First day of Spring brought new friends to Danita Art!

Beautiful handmade Kokeshi Wooden Dolls are made by Danita to celebrate Spring and the coming of Easter with this little cute bunny rabbit figurines. Perfect for your Easter egg hunts!

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!

Danita paints by hand all her amazing kokeshi dolls to make each one of them unique and beautiful.

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.

Now it’s time to choose your favorite and adopt one (Or all!) of them. They are a little wild and shy, but you can tame them with love and some candy, and they will be super happy to live with you.

 

Alice in wonderland, or the evolution of an Artist

I have a new, very different series of paintings that I just finished about Alice in Wonderland, and you can enjoy the whole series on my online gallery, danitaart.com. But before you go there, I’d like to share with you the story behind the new series, and I invite to read on before you see them. I promise you it will be worth it.

I’m always in motion, always trying to learn something new or do something different, but for some reason, my art started to become static. I was being content with it because it was in the comfort zone, people like it and I can get by by being an artist. There’s food on my plate, I have a roof to live in and my kids are fed and go to school. So, things were fine.

Except for one tiny little detail. They were not.

There was this stirring on my soul, asking me, no, begging for change, and it was growing louder and louder by the minute. I realized I could not pretend it was not there any more. My changing nature was calling me.

I knew a change was coming, so I started preparing myself for it. I started hoarding my art supplies and my sketchbooks, and I spent my days furiously sketching and practicing for my new adventure while I struggled to find what my soul was trying tell me it wanted to do next.

It’s not always easy to obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul, and it’s very strange to realize there are things inside you that you did not know they were there, sleeping and waiting to be awakened.

And then, there’s the fear of rejection. My anxious mind will always play tricks on me, giving me thousand scenarios on why I should not go on, that it’s better to stay in known territory than moving along and threading in uncharted waters. What if no one likes it? What if your followers abandon you because you tried something different? What if you are booed at and you will never be an artist again and you will never be able to paint and you will end up living on a wet cardboard box on a backstreet alley until you die, old and forgotten?

And I said NO to that voice. I won’t die alone and forgotten on a cardboard box in an alley. I said NO, My followers will not abandon me. I said NO, they will like it. And if they don’t there will come the ones who do. They will understand the necessity I have for change, for movement in my life. I have been standing still for too long and I refuse to continue doing that.

And armed with that new found determination and my weapons of choice, I set out on a new adventure, and Alice in Wonderland was the perfect vehicle to find a new path. Like Alice, I set out to a place where anything is possible, and together we wayfared on a new world of colors, new faces and new techniques.

One of the strangest things I discovered is how a medium you know so well suddenly can become daunting and menacing when you want to do something different to what you’ve done before. Things that are familiar to you no longer feel safe, because you are now doing things that will test your head, and your mind, and your brain, too. I felt like Alice in front of the Red Queen, demanded to explain what I was attempting to, and why.

But I kept walking on Wonderland, one step at a time, one painting at a time. Loving the journey, loving the process, the learning and the joy of seeing my ideas come to fruition at last.

You can see all the effort and love I poured into my new work, the faces are different, more alive than ever, and the pieces themselves are darker in color but still dreamy. It’s funny because when I started I ran away from earth tone like the plague, and now here I am with dreamy, old style illustrations.

I called this an evolution in the beginning, but as I’m was done with the last painting of the series, I realized this was not an evolution. It was a revolution, a change so drastic and strong that after it things will not be the same.

Alice found the mad hatter and the rabbit in the end, and on my story, she decides to stay in Wonderland and start a new story there. Just like I will.

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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The road to perfection is full of bumps

Lady Clementine is one of my latest paper clay, handmade art dolls. She has a very interesting story on how she evolved and changed as I was bringing her into our world, and I thought it will be fun to show you.

Well, you already know that everything starts with an idea, and sometimes this idea is sleeping on my mind so deeply, that not even I know it’s there.

Lady Clementine started like one of my regular paper clay art dolls. I started painting her face with my Golden Acrylics, Holbein Watercolors and Sennelier Oil Pastels to give her a beautiful set of eyes and hand sculpted features.

