Category Archives: My life

An art doll mini tutorial by Danita

I am having a great time and work creating an art doll collection. I have been working non stop on the dolls and I thought it would be fun to stop for a moment to tell you the story of the doll creation using images from the doll making process and turning the tale into a mini tutorial.

Danita Art Doll Materials Tools List Messy Desk

Look at my desk… Someone told me that a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind, so I guess that makes me one of the most creative people in this planet. No contest on that.

But hidden within the mess, there are secrets to be found, like all the materials and tools used when you create an art doll. Can you spy them all in this picture? There’s one you can’t see but it’s the most important one of all… Love for what you do.

Danita Art Doll Making Dollmaking Dollmaker Tutorial Steps How to

The first thing you want to do is pick the fabric for your doll bodies. Something resistant and sturdy that is also breathable is my weapon of choice, but you can choose anything you wish as long as it’s workable into small flexible pieces.

I create the patterns from my dolls from a standard but usually let the doll dictate what she wants to be, so the dolls are never the same, always different from one another. I really insist on that to give each doll a personality.

Danita Art Doll Handmade Techniques Tutorial Stuffed Bodies Muslin Polyfill

Once your bodies are cut and sewn, it’s time to stuff them! The perfect time to do this is while binge watch on my favorite TV shows and movies. I always buy a huge bag of Poly-Fil, grab my trusty stuffing tools and set to work!

Danita Art Doll Heads Tutorial Paperclay Paper Clay How To make

Once the bodies are filled and my binge for TV and movies satisfied, the dolls move to my working table to start making the doll heads using paper clay, my sculpting tools, and as a new addition to my dolls, glass eyes!

Danita Art Doll Sculpting Sculpture Paper Clay Tutorial How to Secrets

Making a doll face with paper clay starts with a very rough surface that you have to sand and work until you have a smooth surface as a foundation, and let’s be very careful not to scratch the glass eyes with your sanding block.

Your hands and the sculpting tools will be of great help here. I polish, remove and add clay all over the place until I am happy with how things are looking. It’s a very labor intensive process so it’s important that you take your time working this step.

Danita Art Doll Head Face Paper Clay Paperclay Sculpture Handmade Dollmaking How to

They always look very strange while you work the doll making steps. Next, after I am happy with the way the face is looking, I start to trace out features with a stabilo pencil because the next step is to paint the face.

Danita Art Doll Painted Head Paperclay Paper Clay Tutorial WIP

I use a lot of materials at hand here, specially with pan pastels and stick pastels, ink pencils and acrylic paints with the same techniques I use on my mixed media paintings. Getting the right amount of blush and color on the eyes is crucial to make the doll very realistic and with a lovely expression.

Danita Art Doll Handmade Eyelashes Painted Detail Face Techniques Tutorial

Once I am finished with the face, it’s time to add more features to it to make it even more real. I love how I have learned how to bring my mixed media and watercolor paintings into the real world with my Art dolls.

Danita Art Doll Dress Hand Made Sewing Tutorial Clothes for dolls

And did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the perfect fabric for the doll that making it?

A piece of my soul goes into each doll I make, to me they are alive in a way and I can hear them whispering what they want. Sometimes they know right away, sometimes they will take their time choosing who they want to be, but it’s a very important step and I must get it right.

Wouldn’t you be the same if you were given the freedom to choose who you want to be? It’s a very important decision and one must take all the time it’s needed.

Danita Art Doll Clothes Trouser Handmade Tutorial Tecniques

All the clothes on my dolls are handmade, most of the time from scratch. You can see here that I took a piece of fabric and turned it into trousers for this little girl.

I insist on everything being handmade. It adds to the uniqueness of each doll and to her final personality.

Danita Art Dress Handmade Fabric Clothes Unique OOAK Tutorial How To Make

The dress is made with a fabric I found on a thrifty store somewhere during my travels. I will collect fabric, lace and props I find during my too frequent visits to antique and second hand stores and when the time comes, I will be ready for the perfect doll to wear it.

The lace on her also came from a very old box of lacy thing I was given by a friend. They are very precious to me because some of them come from another time, and there will never be one like it again. Using old, used things with a new purpose makes everything magical.

Danita Art Doll Choker Gold Cameo Handmade Corset Tutorial

Once I’m done with the dress, I will add accessories to the doll. She is wearing a very nice choker with a cameo I made myself here in the studio with golden colored flakes and jewelry resin, like the ones I use on my original jewelry, only very small.

The dolls are pure mischief when they are finished. I really love to play with them in the studio while they impatiently wait for their final photos. We have lots of adventures and sometimes they even help to make other dolls.

Danita Art Handmade Doll Paper Clay Paperclay Sculpture Fine Art Toy Finished For Sale

Now the final step is to place them for adoption on my online gallery and shop, where they will sit on my virtual showcase, waiting for the perfect match that will take them to their forever home.

