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"Local Star" mixed media art doll ballet dancer

A Dancer Art Doll and FA Show Closes

Last Week of Featured Artist Show at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts –

My featured artist show, Up Close, at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts will be coming down next Monday, the 24th of July.  I know there is street construction all along the gallery’s storefront, but there is still access all along the sidewalk closest to the buildings.  Many of my newest art doll sculptures will still be around HGA after the show closes, as they are incorporated into the gallery collection throughout the rest of the space.  So, your favorite may still be here.

Newest Art Doll is a Local Star

I titled my latest sculpture doll “Local Star.”  Star is a papier-mâché and paperclay figure over a wire armature.  I focus on the elements of movement and surface in this art doll piece.  Local Star is modeled after Degas’s 1876 painting “The Star”.  My Star is a slightly caricatured ballet dancer figure trying to emulate the Degas painting. Her unique costume and wigging are created from the pages of the local news paper.

"Local Star" mixed media art doll ballet dancer

Local Star

I play here a bit with the idea of the hometown dance/music/art studio, and the local mistress or master instructing all of their own little “local stars”.  They may or may not go on to be true stars, but they certainly are in someone’s eyes.  The local paper is just the place that would carry the announcement of her upcoming recital or show.

Star’s eyes are torch fired enamel.  The paperclay’s “antiqued” surface tone was created with a tea dye. All the sculpture’s paper and paperclay surfaces are sealed with decoupage medium.

Athena Sharpening Spear

Athena

“Athena Sharpening Spear” is my latest art doll creation.  This figure sculpture is a look backward and forward in media choices.  She incorporates quite a bit more copper than I’ve included in recent pieces. The metal elements this time are found in her clothing and armor, not her face or hands like many of my earliest art dolls. I chose to sculpt the doll form itself from paperclay.  I like how the plain sealed clay lends her the look of carved alabaster. Small details like toes in shoes clad in sandals are more effectively achieved in this media, as are the  position of her hands gripping the spear and file.

Athena Sharpening Spear art doll figure sculpture

Athena Sharpening Spear

Ironically, this sculpture pulled from ancient Greek mythology is inspired by current events.  It can come as no surprise that an artist who was once a science educator finds anti-science and anti-education trends to be alarming to say the least, and completely infuriating if I’m being quite honest.  The mood tends to not be fertile ground for light happy doll synthesis.  So, my Athena is not the traditionally depicted serene goddess standing proudly, and ready to provide inspiration.  Instead, Athena is seated, looking looking attentively to her task, and readying herself for battle.

Dressing a Goddess

Her dress is imprinted with symbols of learning and knowledge.  I found editing these images to be one of the more challenging elements of design.  What does one choose to depict knowledge and wisdom?  I pulled from many sources and disciplines.  I made a conscious choice to end with things prior to the 20th century.  The technological explosion past that point simply overwhelmed me with choices.  Likewise, I made a design decision not to flip images containing text horizontally before printing on the transfer media.  I like that all the sources in different languages, alphabets, and scripts are slightly unreadable.  In this way they serve as symbols of the knowledge they contain, rather than specific editorial choices on my part.

I mentioned Athena in some writing that was needed for early publicity materials  for our yearly featured artists shows.  Because of this, she will be hanging around the studio until my show opens during the last week of June.

 

 

Pinocchio and Flying Dreams

Giving flight to Imagination

My newest piece, “Giving Wing”, revisits the form of a metal sculpture of mine from a few years ago titled “Change”.  This time around, however, the similar looking figure sculpture is rendered in different media, with a different theme.

Giving Wing figure sculpture

Giving Wing

image of metal figure sculpture Change

Change

“Change” was wrought in mixed metal with a concrete base, and was about metamorphosis and what can happen through transformation.  “Giving Wing”  depicts a similar lithe winged figure shortly after emerging from its chrysalis, but centers the ideas of imagination and and flight. Literally “Giving Wing” to one’s ideas.

I created “Giving Wing” out of papier-mâché and paperclay.  The color incorporated in the piece is obtained by layering the top layers of papier-mâché with tissue papers.  I utilized a technique for printing on tissue that I first tried with “Questioning Alice” to again incorporate text into the piece.  I guess I might refer to this as a sculptural collage. The trunk and branches of the tree bear quotes about dreams and imagination.  The chrysalis pod’s quotes center on flight and wings.

