How I Started Painting Toy Portraits
I realised that I loved creating things for children when I worked for a long while in an outdoor based nursery. I loved my time there watching and helping the children to learn, play and develop. I started off making personalised birthday cards for the key children that was looking after, and helping out making the display boards for the nursery. I made displays based on children’s books such as Where the Wild things are, We are going on a bear hunt, and the Gruffalo.
I was pleasantly surprised how much the children commented on the displays based on books that they recognised. It caused discussion between them as they remembered the story from the book and discussed with their friends what they could see. My favourite thing is often when a child sees something completely new within a picture with their own imaginative take on what they see. A child can interpret an image in a different way to most adults. I love how a simple picture can stimulate new play and stories for children.
As part of the care given to the children they are allowed to bring their favourite toy/ or comforter to nursery. These toys help to soothe, calm down and comfort the child if ever upset. They are an integral part of the awake and sleep routine of many children. I am touched to see how special the relationship is between a child and their favourite toy can be. Even as adults many of us can remember our favourite childhood toy very fondly and some adults even still sleep with them!
I am very and lucky and privileged to be an Auntie to two awesome little girls ninja and Weasel. Weasel has always had an inseparable relationship with her best friend Gravel, who was bought for her by my Aunt when she was born. Gravel goes everywhere Weasel goes, eats what Weasel eats, and gets given the best medical attention in the world, attended to of course by Doctor Weasel. It is amazing the power a simple Gravel can have to an upset Weasel!
Seeing how loved Gravel the cat had been my mum wanted to get Ninja a matching toy that could also be her best friend too. So we went shopping together near when she was due to be born. We selected out a gorgeous fluffy matching dog for her with big puffy legs which Ninja now finds comforting to chew on! As Ninja is little she couldn’t quite say dog yet so her special friend has been affectionately named Megagog! Gravel is of course called Gravel because of her colour.
For their up and coming joint birthday party I wanted to make them each a special present. I decided I wanted to capture this love they each had for their favourite toy with individual portraits of each toy that they could hang on their bedroom walls, and even keep if they so wished when they become adults.
After I made these for my nieces friends and family from social media soon requested I make some for their children too. The most rewarding amazing part is after putting lots of love and time into the portrait of their special friend, is when I have been sent pictures of their children opening them. To see the happy look on the child’s face when they receive it is just the best! I love knowing that they are pleased with their portrait of their special friend it makes all the time that paintings take to do so worth it. So now for these reasons i have decided it is something I want to concentrate on as a subject for my art.