Sunday, June 22, 2008

Francesca: Art Doll 2

Meet Francesca! She is what I have been working on the last few days. I just finished her up (for the most part) tonight. She started out as a mold of the music box face I got at the flea market last week (3rd photo). I painted her face up a little differently and gave her a more exaggerated eye. I LOVE glitter gel pens and used purple for her eyeshadow. I am just playing around with facial features until I get used to working on this air dry clay. It's a strange texture to paint and draw on. But the good thing is you can erase! And there are no marks! ;) Her hair is some knitting yarn (another flea market find) that I just knitted/purled for a few rows.

She is definitely NOT a typical clay doll. I don't have the expertise for the beautiful masterpieces I see out in blogland. There are definitely some top-notch doll artists and sculptors out there. I would love one day to have just a little of their talent. I used pipe cleaners for her arms and legs and covered them in paperclay. Her body would shock you. Let's just say that the majority of it is wrapped in quilt batting.

She's holding her heart in her hand (don't we all sometimes?) and is offering it up unconditionally. I had a lot of fun making her and have some more in progress. I'm also experimenting with different sizes. I have a feeling that my really small ones are going to be a challenge to dress! We'll see how that goes.

I wasn't going for exact body proportions, as you can see. I'm just experimenting with different media to make a doll that I like -- my style! I did check out about 10 books on dollmaking from the library and have been looking through those. I need to get reacquainted with my sewing machine real fast. I got a head start on that today when I improvised her gown and wrap. I had some other fabric all laid out ready to cut for her clothing, but she insisted on wearing the plum color; nothing else would do. So, I dressed her in some remnants from a recent JoAnn's sale and she was satisfied with that. Must have been that purple eyeshadow...

They say you learn by doing. Well, I am learning a lot the more I dive in and start experimenting with things that I've always wanted to try. I decided to quit using the excuse that "I don't know how to do that" and just get a few books and see what I can throw together. The pressure is off when I give myself permission to make mistakes and make bad art. It's OK! So, all that's left is the adventure and the experiment! I think it was the Mixed Media Monday blog that urged everyone to try something new this past week. So, I did.

I'm off for a mini-vacation to Madison, WI until Friday. I may not have a chance to post before my trip, but I'll have more to show when I return. Have a great week and try something new!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First Art Doll On Canvas

Here is my first attempt at making an art doll. Technically, she's half a doll on a 5 x 5 canvas. I wanted to get some practice painting faces and then I needed to give her a body of sorts. I saw on Black Eyed Suzie's blog how she mounted her half dolls onto canvas. Hers are professional and look absolutely gorgeous, but I decided to try it just to see what it felt like to a) work with air-dry clay and b) to put it onto something. It's fun and she turned out better than I thought.

I bought a bunch of these little canvases from JoAnn at 2 for $1. They come with pictures of fruit drawn on them. Easy enough to gesso over that and voila you have cheap canvases to try your techniques on. The other plus is they are small enough that you are not investing much time or energy into them. So for a first attempt I'll keep her. I have a lot more ideas and a lot more dolls (whole bodies!) in different stages of drying.

I started out working with the modeling compound. I really like it. It's very light. Then I went to the paperclay that everyone who uses it raves about. I'm not sure. I need a lot more work with it. You have to work with wet hands to knead it and I'm still getting used to that. I have a few things in process using both kinds of clay. I'll post those when they are ready. Just thought I'd share this little tidbit today. I added the second one (top) after I blended the background more. I like it better. Back to work...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Flea Market Finds

Before I say anything else, I want to thank Lisa Bebi for her kind comment on my last blog post. Thank you, Lisa! I admire her work SO much and to have her take the time to comment on my paintover was a BOOST for me. So, I had to gush a little. ;)

These treasures were a combination of items I picked up on my last trip to the flea market here in town plus some of the little beauties my husband picked up for me in London. In one of my many art mags I came across an altered art project a while back on altering record album cases. Since then, I've had my eyes peeled for one and until yesterday had not seen them in any of the antique stores or flea markets. The article showed a really cool altering of one (minus the albums) and I was thrilled to come across this one. Great project for my to-do list. Then, the lady with the yarn was back and had bins of yarn 2 for $1. I couldn't load the basket fast enough. These are just a few. I'm too embarrassed to include all of them.

Then I came across this little music box. I'm trying to pry off the ruffles because I am interested in the face. I'm going to make a mold of her face and see what I can do with that. I have some molding putty that is supposed to make this very easy. You just knead the two colors they give you together for a minute then place it over your item that you want to make a mold of. We'll see how it turns out.

