After the amazing feedback I had from my latest dreamy ink paintings I knew I had to make more paintings like this.
Working without a care is always a delight and now that I am feeling creative I wanted to make a few more of these lovely paintings.
The crispy vintage paper lets the ink flow in a very unusual way, creating images with a ghostly quality.
They are perfect for the ideas that I have on my mind now, combining memories from a distant past from my family and friends.
Life experiences and ties between our ancestors make us what we are today. We stand on the shoulders of the ones that came before us to be what we are today, and even tough they may be long gone, their memories still live within us.
I wanted to remember that we are all connected, we are all belong somewhere else thanks to our connections from our pasts. At some point, our families were migrants too. They arrived to new places, they were received with love and respect and thrived into what we are today.
That is why I chose to divert from making realistic, detailed faces. They are like the memories of our ancestors, faded in time and space but still with us, on what we remember of them, our our family traditions, on our culture.
Even after all this time, lest us not forget that they came before us, some from distant places, always looking for a better future for themselves and their descendants. We admire them for their courage, and thank them for taking the risk of leaving what they knew to try to make a better world for us who came before them.
I’m still adjusting to the big change that we had to go over last year. As you know, I had to sell my house and after a huge amount of problems and situations, I moved back to my old home.
This house is old, has a lot of issues that need fixing and it’s not as nice as the one we had before, but I like it. It’s the place where I brought both my kids when they were born and when’re they took their first steps and said their first words. It’s got family history.
Unfortunately, now that I have two kids and one of them is on the brink of being a teenager and the other one an incredibly active first grader, we don’t have a lot of space. I had to give up my former studio to give each one of them a room, and I took over the living room as a makeshift studio.
That means we are still living under a lot of unpacked studio boxes, containers and who knows what else. I am missing half of my materials because I have nowhere to put them, but art calls and I need to work.
My creative brain needs to work, my bills need to be paid but I don’t have a lot of space… What to do?!?
I had to take the situation with a little humor and remembered one of my favorite books, “It’s not easy being a bunny” (Believe me… it’s not!) where he wants to be a lot of things besides a bunny.
Like P. J. Funnybunny, I said to myself… Now I want to be… A WATERCOLORIST!
And you know what? I LOVE IT!!!! I had worked on watercolors before, it’s one of my favorite mediums and I even teach an introductory online class, but I never took it as my main medium because there are so many things to work on!
But I am so glad I took this detour in life. Having to work in a little space and with limited resources has made me appreciate the magic of water and pigment doing their work even more than I used to, and letting my artistic soul take over my brushes and paints and do it’s thing. It’s magical. And loving the process has allowed me to take my time, improve and experiment even more.
I am so happy with the process that most of the pieces I have been making find homes before they are even finished. And that fils my heart with joy. As an artist, it’s one of the greatest honors.
My style is also taking a new direction. More detailed faces and different themes. They still have the same melancholic eyes and mysterious faces, it’s just a new different me. What do you think of them? Do you like them?
This year has been very tough for me. Really bad this time.
Bad as in having to put everything on sale just to get by.
You may be wondering why, on the busiest season of the year, instead of being burning midnight oil creating, I am almost silent on social media, not posting anything and not showing off my latest creations.
Well, there’s a reason for that. And it’s definitively not a good one. It’s so bad that I have to put everything on Sale. Keep reading to know what I’ve been up to.
Due to very unexpected and difficult circumstances, I was forced to sell my home and move to my old house. Moving is a very difficult decision, and for an artist with a studio in their home even more so. Boxes and boxes of stuff have to be packed and put away.
On the busiest season of the year, no less.
That, I can deal with. I have moved before and although is very difficult, annoying and complicated, it can be done.
My Son and Daughter have to be dismissed from school and we had to look for a new school that will take them in the middle of the school year. Definitively not easy either.
Then, we get contracts signed, paperwork done and we’re getting ready to ask the people renting our home that we will need it so we can move back in. Lease has to be terminated early and we need to handle that. Expensive, but again, it can be done. And that is strike One.
My studio is just an empty room now. It sucks.
And then, we discover our renters wrecked out our hose. Big time. Damaged carpets. Non working bathrooms. Filthy and moldy kitchen. Broken stove and fridge. Everything is left on a very sorry state. I would show you pics but they will make you cry. And they are gone and in Mexican law is not easy to sue your tenants, and the move is going slow. I even had to get my parents to come over and help.
Mr. Danita now has to take time off work to get things going, fixing everything so we have a decent place to move in when closing date comes, ripping out carpets, fixing windows and many other things. I also help but I need to pack everything.
The proceedings from the sale of the house now need to be used in fixing up what we expect it to be a livable home instead of the use we had for them. Bummer. We’ll work it out. That really made things harder, but we will recover. That’s strike Two.
And then, today we get a call from our real state agent with the worst possible news we can get. Buyers are backing out and they are not signing. Without an explanation. On closing day.
We really are at a loss here, no idea what to do next. I’ve already moved my stuff in boxes and they are in Mexico, waiting to be unpacked at our home in the middle of an emergency renovation.
And now, we have no money to pay for the renovation because there is no sale. And on top of that, the mortgage payments will continue if we can’t find a buyer soon. That’s strike Three.
So, I am humbly asking for your help.
I will need to scramble whatever I can so that we can get back on our feet, but I have no studio to work on, no house to move in with my kids (Who luckily are now with their grandparents 4 hours away from where we live) and on top of that, on Christmas season.
