My latest doll is a little girl with astonishing green eyes, who happens to love cotton candy.
I was thinking about my childhood delights and how much I loved to eat that delicious pink and fluffy cotton candy when I visited the fair or the zoo.
It felt like eating clouds, so soft and unsubstantial, but it still left that sugary taste in your mouth. I loved to think I was a bird and I flew to the sunset clouds. Now that I am a grown person, I don’t indulge on cotton candy that much, but I still remember how it made me feel and I wanted to evoke that feeling with this doll.
I didn’t think it was a good idea to use real cotton candy for her treat, so I dyed wool, needle felted it and placed it on a stick so she sn have an everlasting sweet. Yay!
Her dress is special too. I picked up a very light cream fabric with pink and yellow flowery accents, because, after all it’s Spring! I think it goes very well with her dark wool hair and her sweet face.
Did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the fabric for her dress than any other step? To me it’s very important, I need to be super extra sure that it’s the right one for the doll and she always helps me choose. I show her several fabrics and she decides which one will it be, and so far, all of them have always been delighted with their choice!
And finally, the shoes. Another important decision! This time she chose to wear high boots with pink lacy bows on them. I had the perfect silk ribbon for them, and they are just lovely!
Just like the hands on my dolls, they are custom made. I pour ceramic and resin into vintage, early 20th century doll molds for each of them, so each one has a very unique and one of a kind outfit and body.
I really believe that going that extra step of making each one of them old school, by hand instead of mass producing them or ordering premade items makes each doll special, just like the person that will adopt her in the end.
Do you like Belle and her cotton candy? We hope so! Drop me a comment here my blog, or via email after you see all the pictures of her in her official photo shoot page. There’s lots of them to enjoy!
They say that the UPS truck is the adult version of the ice cream truck. And you know what? They are right!
Today the truck arrived and left a package on my doorstep that I have been waiting for a long time. Want to see what it is?
It’s a huge box of Derwent inktense color pencils. Yay!
The first time I heard about them, someone recommended them to me as an alternative of the wonderful Stabilo art pencil, my weapon of choice for all my pencil artwork and drawings in my studio, but they did not do what I wanted them to do at the time so I put the Inktense I got aside and continued working.
But now that I have been experimenting with watercolors and a new illustration style, I read about the wonders they can do so I gave the ones I got another go. And you know what? I loved them! I loved them so much that I ordered five, and then I ordered a tin of 24 and now I ordered a box of 72 and I wish they sold boxes with more colors.
What makes them so special that I changed my mind and I love them so much?
Well, they are not like ordinary watercolor pencils, they are heavily pigmented and produce solid color layers. Their secret is that when you add water, they do not release watercolor pigment, instead, they release ink, and it becomes permanent when it dries, so it opens the possibility of working with layers that remain when you paint over them, giving you a range of creative choices that are impossible to reproduce when you use plain watercolor. Once they dry, it’s done and will remain bright and undisturbed and will not mute or muddle when you add pigment over them.
I experimented and I found that the only way to mute the colors is to control the amount of water you use when you lay your initial layer, and it’s very important to keep them wet as you work with your painting, and you must make sure not to add too little water, because if you did not dissolve all the pigment, it will activate once again when you add water and your next color and will mix. It happened to me while I started to work with them. It can be a blessing or a curse, and will puzzle you when you use them for the first time.
There are several ways to work with them. You can touch a wet brush to the tip of the color and then use it as a regular watercolor over your paper for a permanent wash or an under painting. You can also use them as regular pencils and then fade the lines with a clean brush as you spread the color on the paper. And if you are daring, you can dip the tip on water and then draw with them as the water dries on the paper.
Each technique will give you a very different result, and a wide range of possibilities that you will be able to incorporate as you get familiar with them.
I tested how they mix with each other too and I used the different watercolor techniques for the sake of science… and fun!
Dry on dry, dry on wet, wet on wet and mixed separately on a metallic palette yield different results, all of them beautiful and fun to do.
