Charles M. Kerins - Biography

Charles Kerins



Charles Kerins as a Child

Born in December 1915 in Brookline MA to Charles and Annabelle Kerins, he is a Graduate of Mass College of Art and Northeastern University. He received his Master Degree from Bridgewater State College later in life. He was an omniverous reader who learned something new everyday of his life. He could be found most Sundays at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts or the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, studying the paintings he so loved.

Raised in Brookline, MA, he summered in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. His father, a successful businessman,  who died of a heart attack in 1928 when Charles was 12.  

Charles Kerins' father Charles Sr. and older brother Lamson (in chair) young Charles is drawing by the rail, and brother Paul at his father's knee, at Old Orchard Beach Maine house.

Charles Kerins was raised by his widowed mother Annabelle O'Connor Kerins, and was the second of four children, three boys and a girl, all of whom graduated from college..  As a young man he was a State Champion in Decathlon, and was a semi-pro Boxer, which he reluctantly quite because he feared damaging his hand.  He worked his way through college as a starter at the Wonderland Dog Track. Charles Kerins served during www. as a TroopTrainer at Fort Sampson, NY. His rank was US Navy CPO; he had a life long respect  or soldiers and sailors as a result of this experience.  Charles Kerins married twice and had nine healthy children, five sons and four daughters.

Kerins was 6'3" and had a powerful physical presence and a wry wit.  He loved the ocean, sugar, cornflakes, a good roast, ice cream and being Irish. He had many aquaintences, but few close friends. He was gregarious, but shunned as many social engagements as possible, much to the frustration of his wife. His closest companions were the artists and authors whose work he loved.  A notable exception was his friend Vida Carney, a NY City fashion illustrator who he met in art school. Kerins loved her quick wit, kindness, and sense of humor, as did his wife Kae. The two artists remained lifelong friends, her portrait can be seen on this website's Portrait page.  Kerins believe that women were stronger than men, and were the backbone of culture. He taught his daughters to trust their own perceptions, be independant, and seek their dreams.  

Charles Kerins was married to Kathryn,  also of Brooklne,  Kae became his agent, his studios were at Boston, Scituate and Pocasset, Massachusetts. Scituate being his main studio, (see the portrait page for a description of the studio). Kerins used many local people as models and always preferred to work from life, he also shot and developed speed graphic photos of his models as reference material to use while painting, after the models had left the studio. 

Kerins most often used models were local people from Scituate, Cohasset, and Pocasset,  MA. among them were;  Joan Mulcahey, Richard Murphy, Bubby Turner, Patricia Quilty, Jock Burroughs, Kae Kerins, Mary Tirrell, and Chuck Goddard (later known as Mark Goddard, star of the TV show "Lost in Space"), Michael Freda, Steve Freda, Ruth Goddard, Frank Landry, Barbra Taska, Scott Dummer, Peggy Dummer, the Gartland boys, the Jones boys,   Dona, himself, and his oldest children with Kae,  Laura, Leslie, Charlie and Dianne.  He chose models who typified the era. In later life he painted wonderful portraits of his and second wife, Dona's children; Craig, Paul, Brian, Michael and Kimberly Kerins. He loved his children dearly and often did pencil sketches of them. 

Kerins is a classic American Illustrator whose work appeared in Saturday Evening Post, Look Magazine, Life Magazine, National Geographic.  He was the cover artist for The Red Sox Yearbook, Catholic Boy & Catholic Miss magazines, and the Converse Yearbook, for many years.

He also painted for Converse Sneaker, William Barry Jackets, Rock of Ages, Milton Bradley, Houghton Miflin, Ginn Publishers, Donnellys, Vermont Life, Dennison, Bell Telephone, Moxie, Duran Chocolates, Schraafts, Hood's Dairy,  Notra Dame University, Holy Cross Press, The Gas Company and Red Feather Agendy, among  others.  Kerins not only painted the pictures, but created the concepts and narrative imagery for them.

He was named as one of "America's Top 100 Illustrators".
Portraits in Oils comprise much of Charles Kerins body of work, but there are also pencil portraits and charcoals as well.  Many of the Oil Portraits are in University, Hospital and Institutional collections. Many more portaits are priivately owned and have not been seen by the general public. 

Kerins portraits in oils, including: John F. Kennedy, Laura Bone, Richard Cardinal Cushing, Ted Williams, Annabelle O'Connor, Abby Willowroot, Kathryn L. Kerins, Arthur Carr Wiegand, Wilfred L. O'Leary, Elizabeth Ashton, Pope John XXIII, Pope Pius XII, and many others notables including institutional portraits of physicians and educators.


Among his favorite artists were; Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Titian, John Singer Sargent,  John Constable, John Singleton Copley, Turner, Degas, Gaugan,  VanGogh, Monet, and the Illustrators: Howard Pyle,  Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, and Harry Anderson. Although classically trained Charles Kerins made no distinction between "painting" and illustration", which he considered an artificial, prejudicial and a ridiculous affectation. 


                   Charles Kerins & Eldest son Charlie .    .   .   .   .  Charles Kerins, artist

Charles Kerins & eldest son Charlie 

Sadly, both Charlie and Dianne have passed away, as have Charles, Kathryn and Dona.

Charles Kerins Children

Charles Kerins Children

Craig,  Brian,  Laura Abby, Charlie (insert),  Michael-Conor,  Dianne,  Paul,  Leslie,  Kimberly
The Kerins grandchildren; Jennifer, Thomas, Samuel, Alexander, Lily, Ethan, Sean, Matthew,  Kerins great grandchildren; Darien, Tara, Misha, Matthe Nathaniel, Emma, and Amelia. They all carry the Kerins artistic legacy and deep rooted creativity and love of Art into the future. 



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Can You Help? . . .  We are currently collecting images of Charles Kerins Portraits, but only have a few of the hundreds of portraits painted between 1940 and 1988.  If you have a Kerins portrait or if you modeled for Charles Kerins artwork, we would like to hear from you. We are also looking for originals and printed editions of the artist's work.  E-mail:


This Bio is not a standard Bio, as I have attempted to give a fuller view of the Artist, his life, and his tastes, as opposed a more usual resume style Bio. Both of his wives had substance abuse issues, but I shall not go into those here, except to say, that these issues had a profound affect on his carer as an artist. Since Charles Kerins is now deceased, he no longer needs a resume.  He was my father.


Charles Kerins Portraits

An American Childhood

Catholic Boy Covers

More Catholic Boy Covers

Advertising Illustrations

Red Sox Yearbook Covers

Liberty and Other Artwork

 Art for Milton Bradley 

 Artist's Bio 

Charles Kerins Portraits * An American Childhood * Catholic Boy Covers * More Catholic Boy Covers * Advertising Illustrations * Red Sox Yearbook Covers * Liberty and Other Artwork * Cardinal Cushing Portrait * Cardinal OHara Portrait * Bassil Fitzgerald Portrait * Father Corr Portrait * Father Sheehan Portrait * Father Sullivan Portrait * President Kennedy Portrait * Congressman Martin Portrait * www.CPO Aviator Portrait * More Catholic Boy Covers *
"Art speaks the soul of its culture" ~ Abby Willowroot

Copyright Charles Kerins and Abby Willowroot 1950 - 2010 ~ All Rights Reserved 
Some images used with permission of Copyright holders.