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…
8″x10″ acrylic on canvas, 2013.
These two bunny blankets were given to Ruby at birth, but rabbits do tend to multiply and she ultimately ended up with six of them before ultimately giving them all up a few weeks ago. Ruby is almost three, and the family had been preparing Ruby for quite a while for the moment when the bunnies would be taken away around Christmastime by Santa Claus’ liaison “Sparkles the Elf” (on the shelf.) Ruby’s parents assured her that the toys would be cleaned up and passed on to a new baby to comfort. You see, “cleaned up” is the operative term here. Ruby slept with all six bunnies every night and sucked on the tips of their ears to soothe herself. The situation became unhygienic, to say the least! Although the planned bunny surrender was to take place around Ruby’s birthday in December, a nasty red mark on Ruby’s face resulting from sleeping against their dirty ears caused Ruby herself to abruptly give them up several weeks ago. She looked in the mirror and said, “No more bunnies Mommy. Have daddy call Santa to come and get them.” Sparkles arrived that night and left a new teddy bear and some candy in the bunnies’ place and they have not been mentioned since! Ruby’s mom, Marla, commissioned this painting of the two original bunnies to hang in Ruby’s new bedroom (the family has just moved) in honor of the very important toys. It will be given as a Christmas gift along with a note from Santa assuring Ruby that the bunnies are safe, happy, and watching over her from the North Pole.
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. 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″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!
5″x7″ acrylic, 2013. This stuffed Mary Poppins doll and blue-patterned blanket belong to Alistair, who will turn four next week. On a recent family trip to Disneyland, the “real” Mary Poppins was delighted to meet him and tickled to see his beloved doll! Mary blew him kisses and bestowed her little effigy with some special magic, which she keeps in her hat, to stave off bad dreams. Alistair has had his Mary Poppins doll for about two years, and the “Blankie” ever since he was a baby. Alistair’s mother Stephanie had me paint big brother Graham’s favorite things a couple of years ago, and so now the boys will have a matched set of portraits! The painting will be a gift for Alistair’s upcoming birthday.
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.
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. 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!