Tag Archives: steampunk

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, "Sunshine on a Rainy Day"

Rain, Secrets and Art Dolls

I know it has been more than the promised “couple of days” since my last art doll in progress post.  I do however have two finished sculptures to share with you, so hopefully that can make up for the delay.

Art Doll Secrets Revealed?

My secret keeper review now has her complete costume and coiffure.

Art Doll, Secrets Kept

Secrets Kept

She appears to me to be a wise keeper who will not be sharing the confidences you relay to her. I’m not sure exactly what magic is contained in the blue gem she holds, but I can only guess that it is quite potent and effective.

This art doll figure has a half mask of hammered copper over a paperclay sculpted face and torch fired enamel eyes.  Her snowy curls are made of natural wool fibers.  Secret’s rich fabric clothes are sewn in place over a padded wire frame.

A Little Sunshine

My newest completed art doll figure sculpture is “Sunshine on a Rainy Day”

Art doll, "Sunshine on a Rainy Day"

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

This sculpture is also a look back at an earlier piece I titled “Spring”.  In my constant striving to introduce increased gesture, expression, and narrative into my work, “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” shows that she isn’t deterred by a little bit of rain.  Her umbrella bearing predecessor merely posed quietly showing off green boots and a parasol that matched her dress.  “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” in contrast seems to be enjoying her walk in the rain.  This art doll is costumed in yellows and greens highlighted by a pair of bright yellow boots. The umbrella she is holding aloft is made of copper tooling foil.  Sunshine has paperclay sculpted head and hands, and her eyes are made from dark iridescent glass beads that seem to glow on their own.

Art Dolls in Art Show.

Both of these new art doll sculptures will be part of my upcoming featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts later this month.  I will share more details on the show and the opening reception as we get closer to installation

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

…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.