Saturday, August 30, 2014

ABCs of Life According to Dolls

The theme ABCs of life for my August small group trade was slightly outside my comfort zone. Why, I don't know, since in my life as a 9-5 person I get paid to write. Maybe it seemed to profound, too hard to choose a meaningful word for each letter of the alphabet. Some letters had to many inspirational words, others were kind of a stretch.

My friend Karen sent me an awesome small, handmade book with illustrations and words for each letter, which set the bar pretty high. I puttered with cutting big letters out of cardstock & fumbling with mini books, but was not happy with anything.

I had an inspiration--finally--I pulled out a copy of "Beyond Paper Dolls" by Lynn Perrella.
The cover art was the springboard for my idea, which I combined with faces inspired by artwork from Mary Jane Chadbourne's online course from Roses On My Table called "The Imaginarium - Anthology of an Art Doll" I didn't take her course due to time and space constraints, but watched the progress on her facebook posts.

 My concept was to print 26 words on silk and have them suggest clothing for paper dolls.

I made six pieces in all, using a background of my own collage/printmaking, and adding reprints, on cardstock, of vintage paper doll parts and other vintage images, attached with brads. Washi tape with vintage images, tapemeasure and ABCs were mixed into the collage. I used some images from The Graphics Fairy.

I wasn't 100 percent thrilled with the end product...I loved the faces and most of the body parts, and liked the background, but the words on silk didn't quite work the way I envisioned them, so on the ones that I am mailed off to my art group, I hung the words on the bottom, more like a prayer flag than a clothing effect.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Santos Cage Paper Dolls

I had never heard of Santos Cage Dolls, so I had to do some research when JoAnn Robinson, who leads the Roses On My Table paper doll art group, posted the theme. Well, I was hooked. I liked the combination of religion and folk art, and the idea of having an openwork base--which serves like an altar--instead of legs was fascinating.

My obstacle was how to get that cool three-dimensional cage in a flat paper doll. After puttering around, I settled on using an antique dress form bottom as the inspiration, and created my own template.

I also wanted to get texture--I love the embossed look that some of my arty friends get with machines like a CuttleBug, but I don't have one. So, here's what I did: I applied modeling paste through a stencil onto heavy watercolor paper, then painted it (when dry) with Lumiere acrylic paint. I was happy with the effect, which I used for a couple of the cage bases.

I also love aged-looking images, so I painted the New York Times with a combination of Derwent watercolor blocks and Lumiere to get a rusted effect, which I used in another cage base.

I went a little crazy with this style, and made a bunch of dolls--some vintage looking and some more modern. I had a hard time deciding which ones to keep and which ones to trade with my art group.

Letting Go of Fear

Artists have a lot of fears. For me, some of the top ones are the fear that I’m not really any good, fear that nobody will like or understand what I am doing (or worse yet—consider it trite and amateurish) and fear that I are going to mess up once I finally get started on something good. Sometimes I can’t get going.  Many times I don’t know when to stop...I'm not sure if I am actually done or not.  Sometimes I am afraid to try something new or different. Often I feel like I’m in a rut. 

With the technique I learned in Kelly Kilmer’s journal workshop at the Ink Pad, I am doing regular journal pages. I don’t seem to have too much trouble finding images to use as a collage base for the pages. What I DO have a problem with is pushing through to step two (using a stencil or stamp) and step three (writing on the page).

I really liked the collage base in this page, which is on the left. I used images from a design magazine and from a Hamptons freebie publication. I was afraid to mess it up with the stenciling/stamping and writing, but I went ahead anyway and added stenciled geometric shapes, stamped words from Dina Wakely, some marks with a black sharpie and white gel pen, a little shadow with a pale gray marker, and a few words and phrases that popped into my head as I was working. 

“Toot your own horn” is a phrase that came to me as I was working, and it is something I work toward; I am basically introverted and putting myself “out there” in the art world isn’t easy or natural.