Work Back in Progress

I have been away from the studio for a couple of weeks traveling, so I do not have a new completed art doll to share with you.  However, I did have one figure waiting patiently on the work table for my return for completion.  I’m not completely set on a title just yet, but she is a new take off on an earlier art doll sculpture titled “Secret Keeper”.

Unlike her predecessor, who was costumed in sort of an “Earth Mother” type style, this doll is covered in rich fabrics in an ornate style. Perhaps she has more valuable secrets she is guarding.

work in progress image of Secret art doll

Work-in-progress of Secret

At the moment, she looks a bit alien without her hair. I will be sure to share some new images when she is complete in a couple of days.

Art Doll and a Doodle

Newest Art Doll sculpture

This week I completed an art doll that recalls my very first figure sculpture that crossed that figure sculpture to art doll line.  That piece titled “No Rag-Doll” was a mixed media mash up of a non-floppy rag doll, and a metal sculpture.  It was that piece that hooked me, and made me want to explore figure sculptures expressed as art doll more.

My new not-so-floppy rag doll is titled “Rag-doll Retool”.  She is a reimagined steampunk version of a rag doll.

Rag-doll Retool seated art doll figure sculpture

Rag-doll Retool

For this piece I started with a sculpted polymer clay face, with layered paint and glaze eyes. Metal facial elements were sculpted over the baked clay then drilled and glued in place with miniature metal hardware elements. Her body is my usual padded fabric over wire fame, with the addition of a fabric soft-sculpted head and hands. All elements of this art doll’s clothing are hand sewn in place, as is her natural fiber wigging.

My Rag-doll Retooled will make her gallery debut in September during my gallery show.

Steam Doodle Pendant

Steam Doodle pendant

Steam Doodle pendant

I needed to work on some more jewelry pieces for the gallery this week as well.  The Steam Doodle pendant above is just that, a doodle that started with a piece of wire rather than a line on a paper.  The initial twisted shape I then added to, until it felt complete.  I’m finding with these wire wrapped pieces that this more improvisational approach seems to work.  Start simple, add a piece here and there, and sort of let the jewelry design itself.   This pendant is paired with a ball chain, and is available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

More Work in Progress

Perhaps a few days late, but as promised, here is a completed image of the Lacing III art doll that I showed in progress last week.

Lacing 3 art doll

Lacing III

I’m not sure that the title will stay exactly the same. This art doll will most likely remain in the studio as part of inventory build up for my gallery show in September.  Available sculpture in the gallery will have a part to play in that decision making process.  The piece I shared two weeks ago, Cello, will definitely wait until that show, as I chose her image as my early publicity piece for that show.

Lacing III is similar to Cello in scale as well. I have been increasing the size of my art dolls slightly.  I find that it is easier to focus more on details of the figure’s features with a bit more room to work with.  Taking a step back however, I notice that I have increased the head and face much more than the proportions of the rest of the body.  This does give an interesting stylistic look, but I’m not sure I’m quite where I want to be.  I spent quite a bit of time soft sculpting Lacing III’s body, but she still looks thinner than I want her to be, and her hands and feet need to be increased as well.  I’m obviously not going for any form of hyper realistic rendering with these figures, but I want to avoid them falling into the realm of caricature.

I guess the next art doll sculpture will offer ample opportunity to address those design challenges.  Each work teaches me something new for its successor.  It is interesting to go back and look at the evolution.  This not only illustrates change, but highlights some interesting past design choices that I may have forgotten.  I just had such an opportunity prior to starting to write this post.  I was adding images to the gallery available for insertion into my posts, and updating the Art Dolls page of this site.  If you have not visited that page. I have most of the art doll figures I have made in the gallery there with prices listed for those that are still available for purchase.  I try my best to keep all those available toward the beginning so that you do not have to scroll through them all unless you want to.

I’m off to put in an order for the Professional Doll Makers Art Guild coffee table book.  It is only available to members at this time, but I will share a link in the future if you are interested.  In the mean time, the link above will take you to my page on their web site.

Another Art Doll in Progress

Art Doll Work in Progress

Had a busy couple of weeks outside of the studio, and I don’t quite have a finished art doll to share with you today.  So, I thought that instead I’d show you my current work in progress.  Like the piece from my last post, Chello, this one is with inspired by earlier art doll sculptures, and is on the slightly larger scale that I I want to shift my figures to.