Then, just like that, the idea came from it’s slumber and she awoke. She was coming from my world into ours and she needed my help. So, I gave her a glittery horn and a unicorn princess was born.

And being a princess, a unicorn princess to be exact, meant that she needed to be perfect. We tried lots and lots of hair until I found the perfect shade for her.

A perfect shade of pale pink that goes with her magical presence and her limitless innocence.

A lacy gown, pure white and vaporous like magic is what I had in mind for her clothes, so we got to work. Almost done!

But… Alas! Her face was perfect… for someone else. So we talked over and decided we needed to start all over again. No shame, no anger. She commands and I must obey.

Art behaves in very strange ways. Sometime I start with a very clear path but something happens that takes me in a totally different direction. Her eyes are now green and she has glitter in them to reflect the magic within.

Now her face has softer features, her eyes shine with magic and she looks much more innocent than in the beginning. She is ready to step into our world.

Our photographer said she was a challenge to capture her beauty. Like the magical creature she is, she proved to be elusive and mysterious, but in the end with some convincing she let herself photograph. Definitively, Unicorns are very difficult to catch on camera.

And here she is, in all her royal glory. Ready to be adopted and loved in a home that will teach her all about the human world. Will you take her home with you and protect Lady Princess Clementine?

A new batch of dolls has been adopted!

It’s time to make dolls! I got the urge to get my doll making materials and create something!

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As always, everything starts with an idea. I work on my sketchbooks and then I go back to them to get the best ideas for my new girls, and I start making the bodies using the same techniques I use in my online class, “A Doll Story”

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While I am making the bodies, I use paper clay to sculpt the faces, and I carve the facial features after the initial shape of the head is setup.

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Then, it’s time to paint the faces! Using the mixed media materials like pencils, pastels, acrylics and oils that I always use on my paintings, I create beautiful faces on their heads, with eyes and a soul within them.

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Layer upon layer of acrylic paint, pastels, pencils and oil paintings are used to create the beautiful shine I give to my doll’s eyes. When you gaze into their eyes, you can be sure that a little piece of me and my memories lives in each one of them.

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It’s time to let them dry, so I go ahead and I start designing their clothes using my collection of fabrics I have collected over the year on my visits to thrifty stores and other unusual places.

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After the heads are dry, I start making their arms and legs using the techniques you have learned from my online doll making class, “A doll story

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And as I attach the arms and legs, I take the fabrics I selected for the dresses and start to create personalities for each one of them, thinking about how they want to look and what colors will suit them best.

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Another thing I do is attach porcelain arms and feet as I attach the arms. I bought vintage molds to create the arms and legs and I pour each arm and leg using liquid clay and porcelain in my studio ahead of time so I always have a batch of arms and legs to use whenever inspiration strikes.

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Finally it’s time to start dressing them up! I design, cut and sew each one of their clothes and sometimes I create several layers of clothes for them. Like this girl, who will have very fluffy underpants to wear beneath her handmade skirt.

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Final details on their clothes like hand painting their boots are next, and those little details are, to me, the most important details that will give the doll a real life and personality.

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But something is still missing…. They are bold! So, it’s time to pick up 100% natural wool and give them hair on their heads.

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So much to choose from! I have to decide on a color, and a style, and a hairdo. Lots of work but finally, each one of them tell me how she wants to look.

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After all that work, they are almost done! It’s a matter of giving them accessories and to start preparing the boxes they will live in.

And then, the final step is to send them to my photo studio, where they get their final photos and they are ready to be adopted!

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Pauline

(Adopted!)

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Darlene

(Adopted!)

Elouise, a beautiful art doll in paper clay and fabric created by Danita.

Elouise

(Adopted!)

 

I hope you enjoyed this look at the process of making these beautiful art dolls, they are a lot of work, but for me, it’s worth every second I spend making them. Bringing them to life from raw materials fills me with an incredible joy and happiness.

And I want to thank you, because as I was typing this post, all of them got adopted. They are very happy to have found a forever home, and I know they will be loved when they arrive to their families.

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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