Lost and Found

This portrait, painted about 15 years ago holds a very special place in my heart because it is of my dearest, most treasured childhood toy, Green Bunny. He was passed on from my brother to my sister and by the time I had him he had faded to pale yellow. He had been so loved that he was missing his eyes and mouth. I sewed jingle bells on for eyes and that is how he remains today.

When I was 5 years old my family moved from Philadelphia to New Jersey and somehow during that move my beloved bunny was lost. It was such a deep loss for me at that age and I truly mourned him. I never stopped thinking about him and launched many searches throughout the house to no avail. Then one day, years later, my cousin Cindy and I decided to explore some forbidden boxes way back in a closet that were at the bottom of a tall pile. I clearly remember trying to pry open the flaps and peek inside without toppling over the stack. I found curtains folded on top, one of the least interesting finds to a child, but kept digging deeper until my hand touched  something soft and fuzzy which I slowly pulled out. To my astonishment it was Green Bunny. I honestly don't think I have ever been happier than when I saw that faded little face. I think I was actually speechless with shock but then burst into tears of absolute joy.

Over the years since then I have suffered deep, personal losses in my family and I believe that somehow, this painting became a representation of them all. It wasn't intentional: it started out as a simple study but it has remained hanging on my wall and has the ability to bring to me to tears but also to give me a great sense of comfort. It is a thread that connects me to my past: to a childhood spent surrounded by a close and loving family. Today is the anniversary of my mother's death and when I was feeling her loss this afternoon I looked up and this portrait reminded me that her spirit is around me every single day.

Green Bunny-Lisa Zador.jpg

Can We Talk About the Elephant in the Room?

This pink elephant was originally begun as an homage to one of my favorite elephants of all time: the polka dot elephant from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer animated movie. Since I was a child that sad little elephant has haunted me. My childish mind couldn’t comprehend why he had been banished to the Land of Misfit Toys, I would cry to my Mother that I wanted him even if no one else did. When I was putting away my Christmas ornaments this January, including  my polka dot elephant ornament and stuffed toy the idea for this portrait was born.

Of course few paintings progress as planned and I soon realized as I painted that the polka dots were not going to work: they made him look as if he had measles which, of course, was not my intent. The half finished painting sat there for weeks in my studio staring out at me. At some point I realized that every time I passed by, the jingle from Crispy Critters would run through my mind. For those of you that do not remember Crispy Critters, it was a popular cereal in the 1960s that was 90% sugar and that came in the shape of animals: monkeys,Tigers, lions etc. At one point  pink marshmallow elephants were added and I was beside myself. According to my sister, I was already inexplicably obsessed with elephants and every time the commercial came on TV with the special Pink Elephant jingle, I went nuts. (Unfortunately I cannot find that particular jingle on YouTube so you'll have to take my word for it).

All these years later  that annoying jingle became the key to solving the problem of this painting and I went forward making the elephant a nice shade of salmon pink which, it turns out,  worked perfectly with the deep olive green ground I had already painted. The portrait pretty much finished itself from there.

So even though in color, he resembles the pink elephants of Crispy Critters, to me he remains a poignant reminder of that neglected polka dot elephant on the Island of Misfit Toys that no one wanted.

Pink Elephant Brooch and Ornament from  Curious Portraits.

Pink Elephant Brooch and Ornament from Curious Portraits.

Prints, notecards, brooches and ornaments featuring the Pink Elephant are available in my shop Curious Portraits.