You already know what happens when I get obsessed with a theme, right? I will not stop until I am utterly and completely satisfied with exploring every option and technique about it.
This past days my obsession has taken me to work with Little red riding hood, and I have been watercolor paintings, paper dolls, classes, and now, an art doll.
Working with her all night, I just had to add her to my ever growing collection of art dolls. Each one of them holds a little piece of my soul, and I just love making them. Now, Little red riding hood is looking for a home! Go and see more of her on my online shop!
I made here while I was in the forest last month, filming my latest online tutorial “Sketching in the woods” where I teach you how to paint a little red riding hood watercolor portrait just like this one.
And then, last, but not least… A little red riding hood paper doll! I have been working on this original paintings turned into poseable dolls.Now you can create your own with my downloadable pattern. It’s ready to be printed, colored and assembled so you can have you very own Danita Paper doll.
So, one day a few weeks ago, I took my pencil and proceeded to draw a face on one of my favorite watercolor papers. I had the intention to start a new painting. Honest.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. All those childhood memories came rushing back and I changed course. I was going to make a paper doll.
I laid out the initial drawings and sketches and decided they were going to be cut-out, dress-up dolls like the ones I used to play with when I was a child.
After the first inking, I was hooked. My family knew I was up to something, and when they saw me grinning after I walked out to the studio, they knew it was going to be one of those weeks.
One of those weeks when I disappear from reality and hide in my studio, and I do not talk to anyone. Or go out. Or eat. Or Sleep. I’m in one of my art attacks.
The dolls were all inked up and now it’s time to paint them. So I got my watercolors and started to paint each one of them. They are unique and each one has their personality, so they deserve to have unique and one of a kind outfits.
See what I mean? Alice in wonderland even has her own bottle of Drink Me, An Eat Me cookie and a white rabbit to hop along with her down the rabbit hole.
Then it’s time to cut each piece by hand, and then start assembling them. This is kind of delicate because I have to make sure that each piece fits as expected, and some adjustments are required. So you have to be careful with your scissors.
Here’s one of the dolls with all her pieces put together, ready to be assembled. It’s not fun to see dismembered dolls all over my studio tables, and then I have to make sure I did not miss a limb!
Some magic and lots of work and sleepless nights, they are ready for the world! Each doll is articulated and can be posed any way you want.
I even had a piece of wood painted with chalkboard paint so I could play with them! They are a lot of fun! You can draw whatever scenario you want on the chalkboard, and then have lots of lots of adventures with them.
I like to read old doll making books because they have techniques for doing everything by hand (I’m old school like that) and I came across this quote.
It really hit a string for me, because it encompasses everything I believe about making my own dolls. Mass produced items have a perfect quality about them, but to me, they are soulless and nothing more than a pretty thing to look at.
That is probably the main reason why I very rarely repeat an artwork, not even if it’s a commissioned piece because someone missed the original work and they would love to adopt a piece just like her.
That refusal may sound as stubborn or pretentious at first sight, but there is a real practical reason why I can’t do it. Not even if I wanted to do so.
You see, I put a piece of my soul on every single doll I make. A tiny drop of my awareness and my mindfulness goes on each of them, and with that, all my emotions, feelings and thoughts will shape them. That’s why I can’t do it. It’s impossible to reproduce the moment that inspired them, they are a little moment of my life , frozen in time.
That is why I love my process, where I get to choose every single detail of the dolls I make, from the fabric of the dress to the buttons that hold the doll’s arms.
I set out to make this one a very pretty girl, but I really wasn’t aware of what I was making until the very end. All I knew is that she was going to be very special.
Each element is carefully chosen with the doll’s personality in mind, and I can swear to you that they talk to me about what they want to wear, how they want to look and everything they want to be.
I knew that I wanted her to be vintage looking, and when I found the bunny rabbit fabric hiding on my closet, I knew it was perfect.
We tried different hair colors, different clothe styles and different haircuts until we were sure that’s what we want. It’s an exhausting and repetitive process sometimes, because the doll is not sure what she wants to be, and I am known for starting all over again if I am not satisfied with an idea.
Other times, everything just flows, the doll and I are sure of what we want and it’s only a matter of finding the right materials and textures for each personality. This little girl was just that, perfect.
But… Something was amiss, and suddenly I knew what it was. She wanted to be like me, and I realized I was making a self portrait, so I used wool to felt fluffy bunny ears and she was ready.
See what I mean? She’s perfect! And so lovely, that she got adopted right away.