In addition to painting traditional “portraits” of your favorite toys, I’ve recently been dabbling in hand-cutting and printing stencils. What a challenge! I feel like I’m using the exact opposite side of my brain than I normally use to make art, and it seems to be good for me. I started with my new favorite motif, the classic Fisher-Price record player. I love to paint the toy turntable in particular because it draws upon my love of vintage toys while giving a nod to my long side-career as a dj. After experimenting with printing my record player stencil with airbrush, acrylic paint, and spray paint, I’ve moved on to some Little People figures, starting with the King and Queen from the classic Fisher-Price castle playset. I’m pricing my stencil pieces extremely affordably and keeping my etsy shop stocked with them as much as possible — they are moving fast, much to my delight! You can get directly to the stencil section of my shop here. I’d love to hear your ideas for future stencil projects!
8″x10″ acrylic on canvas, 2014. Here’s the story of two attempts to capture a family’s most infamous tale using toys and paint. Liza came to me with a fully realized idea for a Christmas gift for her grown daughter using Fisher-Price Little People figures and the classic blue and yellow Little People house. She hoped to portray a frightening and cathartic story from Liza’s daughter’s youth, in which Liza discovered the little girl climbing around on the rooftop outside an open window. We discussed the details and composition of the painting and Liza initially decided that she’d like a 5″x7″ canvas. It was a challenge to make sure we saw a good portion of the house and still were able to make out the details of the figures in this small format, but I did my best:
However, Liza had hoped to see much more of the house in the painting, and felt that my zooming in on the figures did not accurately convey the dangerousness of the situation. She also asked that I alter the mother’s facial expression to show surprise or horror. We decided to re-do the whole thing in on an 8×10 canvas vertically so that the height of the house would be evident. That did the trick, and when I delivered the painting to Liza in person she seemed delighted! I’m so glad we were ultimately able to convey the gravity of such an important family drama to Liza’s satisfaction.
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!)
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. 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!
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.
9″x12″ acrylic, 2013. This assignment combines two of my favorite portrait categories: The couple’s toy portrait and the Fisher-Price Little People family portrait! What could be a more romantic gift for a couple who both love classic ’70’s and ’80’s toys? Kerry tells me that Kate played with her Little People village constantly when she was a child, and that Kate’s fiancé Pete is a connoisseur of vintage toys. Kerry commissioned this painting as a gift for her sister Kate for her upcoming May wedding. I modified classic Fisher-Price figures to show Pete’s goatee, Kate’s hair color and recently-acquired glasses, and Kelly’s choice of clothing color for the two of them. Here’s to a long, happy life together for this fun-loving couple!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. Amy first contacted me via etsy nearly a year ago, and we built up to the making of this Fisher-Price Little People family portrait via a slow-motion conversation. I’m actually glad it took us this long to get it going, because, by the time Amy sent me a current photo of her family, her little boy had grown from babyhood into a fully-formed toddler complete with lovely strawberry-blonde hair! This made it easy to choose the classic orange-bodied boy with wispy red hair and a sweet smile to stand for Amy’s son. I modified the standard yellow haired/blue bodied “mom” figure to have brown hair to match Amy’s, but her husband is well represented by the green-clad “dad” just as he is!
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.