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…
5″x7″ acrylic, 2011. Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen it all in the way of the blanket-head, that clever amalgam of stuffed animal and flatness… but this froggy blanket is new to me. I love her polka-dots, her bow, and the sweet expression on her face. Stephanie ordered this little painting as a Christmas gift for her daughter Lily, whose Nana purchased this frog because she couldn’t resist its name: “Lily-Mae.” It did turn out to be a fateful match, because Lily adored it from the age of about 4 months. There are several back-up Lily-Maes, but SO FAR Lily is not interested in them (we’ll see how long that lasts!). For Lily’s first birthday, Stephanie created a Lily-Mae the Frog themed party. As a little baby, Lily insisted on falling asleep with the frog’s blanket over her face, much to the terror of her mother. Even now at 20 months, Lilly sleeps with it tucked firmly under her arm all night. Lily-Mae is no longer allowed out of the house, after a couple of scary times when she was lost. Stephanie tells me that, upon seeing this portrait on Christmas morning, Lily kissed it and said “Awww!” This was one of a handful of local holiday orders that I had this year… There was a wonderful afternoon just before Christmas in which Stephanie and several others all came to pick up their portraits, and their excitement made me feel a bit like Santa Claus!
5″x7″ acrylic, 2011. Continuing the recent twin toy trend around here is this pair of adorable floppy frogs! Barbara’s two children each have a pair of beloved toys, one of which was intended to be the back-up for the other. Despite their initial rank, Barbara’s daughter Brooke loves each of these frogs equally. They were once known as “Boggy” and “Baby Boggy,” but Barbara wrote me with an update while the portrait was in progress to let me know that they had graduated to being “Right Boggy” and “Left Boggy.” Duplicate toys seem to be a tradition in Barbara’s family, judging from the portraits of her nieces’ two giraffes and twin monkeys!
11″x14″ acrylic, 2011. When she was a newborn, Three-year-old Nadia’s grandmother bought her this furry, stuffed frog. Unsure of it’s intended species, Grandma simply referred to it as “the green monster.” His name evolved into “Wally the Green Monster,” but he came to be called simply “Monster” by Nadia as she grew increasingly attached to him. While he does not actually attend preschool with Nadia, he does ride with her in the car and come along to pick her up at the end of the day. Nadia brings Monster to her new baby brother to comfort him when he cries. This is the second of Nadia’s toys that I’ve painted — you can see her spotted blanket/dog Freckles here!
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12″x12″ acrylic, 2010. A fun challenge from Wendy, who commissioned a portrait of her daughter Lilly together with her recently lost favorite stuffed toy! Poor Lilly and Froggy O’Froggy had been inseparable ever since she was born. Froggy is a variation on the very popular blanket/head theme in contemporary stuffed animals, but this is the first one I’ve encountered that consists of a whole animal holding a blanket in his hands — very clever and cute! Very thoughtful of Wendy to immortalize and commemorate Froggy for Lilly in this way… but I hope he turns up!