No matte what technique you use, you can always pick up the excess and cleanup using a very absorbing paper towel to pick up the water and try to erase the color or reduce the intensity.
One of the secrets to use the derwent inktense color pencils that you need to be very aware of is that what you see on the tips is not always what you get, so I will advise you to create a sample color chart for each color so you know how they look when they are wet, and how they dry and with how much intensity and value each color renders.
Start with a strip of watercolor paper and write down the number and name of each pencil in the order they are in the box, and make the commitment to keep the box tidy in order to be able to reuse your chart.
Take each color and draw a few lines with a fading intensity towards one side of the paper, so you get nice gradient chart for each color. Then the fun begins!
Apply the same amount of water to each line and create the intensity gradient to see how transparent the color becomes, and keep on doing it for each color on your set. Be. Be careful not to mix each color with the next, Because you want each color to be try to the intensity, hue and value in your chart. The end result is a very beautiful color chart you will keep as a reference as you work with them in your artwork.
All in all, these color pencils are now a permanent part of my arsenal of art weapons whenever I have one of my art attacks. They are way above what I was working with before with watercolor pencils and I can definitively recommend them to use as the main focus of you art, or as accents like I use them when I create the faces and big, beautiful eyes of my handmade art dolls.
Remember how I lately I have been obsessed with Alice in wonderland? The last product from that obsession is this beautiful Alice doll!
Let me share with you how she began and the steps I followed to let her come to life in my art studio in the course of a week.
I started out with her legs this time. Not my usual way, but for some reason I had striped socks in mind and that’s how started.
Then, I sculpted the head using paper clay, then I painted her big expressive gray eyes using my favorite mixed media techniques.
Then, I worked on her underwear. Totally handmade, I cut the fabric with my own patters and sew everything to perfection using hand and machine techniques. Once I am happy with one piece of clothing, she can wear it!
See what I mean? Here she is in progress as she now has her beautiful head and her hand painted legs attached to a torso. Excuse the mess behind! I like to have everything at hand and sometimes I do runs to my favorite stores to find the perfect fabric or accessory.
That’s where I found the perfect accessory for her neck collar. Some lace applications over her striped blouse that I made from a fabric scrap I collected from a thrifty store and she is looking great!
Now she has arms I decorated with lacy sleeves for her blouse. At this stage, I really did not know who she was going to be, but I already knew she was going to be a beautiful handmade girl.
I had a great idea next… A blue skirt with soft flowing fabric! Yes! that is what she was going to wear over her super cute underwear. She is finally taking form, but still there’s a very important detail missing.
The hair! I started rummaging in the collection of materials I keep for my handmade dolls, and then I came across this beautiful curly blond hair. Once I saw it I immediately knew who she was going to be… Alice in wonderland!!
And once I knew who she was going to be, I knew what to do with her. she was going to wear a big black bow on her hair, and she was going to have the “Drink me” bottle in her hands.
All that was left was to take her official photos. The white clovers on my garden are blooming now, so it was the perfect setting for her! And she was ready!
You know I am always looking for excuses to create little wood kokeshi dolls collections! They are perfect because I love working on projects at the time and I rarely revisit them once they are done. So, these collection are perfect for me because I can make a collection while keeping them fresh and exclusive, and it’s always such a thrill to work with them. I love to make each one individually unique, with it’s own personality.
And today that it’s the first day of Spring, I decided to create a pack of wild Easter kokeshi bunny rabbit dolls, and they have made my shop their home while they are waiting to be adopted. don’t worry, they may be wild but they can easily be tamed with love and candy bribes. They are already taking over my heart, and I am sure each one of them will steal your heart too.
But you may wonder, where do they come from? And how are they made?If you’d like to see how they are done, follow me down the rabbit hole to find out how they are made 🙂
Everything starts with wooden peg doll blanks and some modeling clay to start sculpting the ears. Make sure you make little fluffy bunny tails too!
