Tag: cat

BlaBla Circus Parade

18″x24″ acrylic, 2013. Oh boy, was this ever fun! It’s a rare treat when I am given wide artistic license and a unique, clever project! Stephanie’s children, Louden and Meta, absolutely love Blabla toys. When she decided to commission a large artwork as the focal-point for their playroom, she envisioned her kids’ favorite toys marching in a circus parade reminiscent of the wallpaper motif pictured below… Stephanie also sent the (above) photo of the children’s most beloved Blabla characters, and asked that I include at least five figures in the parade. She asked me to use a script-style similar to the one seen in the wallpaper for the words “Louden and Meta’s playroom,” which I painted in a similar deep red. Blabla dolls come in a wide range of sizes, so I felt free to play with the scale of the toys in within the parade scene… in fact, the giraffe in the center is actually taken from a mobile of very tiny animals! As I pack the painting up to ship off to Stephanie’s family, I’m tempted to use circus peanuts rather than Syrofoam…

Wind-Up Hello Kitty

5″x6″ acrylic on cardboard, 2012. A couple of years ago, whenever then-two-year-old Sonja was asked what she wanted for Christmas, she would only answer “A wind-up kitty.” My husband, who loves an internet hunt, ordered an assortment of waddling, jumping, and spinning cats. Sonja did not actually show much interest in any of them when she found mechanical kitties under the tree… I suspect that, to Sonja, a “wind-up kitty” sort of represented a Victorian, classic idea of what children recieved as gifts in books such as “The Night Before Christmas!” In the years since, we’ve gathered quite a collection of wind-up toys and have fun staging races and parades. This Hello Kitty is one of our favorites. Check out my wind-up monkey portrait here!

Pet Portrait: Oliver, Sophie, and Chex

8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. I knew I was in for a treat when I recieved the commission to paint this trio of pets from Andrew of Keep Albany Boring! Andrew is a phenomenal photographer, so I was sure to have beautiful, well-lit source material to paint from. How endearing is a huge dog who snuggles with cats? Ridiculous. The two cats, Oliver (white and caramel), Chex (black kitten,) and Sophie the dog belong to Andrew’s friends, who are also his roommates. The portrait was a gift for them for Christmas.


8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. I last saw Rayne, the recipient of this portrait, with my own eyes in 1996 when he was a sweet, chubby, tow-headed baby. He’s the son of my college friend Amy, and he’s now ten feet tall and about to enter Cornell University! …. Okay I fainted for a minute, but I’m back. A long-time fan of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Rayne collects the books and has always identified with the equally blonde Calvin. So it’s only natural that his favorite toy would be a stuffed tiger! Amy’s family has a lovely tradition of giving each other gifts at random occasions throughout the year rather than all at once at Christmas, so this will be given to Rayne perhaps as a symbol of transition from childhood into the world of college and beyond. Congratulations Rayne!

Spike, Kitty, Blue Bunny

8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. In this “symbolic” family portrait, the family members are represented by their favorite stuffed toys. This is one of two portraits commissioned by Paul for his wife Kathleen as gifts for Mother’s Day and her upcoming birthday, although Paul ended up growing impatient and gave her both on Mother’s Day! The droopy, laconic Spike has always been Kathleen’s favorite Peanuts character, and she’s had this stuffed toy since she was ten years old. Paul’s blue rabbit was a given to him on his first Easter. This stuffed cat only recently emerged as three-year-old Asa’s favorite, and Paul reckons that it’s because he resembles their own cat “New Kitty” (who retains his title beyond his actual newness!) I have the pleasure of knowing this family personally, and I can tell you that these toys strike me as amusingly accurate and appropriate stand-ins! Check back tomorrow for my portrait of adorable, red-headed, train-obsessed Asa.

Annabelle’s Kitty

8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Nothing makes a toy more irresitable than the magic a parent can work to bring it to life! Annabelle, who turns two next month, has loved this kitty ever since her father imbued it with a frisky, mischievous personality. Annabelle’s mother, Jessica, tells me that Kitty is a great comforter and travel companion — he’s been to Cozamel, Key West, Grand Cayman, and Disney World! Annabelle ends each day by snuggling Kitty to her in bed and telling him, “I love you to the moon and back, Kitty.” As I worked on this portrait, it occured to me that this is only the third commission I’ve ever gotten to paint a stuffed cat, our of nearly 300 toy portraits (excluding paintings of our family’s own toy kitties)… isn’t that odd? I have always thought that cat faces just don’t translate well into stuffed toys. There is always some curve or proportion that gets lost and leaves the toy cat looking sort of pinched and unpleasant. The minimalist perfection of Hello Kitty is an exception to this phenomenon, as is, of course, Annabelle’s Kitty.


9″x12″ acrylic, 2011. It’s so much fun to paint toys for grown folks like Mary’s two sons, who are 21 and 23. The boys came of age in the high Nickelodeon era, and so, naturally, their favorite toys were both cute and slightly disturbing. Mary ordered portraits of each as Christmas presents for them, and was kind enough to mail me the actual toys rather than photos. The first of the two paintings depicts a stuffed CatDog, who comes equipped with a ratchet-y, bendable back which renders him slightly poseable. His cheery expression(s) made him very pleasant to spend time with and I’ll miss having him around!

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Pet Portrait: Zoe

5″x7″ acrylic, 2011. I’ve painted both of Colleen’s childrens’ loveys, and I’m so happy that she also asked me to paint her dear, departed pet, Zoe. It’s a wonderful change for me to get to paint actual animals from time to time! Zoe was a beloved lap-cat who would even tolerate taking walks on a leash (although it often seemed as if Zoe were walking Colleen.) It’s just how cats can get comfortable just about anywhere — I mean, she’s using the top edge of a wooden chair for a pillow!

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Grey Kitten

8″x10″ acrylic, 2011. I love to paint toys that resemble our family’s own favorites, and this grey kitten is so similar to Sonja’s beloved Kitty that I could practically feel her floppy, fuzzy weight in my hands as I worked. This custom portrait was won by Mandana at an auction benefiting a pre-school. She chose her niece Lola’s best-loved stuffed cat as the subject, nestled into Lola’s favorite blanket. I was invited to donate a painting to this auction by Lisa, who cleverly displayed my portrait of her own daughter’s toy at the event as incentive!

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Max and Jack

11″x14″ acrylic, 2010. This painting of Max and his cat is not a toy portrait of course, but is a follow-up to my painting of Max’s sister Lilly and her toy frog. Max’s mother Wendy says that Max does not have a particular favorite toy, but he is very attached to Jack the cat. She says that Max slings Jack over his shoulder and carries him around that way, and Jack doesn’t seem to mind a bit!