Auburn helped artist turn dream into reality

Kate Bradley in her studio

Portrait artist Kate Bradley is no stranger to making a mess. “Growing up, I would paint on anything I could get my hands on, including our wood furniture.” Starting in kindergarten, where she aced finger-painting, she dreamed of becoming an artist.

Although Bradley says she had the opportunity to attend prestigious art schools as an undergrad, she chose Auburn because she wanted a “real college experience that would include art,” not the other way around. Starting out majoring in graphic design, she quickly switched majors to studio art when she walked by a figure painting class taking place. “I just thought, 'I know I’m good at drawing and painting. I’ll only ever be so-so at graphic design.' I knew I had to switch.”

Playing to her strengths turned out to be the right move. Her art professors at Auburn, like Prof. Jeffrey Lewis, helped develop and hone her natural ability. Bradley won the Dean’s Choice Award in 2007 for her painting, “Escaping Balthus,” which is now part of the permanent collection in the College of Liberal Arts.

After graduation, Bradley continued to paint, working on developing a portfolio of portrait clients. Working as an administrative assistant for several years, Bradley was eventually able to make the leap to full-time artist. She consistently books a full commission calendar for her portraits of children each year. Bradley credits her time at Auburn with giving her real-world skills that she could turn into a career. “The faculty encourages you to purse your own artistic interests. At Auburn, I was able to learn classical drawing techniques that have become so beneficial to me as a portrait artist. I wouldn’t be doing this today if it weren’t for that formal training.”

Bradley, who now lives in Lynchburg, Va., says that being an Auburn alumna has opened many doors, “As an artist especially, it makes you more relatable. What’s even better, many of my Auburn connections have ended up becoming clients. War Eagle!”

For more information about Bradley, or to request a commission, visit: 


Last Updated: October 25, 2019