Meanwhile back in London... hubby ran across an old flea market there and thought I would like these little additions to the studio. I LOVE them! The first is part of an old wooden typecase. It is so cool! It says London across the top and has little cubbies for the type thingies (what are those called?) to go into. He also bought one with the image of scissors to put into it. Then, while he was visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum (yes, there is such a thing and I insisted that he go if he was near it) he picked up a thimble with the image of Sherlock on it. LOVE it! At Stonehenge he picked up another thimble; this one with Stonehenge image on it. They fit perfectly into the little cubbies. So, I placed these on the shelf beside my table and they make a great addition to the studio.

A fellow Artella member sent me a picture of a beautiful fairy wearing an elaborate gown that she thought would be perfect for paintovers. And she's right! So, with all of this inspiration around me, I must get to work. Plus I'm wanting to get back to all of those zines I received last week. So many things on the agenda, stay tuned for what spills out...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Rest Of The Story

Here are the rest of the photos I wanted to include yesterday: the second group of zines from my ebay win and closeups of the beginnings of my new dolls. I also included closeups of the zines I've been digging into lately. I was up way past my bedtime last night oohing and ahhing over these.

I've been getting so many ideas from just these first two that I'm rapidly filling up my notebook. A few highlights that especially caught my eye include different methods for art journaling. This is something I've been wanting to do: start an art journal. It's similar to a regular journal, but you include your art. Some people just do sketches or make experimental pages of art techniques they are curious about. Others add words right along with their images. It's up to you how you want to do it. I will probably use a little of both. Some days I feel more like writing, others I just want to play with the art.

I have a plethora of notebooks, sketchbooks, all waiting to be filled, so that's no problem. And while there are no "rules" for creating art journals, I found it interesting to see how some of these artists approach theirs. Another great resource for this is just to visit their blogs. A lot of my favorite artists that I truly admire are listed on the sidebar. Check out their blogs. They are all very talented and that is the type of art that I aspire to one day.

Some ideas to get started in an art journal that I picked up: 1. Cut out large phrases from magazines that say something to you. Glue them randomly into your journal ahead of time. Then, create whatever comes to your mind when you see them on the page. 2. Draw three to five rectangles in a line on your page. Write around them, draw around them, paint around them, whatever strikes you. Collage onto the page. 3. Create a glaze out of oil pastels. Lay it down rather heavily on the page. Then, take a soft cotton rag or paper towel and rub most of it off. You can use it over written text to kill the start whiteness of a page. It will be a soft transparent wash of color. Cool! 4. Look at how the light affects various colors. Try to replicate the effects you like in your collages.

These are just a few of the pointers that I came across. LOVE IT! I'm new to a lot of this, so it's very informative for me when artists share little tips. I write them down in my little art notebook under "techniques" and can refer to them when I want to try something new.

I was so inspired by these little zines that I joined an egroup on Yahoo groups of zine makers that host zine swaps. Still waiting for the info on it, but it looks like a good group to learn from. I'm itching to try my hand at a little zine. Stay tuned...

These zines were all vintage ones from years ago that the artist Lesley Riley was purging from her studio. I am so excited to get these. So many of the artists whose blogs I follow are doing a purge right now. Paring down their studios to either make room for more art or to get rid of supplies they no longer need. I should do more of that. I seem to be perpetually in the hunting and gathering stage. But, soon I'll run out of room and will need to do the same type of thing. I am definitely a hoarder of art supplies; a terrible vice UNTIL you run across something that you are so glad you kept! My problem is finding it. I know I have some things, I just can't seem to put my hands on them... a little organizing would help. That's my task today. Put the stuff where it belongs so I can put my hands on it when I need it. So, I'm off to do just that!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Art Explosion Wednesday

My art zines that I won on e-bay arrived in the mail today. Yay! Here is the first group. Blogger only lets me upload five images at a time :( so I'll post the rest of the zines and dolls tomorrow. I've been stalking my mail delivery person everyday waiting for these. Oh, btw, Priority Mail does NOT always mean two day delivery. These were mailed Friday and I just received them today. So, when they say they don't guarantee two days, they mean it. There are so many goodies in the box I can't wait to dig in. Lots of inspiration and a variety of art; everything from altered art to bookmaking. Cool stuff! Enough gushing about all of that. I'm like a little kid when I get stuff in the mail.

I also included a sampling of what I've been working on lately. My feeble attempt at doll-making is a learning experience. Air dry clay is great. I love working with it. The learning curve for ME in color blending, etc. in painting the faces is very LARGE. But, I've got lots of faces to practice on and can always make more. ;)

The second picture is a sample of some of my work in progress. I have fallen in love with all of the great yarns out there now. Knitting has made a resurgence, and there are aisles and aisles of yarn that are just yummy! I picked up a ton of yarn at a flea market for $1/pkg. This is the stuff that's at the craft stores for $5 and $6 each. Woohoo, did I love that! So, I went to work teaching myself to knit. And being a lefty, everything is so geared for right-handed people, I just tried it like a "normal" person. I had to laugh when the so called "directions for left handers" included the sentence: "substitute the word "right" with the word "left" and hold your work up to a mirror." What? Are you kidding me?!

So, for now, I knit right-handed! These are some of the wigs for my dolls. I love making these. The fibers in these yarns just scream to be made into doll hair. So, I did. You'll see none of them have faces painted yet. That's coming. Just thought I'd show you a small sample of some wigs. I think after I get them onto the heads, then the idea for the face will follow. The dolls have their own personalities after you give them hair!

The third picture is a small 5 x 5 canvas that I am working on. I love the background. It is sort of a goth feel, but a little softer. I'm working on her dress now. She looks kind of dreamy, and the canvas is working out to have a dreamy feel to it. You'll see what I mean when I finish. I did like her face. After blending three different flesh colors of paint with a hint of pink, I think I came up with the perfect formula.

The next one is my very rough first attempt at "sculpting" a sitting body. I'm not too worried about it because her dress will cover it all up. I just needed a form to fit the dress to. I already have her arms and hands finished, so I just thought I'd show you what the first try looked like. I approach all of this with the attitude that it's fun to try things. There is no pressure to have it look a certain way. It just has to please me! Check out those little boots! I loved them!

And, finally, my little guy that keeps making me laugh every time I look at him. The photo turned out blurry (sorry, my bad), but he's really funny! I'm still thinking about what to do with him. Stay tuned...

I've also had family visiting this past week and tried to spend as much time with them as possible, since who knows when I'll see them again. My visit with Sherry was alot of fun, but too short for my taste. Paula came in Saturday afternoon and had to leave Sunday morning. It was fun to catch up on everything. Unfortunately, that night she and her daughter were both sick. Paula sounds like she has walking pneumonia and her cough kept her up. My niece, Liza, seemed to have a case of the nerves. Just a nervous stomach and a little too much pizza. Not a good mix.

That's all for now. I'll post part two of all of the above tomorrow. Need to tend to some real-world issues so I can get back home and escape into the art world...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Holding On

Yesterday I ran across this picture of my sisters, my mom and me. My middle sister, Sherry, just left after a short visit. We had a lot of fun, but her visit was way too short for me. I've been feeling a little blue after she left, so I thought I'd look through the family photos. I'm the chubby one (the oldest), then there's Sherry, who is on the far left, and the baby is Paula. Paula is coming for a very short overnight visit on Saturday. She is on her way to see her son Matthew and his new bride Abby out in Iowa. So, I have another family visit to look forward to.

I like the way we are linked in this photo. My mom holding on to Paula, who's holding on to me. Sherry is pointing to me for some reason. Of course, she always was one to point out things to you ... ha! (just kidding, Sherry) If you click on the picture you'll get a better view. I think that's how we all feel now that mom is gone: like we are just holding on to each other. I hope to get my two brothers out here for a visit later this summer. They usually come for the motocross races held in August. And my dad is due to come in after June, I think. So, there is still family to hold on to. I'm thankful for that.

I've been experimenting with painting those clay faces I posted a week ago. I must say I'm happy with about three of them. Now, I've ventured into making bodies for them. Pictures to come soon! One of the faces of the old man I got so flustered with trying to glue hair onto him that I just plopped a tuft on his head. He's really one of my favorites now, just because he's so funny. He's begging for a caption. I'll make sure to include him in the first batch of photos I take.

I dug out all of how-to books about dolls. I'm determined to get one made that I like. I'm in various stages on about three of them right now. We'll see how they turn out. They are curing now. Should be ready for paint and whatever else I can throw together by tonight. Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wildlife in the Morning

These are just a few of the images that greet me each morning! There is usually some form of wildlife up and about early in the day. The two birds are always together somewhere on a branch nearby. My little chipmunk friend is usually on one of the large rocks we have out in the back yard, but this morning he was peeking out of these branches. And my beautiful irises! These violet ones are the latest to bloom. I love these flowers!!

I usually take my coffee and sit outside on my deck and just watch the wildlife come alive. It's very peaceful and all of the flowers blooming will usually put me in a very happy mood. Spring is my favorite time of the year, when everything is bursting forth. I loved these images so much I thought I would share them with you today.

I have my sister visiting me until Tuesday and we are getting to spend some quality time together. Shopping was the priority today. We laughed and giggled like we used to as kids. It's been a great visit and I'll be sad to see her leave. Last night my husband, my sister and I played cards and Sherry won one game, my husband won the other. I, as usual, came in last. Cards is NOT my strength! Maybe tonight I'll get my revenge. I'll keep you posted.

Still no e-mail, but am told I am in the queue to get the problem solved. I'm not holding my breath. Oh well, as long as I can still get to my blog, I'll be patient a little while longer. Stay tuned...