Lacing III

This current art doll figure sculpture is a third seated dancer figure who will be lacing up her toe shoes.  I like to pour over internet images when in the thinking phase for a new piece.  Degas’s dancers offer up a wealth of visual inspiration.  I find myself drawn most to his behind the scenes pieces. Images of dancers stretching at the bar, engaged in conversation, and of course putting on their shoes, catch my eye.  Those images make me imagine more of a story to go along with them, than a grand leap captured during the performance of someone else’s storytelling.

Paperclay elements and wire armature of art doll work in progress

Paperclay elements and wire armature of Lacing III

Lacing III will be seated pulling across the ribbons of one of her shoes.  Her eyes will be slightly down cast focusing on her task, and will draw the viewer down closer to see her fully. In the photo above you see her paperclay head and hands on her body’d wire armature.  Her final position will be set after I have her all together to balance the gesture I want to achieve with the stability of her seated posture.

Refine and Reshape

detail of paperclay hands. 2nd clay layer drying for sanding and shaping

detail of 2nd layer of paperclay hands drying

I chose paperclay for this art doll’s hands.  This choice will allow me to have greater control and detail since the eye will be drawn to what the figure sculpture happens to be doing. This image was snapped after my second layer of clay was added to the wire and floral tape hand armature.  Additional shaping and sanding will refine their shape a bit more.

One of the advantages of creating my art doll figures the way that I do, is that I can tweak and change things as I work.  The sculptor that carves or chisels is confined by earlier choices and decisions.  My figures are even more forgiving than those sculpted fully in clay, because I leave so much of the sculpture able to be repositioned.

close up of art doll with face plate to guage eye placement

need to shift eyes a bit

Even though my Lacing III art doll will have her eyes looking down at her shoe, I see from a quick test fitting with her copper face plate, that I will have to reposition her eyes just a bit.  she looks just a bit suspicious of her doll artist sculptor at the moment.

With any luck, Lacing II will be complete and ready to meet you in my next post.

 

 

 

art doll mixed media figure sculpture titled "Cello" by Lynn Wartski.

Another Art Doll Musician

Art Doll and Her Cello

“Cello” started out as a thought when listening to a gallery customer who was trying to find my piece “psyche-Delia”, and then lamenting when she found out the art doll figure had been sold.  Psyche-Delia, a psychedelic rocker, and her earlier flower-child inspiration, “Janice”, both possessed diminutive guitars that I had fashioned for them.  I really enjoyed creating both of those art doll figures, and each had graced the front of my gallery artist bio-cards for a time as a representation of my work.  The time seemed right for a new musician to enter the fold.

art doll mixed media figure sculpture titled "Cello" by Lynn Wartski.

art doll “Cello

Cello takes form.

Cello started in my metal studio with a hammered copper face, cut and brazed hands, and a pair of torch fired enamel glass eyes over brass brads.  I chose to tweak the scale of all of these elements, as I’ve been thinking of changing the size of my art doll figures just a bit.  I have had a few larger figures, and I like the extra presence they have as sculptural works.

I chose to keep the figure itself rather simple and draw attention instead to the instrument she is playing. Cello’s cello I constructed from cardboard and modeling paste. Some careful cuts with an x-acto and patients while glue was setting was required, along with constant glancing back and forth to some reference photos.  Though the “strings” of the instrument are plain copper wire, I was able to infuse a bit of musicality into the instrument by using discarded guitar string on the bow.

The last element needed to bring life to Cello was her wigging.  I used natural wool fibers from the sheep of HGA artist, Susan Hope, to provide Cello’s unique coiffure.  Her long black dress and simple black “leather” shoes are hand constructed, and sewn in place.

Princess Make-Over Art Doll

I know what you may be thinking.  Why would a princess need a make-over? Aren’t they already ideal? I do like to occasionally turn to fairytales and children’s literature for inspiration in my art doll sculptures.  Though it is very fertile ground for ideas, it is also a well traversed bit of land. Many of the images we hold in our heads of these characters are the saccharine sweet animated versions.  One or too may be so much so, that they can even cross the line to annoying for some of us.  I have to admit that I personally have had that reaction to the animated Snow White, and have long thought she could use some updating.

