An Unusual Portrait Commission

Lisa Zador-Joey the Bat About 6 months ago I was approached by a gentleman who was interested in commissioning me to paint a portrait of a stuffed toy. This in itself wasn't all that unusual, I have done many portraits of vintage Steiff animals and have painted favorite stuffed animals on commission. The interesting part was that I was to be one of many artists he was commissioning to paint his stuffed bat....named Joey. When I began to research him I found that not only did he have his own Facebook page (Joey T. Bat) but that he had travelled all around the world and been photographed in every location. The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Joey's owner also didn't want to see sketches or concepts at all but preferred to be surprised at the end. That was a little unnerving but I assumed that he looked over my work and had a rough idea of what the outcome would be.  He even provided a "Stunt Joey" for me to use as a model as I wanted to set the light source up myself and not rely upon existing photos. I did use those photos however to note the subtle differences between the actual Joey and the stand in. It was difficult to decide how best to portray him; should he be outdoors? If so what would the best setting be? Should he be full body or simply his face? I tried several different poses and made quite a few sketches before I settled upon a classic head and shoulders. After all, that is the signature style of most of my animal portraits, stuffed and otherwise. I also decided to paint him in sepia tones instead of full color. I thought it added dignity and sense of mystery to him. He is in fact only 5" tall standing so I wanted to zoom in to create a greater sense of stature.

I sent this photo of the painting to his owner yesterday who was very pleased and said that I captured the softness and peacefulness of Joey which is exactly what he had hoped for so I couldn't be happier! It has turned out to be a delightful experience and one I thought worthy of sharing. These are my favorite kinds of jobs, the unusual ones that bring you in contact with such interesting people who you never might have met otherwise.

You can read more about the Joey T. Bat project on Joey's blog  Zip Me Up. It tells the story of how the project came about, how it has evolved and is chock full of wonderful photos!

You can see more of my Vintage Stuffed Animal Portraits on my website or in my Curious Portraits shop on Etsy.

Halloween Portraits

This is my favorite time of year, I get so inspired thinking about Halloween! I've always had a love of vintage Halloween decorations and have a nice collection of things mostly from the 40's and 50's (lots of Beistle made). I've recently been looking over things from the 20's, mostly german made that are just gorgeous and soooo perfect for portraits! I must have 20 items sketched out so far but am starting with a few plastic ornaments from the 40's the first of which is this Jack O Lantern. This is the sepia underpainting, color will follow.

Pieps the Steiff Mouse portrait

I finished up this portrait yesterday and was so happy with it I scanned it with the paint still wet! I loved this mouse when I bought him from Ebay and I just knew he would make a terrific subject for a painting. I am working on the Steiff tabby cat portrait now...

Pieps the mouse

I am so happy to finally be able to start my portrait of Pieps the mouse (by Steiff). I won him on Ebay back in June and I knew already how I wanted to paint him. I love how his arms are outstretched, it gives him so much emotion! I decided to leave the little hole in his ear left by the Steiff button that is lost, I think it gives him character. This is the underpainting done in burnt umber and white but I imagine the final won't be far from this as he is all beige with just touches of pink in his ears.

Drawing of Mousy

This is the preliminary drawing on canvas of a new portrait I am working on. It is of a stuffed animal named Mousy who is the beloved childhood toy of a very dear friend of mine . He is worn and floppy and shows all his years of love and affection. I've gotten very attached to him as I've been working on the portrait and I can't wait to see how it develops!

Curious Portraits

I am very happy to finally have my new ETSY shop Curious Portraits up and running. It has taken a lot of work but I think I finally have all the little details ironed out! I've already made a few sales and have been featured on 4 different treasuries (2 of which I've posted below) so I am very encouraged. I hope you will take a look and let me know what you think.

Parisian Puppy Portrait

It's been awhile but I managed to finish the Parisian Puppy Portrait. So named because I found him in a shop in Paris in 2000 and thought I'd love to have a real puppy just like him. I never guessed that Bingo, who looks so much like him, would come into my life the very next year! I started painting him weeks ago but have been busy setting up my new Etsy site Curious Portraits which I hope will be up and running by next week.  Here is the final and two shots of the portrait in progress.

Teddy Bear Portraits Begin

I was so happy with my Sock Monkey  and Green Bunny portraits that I decided to finally paint 2 more of my cherished childhood toys Brownie and Yellow & Brown Teddy. (I never was very imaginative with words). They are very floppy and worn but have a noble beauty about them just the same.

Sock Monkey Portrait

A few years ago my friend Keith loaned me his childhood sock monkey to photograph for a project I was working on. I took some great photos with the intention of eventually doing a formal portrait of it. I had done a portrait of my favorite childhood toy, green bunny years ago and always wanted to do a whole series of toy portraits. Well last week I finally felt inspired out of the blue to do the portrait. It came together so quickly and I couldn't be happier with it. .