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. 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!
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…
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. In this “symbolic” family portrait, the family members are represented by their favorite stuffed toys. This is one of two portraits commissioned by Paul for his wife Kathleen as gifts for Mother’s Day and her upcoming birthday, although Paul ended up growing impatient and gave her both on Mother’s Day! The droopy, laconic Spike has always been Kathleen’s favorite Peanuts character, and she’s had this stuffed toy since she was ten years old. Paul’s blue rabbit was a given to him on his first Easter. This stuffed cat only recently emerged as three-year-old Asa’s favorite, and Paul reckons that it’s because he resembles their own cat “New Kitty” (who retains his title beyond his actual newness!) I have the pleasure of knowing this family personally, and I can tell you that these toys strike me as amusingly accurate and appropriate stand-ins! Check back tomorrow for my portrait of adorable, red-headed, train-obsessed Asa.
5″x7″ acrylic, 2011. It’s pretty fabulous when a child’s beloved toy was orignally his mother’s own favorite! This Snoopy belonged to Lee Ann when she was small, and now he is her seven-year-old son Zachary’s constant companion. Snoopy is seated upon a small blue blanket which Zachary calls “Lila.” Zachary sleeps with Snoopy and Lila every night. Lee Ann commissioned portraits of both her children’s best-loved toys and will give them as Christmas presents to the kids.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2011. I must say that I’m stunned by this rather “antique” specimen of a blanket-head! I had thought the the blanket-with-a-head phenomenon was fairly recent, but this Snoopy was the childhood companion of a man who is now 30 years old! It’s just barely three-dimensional, its head and hands lying rather flatly against the blanket, so it’s not quite the literal hybrid of fully-formed stuffed animal and blanket that you find today. Susan commissioned this portrait for her son in honor of the upcoming birth of his first child!
Order a print of this painting:
More info about prints here.