The wings of the butterly figure form a book.  I’ve purposely left the pages of the book, and the figure itself blank as a contrast to the patchwork riot of color of the wings “book cover”, and an invitation to the viewer to write one’s own story.

Detail Giving Wing

Detail Giving Wing

Another look at Pinocchio

I promised last week a that I would share a full length view of my Pinocchio piece for the “It’s All About The Story” show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. For my Pinocchio’s title I’ve turned to another piece of children’s literature, The Velveteen Rabbit.  The Skin Horse starts his explanation of becoming real for the Velveteen Rabbit with, “Real isn’t how you are made, it’s a thing that happens to you.”

Full length view of Pinocchio art doll

Real Isn’t How You’re Made

The show  will be installed in the gallery on Monday, and the opening reception is next Friday, February 24th, from 6 to 9 pm.  There is an author’s reading in the gallery with John Bemis from, Out of Abaton: Book 1- The Wooden Prince, on Sunday, March 5th from 4 to 6pm.

Go Figure!

Go Figure!

Go Figure! Is the title of the show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts featuring new work by painters Linda Carmel, and Marcy Lansman, and art doll sculptures by yours truly.  The show installed Monday, and the opening reception is this Friday, September 30th, from 6 to 9 pm during Hillsborough’s monthly “Last Friday” art walk.  All three of the artists featured this month’s show highlight figures in our current work.  I took a few shots with my phone after we had the show all installed Monday as a preview for you.

Show Images

Art dolls Dreams Adrift, Lacing 3, and Sunshine on a Cloudy day

Dreams Adrift, Lacing 3, and Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Marcy’s vibrant pantings feature family and children, many are adapted from her own family photos.  Linda’s highly textured paintings are over sculpted modeling paste, they depict female figures with connections to roles and image.

Cello and Secrets art dolls in feature show at HGA

Cello, and Secrets

With my own pieces, I wanted to push gesture and form of each sculpture to bring my art dolls to where they invoke a narrative for the viewer.  I noticed after we had installed the show that many now appear to look like book illustrations to me.  I think that can be said of the work of all three of this month’s featured artists, and it provides a nice connection between our work beyond their merely being figurative works.

Getting Lift art doll

Getting Lift

As I wrote earlier, the opening reception for “Go Figure!” is this Friday from 6 to 9pm.  We hope that you can come out and get a closer look at all of our work.

 

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.

Trial Balloons?

Late Arrival Ornaments

As I shared last time, now is of course the season that the gallery gets decked out for the holidays.  I had put in some overtime in the creation of new art dolls earlier in the fall, and then turned my attention to some other gift type items for installation at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in mid November.

I was still doing some design work on one additional type of ornament when we hung the holiday show a couple of weeks back, so I didn’t get the chance to share them with you last time.  I had been toying with the idea of a steampunk style vintage hot air ballon that would combine several of the media I like to play with in the studio.

This is the result…

Steampunk hot air balloon ornament

Steampunk hot air balloon ornament

There are currently three of these hot air balloons flying among the ornament selection in the gallery, and I’ll be getting started on a new batch over the weekend.  I’m quite pleased with the end result, though they did take a bit of working and reworking until they had exactly the look I was going for.  In fact, the one pictured was the very first I completed, and I tweaked the design with each of the subsequent. I think I finally have something close to a formula, but as with all of my work, each one is a unique one of a kind sculpture all its own.

Each balloon starts with a paper maché ball that I smooth out with a coating of paperclay.  After sanding, I hand paint and antique each. The baskets come to life with some light metal fabrication, and decking out with some goodies from my embellishment stash.  Lastly, I create a beaded wire net and connect the ballon to the basket with some chain.

They are perhaps a bit labor intensive for just a holiday ornament, but there is no reason they can’t be hung to fly in the home year round.

 

The Art of Giving

This week I thought that I’d share a few images of some of the items that I brought in to the gallery for the holidays.  Along with a new sculpture or two, I create some extra jewelry items, and a few small gift-able type things like ornaments, and cards.  These shots were all taken at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts for our annual “The Art of Giving” show.

snow fairy ornament

Snow fairy ornament

star ornament web

Star ornament

heart ornament web

Heart ornament

Steam octo

Steam Octo

Wrapped Key

Wrapped Key

Enamel on metal dog tags

Enamel on metal dog tags

glide window web

“Glide” art doll in gallery window

 

 

 

Art Dolls Old and New

The New

First up this week is the newest art doll creation from the studio bench.  Let me introduce you to Glide.

