Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back to My Roots

When people don't know what to draw or paint, I usually ask, "What did you love when you were about 10 years old?" Then I tell them to start with that. Going back to what you loved as a child--be it coloring books, finger paint, Play-Doh, mud pies, dandelion bracelets or any other child-like artistic expression--is good for the soul.

Folding ATC doll for PaperTraders "Winner Take All" June 2017 art lottery
I have been through a difficult time in my business life lately, and it put a big strain on my emotional state. So, I took my own advice and backpedaled to my childhood for some art fun. My favorite childhood thing to play with? Paper dolls. For the folding ATC doll above, I used royalty-free reprints of vintage paper doll parts from The Graphics Fairy. The 2.5" x 3.5" base (ATC, or Artist Trading Card) is made of a piece of vintage magazine text that was painted and stamped. The limbs are put together with mini brads, which allows the pieces to be posed and even interchanged with other dolls.

The face is an original that I made using the method from Jane Davenport's Beautiful Faces DVD. I scanned it, reduced it, printed it on card stock, and cut it out. Here's my step-by-step blogpost on how I created the face.

For a folding ATC doll, the rule is that all the extra pieces must tuck behind the base card. Here's what the doll looks like folded up:

ATC doll folded up to 2.5" x 3.5"
Continuing my "back to my roots" art theme, I used an old McCalls pattern piece as a base for a journal collage. As a young girl, teen, and into my 30s, I made many of my own clothes. I still have my favorite patterns from the early 1970s!  After applying (with matte medium) an old pattern as a base on my journal pages, I added some pretty ribbon, printed teabags, a handmade soy batik fabric strip and a mini piece of fiber-art for this two page spread in my art journal.

Art journal left and right spread with old sewing pattern as a base.
The third part of my latest "back to my roots" artistic journey was rediscovering my inner textile designer. In my early 20s, I studied textile/surface design at FIT and worked as a print stylist in New York's Garment Center for nearly 10 years. I "retired" for motherhood, then went into graphic design and writing as a career.

About five or six years ago, I took part in a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) project called "Visioning" and designed and printed my own line of fabric. Many of them are available on

While recently cleaning my bins and boxes of papers and art supplies, I stumbled on some prints of vintage French textiles that I had ripped from an interior design magazine. I was startled at how similar they were to some of the fabrics from my own line. It really had me wondering about reincarnation. The designs are dated 1941, and I wasn't born yet, so who knows?

I used the magazine print on the right side of my journal, and added strips of my fabrics as borders at the sides and top. On the left side, I created a fabric collage of scraps of my own fabrics that struck me as similar.
On my worktable: vintage textile designs on right, collage of my designs on the left.
Reproduction of textile designs dated 1941
My original fabrics, printed on cotton, bear a striking similarity to the vintage 1941 designs.

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