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

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 lisazador.com or in my Curious Portraits shop on Etsy.

Etsy Photo Shoot for Inc. Magazine

Yesterday I headed up to Gary's Loft for the Inc. Magazine photo shoot. They had invited NY based Etsians to participate in an article they are writing about Etsy and I thought it would be fun. The  penthouse space was beautiful and they let me take a few photos of all the yummy vintage items they had there. I'll let you know when the article comes out!