Image of iceskating art doll figure sculpture, Glide

Glide

Glide is a standing figure sculpture on a permanent base.  She features only one metal element, her shining copper skates.  This design departure is intentional and meant to draw the viewer’s eye to that unique footwear.

The rest of her construction follows my usual padded wire assembly, but does differ with the addition of a padded fabric head.  I decided to start with a paperclay sculpted face that I made with holes around the edge so that it could be sewn on rather than glued in place. Her face is “colored” with colored pencils rather than painted. The pencils allow for precise layering and mixing to achieve an almost faux porcelain look.

Glide also features some torch fired enamel eyes sculpted into the paperclay face, and some cozy looking skating attire.  I chose yarn for this art doll’s hair to further emphasize the rag doll-ish look of her design.

The Old

Well, not so very old.  I promised last week to share some updated images of Oops and Red. These two art dolls joined in on Glide’s photoshoot, so here are their new glamor shots.

Art doll, Oops

Oops

Standing mixed media "Red Riding Hood" art doll figure, Red

Red

Off to Install a Show

Next week Glide, Oops, Red, and several of their art doll friends will be installed for about a month in the 3D display area in the dining room of Carol Woods.  If you have a chance, stop by and take a look.  Many of my most recent art doll sculptures that I’ve shared on the blog, but have not been in a gallery, will be in that show.  I will share some images of that installation with you next week.

 

 

More Art Doll, Work In Progress

This week, I have several new art dolls almost ready for images.  The integral word here being almost.  So, I thought that I’d share a few shots of one of last week’s pieces while she was still a work in progress.

Standing figurative sculpture art doll Otohime

Otohime

This is the image of my character from Japanese folklore, Otohime.  She is quite different from most of the art doll figures I usually create.  I constructed her primarily out of paper products.  Her base is classic glue and newsprint paper maché over a chickenwire frame. The “watery” surface of the base I created through the application of layer upon layer of torn tissue paper.  Her head, neck, and hands are sculpted out of paperclay with a painted and distressed surface.

wire armature for Otohime art doll sculpture

armature for Otohime art doll

The base of the head and upper torso consist of  a foil base covered with florist tape.

work in progress image of Otohime art doll sculpture

Work in Progress on Otohime art doll

One of the drawbacks of letting mixed media works take you where they want to go is that each can require reinvention of techniques.  This can however be as enjoyable as it is vexing.  I do like the discovery and puzzle solving involved in the process.  It does require more time, and stopping as I work to decide where to go next with the piece.

Even the elements that I more regularly incorporate into my art dolls required tweaking with this piece.  For her kimono, had to fit the garment over an already posed figure, and carefully coat the underside of the garment with glue to resist fraying.  In her right hand she holds a copper fan that had to be set and sculpted in place.  The copper hands that I forge out of tubing and wire are able to be positioned to hold something added to them at a later time.

I will be interested to see how this figure sculpture is received after she is displayed alongside my other art dolls in the gallery.

 

Summer Break Over, Back to Motorcycle

Ok, so summer is obviously not over, but it is time for me to get back to work creating new work, and getting some regular blog posts up here for you to see.

Since I’ve returned from a bit of travel, I have had the chance to finish up the motorcycle commission I had been working on.  That piece happens to be a surprise from one person to another.  On the very, very off chance that the recipient would be among the dozen or so individuals that actually read my postings here… I’m going to hold off posting any full photos of that completed piece and just tease with some detail shots of bits and pieces until the sculpture is delivered. However, if you happen to be a Facebook friend, Instagram follower, or are part of any of the art doll groups I’m a member of, then you may catch a glimpse of the fully completed sculpture.

Close up of front of art doll motorcycle

detail front

Here you can see two pairs of motorcycle boots,  the glass gem headlamp, and other parts of the bike’s front.

detail of the passenger doll's bag

Passenger’s messenger bag

Lots and lots of little stitches on on the motorcycle seat, messenger bag, and passenger’s jeans.

close up of boots, and "motor"

close up of boots, and “motor”

Now, it’s off to the studio to start a couple of new pieces.  One of them is also a commission, but it is sort of a redo of an earlier piece, and definitely not as involved as this one. Not sure what I will share with you next week, I guess we’ll both have to wait and see.

It has been fun taking you “along for the ride” on a multiple piece commission.  As I stated before, they can be tricky for us artists generally used to creating exactly what we want when the inspiration strikes us.  It is gratifying to know that some patrons enjoy the work so much they want it used to capture something special to them personally.