My “Different Snow”  art doll figure takes a cue from the writing of Gregory Maguire and perhaps a bit of flavor from the more current “Huntsman” movies. She is beautiful and strong, and can fend for herself, thank you very much.

art doll figure sculpture titled Different Snow by Lynn Wartski

Different Snow

My Snow did not get tricked by the poison treat she was offered.  She has it in hand, and instead has every intention of returning the gift to the giver, with perhaps an additional statement from her sword.  She is dressed a bit more appropriately for battle than serenading birds.

the “Different Snow” sculpture stands 15 inches high on a custom made stand.  She has an armored “leather” tunic over her red velvet dress.  Her battlefield crown sits on her helmet, and armored leggings are tucked into her heeled boots.

I chose to sculpt Snow’s face and hands from paperclay. The media allows for much more refined shaping of her features.  The image used is Work-in-Progress, as I added a bit of lip coloring and some additional refinement of her fingers before applying a sealing coat to the paperclay.

Snow is available and on display at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

 

The Girl With The Curl

Art Doll Leads The Way

Last week I wrote about working on art doll sculptures that were somehow related to earlier works.  I was working on one of those pieces, and she too led me to an interesting place by the time she was complete.  She even told me what her name should be.

I had been thinking about one of my own favorites among my art doll sculptures, Wednesday’s Child.  She is the piece that I use as my profile picture on my Lynn Wartski Sculptures Facebook page. I like this particular art doll because of the amount of expression and gesture I was able to capture in her copper features.  She is relatively simple in comparison to many of my figure sculptures.  Just a seated figure clad in black, but her posture and face tell you all you need to know about her mood.

Looking Back and Ahead

Wednesday went to a good home quite a while ago. I wanted her reprise to have a very different look, but capture the same feel.  I started with the same girl dressed at the turn of the 20th century look, but this time in all light hues.

seated art doll figure sculpture titled Girl with the Curl

Girl with the Curl

Where Wednesday’s Child had a very simple dress of black lace gathered at the neck, I chose to create a separate skirt and top with lace hems and cuffs this time.  Her clothes being much more complex lends that “poor little rich girl” feel to Curl.

My Name Is…

I must admit that I had a working title something more like The Second Wednesday for this art doll.  Her title screamed itself out the minute I decided to wig her with some of the natural wool I received from one of our other very talented Hillsborough Gallery of Arts artists, Susan Hope. I was going for sort of a “strawberry blonde” in the food coloring dye job I was doing. I put one single drop of red in with the twenty or so yellow I added, but bright orange it is.  I decided to go with it, and the wonderful natural curl of the wool.  I just couldn’t help myself in adding the accent curl that dips down into her forehead.  So, The Girl With The Curl (in the middle of her forehead) she is.

 

Girls in the Gallery… Art Dolls Around

Art Doll inspiring Art Doll

As I am working today in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, it seemed a nice opportunity it to revisit some of my art dolls displayed around the space.  Many of my sculptures take their inspiration from their predecessors.  I often find myself thinking of how I would execute a piece differently the minute I finish it.  Most of the sketches I have been making for the work for my next feature show have been falling into this category.  Though I am not quite ready to start sharing some of the works in progress with you, I thought I’d share a few that might pop up in a new form sometime in the near future.

Fairytales Reimagined

art doll "...And the Pea" by Lynn Wartski on display at HGA

…And the Pea

Fairytales, folktales, and children’s literature provide a wealth of raw material for my figures.  Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland are two that spring to mind immediately.  “…And The Pea” is my nod to the the Princess and the Pea tale.  My version is shown here reclining on several of her cushioned mattresses, and holding the source of her discomfort in her hand for the viewer to pay witness to. I believe my next fairytale inspired piece will involve some sort of poison fruit.

Mixing Media

art doll "Media" by Lynn Wartski on display at HGA

“Media” at HGA

“Media is one of my artist’s favorite pieces.  She is currently the image I have on my gallery bio cards.  Media is a great representation of my love of playing with all sorts of materials.  The puzzle presented creating a sculpture like Media is the type of challenge I love working on.

Snowy Day

art doll "Snow Day" by Lynn Wartski on display at HGA

“Snow Day”

Snow Day, was created on a day that felt a little too cold to hammer metal in the outdoor studio, and was my first use of polymer clay in one of my art doll sculptures. I used one of the  design choices from my very first art doll “No Rag Doll” by creating a face plate that is sewn on to a stuffed fabric head.  This sculpture is a bit larger and free standing, both ideas that I’d like to incorporate in future art dolls.

