Category Archives: Art Dolls

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.

Delivering a Commissioned Art Doll

I had an very interesting commission inquiry a couple of months back.  I was contacted by an individual who had seen and admired my art doll sculptures at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. I was asked if I would create a figure of a doctor who had just delivered a baby.  As it was the height of the “holiday ornament and jewelry season” for me, I was lucky that this patron was in no particular hurry for the sculpture’s completion.

As the child of an obstetrician, with I’m guessing just a dash of nostalgia, this collector’s assemblage of figures contains mostly pieces depicting the slightly bygone era when the attending physician extracted the baby’s first cry with a quick pat to the bottom.  I worked up several sketches for this piece. Some standing, some sitting, some holding the baby in the doctor’s arms. My personal favorite was of a medieval midwife holding a babe in swaddling.  I may choose to create some version of that figure in the future.  The customer chose a sketch more in line with the existing collection.  The resulting art doll figure I refer to as “Delivery”.

commissioned mixed media art doll of doctor with baby

Delivery Commission

I chose unbleached muslin for the doctor scrubs, and metal and faux-leather elements on the surgical mask and head reflector in keeping with the steampunk flavor of my work. This aesthetic is further emphasized by letting a bit of the doc’s conduit forearms peek out.  I like that this also helps to place this figure in an earlier time in the viewer’s eye.  The baby, I kept very simple and stylized by fashioning him/her out of copper tubing and wire, with a featureless wooden bead for a head.  However, I couldn’t resist adding just an extra bit if whimsy by adorning the little crown with a tuft of copper curls.

The piece stands about fourteen inches tall on its stand. I hope that I receive a photo once this figure is housed alongside the others in the collection.

Art doll Delicate Landing mixed media figure sculpture

All Natural Art Doll for “Flow”

The holiday season took quite a bit of my studio attention to keep up my inventory  of ornaments, jewelry items, and ornament cards along side art doll sculptures in the gallery.  Now that the new year has begun, the the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts returns to it’s normal cycle of monthly feature shows, and it is time for me to return my own body of work.

Currently, HGA is hosting our second annual state wide juried art show, “Resolutions 2016”.  A wonderful selection of work in a variety of media awaits the gallery visitor.  It is well worth the time to check it out.  The show is up in the feature gallery through January 24th.

Our next show is one of two yearly group themed shows featuring all of the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts artists,  The show opening January 29th is titled, “Flow”, and it is a collaborative fusion of visual art and poetry, featuring the words of several local poets.  All of the work for Flow is inspired by the natural environment, and will honor the Eno River Association’s work on conservation. I’ll fill you in on more of the show and reception details in a week or so.

My piece for our Flow show is, “Delicate Landing”.

Art doll Delicate Landing mixed media figure sculpture

Delicate Landing

Delicate Landing is a mixed media art doll sculpture executed in primarily natural biodegradable materials. She is paperclay over carved wood with her hair, skirt, and wings crafted in various forms of paper.   Delicate Landing is touching down among the trees on a “moss” carpet of needle felted wool.  In keeping with the theme and form of the “Flow” show, Delicate Landing’s wings gain their lift from some of the words of Thoreau, Emerson and Leopold.

Delicate Landing will be on display along with the work of the other HGA artists and our guest poets starting January 25th.

…And The Pea Art Doll, New Show

New Art Doll

The latest art doll in my series of fairytale inspired sculptures is based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea.  This doll I have simply titled, “…And The Pea”, and she is currently reclining on display at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

reclining figure art doll ...And The Pea

…And The Pea art doll

…And The Pea is perched on top of the last four of her hundreds of mattresses.  I chose to return to hammered copper features and hands for this art doll to contrast with her other overly cushiony and fabric elements.  The sculpture holds the source of her nocturnal discomfort in her hand for the viewer to see.  The pea in this piece is a shiny green glass bead.  …And The Pea’s wonderfully touseled “bead head” is made from crinkly paper packing material, and she has bright blue torch fired enamel eyes.

