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!
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!
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.
5″x7″ acrylic, 2013. Tim racked up a gazillion husband points this past Valentine’s Day with this amazing two-part gift to his wife! Their beloved boxer Olive is like a member of their family, and Tim commissioned two little portraits of her: One as a a puppy, and the other as the couch-loving cuddler she is today. Tim describes her (Olive, not his wife!) as “a big smush.” Here she is as a baby… watch for my next post to see her all grown up!
9″x12″ acrylic, 2013. These two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels share the same father, an evident bounty of affection for each other, and some self-imposed responsibilities around the house! Ben, the brown pup, is four years old and is known to Heather and her family as the “fireman.” If any sort of smoke is in the air, Ben begins to tremble and act peculiar… in fact, he usually needs to be held and comforted for about a half an hour in order to calm down. Six-year-old Jake is the family’s “policeman” who barks mightily at any outside noise or visitor. This amazing “spooning” pose isn’t a common occurence, according to Heather, but speaks volumes about the relationship between the two brothers.
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…
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. A couple of years ago, two of my favorite people got married. As a gift I painted a their dog Jack, but it was really a portrait of the huge braided rug that dominates their living room. Matthew is a Swiss Army knife of musical talent and Erin is a gifted and prolific knitter of beautiful things. They both adore animals and have quite the menagerie of pets! Last month Erin and Matthew commissioned this painting of Erin’s family’s Muppet-y labradoodle Lonnie as a Christmas gift for Erin’s mother.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Matt’s wife loves art, personalization, and this stuffed dog, so could there be a more appropriate gift for her than a custom portrait of her favorite toy? She has had this dog, known simply as “Dog,” ever since she was a toddler, and it has lived with her in Texas, Chicago, and Washington D.C. While planning the painting, Matt and I pondered a question I encounter quite often in my line of work: Just what color is this toy? Matt figures that it is more light grey than beige, although it might have been beige at one time, and he pointed out Dog’s faded black spots and chocolate brown ears. I always love to paint an incidental pillow, and that bolster behind Dog has a great texture. Matt will give this portrait to his wife as a Christmas gift.
20″x24″ acrylic, 2012. You read that right — this painting of tiny little toys is quite huge! In fact, their scale is enlarged about 500%, according to my math-inclined husband. I’ve been taking some liberties with colors and style within the general design of the classic Little People to more closely represent the members of the family members in these custom vintage Fisher-Price family portraits . In this case, Jolene, who found me on Etsy, has been given a brownish head of hair that (as far as I can find) was not actually made in combination with a red dress. Jolene is planning her nursery decor for her baby twin girls, who will be born in December. Initially, she wanted to order a large print of my classic Little People trio painting, but loved the idea of having a piece specifically representing her family (and their dog, Rex!) I absolutely love the tension in scale of this painting — I never would have thought to paint such small figures so large, and the effect is amazing! Great idea, Jolene!