Penelope was very lucky! She did not last five minutes on the virtual shop front when her new adoptive parents picked her up. She is now very grateful to the people who gave her a forever home to start a new story in their hands. I’m really looking forward to hear from the stories and adventures they will have together.

I really hope you liked this little insight into my work. I wish I could live closer to my friends and fans so we could get together and learn what I teach on my online classes.

Danita Art Workshop Live Classes Dollmaking Doll Making Mixed Media Painting Tutorial How To

And luckily, the opportunity to spend some time learning with me in person is coming very soon. I have been invited by NW Country Art Retreats to teach a 4 day workshop in their beautiful place near Mount Rainer in Washington State.

I hope you can join me. Together, we will create a beautiful art doll just like the one we saw how to make on this tutorial, plus much more. And I will be just delighted to be in your company, working, laughing and sharing a beautiful time together.

The importance of playing with your materials

This week I started playing with my watercolors after reviewing some of the videos for my online watercolor painting class, “In love with Frida: A Watercolor affair”.

It was one of these days when I did not feel particularly creative, but I felt the need to create something, and just staring at art books and my watercolor paintings (Something that always cheers me up!) was not enough.

So I took brushes, paper and paints and I just started with drops and swirls of color, mesmerized about how the paint dances and creates beautiful patterns on the paper.

I kept at it for some time, just playing with absolutely no purpose except watching the color swirl and mix on the paper.

Then, suddenly…

She happened.

And then her.

And her. And many more. Before I knew it, I had a collection of little portraits that I had absolutely no intention of making in the course of a week, but they happened. Just by playing with my materials, with no exact destination in mind I allowed my creativity to spark.

If you see the complete watercolor painting collection, you will notice that there is not a lot of consistency between them, because they were made on a whim, without judging and without any criticism from myself. I just let myself go and let art happen.

After a while I realized the power of playing just for the sake of playing, and how as adults we have lost the ability to lose ourselves into the world of our imagination and just get lost there.

Have you seen children play when you leave them with creative toys like dolls or blocks or boxes? How their play is pure imagination and nothing more, and how they get lost in their creations without judgement?

A cardboard box can be a fortress, then a spaceship and a minute later a giant dinosaur after them. They don’t care, they just use what they have and let their playful nature take command.

I encourage you to try it. Just get your favorite creative tool and let yourself go. Don’t worry about what you are using, or if it’s going to be wasted paper and paint. It will not be wasted.

By freeing your mind from restrictions and just play, you will change your mindset and you will explore your materials in a very different way than when you work. You will enjoy every little surprise, every little mistake will be joyful because you discovered something new.

You will have fun and will love both the process and the end result, and you will  be surprised when you realize what you are capable of after letting yourself go without inhibitions.

I know I was.

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Mini Art dolls for your holidays

Every year I make a series of little wood kokeshi dolls to celebrate the coming of winter and the nice holidays ahead.

This year is no exception! I took my kokeshi blanks and set to work on this year’s collection.

It all begins with sketches for the ideas for the collections, sanding the wood dolls, priming with Golden Acrylic Gesso and then sanding again to give them a smooth finish to start.

 Next, I start working with Paperclay to create the details and personality of each of the dolls by sculpting and creating ears, noses, fur and beards with my Tool set.

By now, I pretty much know what each doll wants to be, and I will help it become just that with my hands.


Then, the painting begins! I like to use Golden Fluid Acrylics and Blick matte paints because they are perfect for the little details and they have great pigmentation and lightfastness, so your dolls will stay colorful for a long time, it’s something the craft paints will not achieve so it’s best to stick with the good stuff.
A fine brush is a must for the little details like the eyes, there are lots of brands so you can use your favorite, just make sure it is up to the task for your work. Patience is the key here!

A lot of work goes in each of the dolls, I just want them to be perfect and I like to take my time with each one them, specially in their eyes. Without expressive eyes, they are just little toys.

After that, the accessories come in! I painted some wood trees with pastel colors for some, and I used vintage miniature ornaments from thrifty stores for others, and then I mounted them on a little wood base.


But they are not done yet! I am getting ready to apply German glass glitter on them to make them shiny and sparkly. They will look beautiful when you place them over the fireplace and you turn on the Christmas lights, they will reflect the light with a thousand little sparks and will really come to life!

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And after all the hard work, you have beautiful dolls to enjoy for the holiday season! All of them are adoptable, you can visit the official adoption page on my online gallery, danitaart.com and you can click on each image to go directly the detail page, where you can see more pictures and take one home. 🙂

_b213911Santa and his magic sled

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Peppermint girl

_b214134Santa’s little helper

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Rudolph the red nosed reindeer

_b214233Oh, Christmas tree!

_b214078Frosty the snowman

_b214543The queen of the north

_b214410The angel of creativity

_b214358The angel of love

_b214311The angel of peace

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Making friends is REALLY HARD


I read this article about the difficulty of making friends and it totally resonated with me. I too have a very difficult time making lasting relationships and finding new friends I can trust, not just for chit chatting when I walk out of the house or while I wait for my kids at school.

