Over the last few months I have been rather intensively concentrating on making sculpture (with the odd doll thrown in, because sometimes I just NEED to make one). And then last week I got what is a rather large order for some finished "Zozie" dolls. After getting back from setting up my Hobart exhibition, I got stuck right in, because I want to get them done and sent off before Christmas. Work is well underway and I should have the order ready to go out at the weekend. Although these are quicker to make than most of the dolls I make, this is still fairly labour intensive. But I don't really mind that. And I like to make each one a little different, even though their little faces come out of the same mould and their bodies are made to the same pattern.
I've been having a lot of fun re-interpreting famous portraits of women as miniatures in high relief. Each one is framed in a small glass-fronted shadow box and painted as closely as I can get to the original, notwithstanding that I am working from reproductions and very small. I'm calling this ongoing project "La Femme Encadree" (the woman in the frame) and the joyful thing about it is that I will never run out of material - there are so many wonderful portraits out there!
These are the first three of hopefully many.......I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed making them! (Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Modigliani)
I'm getting to the pointy end......I am participating in a group exhibition in Hobart opening next month (more about that in a day or two) and I set myself a goal to make fifteen new pieces. With just two weeks left, I have a little way to go, but I think I'm going to make it. I certainly won't be stressing if I only get to thirteen or fourteen......Needless to say, I'm not doing very much of anything else!
While I am enjoying the work, I'm looking forward to a slightly less frenetic pace over summer. Who knows? I might even get to work on some projects that are sheer indulgence!
For this new piece, I needed to paint the cloth body to resemble some kind of stone - granite - and with a combination of underpainting, spattering and controlled brushwork, I managed to achieve the kind of look I was aiming for. Almost.
I was about halfway through making this wall doll (hangs on the wall) when I decided I didn't like it one little bit......it just wasn't working how I envisioned it. I was about to bin it and use the head on something else, but something stayed my hand and I decided to give it one more chance, probably because I'd already spent quite a few hours on it and it would have been such a waste of time. So I persevered and painted. Added a wild wig and a twiggy finial at the bottom. A moment came when I discovered that the piece was redeemed! It had been worth saving......... So here is "Spiritus Loci"......back from the brink!
This is the completed piece with the mummified mouse encased in resin.....various other materials were used in the completion of the piece..........Also the next thing I'm working on in the studio. This should be completed in the next day or two, I hope!
I have a few things on the go in my studio this week......a piece of mixed media sculpture coming along. I have tried to imbue this with a bit of ambiguity and mystery:
In the doll-making department, I've come up with a body and limbs for my elfbaby head. This one has a body made from synthetic doe suede, which is a lovely tactile fabric for a doll body. The head is knit cotton fabric over paperclay, sized and painted.
When I'd finished sewing, stuffing and assembling this body, I thought it was a tad too small for the head, but not so much that I wanted to re-do it! I'll just enlarge the pattern a wee bit before I use it again.
Here she is all but done. The dress is stained gauzy fabric; the hat is stained, knitted cotton, her pointy-toed leggings are knit fabric and her leafy necklace is made from leather.....and finally, with a couple of finishing touches:
People often ask to look inside my journals.......I don't actually mind this too much, but it can feel like someone is rummaging around in my brain, because my journal is my thinking tool.....the place where I work things out and sometimes write or draw some fairly personal stuff. I have journals that go back to 1969.......that is a a lot of years of recorded thought! One day I might get them all out and try and put them in chronological order and just have a bit of a wander through my past ("The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there" - L.P. Hartley) Now I kind of wish I'd used a standard shape and size for all my journals, so they could be neatly shelved in an orderly manner, but I haven't, so that cannot be - that might be a bit of a metaphor for how I do things generally, actually - mis-matched, odd-sized and out of order, but it is what is is. Here is a page spread from my current journal and the beginnings of some new work generated by those ideas:
"Lyra" is the latest in a series of cloth dolls with similar thoughtful countenances, but finished in different coloured costumes and paintwork. They all have bodices made of stiffened lace attached to their torsos, which have been painted with multiple layers of subtle colour. I used hand-coloured silk and cotton for their dresses.
I don't often lay my soul bare for the whole world to see.......but I have in this new piece. It's called "Memento Mori - Ben Lomond 10th June 2014". I've included a few w.i.p. photos that show something of the process I use in putting something like this together.