Once you are ready, you need to pick up a nice set of colors for them. Since I work with my kokeshi dolls as a collection, I like to choose a consistent palette of colors. You can use simple craft paints for the initial base and then with some of my favorite paints from Golden and Liquitex for a beautiful, high quality look.
See what I mean about picking a consistent color palette? They are very colorful, but each one of them is going to have a distinctive personality based on how I sculpted their ears and the colors I chose for them.
Now it’s time to start adding details and working on their faces. I used a polka dot pattern for their bunny suits because I thought they looked too plain and after I was done, I attached their bunny rabbit cotton tails with crafting glue.
The fun part begins! I get to draw their faces with my favorite stablio pencils and some of my mixed media secret sauce to give them that vintage look that I love so much. I like them to look like if they have been living hiding on my garden for a long time and I just discovered my new friends.
Now, they are getting ready to choose their outfits with silk ribbons they helped dye by hand here in the studio and they will be wearing them proudly when they go back to the Danita forest to dwell and have lots of fun.
And then, after they chose their scarves and I tied them in a neat bow, they are more than ready and eager to hop out to the forest for their final photo shoot so they can be adopted.
They are very shy…. So it took some time to convince them to come out of hiding in the clover fields of my mini backyard forest.
But they warmed up and once they realized the camera was not going to do anything to them except making them look gorgeous, they played along nicely.
Here they are! Enjoying a beautiful afternoon and going about their bunny rabbit business while I enjoyed their antics.
I’ve been having a lot of fun creating new little paintings to try out new things, new techniques and new ways to use my art materials. After the well received Alice in Wonderland collection (Thank you! I had great comments about it! If you haven’t seen them, you should!) I was a exhausted, It took a lot of energy and effort to make it but I wanted to keep on going.
So, I decided to take things easier and went slower this time, and I went smaller. I bought the cutest little frames and started to draw and paint to create art to go with them.
I started trying out my new drawing style to make more realistic faces, and to be honest, it was fun challenge to translate my soulful and sometimes sorrowful expression and their lively eyes to this new style. It’s fun to be different and still the same.
Some of the paintings are more muted in color than my usual, colorful and whimsical style, and I see this as new era in Danitaland. I feel more mature and accepting of the qualities and events in my life and that reflects on my art.
But that does not mean I am not going to be doing colorful stuff any more! I still love bright colors and they will continue to be a part of who I am, but you will definitively see many different things coming up on my work.
One of the things I am being obsessed with right now are flowers everywhere. Maybe it’s spring that is just around the corner, I want to see flowers on everything I draw. On their hair, on their backgrounds or somewhere in the drawing, but I like to see them there.
See what I mean? You will see flowers everywhere. On her, I wanted to keep the whimsical subjects, but I am also moving towards things a little bit more real, more surreal is my goal and you can see the trend starting to move towards that goal.
Look at Nora, she has this dreamlike quality to her, vaporous and there but not quite there yet, but sill beautiful. And the vintage colored paper I used on her adds to the look.
I saw her face in a dream, and I just had to draw her. It was a lot of fun to use a scratch quill and create her powerful eyes and the details on her hair and neckpiece.
I hope you like them, it’s been a lot of fun making this series, having fun and just creating for the sake of creating, I think I painted all these more for myself that anything else, but after thinking about it, I realized I had to share them with the world.
I think they are too beautiful to keep them hidden, and they deserve to be seen. Don’t you think?
I want to thank you for the exceptional reception you gave to my latest paintings 🙂 A change in an artist’s style is not always welcome, and this was not the case. I have been getting lots of encouraging messages about the new direction my art is taking and I’m very happy to see that you like the change.
I created a video with closeups of the paintings for you to enjoy the amazing level of detail these new paintings have. From pen drawings, to exquisite collage paper applications, and of course, the beautiful and lively eyes of my creations are there.
There are still a few paintings waiting for adoption, so head out to my online gallery to choose your favorite once you have seen the video 🙂