I mean, REAL friends, the kind you can call at 2:00 AM because your dog ran away and your friend will be calling out your dog’s name in the streets in pj’s with you.

I guess it does not help that I am an introvert. I like interacting with people, but I prefer to do it on my own terms, and when it has a meaningful purpose besides commenting on the weather just to remove the awkwardness of silence some people can’t stand. I rather just read the news or look at inspiring images on my phone than having to submit myself for interacting for the sake of interacting.

Then I see my younger kid, he’s a natural extrovert and has absolutely no problem making friends when he goes to a new place, and how natural the interaction between small children is.

They do not judge you based on the clothes you wear, what kind of car you drive, what kind of work yo do or how much you make. They just like you and think you are cool because you play with them.

It made me wonder at what time did we loose that ability to just be friendly and open up. I miss those time when I made my best friends and wonder why I have such a hard time.

My career choice does not help either, I chose a difficult one to accept after all. I am an artist, and to a lot of people, it means I spend my time goofing off and doodling on sketchbooks while I see the days go by, waiting for “inspiration” to reach me. And then, what do I do with that? Just paint and make dolls when I could be changing the world by filling report after report in an office cube?

Since answering like Jack Black “I service society by rocking” is not an acceptable answer to the question “And what do you do?” When I meet someone outside the art community, I did what an artist would do. I created a painting about my best friends! 😂

I am thankful for the internet and social media. I am happy to have found friends that understand me, that like what I make, friends I can trust and talk to online and the phone, but sometimes I wish I could drop by and say hi with a bottle of wine just to goof for a while.

Does that happen to you often? How do you deal with it? What do you do when you are in that situation? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to hear that I am not alone in the world!

A little pain won’t stop me

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You know I got hurt last week and I’m having to wear a very ugly brace on my hand that prevents me from moving it, but that is not going to stop me from creating!

I found these little dolls on my blank doll bag and I decided that brace or no brace, pain or no pain, the art must go on.

I’m working basically one handed, so I am much slower than I want, but I’m committed to doing this. Stay tuned because new cute dolls are coming soon.

My interview with Miriam Schulman

I’m very proud to have been interviewed by Miriam Schulman on her “Artist chats” series, where we talk about my latest solo art show, “Among princesses and wolves“, the motivation behind it and what makes me tick 🙂

But we also talk about my new upcoming online class, “Handcrafted Holidays” where I teamed up with another 9 artists. We will teach you how to create a variety of beautiful handmade gift ideas to share the handcrafted spirit in your gifts!

Click on the images and links to learn more about this super fun class, there’s lots and lots of things to discover and we will have a great time learning from amazing artists!

SIGN UP TODAY!

See you in class very soon!

Among princesses and wolves

On June 8th, 2016, I had the honor to have my second solo exhibit at Gameros Manor, in my hometown, Chihuahua, Mexico.

The museum I showed is a beautiful Art Noveau mansion built in 1910 that now serves as the regional art museum of Chihuahua.

I was lucky enough to show my art on one of the main rooms in the second floor, just in front of impressive stairs and a massive stained window, and I felt just like the high society ladies that lived there during the times of the Mexican revolution, with fluffy dresses and elegant jewelry.

This exhibit was called Among wolves and princesses”, I got inspired by the original fairy tale stories from the Grimm brothers and many others.

I did extensive research and I learned a lot about the original stories, which have a much darker tone that the sugar coated versions that have been passed to us over time, and god forbid, the saccharine Disney versions.

I also had the opportunity to work on large format paintings, something I don’t do very often, but it was super fun letting my darker side lurk around in the canvas, with new interpretations of the fairy tales I had read since I was a child.

Opening night came and I got to give a short and emotional speech that made me shed emotional tears, I was very happy to see all my family and friends gathered for such an special occasion.

My parents helped cut the ribbon for the official opening and everyone came in to enjoy my art… I was so nervous because I did not know how many people was going to attend outside my friends and what were they going to think.

It turned out to be a packed night! There was lots and lots of people and a queue formed outside to let people trough, and everyone was taking selfies with my paintings and me… It’s such an unusual experience having complete strangers asking to get a picture with you!

My super sister decorated the pace and turned the food table into a little handmade forest with cupcakes, candy and moody lighting and decorations, she made sure everyone had an amazing experience there.

I really had a wonderful time, and I treasure the memories I made, the friends I met and the comments I got about my work. It really made me feel proud of being an artist and doing my part to make the world a better place.

The paintings will return to me soon and I will share the ones that have not been sold at the museum in case you are interested, they are a twist of my usual work with moodier colors and more mature themes, but I am sure you are going to love them.

Just take a look at the main piece, sleeping beauty, and you will know what I mean,  bound by thorns, naked and vulnerable as she holds a rose in her hands, but her body hides a secret that only once you look you understand.

I’ll let you know when they are back and prints and the originals are available for you to enjoy.

Many special thanks to my friend Marcela for getting me the show, and to the University of Chihuahua for providing the venue for my second show.