, what she will become. I love the silly one of her in the glasses, too. Does she pick the pose for the portrait? I’ve just started doing some watercolor portraits. Love your work and thank you for sharing.

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