11″x14″ acrylic and ink on paper, 2014. Illustration for Shmaltz Brewing for use as a component of a mural depicting the craft beer brewing process.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. For this custom family portrait, Adam had to decide which vintage Fisher-Price Little People best represent his family. So that’s Adam’s oldest son, Dean, in the front with the baseball cap, and his strawberry-blonde son, Jon, on the right. But Adam figured that his wife, Jen, most resembled a little freckle-faced girl Little Person he’d seen in a photo I’d sent him. “I’m informed that’s a kid,” he wrote me, “so perhaps you could put freckles on a brown-haired woman?” I love a modification challenge! The classic “mom” features and the cheery freckles combined nicely. And for Adam himself? “Non-descript dude (classic green-bodied ‘dad’) works for me!” The portrait will be a Christmas gift from Adam to Jen.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. And now for something completely different! Just like any beloved stuffed toy or blanket, these unlikely loveys were taken to bed, bath, daycare, family trips, and beyond by 11-year-old Sofia! The screwdriver came from a toy workbench when she was two, and the plastic shovel was also chosen as a favorite during her toddler years. The famiy never left home without “Screwver” and “Blue Shobel” throughout Sofia’s childhood. This portrait will be a Christmas gift to Sofia from her mother, Caroline.
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!
11″x14″ acrylic, 2012. What fun I’ve had painting all these clever wooden hand-made toys! You may have seen my individual portraits of this bear, duck, and grasshopper earlier this summer, and this group portrait brings in a fourth toy. The rabbit is overturned to reveal the signature of Pops, Barbara’s talented and generous late father. “Pops” made beautiful toys for several generations of his family, and Barbara commissioned this quartet of portraits to honor him and his lovely work.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Here’s a third portrait of a beautiful pull-toy handmade by Barb’s late father. Barbs’ children (now grown) called her father “Pops,” and he always made sure to spend lots of quality time with them. The kids have fond memories of helping him build and paint projects in his shop such as wooden swords and birdfeeders, and they played cards using a wooden cardholder made by Pops to assist little hands in managing the cards. Barb’s father carefully researched his finishes and materials to be sure the toys were non-toxic. It’s a thrill to paint these amazing family treasures! You can see my other portraits of Pop’s pull-toys here and here.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. The further down I dig in the box of priceless goodies I recieved from Barbara, the better it gets! Barbara has entrusted me to paint several wooden pull-toys that were hand-made by her late father for several generations of children. This duck is as much a joy to hold as it is to pull along — perfectly smooth, heavy, beautifully shaped, perfectly finished! The egg sits loosely between the wheels and rolls end over end as they turn, which absolutely amazed my daughter (and me.) Click here to read more about Barbara’s talented father and to see his fabulous wooden grasshopper pull-toy!
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Barbara’s late father, Joe, who made this fabulous pull-along grasshopper, merged his love of children and of beautiful, well-made objects in his craft. For part of his life he restored antique furniture for a living, and ultimately began to build his own wooden toys. Joe’s wife made denim quilts, and together they traveled the craft show circuit in New Mexico and Texas. The first of Joe’s many hand-made gifts to his grandchildren was a rattle carved from a single piece of wood! Barbara’s family cherishes the many toys that Joe lovingly made for them throughout the years, and they keep a stash aside for his great-grandchildren.
8″x10″ acrylic, 2012. Here’s another “symbolic” family portrait as vintage Fisher-Price Little People! This one was commissioned by Dominic as a Mother’s Day present for his wife Cassandra. In order to represent the couple and their little son Isaac with some accuracy, I took artistic liberties with the classic Little People designs. Dominic requested that I invent a beard for him, so I lifted the detailing from a Fisher-Price Sesame Street Gordon doll and then embellished the facial hair. Dominic typically wears a hat, so I took one from what I think is a Little People mailman and put it atop the classic, green-bodied dad figure. The only female African American Little Person was Susan, whose hairstyle was less representative of Cassandra’s than the standard-issue mother doll’s ponytail, so I changed the coloring and made use of that form. Luckily, a small boy figure that well represents Isaac actually existed. Dominic tells me that they might have an updated portrait made in a couple of years, as the family is expecting a baby girl this August!
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!