8″x12″ acrylic on fiberboard, 2013. Like most of us, I wear many different hats. One of my other “hats” is actually a pair of headphones, as I’ve worked as a dj playing house music in clubs and at raves for the past 14 years. Consequently, I have a default fondness for the turntable motif (despite the fact that actual turntables are practically obsolete in modern clubs!) I’m very fortunate that my mother saved some of best 1970s Fisher-Price toys, including this classic wind-up record player. Can’t you just hear “Edelweiss” and “Camptown Races?” I couldn’t resist painting a pair of them side-by-side as a wink at my “other job.”
7″x9″ acrylic on board, 2013. That expression… we call that her “busy face.” Sonja looks this way whenever she is engrossed in an object or activity, and it ranges from mildly pursed and focused to bug-eyed and vibrating. Here’s an extreme example from her babyhood: Needless to say, we have found the Busy Face to be an endless source of amusement over the years, which Sonja, now five, finds a bit annoying at this point. We recently acquired a container of classic Tinkertoys at our local thrift shop, and painting her working with them has gotten me interested in making portraits of children engaged with their favorite toys. This seems to be a natural progression from years of portraits of kids and toys individually! Here’s an etsy listing for just such a dual portrait here if you’d like one of your own.
6″x8″ acrylic on cardboard, 2013. This little Peter Rabbit from Eden Toys belonged to my husband when he was a child, and I have always considered it to be an absolutely perfect example of proportion and design in the realm of stuffed toys. Even though I’m somewhat desensitized to the charms of most stuffed animals these days, I still find this bunny to be completely adorable from every angle! I’ve even painted him twice… the first time was in 2009, when I was cobbling together my toy portrait business. Looking at the two portraits together, I’m struck by how my style has evolved over the course of nearly 400 paintings!
5″x6″ acrylic on cardboard, 2012. A couple of years ago, whenever then-two-year-old Sonja was asked what she wanted for Christmas, she would only answer “A wind-up kitty.” My husband, who loves an internet hunt, ordered an assortment of waddling, jumping, and spinning cats. Sonja did not actually show much interest in any of them when she found mechanical kitties under the tree… I suspect that, to Sonja, a “wind-up kitty” sort of represented a Victorian, classic idea of what children recieved as gifts in books such as “The Night Before Christmas!” In the years since, we’ve gathered quite a collection of wind-up toys and have fun staging races and parades. This Hello Kitty is one of our favorites. Check out my wind-up monkey portrait here!
6″x8″ acrylic on cardboard, 2012. This painting, the second of two portrait gifts for Kathleen from Paul, features their three-year-old son Asa. I have experienced Asa’s ardor for trucks and trains first-hand, as Asa and Sonja sometimes get to play together. He imbues them with vigorous, joyful personalities, and expresses his deepest good will by offering his favorites to his playmates to borrow. It was such a pleasure to paint his sweet, striking face, which in person is incredibly animated — Paul tells me that it was nearly impossible to get him to be still long enough for a decent photo! Here are my recent portraits of Sonja and Asa side-by-side:
6″x8″ acryic on cardboard, 2012. Here’s a symbolic portrait of our family, each of us represented by a vintage Fisher-Price Little Person. My husband’s incredibly sentimental response to the piece was, of course, “Where’s my hair?” If you’d like a Little People portrait of your own family, please be in touch!
5″x7″ acrylic on cardboard, 2012. Took a break from the toys to paint my favorite little face… Sonja is four, and I think I’m going to try to make yearly portraits of her from now on. Is it evident that I love the Andrew Wyeth Helga paintings? Sonja’s braids definitely conjured them for me!
8×10 acrylic on cardboard, 2012. These two are long-time V.I.P. toys in our house, and this is my fourth portait of them! The first two versions were puchased off the walls of exhibits, and the third was commissioned by someone who had seen the second but didn’t get to it before it sold. My husband and I originally bought the foot-tall Hamtaro in 2004 as a sort of mascot for his Toyota Matrix, which we called “The Hamster.” We bought the little Totoro for Sonja, hoping she would love the movie as much as we do (and she does!) I got myToulouse Lautrec on with this portrait, which is painted on a piece of cardboard that has been calling to me from the back of one of Sonja’s activity books for weeks!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. We bought three of these little guys in different colors from the gift shop at the wonderful Saratoga Children’s Museum. Sonja barely had to point at them and I was already gathering them up, saying, “of course we’re getting these!” I actually don’t often encounter toys that I’m moved to buy, but when I do, there is no hesitation. Rarely one to use a toy for its intended purpose, today Sonja stuffed this poor finger-puppet full to bursting with “noise putty.” Fun! And gross!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Rather than languish in my post-holiday slow season, I’ve embarked on a series of portraits of classic toys. Here’s a jaunty stuffed Curious George… he’s trying to get the attention of my daughter, to no avail. Like most little kids, she does not value toys for their classic-ness, and currently would rather focus on future classics such as the Octonauts. Sorry, George!