Category Archives: Art Dolls

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.

 

Vasilisa the Frog Princess

Vasilisa the Frog Princess is my latest art doll sculpture.  I wrote last time about doing some research into fairytales, and the Frog Princess was the first to catch my eye.  I had heard the tale of the Frog Prince, but had not encountered his feminine variant before. This intrigued me. Her name is  Tsarevna in some of the tales I read.

image of art doll "Vasilisa" standing figure sculpture in transformation.

Vasilisa the frog princess

The name Vasilisa actually appears in several different tales of primarily Russian origin. In many there is no mention of her having amphibious qualities. In one very Cinderella-ish version, complete with evil step mom and sisters, she is a girl with a magic talking doll that aids her. In others she is a true princess that has been bewitched. In another, she is actually a frog that is then transformed. Usually, some great skill at accomplishing tasks (with and without magical help) is what distinguishes her.

I captured my Vasilissa mid transformation from frog to princess.  She appears just a bit surprised that her left leg hasn’t yet caught up to the rest of her yet.  I enjoy the interplay between the fact that many characters in fairy tales, and frogs themselves go through major metamorphosis.  I’m sure this symbolism was not lost on the original authors of the tales as well.

I hammered a copper face and copper hands, and torch flame enameled brass brads for her eyes.  Her head, upper torso and left leg are sculpted out of paperclay over a wire armature. Vasilisa’s hair is copper rooted to a copper scull cap that was glued in place.  Her costume I created from some wonderful velvet and lace scraps in my cloth bin.

This art doll figure is secured to her base.  This choice was necessary for the Vasilisa sculpture so that she could stand and hold up her remaining frog leg to get a look at it.

The Key Art Doll

Off the Workbench

This week’s completed art doll is a mixed media sculpture titled, “Key”.  With this piece, I continue to work to stretch my figures to possess a narrative of their own.  Key is obviously a steampunk adventuress in the middle of some important and exciting task. No, I do not know what the key she is holding opens or secures, or why she looks so thoughtful as she holds it.  Those questions are hopeful for you the viewer to answer for yourself.

steampunk art doll titled The Key with custom stand

Key

I chose to once again vary my construction techniques and media choices with this art doll.  Many viewers see the hand hammered copper faces I create for many of my sculptures as them wearing masks.  With this doll I chose to actually make the copper be a mask over a paperclay sculpted face.  I also chose to extend the paperclay sculpted part of the figure to include her shoulders and top half of her torso providing her with a more defined shape. I sealed but did not paint most of the paperclay to leave it with the appearance of a porcelain bisque piece.  I like how this augments her steampunk/neo-victorian styling.

Next Art Dolls

My pre-sculpting research this week has drawn me deeper into the world of fairytales.  I find that I am not drawn to the well known princesses and characters that have been Disney-fied and rehashed into very specific images in our common imaginations. I have instead looked to some more far flung and bizarre tales for inspiration, as if talking animals, fairies, and magic spells weren’t strange enough to begin with.  They are all in the very beginning and sketch stages, but I will hopefully have a few to share with you shortly.  It is interesting that these sculptures start in an opposite position from the art doll Key above.  She is a character that I have created and provided with gesture to imply that she is part of some tale.  The new art dolls I am working on, start with a tale from which I will try to generate my vision of the character.

 

Commission of Commissions

A Couple of Commissions

This week is all about two art doll commissions.  One I’ve just completed, and the other went to its new home. Last week I teased you with some images of parts and pieces of my completed motorcycle art doll sculpture.  That piece is now titled “Steampunk Riders” by its owners, and it left the gallery yesterday,  so I can share an image without ruining any surprises.  I received a nice email of how wonderfully they were received.

completed commission sculpture of art dolls on motorcycle

Steampunk Riders

This was a challenging piece with lots of metal work detail and hand stitching on their clothes, and a complete blast to create. I like the movement and gesture in the final composition. It is such a good feeling to have a piece go where you know it is truly loved, and ties to something else that the owners enjoy and share.

Art Doll with a Book Leads to Another…

I first created a seated art doll writing in a journal that was inspired by a family member who was an accomplished author.  That seated figure lead to a similar seated figure reading a book commissioned by a friend.  The reader figure inspired me to create a doll lying on the floor reading as a child would.  One of my artist friends spied that sculpture prior to its sale, and decided that she needed a similar piece of her very own.  This now fourth in my series of literary art dolls is the second commission I completed this week.

reclining art doll figure with book

Reader commission art doll

It is curious how one inspiration leads to another.  In this case, I myself saw one person in a piece I created, and others saw a bit of themselves.  In this case a love of books tied all these art dolls and their eventual owners to one another.