11″x14″ acrylic on canvas, 2014. This painting was made specifically for my Brookside Museum exhibit “Storied Playthings.” The antique tin toy comes from the Museum’s collection of Saratoga County artifacts and is on display right alongside its portrait! Most of the paintings in the show can be seen next to their “models,” which is a thrilling opportunity for me and I’m so grateful to Brookside for facilitating it. I hope you’ll stop in before the exhibit closes at the end of October!
11″x14 acrylic on canvas, 2014. This is my second study of this fascinating and strange group of dolls, which come from the Brookside Museum’s collection of Saratoga County artifacts. This piece can presently be seen in my exhibit “Storied Playthings” at the museum through the month of October. The show is particularly exciting to me because almost all of the portraits are on display next to the actual toys which inspired them!
My first painting of these dolls was made for the Trask Art Show and Auction and sold after a bloody bidding war! (Not really.) You can read about that here. Thanks to the Brookside Museum for this wonderful opportunity!
11″x14″ acrylic on canvas, 2014. It’s been a shamefully long time since I’ve posted to this site, but it’s for a great reason — I’ve been so busy with various art projects that I’ve barely had a moment to sit down and do so! I will catch up, or at least archive some key pieces here as soon as I can. This portrait of three very interesting vintage dolls was my entry for this year’s Trask art show and auction. This event is hosted by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs. A requirement for submission to this event was that the artwork reference or take inspiration from Saratoga or its history, so of course I sought out toys that tick this box. Kathleen Coleman, the curator of the Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa, was kind enough to let me arrange and photograph this bizarre group of toys from the Saratoga County Historical Society’s collection. The three jointed, hand-painted porcelain dolls belonged to the donor’s grandmother. I was fascinated by the strangeness of the wolf’s (apparently) human, female body and the witchy face and odd scale of the grandmother! The painting sold at auction, but I will be revisiting them again for a new painting that will be shown alongside the actual dolls in my upcoming October exhibit at the Brookside.
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″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.”
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.
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!
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.
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!