Losing a son or daughter at birth is one of the most painful experiences a parent can go through. Finding ways to cope can be long and arduous. Artist Colleen Jaftha helps parents find healing by creating dreamy portraits of the lost children in a collection she calls "Sonny’s Angels" (it is named after her son).
“It is a privilege to be able to meet these precious angels--I work very closely with the photos over weeks to get the drawings and likeness as best I can,” she told Kidspot.
Sonny’s Angels are part of One Sonny Day where Colleen creates beautiful embossed portraits of children for their parents. She works on each portrait for weeks to be able to fully recreate the “angels.” She feels she knows “their little spirits by the end of the process,” she adds.
“I often have tears as I feel for the heartbreak of the families, but the portrait is always finished in a way that I can feel the love the parents have for their child. This is what I focus on capturing,” she said.
Colleen understands the parents’ pain because she herself suffered a miscarriage. “It wasn’t spoken about in the past, it still isn’t spoken about for a lot of people. It’s a really lonely process,” she says. That’s why her artworks, often displayed proudly by the parents, are a way to share the child to other people. Essentially, the portraits are as much instruments of healing as they are a celebration of life that was.
Every child portrait she makes for One Sonny Day is a work of art. She embosses details into the paper and draws using watercolor, ink and acrylics. No two are ever the same. Though her custom portrait orders have a six-month wait, she gives priority to Sonny’s Angels and books them in directly at the time.
The pieces in Sonny’s Angels also include children who succumbed to sickness and those involved in tragic accidents. The proceeds from each commissioned portrait is donated to the charity Sands Queensland, a community of bereaved parents.
Here are more of Colleen's work from One Sonny Day: