Doll Repaints – My Addictive New Hobby!

I first heard of the art of doll repainting when I came upon an article about Tree Change Dolls. An Australian mother, doll lover, and recycling enthusiast had begun repainting discarded dolls found at secondhand shops and giving them a new life. Word got out, and her hobby took off in a bigger way than she ever expected. She primarily works with Bratz dolls, giving them her signature make-unders to make the dolls bare a closer resemblance to the kids that likely play with them.

By the time Bratz dolls came out I was already in 7th grade and getting out of playing with fashion dolls, though I did still covet the collectible, for-display Barbies with elaborate costumes and often retro styling. Still, I always thought Bratz dolls’ over-the-top iridescent makeup and decidedly not vanilla clothing was a lot of fun. These girls were definitely not going to a yacht club or garden party. Dolls for girls do tend to either look like either teens/young adults or babies, with a curious lack of dolls that resemble the age girls that play with fashion dolls usually are, so I can definitely still get behind what this mom is doing. Also, watch the video – she is just having a blast, hoping to make people happy along the way, and her enthusiasm for her craft is contagious :).

I very recently was commissioned by a regular ebay customer and art doll collector to draw an ACEO illustration of one of her Monster High Doll repaints she purchased from another artist. Monster High Dolls by Mattel are another line that came after my childhood, but that I always wished I had been young enough to play with. Their colorful, surreal appearance coupled with the fact that they use a wide variety of facial sculpts (i.e. not just offering the same basic mold in different skin tones and eye colors) attracted me right away. The more I looked up other repaints on ebay and etsy, the more I was convinced I absolutely had to try this myself. I bought a lot of 4 previously loved dolls, and stayed up until after midnight working on the bulk of my first doll, originally a MH Operetta model, completely lost to time.

I used nail polish remover to clear off all the factory paint, and gave her hair a good brushing and a new ponytail. I used a translucent metallic copper paint first to add shading and give her the look of a fantastical creature made of a merging of metal and skin.¬† I dry brushed more heavily over the side of her body covered in the embossed swirls to emphasize this unique design feature, using a clear matte medium along the edges of the wet paint to blend. I mixed a peachy acrylic with matte medium to add blush to her cheeks, and then used acrylic on her eyes and lips, covering both with a gloss medium to give them a moist, realistic appearance. I used a detail brush to paint her teeny tiny fingernails and toenails. I too love recycling, and used a variety of lace, ribbon, and cotton fabric scraps to craft her gown. The velvety strawberries and leaves are from a lot of vintage millinery florals I’ve acquired, some from ebay, some from antique sales. And thus, The Princess of Strawberries was born!

My style definitely leans more towards the fantasy couture, and this doll is a display-only unlike the creations of the fun mom above. Maybe for one of my others I will make a more every-day version for play, who knows!

My princess is for sale, and you can see her in more detail here.

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New Progress On My Current Series!

august-she-is-an-earthshaker-blgr

Hello all! I recently finished another addition to my 12 part series I’ve been working on since late 2015. For new readers, here’s my blurb briefly explaining the series (If you are already in the know, feel free to skip ahead ūüėČ ):¬†I am¬†creating¬†12¬†mixed media, surreal, conceptual portraits in which¬†the meaning is influenced by the use of pattern and color. They will depict women of all ages, races, and time periods, and each will communicate a different theme. I aim for the pieces to¬†speak to women‚Äôs collective experiences beyond their differences. Each of the 12 will represent a month of the year. We tend to think of time and events in terms of our own personal history or the history of the nation in which we reside. But of course, there are women everywhere living out their day to day life all over the world, with hopes, dreams, fears , relationships. Our situations and struggles are very different, but were we in some alternate reality all given a chance to meet, I suspect we would find some surprising similarities, maybe more than we ever expected. The title of each piece starts with the month it represents, followed by “She Is _______”.

This piece is titled July: She Is An Earthshaker. I love mermaids, and really got into aquatic art after following the required theme for the Tall Ships curated exhibition at Studio 23 last summer. This was a fun piece to create, and perhaps my favorite in the series thus far. As a child I don’t know how many times I watched The Little Mermaid, and was absolutely transfixed by King Tritan’s trident (Which of course I later learned came from the myth of Poseidon). I became inspired to make a powerful Lady Poseidon if you will. Earthshaker is another way Poseidon has been referenced, but the name can also apply to those of us in the real world, ordinary people who create waves to change what needs to be changed. She wears a pretty seashell and floral crown, and her facial expression is not one of anger or even one that would imply intense power. Her strength is a quiet strength. If in her head, she can see¬†herself like this, the waves and lightening crashing behind her as she stands firm, perhaps she can believe that she can do anything even if others may doubt her.

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This design is available for print on a variety of cool items in my Redbubble Shop, and art prints on matte photo paper may also be purchased from me Ebay Store.

Check out the other pieces I’ve finished so far! January February March¬†June¬†

 

New Series Re-Imagines Childhood Drawings

Now that I got all of my work finished for the upcoming Michigan all area shows I am entering, I wanted to take the opportunity to spend some time on a new project that I’d done sketches for about 2 years ago and never revisited after getting¬†distracted by mountains of other projects. Working with kids and youth over the summer at Creative 360 while Artshop¬†was on break, ¬†we did lots of acrylic painting. Acrylics is a medium I’d abandoned over the last couple of years, and it made me miss it.

I had¬†a teacher once who said you will always be who you were when you were 8. You may drift¬†in the in-between teen years; who doesn’t go through an identity crisis at least once in¬†high school or within early young adult age; but you will always come back to the most basic facets of personality you exhibited as child. At your core, you are who you were at eight years old and will still be at 80.

When I think about it, at 28 I do share many of the same traits with my 8 year old self. I still adore books, I still have my own distinctive and at times highly experimental fashion sense (I was wearing sun glass frames with the lenses popped out far before hipsters ever existed.), I am still always actively finding ways to meld¬†creativity with¬†vocation, I still am obsessed with all things design oriented (Look how pumped I am about my¬†digital runway show I’ve put together on that snazzy Windows 95), and I still¬†can’t sleep unless buried under 3+ layers of blankets even in summer :P.

Luckily for me, and this project, my mother is amazing and has the best of my childhood drawings from each year of my life archived in a neat, chronological little binder, so finding artwork examples was no big thing. I have chosen a drawing from each year, 2-10 (nothing for year 1, I’m not that amazing.) I will be using the same subject matter, colors, and proportions to re-imagine these childhood drawings as fine art¬†acrylic paintings. Here is the first piece I’ve completed for¬†age 4.

Kid drawings aren’t all the same when you really look at them, and you truly can tell a lot about someone from what they create, same as with adults. Here are some other fun projects people have done taking inspiration from kids’ drawings.

Bored Panda / Go Monster Project

Cafe Mom / Parents Turn Their Kids’ Art Into Tattoos

Huffington Post / Mom-Toddler Painting Collaborations

Busy Mockingbird / Artist Collaborates With 4-Year-Old Daughter

Doodle Your Toys / Custom Handmade Plush Toys

 

Artists To Know! Installment Two.

James Jean

James Jean is a double threat Taiwanese American artist – known equally well for both his commercial (DC Comics, ESPN, Prada, and Atlantic Records to name a few) and fine art gallery work. I know James Jean most from his arresting illustrations that grace the covers of Bill Willingham’s “Fables” graphic novel series. I am not one to ever keep up with series, but I cannot stop adding more of these books to my collection. Not only is the art obviously exquisite, but the stories are gripping, and the very reason I just cannot get into that “Once Upon A Time” TV show everyone is freaking out over – Same idea, but “Fables” is just so much better. Jean’s illustrations range from the ultra colorful to the monochromatic as featured below, but they all have a transparent, ghost-like quality to them that is just made for depicting fantasy characters, not fully “real” themselves. His website features a lot of his non-fables work, which was fascinating to see since I wasn’t as acquainted with it.

James Jean

Madge Gill

Madge Gill is not a current artist, being born in the late 1800s and passing in 1961. Though I usually highlight artists still working today, her primitive ink drawings drew me in the moment I first saw them. One of my workplaces had a couple-month-long focus on outsider art over the fall, which prompted me to want to learn more about the genre. Outsider art is literally art created by outsiders or untaught artists, art created outside the boundaries of official culture. I watched a documentary about outsider artists on youtube one evening, and Madge was one of the artists highlighted. She had a life filled with more hardship than many have to face. After delivering a stillborn child in 1920, one more painful life event, Madge claimed she had become inhabited by a spirit guide named Myrninerest. This connection continued throughout her life, and she would often go into trance like states, withdrawing more and more into herself. Though her detailed drawings of characteristic females; most of which took her only minutes at a time; continue to captivate viewers, it seems she never found peace. Near the end of her life, even her art-making had become a burden, more an obsessive-compulsion than a therapy. The biography on her website asks, “Are these in a sense self-portraits, or rather: attempts to stabilize her own fragile being, as it were through fleeting snapshots? Another reading equates the faces with Myrninerest, envisaged as the artist‚Äôs otherworldly alter ego, immune to the traumas of actual life.” (In the documentary, I noticed the alter ego’s name was pronounced as “My inner rest”, which would seem to suggest that the alter ego created as an escape or explanation for behavior she could not control is a plausible hypothesis). Her story is a sobering realization that although art helps us in coping with difficult emotions and can be a vital form of self-expression to those whose voices are stifled, creation alone is sometimes not enough, especially in isolation.

Madge Gill

Yayoi Kusama

I first saw Yayoi Kusama’s work at The Mattress Factory on a school trip to Pittsburgh (shown in the photo below). Though I wasn’t familiar with her at the time, this installation was my absolute favorite. Same as with Madge Gill, I learned about Yayoi Kusama through my outsider art documentary binge. A clip of a similar installation to the one I saw was shown in the film, and I suddenly realized “Oh my gosh, I’ve walked around inside her work before!” Also similar to Madge Gill, Yayoi Kusama has wrestled with psychological issues throughout her life, though her story has a far happier ending. Kusama began creating art with polka dot motifs as early as 10 years old, one of her first pieces a drawing of her mother with dots emanating from her portrait (Her mother was physically and emotionally abusive). She also began suffering hallucinations at an early age, seeing these dots everywhere, flowing towards her, in her own words trying to “obliterate” her. To date, many of her works include the words and themes of “self-obliteration”. In 1973, she checked herself into Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill and still lives there to this day by choice, her studio nearby. Kusama has reached out, and come to enjoy the residents and staff and art continues to be a source of joy and purpose in her life. A creator of all trades (and master as well), she creates paintings, sculpture, installations, clothing and accessories, fashion editorials, films, and poetry and short stories all cloaked in her trademark surreal, ultra colorful, polka dot covered world.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Martine Johanna

Martine Johanna is a Dutch artist who started out in fashion design, but left the industry desiring more freedom to devote to her own work. The fashion influence is evident in her figure’s pose, gaze, and design. What I love most is how she sometimes leaves areas of pieces less developed to draw the viewer’s eyes to where she wants them to rest. If you look through the rest of her work as well, you will also see how she uses bold, bright colors you wouldn’t think of using for skin tones like blues and yellows to render her figures’ flesh. Bringing these natural undertones to the forefront gives her work an otherworldly quality that it is impossible to look away from, and highlights her imaginative nature.

Martine Johanna

Arabella Proffer

Google+ is a great place to discover artists as far as social media goes, and that is where I found Arabella Proffer. She was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan (woohoo, shout out to my home state, where I still reside) and now lives in Ohio (second shout out to where my parents are from and where most of my extended family still lives. I guess some cool art CAN come out of the midwest, huh?) – I thought that was pretty cool. Her work combines old school, aristocratic portraiture with pure 1980s punk rock and gothic culture. She also has an interest in medical history, remnants of which find their way into her work. The contrast of all these elements creates a tension that makes me want to get to know the fabulous women in her pieces, sit down and have a cup of coffee with them in their imaginary, velvet curtained living rooms – they all seem like so much fun.

Arabella Proffer

Artists to Know! Installment One.

In my first installment of Artists to Know, there are actually two digital artists, still unbelievably underrepresented in this day and age. Digital artists are highly under appreciated, and wrongly viewed as art “cheaters” in the fine art world. I myself have played around with digital work, and absolutely HATED it! Take it from me, what one can do in 10 minutes with a brush seems to take 10 hours on a computer. Digital art is used to achieve a desired effect, it is by no means a shortcut. I hope you see something new today, maybe something that sparks ideas of your own.

Ray Caesar

Ray Caesar describes his art on his website as “facing something unpleasant with calm and looking beyond what you’re viewing to see the beauty within”. His work is influenced by the time he spent working as a photographer and graphic designer at a children’s hospital, many of whom were abused or suffered from serious physical deformities. After his mother’s death, he had a dream in which she appeared to him as a child. The childlike figures in his pieces aren’t really children but the manifestation of people’s souls. His work is certainly not for everyone, and I know many who find his art too¬† creepy or disturbing, but it goes to show that as artists, our experiences do inform what we create. He uses digital programs to create a 3D world in which he can change poses, adjust the viewpoint angle, open and close drawers … He has said there are hidden secrets that never show up in the prints such as what are in the figure’s pockets or inside closets. If you have the time, read more in depth about the process by which these digital worlds are created because it is truly amazing and eye-opening.

Ray Caesar

Catalina Estrada

This lady does everything – Besides the typical art prints, she covers greeting cards, bedroom comforters, clothing and bags, even umbrellas with her beautiful designs; prints wallpaper; has her art made into difficult 1000 piece puzzles that I would probably end up throwing across the room in frustration! She embraces the concept that art doesn’t just have to hang on a wall, and captivating designs that make people smile and feel inspired can cover every imaginable surface. She makes her work accessible, and that is awesome.

Catalina Estrada

Elena Kotliarker

From the Ukraine, Elena classifies her work as Judaic Art. The flow from one element to the next in her pieces is so spot on, the effect is calming and dynamic at the same time. I love all the tiny details within each piece, so that you keep noticing new things the longer you look at it. Also interesting is the cultural symbolism she integrates into each work. I discovered her on ebay actually, and now have a gorgeous little ACEO prints as a souvenir.

Elena Kotliarker

Camille Rose Garcia

Camille Rose Garcia is an artist you can spot immediately. I love that all her art just GOES TOGETHER to form a cohesive body of work based on her distinctive style alone. While maintaining this continuity, she continues to keep things fresh and different with widely varying genres, stories and narratives, and color schemes. Much like Ray Caesar, I feel like her work is something you get or don’t. Being the fan of almost any form of surrealism or warped storybook illustrations that I am, I am in love.

Mia Araujo

Mia Araujo is interested in the complexities that make each individual unique, and the invisible universes that thrive inside us all. Manifesting inner landscapes through art, making the invisible visible, is something I am also passionate about as I touched on in my last post. It’s no surprise why I am so drawn to her work. Each piece has an entire fantasy story within it to absorb. For lovers of portraits, you’re in luck, because within each piece are embedded innumerable portraits, from the main subject(s) to the tiny faces embedded in the background and sometimes even within the subject’s hair or clothing. Can you tell I’m into detail?

Mia Araujo

I hope you’ve enjoyed exposing yourself to some artists you may not have heard of before. I did go heavy on the surrealism as that is what I tend to be drawn towards most, but even if the subject matter or style is not your bag, there is always something to learn by observing other artists’ technique. I’m constantly finding new artists and images that inspire me, so I will definitely be sharing more in the future – be on the lookout!