Well, the launch of SPECIMENS OF THE SECRET FOREST, my latest online class came, maybe, at the worst of times.Maybe not, I don’t know. The world is going crazy. But I decided not to give in to the madness.
For me, this amazing opportunity to be a part of Jeanne Oliver’s network made my day. I’ve admired her for a long time and now, after working for months on this project, it is finally released and you can sign up to escape from madness for a while and visit the enchanted forest and their beautiful inhabitants when you click on this link.
After I got the news that the class is ready for enrollment and I should start letting you know about it, I started thinking and debating internally if I should be this happy when the world is on fire, and after a lot of thinking, I came to the conclusion that, yes, we ALL have the right to be happy, even in these days.
Because happiness is force of nature. Happy people have hope, and with hope comes the will to overcome things. And we will overcome this. Together, let’s create more happiness and spread it to the ones around it who need a ray of light to brighten their day.
Go and hug your pet, tell your love ones you love them, make art, help the ones in need. I promise you, it will be worth it.
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!
Let’s paint a beautiful watercolor version of Little red Riding Hood. I decided to film the video on location to show you how fun it can be to just whip out your paint, your brush and some paper and enjoy nature. It was a relaxing afternoon, and you can hear the birds and insects chirping and buzzing around was I work. Like a mini holiday to the forest!
I hope you are having a great long weekend! After your fun day ends and you’re ready to sit and hit the internet, remember to check out my Memorial Day Sale. EVERYTHING IS 25% OFF my online gallery and shop when you use coupon code MEMORIAL2017 on your checkout.
I admired them when I got them out the packing box and opened the metal tin that holds them, and I really did not want to do anything with them because they are so perfect and new in their box.
But this being a family of artists and creative fellows, it’s a known fact that when the mail truck drops something in our doorstep, it’s going to be something interesting to explore and my kids immediately come to investigate the contents of the boxes.
I turned around for a second and my son took over the box, ordering the colors so it looks like the rainbow and announced that I got very neat crayons in a very nice box.
And right after getting them ordered neatly, he went to his room, picked up his paper pad and asked my daughter if she could draw him so he could color the drawing, and after getting his portrait, he set off to work.
I really was not paying attention until I turned around and saw him working with them. My initial reaction was shock. He was using the very same expensive artist’s set of colors I was so afraid to use because they were new, perfect and just out of the box and he was using them to color the art of a six year old.
But just like that that, It dawned on me how careless he was using them, just enjoying the process and not caring at all what pedigree they have or what they are supposed to be used for. He just got a new box of colors, so he did what seemed natural. Use them and enjoy them! By the time he was done, two of them were broken, all of them were blunted and with the paper peeled and clearly showing signs of use.
He colored himself with blue hair, the T-Shirt and shorts he was wearing and eating (One of his favorite activities!) His drawing is free, careless and just for the thrill of watching the colors run on the paper.
He was so proud of what he accomplished that he gave it to me, so we took his work and placed in the art gallery that also doubles as a fridge.
And you know what? I realized I was very much OK with him using the watercolor crayons. He taught me a very important lesson about my art supplies and what I’m supposed to do with them.
They look perfect in their boxes, neatly arranged in piles and drawers, a heaven of order and perfection. But my studio is not a window display. It’s a place to create. Having my material sitting there, pretty and perfect because I’m unwilling to use them because I will mess up their perfection is not what I should do with them.
I must get messy, create, tear, break and stain my things to show them I want to create with them. I will no longer be afraid of a new box of art supplies because they are pristine.
I will see it as an opportunity to begin a close relationship with them, feel them glide over paper and canvas and enjoy them fulfilling their purpose. Because that’s what are supplies are for, to create, to let us unleash our creativity and let our beautiful world of ideas into the open, where we can enjoy what artists love doing the most.
“Ever After” is a mixed media art & style development course with a fairytale theme hosted by Tamara Laporte from Willowing Arts. I will be joining Tam and 11 mixed media art teacherson this class. Together we will share beautiful fairy-tale inspired lessons with you and we will also share our hints and tips on how each one of us developed our own style and how you too can find your own unique voice as an artist! 🙂 Yay!
My chosen fairy tale for the class will be Alice in Wonderland, one of my favorite themes to explore and develop in my artistic adventures, and i will show you how the tale has inspired me to find my style and creativity while I show you the mixed media techniques I use as you watch me create a painting with Alice and her wonderland companions.
So if you want to start your summer drawing and painting fairy-tales, exploring your own personal story and style and hang out with a wonderful creative community of like-minded souls,be sure to join once registration opens! 🙂
And… I have another surprise! I can give away 1 space on Ever After to 1 lucky winner on a class giveaway!
So, what do you say? Do you want a a chance to join this amazing class with me and 12 more mixed media artists?
I wanted to be more active in sharing my art experiences with my friends and fans, and a few weeks ago I wrote a review for the wonderful Derwent Inktense color pencils I use on my paintings and dolls.
The review was very well received and a lot of you sent emails requesting me to review more of the products and materials I use on my studio, so I am reaching out to you to see what you’d like me to review next. Leave a comment here on my blog, or send me an email with your thoughts on what you’d like to see next.
If the reviews get enough interest, I may start a regular feature where I review my favorite art supplies, along with new products that pick my interest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!