Get Inspired by Michael Childers

Michael Childers, Candy Darling, 1972, gelatin silver print, sheet: 13 3/4 × 12 1/8 inches, image: 13 3/4 × 12 1/8 inches. Gift of Michael Childers, 2016.85.

Learn more about Michael Childers

This month we celebrate Pride Month to commemorate the June 1969 Stonewall Riots that sparked the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. We also celebrate the achievements of those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender-fluid designations and honor everyone’s unique individuality.

This week's activity focuses on representing one's identity through portraiture. A portrait might be a close representation but not necessarily so; it can depict someone or serve as a window into one's individual expression. It can also serve to document a subject at a certain moment in their lifetime. Michael Childers has made a career out of photographing people and creating portraits. His long connection to the world of celebrity has given him access to many iconic film stars, artists, actors, and writers of our time.


Paint, draw, photograph, or collage the likeness of you, a friend, a family member, or someone you admire.


Michael Childers, Catherine Deneuve, 1981, gelatin silver print, sheet: 14 × 10 7/8 inches, image: 11 × 9 inches. Gift of artist, 2016.68.

Option 1

There are a number of ways to create portraits. Traditionally, they show a person's face, which is drawn, painted, sculpted, or photographed. Portraits can also be made up of representational objects, such as words, images, or sentimental items. If you’re interested in exploring more traditional portraits, try sketching your subject. Consider the most important aspects to depict, such as characteristics, features, emotions. Also keep in mind the background, the subject’s pose, attire, and how this captures the most important things about them. Depending on who you select, you may need to ask permission first.

Michael Childers, Andy Warhol in his New York Studio No. 2 (from the Lost Warhols Portfolio), 1976, gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches edition 16/20, portfolio edition 7/10. Gift of the artist, 3-2002.2.

Option 2

Consider someone you admire, perhaps an author, a historical figure, or someone in your community. Are there words that come to mind when you think of them? Write them down on a piece of paper.

Michael Childers, Robert Graham in his studio, Venice, California, 2003, C-type print, 11 x 14 inches. Gift of the artist, 38-2004.

Option 3

Often people are depicted in their surroundings, including their homes or work spaces. Artist Robert Graham, whose work is in the collection of Palm Springs Art Museum, is depicted here in his studio.

Option 4

If you choose to document yourself or create a self-portrait, you might take a picture with your camera or phone camera. Consider how a portrait is used to convey a message to the viewer through different gestures, poses, attire, backgrounds, and objects. Do you think all portraits are accurate representations of their subjects? You might also try creating a portrait using objects that you feel represent you, such as books, clothing, or mementos.