11″x14″ acrylic on canvas, 2014. It’s been a shamefully long time since I’ve posted to this site, but it’s for a great reason — I’ve been so busy with various art projects that I’ve barely had a moment to sit down and do so! I will catch up, or at least archive some key pieces here as soon as I can. This portrait of three very interesting vintage dolls was my entry for this year’s Trask art show and auction. This event is hosted by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs. A requirement for submission to this event was that the artwork reference or take inspiration from Saratoga or its history, so of course I sought out toys that tick this box. Kathleen Coleman, the curator of the Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa, was kind enough to let me arrange and photograph this bizarre group of toys from the Saratoga County Historical Society’s collection. The three jointed, hand-painted porcelain dolls belonged to the donor’s grandmother. I was fascinated by the strangeness of the wolf’s (apparently) human, female body and the witchy face and odd scale of the grandmother! The painting sold at auction, but I will be revisiting them again for a new painting that will be shown alongside the actual dolls in my upcoming October exhibit at the Brookside.
I love a challenge and I love wedding toy portraits, so this project was lots of fun! Just a week before leaving for her sister’s wedding on the Isle of Wight, it occurred to Rachel that a portrait of the bride and groom’s favorite childhood playthings would make a unique and sentimental gift for the occasion. She quickly contacted the couples’ parents to secure similarly-lit photos of the toys as well as their relative measurements so that I could create the illusion of their togetherness in the portrait. This well-loved Winnie the Pooh was given to Rachel’s sister Sarah at her Christening 33 years ago, and the classic Snoopy and attached (?) blanket belong to her beau. The painting was finished, framed, and wired just in the nick of time, Rachel and her adorable son Arthur stopped by my “studio” to pick it up before heading to the airport!
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.”
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.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. So first of all, did you know that Monchhichi is spelled that way, with the two consecutive h’s? I didn’t until I began researching this project. Seems like an odd marketing choice, but there you go! This is the second family portrait commissioned by Dominic for his wife as Mother’s Day gifts. In last year’s version there were only Dominic, Cassandra, and Isaac, each represented by classic Fisher-Price Little People. With the addition of their new baby girl, Noa, this past August, Dominic decided to have a new portrait made of the family of four. I look forward to more of Dominic’s clever projects in the future as his family continues to grow!
Watch this video at your own risk — it will be stuck in your head FOREVER.
6″x8″ acrylic on cardboard, 2013. This little Peter Rabbit from Eden Toys belonged to my husband when he was a child, and I have always considered it to be an absolutely perfect example of proportion and design in the realm of stuffed toys. Even though I’m somewhat desensitized to the charms of most stuffed animals these days, I still find this bunny to be completely adorable from every angle! I’ve even painted him twice… the first time was in 2009, when I was cobbling together my toy portrait business. Looking at the two portraits together, I’m struck by how my style has evolved over the course of nearly 400 paintings!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2013.
Believe it or not, the nose on this classic stuffed Snoopy was intact when he was discovered in a collection of donated toys at a public library ONE YEAR AGO. It was loved off by Isaiah, three-year-old son of the formidable and hilarious Twitter and Instagram presence Michael, aka @DadBeard. The Snoopy, known as “Boop,” was in fact a replacement for the one Michael was given as a baby. Michael has four children, and he had passed down the original Boop to Isaiah, the elder of his two boys. Isaiah adored it and would tweak its nose to relax. When Boop was lost at a park, the family somehow stumbled upon an exact replacement at their library in Houston. When the new, equally beloved Boop’s nose was ultimately tweaked off, Isaiah moved on to scratching at the fur, resulting in the threadbare patch you see here. I hope this particular Snoopy will hold together for the next generation! If you participate in Twitter or Instagram, I highly recommend following @dadbeard and his family’s funny, quirky, and touching journey. Here’s Michael’s photo of Isaiah, Boop, and the portrait…
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. For this custom family portrait, Adam had to decide which vintage Fisher-Price Little People best represent his family. So that’s Adam’s oldest son, Dean, in the front with the baseball cap, and his strawberry-blonde son, Jon, on the right. But Adam figured that his wife, Jen, most resembled a little freckle-faced girl Little Person he’d seen in a photo I’d sent him. “I’m informed that’s a kid,” he wrote me, “so perhaps you could put freckles on a brown-haired woman?” I love a modification challenge! The classic “mom” features and the cheery freckles combined nicely. And for Adam himself? “Non-descript dude (classic green-bodied ‘dad’) works for me!” The portrait will be a Christmas gift from Adam to Jen.
20″x24″ acrylic, 2012. You read that right — this painting of tiny little toys is quite huge! In fact, their scale is enlarged about 500%, according to my math-inclined husband. I’ve been taking some liberties with colors and style within the general design of the classic Little People to more closely represent the members of the family members in these custom vintage Fisher-Price family portraits . In this case, Jolene, who found me on Etsy, has been given a brownish head of hair that (as far as I can find) was not actually made in combination with a red dress. Jolene is planning her nursery decor for her baby twin girls, who will be born in December. Initially, she wanted to order a large print of my classic Little People trio painting, but loved the idea of having a piece specifically representing her family (and their dog, Rex!) I absolutely love the tension in scale of this painting — I never would have thought to paint such small figures so large, and the effect is amazing! Great idea, Jolene!
7″x8″ acrylic on cardboard, 2012. This cymbal-crashing monkey regularly leads a parade around our house… he is followed by wind-up robots, waddling chickens, swirling teacups, disembodied walking heads, and countless cats which showed up the year Sonja decided all she wanted for Christmas was “a wind-up kitty.” He’s always seemed pretty innocuous to me, but, upon seeing this painting, a friend just reminded me of the menacing monkey from Toy Story 3 and it’s sort of hard for me to look at him the same way! This portrait is currently featured in my exhibit at Uncommon Grounds in Albany.