Category: Toy Portraits

Custom portraiture and paintings of Sonja’s toys

LuLu’s Bobo

I’ve painted many Jellycat bunnies, but the story attached to this little guy is particularly moving. He belongs to Boothe’s daughter Lulu, whose birth marked the end of a period of immense loss and sorrow for the family. Lulu’s “spunky, little wildflower spirit” reminds Boothe of Isaiah 61: “[He will] provide for those who grieve… bestow on them a crown of wildflowers instead of ashes.” She describes Lulu, who is almost five, as “feisty and hilarious and quite literally does things – EVERY thing – in her own remarkably funky fashion.” Bobo the bunny, originally called Bo, was chosen early on as the favorite from among a slew of Jellycat toys awaiting Lulu’s arrival, and has remained her “one true love.” Bobo has travelled to at least twenty states (including Hawaii!) at Lulu’s side and is often found dressed in doll clothes or Lulu’s own baby clothes. In this portrait, Bobo sports Lulu’s own monogrammed baby shoes! Boothe recently came upon Lulu rocking Bobo, singing to him and attempting to teach him his colors. “I wonder how long she’ll love him,” Boothe wrote me, “He’s been a precious reminder of the sweetness that Lulu is. In my own way, I’ll always cherish Bobo, too, which I think is why I so wanted this portrait to be done.”

Little People Portrait: Shelby’s Family

8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. As I joked several times while this Fisher-Price family portrait was in process was in process, it’s my first “six-figure” commission! I promise I won’t say it again. Represented here are Shelby’s 20-month-old twins Finn and Jane (brunette boy, blonde girl,) 6-year-old Molly dressed in blue, and Tanner, 8, sporting a jaunty orange cap. Shelby’s husband’s blonde brush-cut is approximated here in molded plastic, and I altered the vintage Fisher-Price blonde “mom” figure for Shelby’s dark hair. In order to make her preferences clear while were planning out this painting, Shelby made me an impressive photographic mock-up in which hair and faces on the classic toys were switched all around… It was incredibly helpful! Perhaps since Shelby is local she can teach me the ways of Photoshop beyond re-sizing images! Shelby says she never imagined that she’d end up having such a big, happy family and she’s interested to see how the kids view the portrait when they are older. (As of now, they are just indignant about the fact that Mom has no nose!)

Bunny/Nappy/Foo Foo

5″x7″ acrylic on canvas, 2013. Amy’s little girl is turning one this coming November, and as a birthday gift Amy decided to honor the stuffed bunny blanket that has brought her daughter so much comfort throughout her first year. The bunny is known alternately as “Bunny,” “Nappy” (due to his magical sleep-encouraging powers,) and “Foo Foo” (as in the pursuer of field mice, I assume.) The baby chews on his ears to fall asleep, and when she learned to crawl, she made her way to the nursery, pulled herself up at the crib, and reached through the slats to grab him! By my count this is the tenth pink bunny blanket-head” I’ve painted!

Fisher-Price Record Players

8″x12″ acrylic on fiberboard, 2013. Like most of us, I wear many different hats. One of my other “hats” is actually a pair of headphones, as I’ve worked as a dj playing house music in clubs and at raves for the past 14 years. Consequently, I have a default fondness for the turntable motif (despite the fact that actual turntables are practically obsolete in modern clubs!) I’m very fortunate that my mother saved some of best 1970s Fisher-Price toys, including this classic wind-up record player. Can’t you just hear “Edelweiss” and “Camptown Races?” I couldn’t resist painting a pair of them side-by-side as a wink at my “other job.”

Sharon’s Little People Family Portrait

8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. When she found me on etsy, a portrait of her family as Fisher-Price Little People seemed irresistibly inevitable to Sharon, a vintage Little People collector! We modified classic figures to better represent Sharon, her husband, their sons Patrick and Shannon, and daughter Jasmine. We used the standard red-capped tyke for both boys, dressing one in blue and one in yellow for differentiation. The hairstyle on this little girl, originally yellow, appears here in dark brown to match Jasmine’s. The mother figure’s yellow hair and dad’s classic dark brown have both been altered to meet in the middle as medium-blonde. My summer sale on Little People family group portraits continues!

