I’ve painted many Jellycat bunnies, but the story attached to this little guy is particularly moving. He belongs to Boothe’s daughter Lulu, whose birth marked the end of a period of immense loss and sorrow for the family. Lulu’s “spunky, little wildflower spirit” reminds Boothe of Isaiah 61: “[He will] provide for those who grieve… bestow on them a crown of wildflowers instead of ashes.” She describes Lulu, who is almost five, as “feisty and hilarious and quite literally does things – EVERY thing – in her own remarkably funky fashion.” Bobo the bunny, originally called Bo, was chosen early on as the favorite from among a slew of Jellycat toys awaiting Lulu’s arrival, and has remained her “one true love.” Bobo has travelled to at least twenty states (including Hawaii!) at Lulu’s side and is often found dressed in doll clothes or Lulu’s own baby clothes. In this portrait, Bobo sports Lulu’s own monogrammed baby shoes! Boothe recently came upon Lulu rocking Bobo, singing to him and attempting to teach him his colors. “I wonder how long she’ll love him,” Boothe wrote me, “He’s been a precious reminder of the sweetness that Lulu is. In my own way, I’ll always cherish Bobo, too, which I think is why I so wanted this portrait to be done.”
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!
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!
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.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. While painting this bunny, I was absolutely mesmerized by the rich, pinkish-coral of this bunny’s inner ear. I appreciate a not-quite pink in a world of cotton-candy colored toys! This Jellycat bunny is the least-tattered and grungy of 3 identical bunnies (two are back-ups, but all are in use, OF COURSE) belonging to Morgan’s daughter Emerson. The original bunny was purchased for Emerson before she was born by her excited father. Morgan tells me that Emerson will not let her throw away the older, disintegrated bunnies, and actually seems to prefer them to the newest! Emerson loves to suck on the ears, so those are usually the first to go. This portrait will be a gift for Emerson from Morgan for her upcoming second birthday.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2011. I encounter so many adorable stuffed toys in my business that I’m, perhaps, slightly more immune to their charms than the average Joe. But this sheep… I covet this sheep. It’s a Jellycat which has clearly been loved ardently. Heidi tells me that to her daughter Caroline, Lammy is, like the Velveteen Rabbit, “real.” Lammy is subject to all kinds of “hairstyles” concocted by three-year-old Caroline, which mostly involve flower clips being attached all over her fur. Caroline is quite upset that she won’t be able to bring Lammy to preschool on due to her being larger than a back pack (take note parents!) This painting is one of two that Heidi commissioned for her children of their favorite things. The other is a group portrait of a stuffed dog and some classic books!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2011. At one year old, Sophie seems to be giving her adored stuffed bunny a name! He has been known simply as “Bunny” ever since he was given to Sophie in the hospital at her birth. But recently, Sophie’s mom Allison tells me, Sophie has consistently said “Tickle” each time she picks the bunny up and greets him. Sophie likes to kiss his nose and squeeze him tight while saying “Awwwwwwww!” When her parents take her out of the crib in the morning, Sophie is sure to grab Tickle(?) too, so he doesn’t miss out on any of the fun! You can see two other portraits that I’ve done previously of this particular model of Jellycat bunny here and here.
9″x12″ acrylic, 2011. Whenever one-year-old Sydney sees her favorite stuffed duck, she smiles and presses her forehead against its head in a gesture uniquely her own. Sydney’s doting uncle Nate tells me that it is not something she learned from anyone around her — it is a spontaneous, specific greeting just between Sydney and Ducky! Nate tells me that this languid pose (which he amusingly described as “Odalisque”) is most expressive of the duck’s general floppy demeanor. This portrait will be a Christmas gift for Sydney from Uncle Nate.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2011. Floppy-eared Stuffed Dog week continues — it’s like shark week, but with stuffed dogs and floppy ears! This brown and white pup is the favorite of one of Michael’s two boys. A portrait of his other son’s two blue dogs can be seen here. These paintings will be given to the boys for Christmas by their father.
5″x7″ acrylic, 2011. There are fifteen years between Lisa and her younger sister, but as children each had beloved stuffed puppies, both named “Puppy!” Lisa’s sister, now twenty, still brings this floppy-eared, brown-and-white pup along on all her travels. As a Christmas gift, Lisa envisioned a portrait of the toy with her sister’s favorite Tiffany blue as the background .