New Art Doll Show

This morning I installed a show in the 3D display at the Carol Woods retirement community in Chapel Hill.  Each month, the members of the community’s Arts Interest group invite a pair of artists to show in their beautiful community center.  I do apologize for the image quality, but there really wasn’t any combination of lights on or lights off that would allow you to see the figures in the case while also eliminating glare on the glass.

Two art dolls in Carol Woods display case

Carol Woods Display

There are three sections to the display, and it currently houses 10 of my sculptures and art dolls.  Tomorrow evening there will be a small reception at 4:30,  and a 15 minute presentation by each artist in the media room, followed by dinner with the Art Interests group.

More new work on the way next week, but in the meantime, I need to go and finish up creating my slide show for tomorrow night’s presentation.  If you are in the Chapel Hill area tomorrow, please feel free to show up for the show’s opening reception.

 

 

Art Doll Working Titles and Photos

Working in the Gallery

I took two of my newest pieces to work with me at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts today. In between welcoming visitors, and discussing the art, I can sometimes get little projects, like writing a blog post, done.

As I usually have several art dolls in various stages of completion on my work table, I decided to take two into the gallery with me so that I could share them with you.  I still have a stand to paint for one, and to decide on the second’s title, so phone snap shots will have to serve for the time being.

Red

Red Riding Hood art doll figure sculpture

Red Riding Hood in the gallery

The next addition to my series of fairytale dolls, is my interpretation of Red Riding Hood. My Red has a hammered copper face and hands, and torch fired enamel eyes.  Her hand sewn clothing also features a lace up bodice. I’ll need to remember to move her hair a bit when I take my studio photos, so you can actually see it. I think her basket also needs a fabric liner and top to finish it off.  You will see Red again once I get her on her own stand.

Oops

seated art doll figure sculpture with working title Oops

Oops

This second figure is officially unnamed at this time.  She is a youthful seated figure in a little smock dress similar to an earlier art doll named Lily. Her expression emerged wide eyed and thoughtful.  I saw her as carefully considering some choice or problem.  My two “first viewers” at home thought that she appeared to be a bit worried that she had done something wrong.  I’m not completely sure about that interpretation, so for right now I’m going with her having made just a small misstep, and so I have named her Oops.

Oops, Red, and several other art dolls and sculptures will be installed in a show later this moth.  More on that to come.

 

Dancer and a Fairytale Art Doll

It has been two weeks since I’ve shared a new art doll, so this post have two new sculptures for you.

seated art doll "Lacing II"

Lacing II

The first is Lacing II.  As her name implies, she is a revisit to an earlier art doll.  I have done a number of dancer art doll sculptures.  They seem a natural subject area for doll figures.  Lacing II is a seated figure in the middle of lacing up one of her toe shoes.  With her copper face and hair, aluminum conduit arms, and faux leather elements of her skirt and shoes she evokes a steampunk aesthetic. I made the choice to fashion her hands, head, and shoulders out of paperclay.  This media allows for much finer details for hands gripping laces, delicate ears, and neck musculature. I costumed Lacing II simply to give the impression she is getting ready for practice rather than a performance.

Standing figurative sculpture art doll Otohime

Otohime

The art doll Otohime, is another sculpture in my series of Fairytale and folktale characters. She is a figure from Japanese stories.  I first encountered Otohime in Yuri’s Brush With Magic, a book by my mother-in-law, Maureen Crane Wartski.

Otohime, is a water goddess, and daughter of the dragon Emperor of the Sea, Ryujin. In the tale of the fisherman Urashima Taro, Otohime appears a small turtle that the kind hearted fisherman saves from taunting children.  Urashima is rewarded with a visit to the kingdom of the emperor, and the gift of a mysterious box that he must never open.

My Otohime art doll is a mixed media combination of paperclay and paper maché. Her “water” under skirt and tail are papermache over a chickenwire frame, with color and texture created by layer tissue paper. The figure’s head, upper body and hands are sculpted out of paperclay over a wire and foil armature.  Otohime’s unique wigging is made of twisted and glued tissue paper.  Elements from the metal studio serve only as embellishments as in the art doll’s torch enameled eyes, mesh collar, copper fan, and hair accessory. The kimono for Otohime is made from fabrics from the quilting collection that once belonged to Maureen as well.