Mary Poppins and Blankie

5″x7″ acrylic, 2013. This stuffed Mary Poppins doll and blue-patterned blanket belong to Alistair, who will turn four next week. On a recent family trip to Disneyland, the “real” Mary Poppins was delighted to meet him and tickled to see his beloved doll! Mary blew him kisses and bestowed her little effigy with some special magic, which she keeps in her hat, to stave off bad dreams. Alistair has had his Mary Poppins doll for about two years, and the “Blankie” ever since he was a baby. Alistair’s mother Stephanie had me paint big brother Graham’s favorite things a couple of years ago, and so now the boys will have a matched set of portraits! The painting will be a gift for Alistair’s upcoming birthday.


9″x12″ acrylic on canvas, 2013. My very favorite thing about this stuffed Jellycat hedgehog is that one-year-old Jack carries him in his mouth by the nose. I wish that I had set up a tag at some point for this phenomenon, as I’m sure I’ve had several other portrait subjects that were transported in this manner but can’t recall which ones… I’d love to look back over them and see if there’s a particular trait that invites this behavior! Jenny Witte of the wonderful Mamatoga blog came by this custom portrait at an auction benefitting the Children’s Museum of Saratoga. It will go nicely alongside the painting she won last year at the same event! Big sister Levy’s stuffed bunny and brother Finn’s stuffed pup are featured in my previous portrait for the family, who are clearly Jellycat devotees. Here are Levy and Finn painting their favorite toys at a children’s paint-your-own-toy-portrait event I recently hosted as part of the Saratoga Arts Fest “Kids Do Art” program… We are so lucky in the Saratoga area to have blogs like Mamatoga and folks like Jenny who support local arts and family businesses!

Erin’s Little People Family Portrait

8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. I’ve painted many a Fisher-Price Little People family portrait, but have never used the iconic yellow-bibbed baby until now! This figure was one of my favorites as a child because it reminded me of a perfectly cooked hardboiled egg, which I suppose could just as easily make someone dislike it! Erin’s commissioned this portrait of herself, her husband, their baby girl, and their twin girl and boy. Both twins are blonde, she told me, but her daughter’s hair is a bit lighter in color. I took some liberties with the standard Fisher-price palette to achieve her son’s coiffure and Erin’s light brown hair, but the rest of the family is represented by existing, classic Little People.

Mister Carrot

9″x12″ acrylic, 2013. I adore a generations-old, threadbare toy, but imagine my delight at getting to paint something this quirky and colorful! This large, puffy carrot was purchased at Ikea by Amy for her adorable youngest son Ike as a desperate measure to entertain and calm him while the family shopped. At the time, Ike and the carrot were roughly the same size! These days, Ike really prefers all things Elmo in terms of toys, but the carrot has evolved into an indispensable nighttime pillow companion. This portrait marks Ike’s very recent second birthday. Here he is, having just run to get his carrot after recognizing it in the portrait…

Because we lack an Ikea in our immediate area, I was not familiar with this recent line of toys, but here’s a painting of an ill-fated bear I bought on an Ikea excursion about ten years ago. Also, if you are not one of the gazillion devoted readers of Amy’s fabulous blog, you are missing some of the funniest writing on the internet about life with small children!

Cassie’s BearBear

8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. One of my daughter’s very closest friends in her pre-k class is Cassie, an adorable girl with dark ringlets, dimples, and fabulous Lisa Loeb glasses. Cassie is often accompanied at drop-off by this well-worn bear. A gift from Cassie’s great-aunt, the bear originally known as “Fuzzy Was He” came to be called “BearBear” as he grew more and more beloved and less and less fuzzy. When Cassie was a baby, she would idly twirl BearBear’s fur in her finger while sucking her thumb. The fur plucking and twirling continues, so Cassie’s mom Catherine decided to commission a portrait to preserve BearBear’s present appearance before he becomes even more fur-less and floppy… in order to pose him I had to employ some strategically-placed tape to hold him upright in the chair!