I had the super great pleasure of painting this for a super great little girl I know, named Willow.
Her parents commissioned me to create a painting for her 6th birthday which she celebrated this week.
This is *Willow's World*
Animals abound in her Brooklyn neighborhood
and on Breezy Shores, Long Island where her family has a cottage.
Here, she daydreams while a striped yellow cat and a clever canary say hello.
Her mom loaned me a copy of one of her (recent) favorite books, My Father's Dragon.
It's a classic written in 1948 by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.
I had not read it before and it completely charmed me.
I loosely referenced some elements from the 1st two stories in the trilogy.
I also learned that Willow likes maps, bright colors, dancing and pizza :)
In Brooklyn, everyone loves Pizza.
Cat is not quite sure how to eat it.
She usually uses a knife & fork like our new Mayor Bill De Blasio ;)
In this painting/story, animals seek out treasure, read maps, decode cryptic notes,
find messages, as well as small silver and gold coins.
Still, most are oblivious to the real treasures right in front of them.
Some travel down through Brooklyn, while others make their way up
to the North Fork, LI where Breezy Shores is located.
This bike riding dog gives a flower to Willow, who walks along with her friend, Cat.
In my mind, the story is told from his perspective.
Fox brings gifts on his journey.
A home-schooled bunny takes a break from class to see what's going on above.
Unlike his 5 brothers and sisters, he doesn't like math!
My aim was to create a dreamlike quality where your eye keeps moving
until it finds it's own perfect spot to rest.
A baby bear naps after over indulging on honey.
Sweet pig poses for an artist, while a bird vies for his attention.
The vegetable stand is fully stocked with fresh produce.
There's enough fruit, bread, cheese and pie for a picnic each day!
As you can see, camping, sailing, fishing, skiing and sunning are popular in Breezy :)
Lion, above, is taken directly from "My Father's Dragon".
Mine is cute, though not as beautiful as the original line illustration.
Snorkeling cat spies a message!
Poor bun gets too much sun!
This treasure map is a sketchy miniature of the full painting.
These balloon-floating guys are in for some luck.
Not every painting is hung on the wall ya know!
Jon and Erin, her parents, had originally asked me to paint something above
Willow's bed, on the underside of her brother's bunk.
As close friends know, I hemmed and hawed about how to attach it
safely, so it could be saved for when she outgrows her bed.
In the end - I opted for Velcro and wood trim. Sounds simple.
I cannot share, unless you ask me, how long it took to attach.
It wasn't quick and I am so very grateful to
my friend, Robin who helped me install it on Saturday.
Here I am posing with Willow.
Her parents made it a surprise and it was so fun to be there and witness the unveiling!
They're one of the cutest families I know and I know a lot.
I'm so glad I had the chance to make this for such a nice little girl.
and finally, friends roast marshmallows over Elena's Fire Bowl.
Elena is a close friend to Willow and her parents, too!
Her company, Colombo Construction Corp is a design/build firm
specializing in fire features and custom site specific work.
Thanks for taking a look at all these details!
Were you able to spot all the treasure?
Guess the street where they live?
See other references to the book I mentioned above?
If you have read this book, I hope you noticed,
that unlike the lazy animals of Tangerina, mine are kind
and most are on a mission of one sort or another :)
Browse more custom projects, paintings & illustration for kids at
Have a great week.