8″x10″ 2013, acrylic on canvas. Well, that was quite the holiday rush! I think I painted a portrait a day for a solid 4 weeks! I had absolutely no time to make blog posts, so I’ll be playing catch up a bit this week. I thought I’d start by showing you what is probably my favorite dog portrait of the season (and it was really mostly dogs rather than toys, which was a lovely change of pace!) When I saw the beautiful source photo that Jessica sent me to work from I think I actually cheered. Jessica’s Great Dane puppy is named Nola, but her nickname is “Crazy.” Jessica describes her as the “most loving, cuddly, nosey, gentle giant you will ever meet.” Up next: More dogs!
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…
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″x10″ acrylic, 2013. Fourteen-year-old Kiki, whose real name is Madeline, can almost always be found at the feet of one Shelby’s four children. The family compares her to Nana from the Peter Pan stories, as she has watched over the little ones all their lives. One of the kids’ first word was “Kiki!” Her face has grayed in recent years and she is probably deaf, but Shelby suspects Kiki might just be ignoring her at this point. I recently painted a portrait of Shelby’s family in the guise of classic Little People… if only Fisher-Price had made a little pug figure!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. It was a pleasure and an honor to paint this memorial for Jake, a beautiful Boykin spaniel. The portrait will be a gift from Joyce to her brother, who’s beloved dog passed unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Jake was trained to hunt and Joyce asked me to be sure to include the two dove feathers in his fur that could be seen in her wonderful source photo. Joyce learned about my work through her friend Sami, whose dogs Sadie and Pepper I painted last year.
I was honored to paint this memorial portrait of Toga, a boxer who belonged to Michael and Stephen from 2007 until his passing this past January. Michael shared this history of their beloved dog:
“He was found as a sick and emaciated stray in Philadelphia when he was around 2 years old. From there a Boxer rescue organization found a foster home for him in Malta. That couple nursed him back to health and we adopted him in the summer of 2007 as a companion to a puppy boxer we’d gotten the year before. He was with us for almost 6 years. He was the most strong willed dog I’ve ever met but also exceptionally loyal, goofy and loving. He spent so many summer days working with me in the front yard that the neighbors came to call him the Mayor of Foxhall (our street). Last year he was diagnosed with a heart condition that we were treating. The picture you painted was taken the day before he passed in January. He had been running around the beach at a home we’d just purchased on Cape Cod. He was healthy and active up until his very last day. That night after we’d returned to NY a valve in his heart failed and he passed quietly. I’m sure that he’ll go down as the most unique dog we’ve ever owned.”
This painting was commissioned by Michael as a gift for Stephen’s birthday. Michael tells me that Toga was the inspiration for their friend Tim’s adoption of Olive the boxer, whose present-day and puppyhood portraits I painted earlier this year!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. Becky was the lucky winner in a custom portrait giveaway hosted by Casey of the wonderful blog Moosh In Indy and Babble a couple of months ago. This 1970’s Knickerbocker Toys pup was purchased with Becky’s own money in a department store when she was in first grade, and has been her “security blanket” and confidant ever since. He looks quite Snoopy-esque, but was probably not a licensed Peanuts product. As a child, Becky dried her tears on his ears, and he later proved to be a sympathetic listener to her tales of teen angst. After her mother taught her to sew, Becky made him a little night shirt. She considered having him wear for the painting, but wanted to showcase the red and yellow shirt that drew her to him originally. After patiently enduring sporadic periods of storage, Puppy Love now holds a place of honor upon the bed in Becky’s guest room.
I posted a photo of this portrait on FaceBook earlier today, and immediately heard from a friend that she had had the same exact stuffed dog growing up and felt equally as passionate about it. She regaled me at length with stories of desperate searches for him whenever he was lost and of pushing him in a little stroller alongside her friends and their babydolls. It’s fascinating to hear about such a cheerfully innocuous stuffed toy inspiring so much devotion!
9″x12 acrylic on board, 2013. This epic Mother’s Day portrait features the favorite childhood toys of five grown-up siblings. It will be given by Jennifer, whose yellow doll is shown here in a restored state… it is presently a faded and faceless shadow of its former self! One of Jennifer’s brothers carried the white dog with him everywhere. The blue bear was given to another brother when he was born, and the floppy lamb belonged to Jennifer’s sister. The green Baby Bop from the Barney show was the favorite of another sister, a huge fan of the program as a kid. I love the idea of each member of a family represented in a portrait by the object he or she treasures most!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. The name “Sadie means “mercy” or “princess” if you look it up, but shouldn’t this definition be updated to include “early 21st century adored canine?” I’ve painted many a beautiful dog named Sadie! This pup belongs to Mary’s dear friend, who loves gardening almost as much as she loves her Lhasa Apso. Sadie is pictured here relaxing in her favorite spot among the foliage while her owner prunes and plants. This painting will be a gift from Mary, who has commissioned some of my most interesting projects over the years! Here’s Mary’s own dog in a Santa Suit, and, for her children, portraits of CatDog, a Rugrat, and the Toy Story Alien!
5″x7″ acrylic, 2013. As an incredibly thoughtful and clever Valentine’s Day gift for his wife, Tim commissioned a pair of portraits of the couple’s beloved boxer Olive. The first painting depicts Olive as a puppy, and this one shows her as she is today, a loveable “smush” usually found sprawled upon the couch.