Tag: grown folks

Puppy Love

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!


5″x7″ acrylic, 2013. This bear was a gift to Lindsay’s step-father from a friend decades ago, and has adorned her parents’ bed ever since. Lindsay notes that Hank is secure enough in his “masculine bear-ness” to be comfortable wearing jewelry. That he sports a Paddington bear charm seems appropriate, because why wouldn’t a bear be a fan of other celebrity bears? It’s like that Morrissey pin on your denim jacket, or that Seinfeld necklace your aunt wears. As we planned out a color scheme for the portrait, Lindsay made it clear that her step-father loathes neutrals, particularly what he refers to as “hot-dog brown.” Fortunately, Hank is posed against cheerful light-blue fabric, which brightens and compliments his inherent brown-ness. It was a treat to paint so much color, texture, and history!

Mother’s Day Group

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!

Little People Wedding Portrait

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!


Mia’s Teddy

8″x10″ acrylic, 2013. In the photo I was given to work from for this painting, this serenely smiling bear dwarfs tiny infant Mia as she rests against his side and bawls robustly. My daughter, who is five, exclaimed “Oh no, the baby doesn’t like that bear!” But in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Maureen’s 17-year-old niece Mia was given this big stuffed bear by her dad before she came home from the hospital as a new baby, and has slept with it every night since. Concerned that “Teddy” will not be in any condition to travel with Mia to college next fall, Maureen commissioned this portrait as a gift to go along with her in its place. Maureen hopes that someday the painting might hang in the nursery of Mia’s own baby!

Grumpy Sheep

8×10 acrylic, 2013. This grouchy stuffed sheep lifted the mood of my entire household during the process of making his portrait. There’s something about his of-kilter lean and comically stunned expression that just made anyone passing by my easel snort with laughter or at least smile! This toy was the childhood favorite of Tara, who is expecting her first baby this May. The painting will hang in the baby’s nursery alongside my portrait of Tara’s husband’s own stuffed bunny. incorporating paintings of parents’ beloved toys is a super charming idea for nursery décor!

Brown Bunny

8×10 acrylic, 2013. Tara is expecting her first baby this May, and she’s fully immersed in setting up and decorating the little girl’s nursery. To complete the décor, Tara commissioned portraits of her own favorite childhood toy, a lamb, and her husband’s, this adorable brown rabbit. Because she had already chosen frames for the paintings, Tara requested that I forgo my usual stretched canvas format in favor of a sturdy, archival paper. I’ll be posting my portrait of Tara’s charmingly grumpy-looking lamb tomorrow, and I hope Tara will send me a photo of the finished nursery!


8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Thirty-six years ago, Sami’s mother’s company had a Christmas party which featured a visit from “Santa.” On that occasion, this doll was Santa’s gift to Sami’s then-two-year-old sister. With her soft, bean-bag body, a sweet-faced, plastic head, and a fabulous floppy hat, “Beans” was a cherished toy throughout childhood. Eventually the doll went into safe-keeping in their mother’s cabinet — until it was spotted by Sami’s neice, Ramsie! Beans now enjoys the adoration of three-year-old Ramsie and sleeps with her every night. I love to hear about toys that are beloved by multiple generations of a family!

Koala, Snoopy, Woodstock

6″x8″ acrylic on cardboard, 2013. According to my very small sampling, if you’re a clever, funny personality on Twitter, you are highly likely to be attached to a stuffed Snoopy. This Snoopy and Woodstock are the childhood toys of clever, funny Twitterer and blogger Jett, and the koala belongs to her husband Maxim. Jett and Maxim’s children are also represented here by the absence of the koala’s nose and one of Snoopy’s eyes, which were worn off by their son. I love to make family or marriage portraits in which each spouse or family member is represented by his or her favorite toy. When Jett posted photos of these well-worn and highly significant specimens, I could not resist cobbling this portrait together as a thank you for her considerable kindness and support of my work!


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…