That’s depressing me a lot, because on top of all my problems, the magic go Christmas is not home this year. We don’t even have a tree setup this year, and even if it sounds cliche, it’s making me depressed and crying. I really don’t know what do do.
I will be having a sale from today until the end of the year where everything on my shop will be discounted. If you were thinking about a handmade gift this Christmas season, would you consider one of my creations? Please? Anything will help me.
Believe me, I would not ask for your help if my situation was not so dire, but I am at a loss on what to do next. Hopefully next year things will get better.
As soon as my house is in a livable state I’m going to use a temp room and a table to start creating again, and I’ll keep you posted on the progress of things. Once I am back on my feet, I will make my studio nice again, and I’ll share the progress with you.
But for now, it’s time to figure out what to do. There’s a saying in Spanish, Uno pone, Dios dispone y llega el diablo y todo lo descompone. (One plans, God decides and then comes the Devil and messes everything up) So true now.
Some say that inspiration cannot be beckoned, it’s sacred and you have to wait for it come to you, and always ready to read the subtle signs that will tell you when it arrives. I have proof of that now.
I had been totally dry of ideas and I had this girl on my desk, waiting for inspiration to arrive, but to no avail. I kept on sketching on her, but none of my ideas really convinced me.
My last sketch turned out to be some kind of wings on her back, maybe butterfly wings, but I was not really sure what I wanted her to be.
I got frustrated, so I got up from my table and got out of the studio earlier than usual to pick up my kids from school. Maybe a walk could help me gather my ideas.
And just like that, I found it, right on my doorstep. It was a beautiful butterfly, flapping it’s wings on the sidewalk. It looked like it was hurt and trying to fly again but was not succeeding.
I thought about it and I carefully picked it up and took it inside. Maybe she just needed some water and food and she will be ready to fly again.
I put it in a box so it would not get hurt with a little sugary water in a bottle cap, and set out to pick up my kids from school.
I showed the butterfly to my kids and they took turns looking after it, they love animals and they were fascinated with it. My son took his art supplies and started sketching it, and my Daughter took a magnifying glass to study it while it was in the box.
What they didn’t know, and I really had no heart to tell them, was that the butterfly was not doing that good. It looked like it was her last day.
Next day I went to the box to see how it was doing, and as I expected, it didn’t make it.
And it got me thinking, it was alive one moment and the next, it was gone. Poof, just like that. After that, a tidal wave of thoughts and emotions flashed trough and I knew what to do.
I did art. It’s the best way I have to explain all my emotions and ideas and pour them out to the world. I painted the same butterfly wings on the girl I was working with, and I knew it was the right thing for her.
I had been depressed lately, with this feeling of uncertainty about my future as an artist and wondering if I really should continue this path or not.
After seeing this fragile creature hang on and bringing beauty to the world until it’s very last day, I knew I could not give up.
I painted that uncertainty I was feeling on the girl’s face. She is pondering about the future and knows she is fragile, but she is also beautiful.
She stands strong, because she knows that while she exists, there are things to do, places to explore, art to make.
even if you did not know her story, she is still a powerful image. I love the way she is standing, ready to take flight and explore the world.
and now that you know her back story, I think it becomes a much more intimate image. One that speaks of my hidden fears and how I overcome them day by day.
And of course, you know me. Once I start, I cannot stop, so I kept on painting all my feeling and emotions onto canvas until I ended up with a beautiful series of new paintings.
Some of them have my recurring themes, like the obsession I have for twins. You know, two minds, one body. I find the idea so fascinating.
I love the face on this girl, defiant yet gentle and sweet. I like to think that she is my self portrait.
Then I was thinking of the blue fairy from Pinocchio and the movie AI, and the beautiful butterflies I saw in Costa Rica, and I made a blue butterfly.
And last, a girl with a chrysalis on her back. She is waiting for the change that will come. She is not sure when or where it will happen, but she knows it will be one day. It’s a matter of waiting.This was a very emotional series for me, finding that butterfly really got me thinking if this was just a strange coincidence, or if there’s something looking after me and sending subtle messages and letting me know I should keep on making the world a beautiful place.
What do you think? Let me know on the comments section!
I was reorganizing the studio looking for materials to start making new art dolls, and then I found a box full of kokeshi doll bodies I forgot about. So, what did I do? Fridas!
I made a pair of super cute kokeshi dolls as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the famous artistic couple. Frida is a source of inspiration for me, and since I recently visited their homes in Mexico city, a homage to them was in order.
The original set sold immediately, and I got requests for more sets of these adorable handmade kokeshi art dolls. So, here they are. I still have a few unpainted bodies to share with you.Let’s go from unfinished bodies to a beautiful set of hand painted kokeshi art dolls, customized with your favorite colors to match your personality and decoration. What do you say? Will you get a set for you?
But I did not stop there… and I really don’t think I can make them any smaller than this.
In the box I found the original kokeshi bodies I found a few sets of tiny kokeshi doll bodies! I was on a roll and I took my finest brushes to make a few sets of micro Frida and Diego sets.
They measure just a little less than one inch tall (2.5cm), and they are adorable! If you like tiny things (I do!) you are going to love them… just see how huge a regular pencil looks next to them. It looks like I have a giant pencil laying around the studio.
The sets are only $35.00 each and I only have 4 of them. If you are interested, better head to my shop and choose your favorite!
I also made a painting too! A commissioned Frida with a house in her hands.
I had this commission almost finished when I made the dolls, so it felt like cheating when I added it to the newsletter… but then she is so beautiful it’s hard to resist not sharing her, right?
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.
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.