Delicate Landing in Window Sunshine

art doll "Delicate Landing" by Lynn Wartski on display at HGA

Delicate Landing in the window

“Delicate Landing” is a very recent sculpture created for our January show titled “Flow.”  We worked with several local poets to honor conservation efforts along the Eno River.  I decided to go all in on our nature theme, and use biodegradable materials as much as possible in her construction.  The wings of this wood sprite art doll feature text from Thoreau, Emerson and Aldo Leopold on nature and conservation. I like the extra point of connection provided by incorporation of text that might have played in the inspiration of a sculpture.  I first explored this with my “Paper Alice” art doll.

I look forward to sharing where these and other past sculptures lead me next.

 

 

Art Doll, Show, and Missing Post

Missing Post

I just realized that a couple of weeks ago when I shared my latest art doll sculpture, “Santos Caitlin”, that I had promised to share details on the opening reception, and reading by Alan Gurganus.  Well, we hung the gallery, I missed the opening due to another commitment, and we had the reading this past Sunday.  So very sorry that I didn’t get the dates and times to you, but thank you to all that attended anyway. Luckily, the gallery promotional mechanism is much more regular that my bog posts.

But, never fear if you wanted to see the show, because it will still be up at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts until March 20th.  Here’s a sneak peek.

 Lynn Wartski art doll in "It's All About the Story: " show at HGA

“It’s All About the Story: IV Alan Gurganus”

You can see my “Santos Caitlin” cage art doll sculpture on a pedestal against the far wall.  Many of the pieces have accompaning text describing their inspiration from the Alan Gurganus novellas we read.  There was a nice write up on the show in our local news paper The News of Orange.

New Art Doll Creation

I now turn my attention to building a new body of work for my own upcoming feature show in September.  It seems like a long way off, but early images and information for publications about our shows sometimes need to go out months in advance. It is good to have several pieces to choose from when they are called for. This means that I now have to start the yearly process of creating new sculptures that I sort of hold back from bringing into the gallery or putting up online for sale.  Don’t worry, I will still share any art doll I’m working on here with you, but many will not be available until the feature show.

I will be showing with two uber talented artists, Linda Carmel and Marcy Lansman.  Our show will be titled, “Go Figure”, as the work of all three currently contains human figures.  As for my own work in the feature show, I like to have a connected theme between the pieces I put in as well.  I think I have my working idea, but I’m going to let it percolate for a bit before I share.

 

Art Doll for a Story

Almost time for “It’s All About The Story”

My latest art doll sculpture is a santos cage doll based on a character from Alan Gurganus’ novella “Saints Have Mothers“.  As some of you may be aware, each February at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts we present a show entitled “It’s All About The Story” in conjunction with one the many well known Hillsborough authors.  This year we were lucky enough to play with the content of the three novellas in Gurganus’ collection Local Souls.

The stories in Local Souls are all set in Mr. Gurganus’ fictional town of Falls, NC.  In “Saints Have Mothers” we are introduced to the character of Caitlin Mulray through the eyes of her mother Jean. Caitlin is an almost too good to be true character who is off during high school summer vacation volunteering in Africa.  She is reported missing and dead by a scam artist, and before she is able to return, her mother and other members of the community start to plan a memorial celebration that mushrooms out of control.

art doll Santos Caitlin cage doll

Santos Caitlin cage doll

Cage Art Dolls

In researching my design for this sculpture I came across santos dolls.  I had seen other cage art dolls before, but hadn’t made the connection between them and santos dolls. Most often seen dressed in elaborate robes for saint days and other festivals they are a type of folk art of sorts. The traditional forms are usually a carved and painted wooden head and torso that is set atop a cage base made of wooden slats or wire. For an art doll based on a character from a story about a local “saint” the connection seemed almost too good to be true. I decided that my Caitlin sculpture needed to be a cage doll.

Santos Caitlin features a web of tiny shoes within her cage skirt. One of the saintly tales of Caitlin’s good works was that she was constantly giving things away to charity, these contributions included most of her mother’s shoes. I find the use of copper and brass foils for her face and halo-like head piece add the look of an icon to the sculpture as well. Likewise, Caitlin’s midriff revealing top recalls the armor of Joan D’arc.

My Santos Caitlin art doll figure sculpture will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting the last week of February.  I will post dates and times for the opening reception and the author reading once the show is installed.