This week is about drawing paper dolls. At the same time, we celebrate the social nature of hand-drawn paper dolls.
For an artist, the difference between a doll and a human is that the doll opens the door to a fantasy. Thus, drawing paper dolls is very different from painting portraits. But if I have to pick from the two, I would say that paper dolls make you more of an artist.
Compared to a human, only a doll can be a creature of the imagination – for example, a plant and a spirit at the same time.
Only a doll can have a wardrobe where every piece is organized.
Only a doll can get out of the box and go where ever the imagination takes her.
Only a doll can wear a butterfly as a wig and rose leaves as a bodice.
To be a fashion designer for a doll is the play we can’t resist.
Only a doll can hold the secrets that every artist has.
Because isn’t it so that no matter how close we are, there are dreams that we can’t tell anybody? Dreams that would perhaps sound silly, too grand, or too selfish. Dreams that make you an artist.
Only for a doll a true friend is easy to find.
With paper dolls, I examine the social aspect of an artist’s life – how we can feel less lonely when creating and how the result can be a bridge between all the art that we have created. And when we give or share a picture of a doll, it also invites other people to play and connect with themselves and others.
Doll World – Drawing Paper Dolls
Come to draw adorable dolls and their dresses with me!
Doll World lasts from January to May. When you sign up, you will get the published lesson right away. >> Sign up Now!
This week is about illustrating characters and discovering those that feel personal.
Have you ever wanted to draw a face or a figure that would really touch your heart? I don’t only mean something that looks pretty on paper but someone that begins to speak to you when your eyes meet.
Starting from an Animal Figure
In the class Magical Inkdom, I mention the word “kissanukke” when we are drawing cats. Kissanukke is “cat doll” in English, but somehow I think it’s much funnier in Finnish. Say: kissanukke! The word is just hilarious.
Last week, I wondered why I think about that word so often. Maybe it’s a hint I should draw cats again. So, I picked a big smooth watercolor paper and a pencil to sketch a huge cat. I wanted to go big because I wanted the cat’s face to be large enough for working on facial features. I adjusted them for a long time with a pencil, and then with colored pencils. I wanted this kissanukke to be more than a doll – a living thing that speaks to me.
I love to use thick and smooth watercolor paper with colored pencils even when I don’t use water for the drawing.
When the paper is big, it’s easy to dive deep into details and let them make the drawing more whimsical than the original sketch.
What’s Behind the Animal?
When Kissanukke was born, I asked her: “Who are you?” She said: “I am a hunter, and I can bring you anything you want!” I smiled at her: “What a magical cat you are, with the golden egg and all!” “I had two,” she said, “but the other one got missing when I tried to catch the geese. And I am no cat but a lion!”
Of course, she is a lion – how did I not see that before! I used to be a big fan of Joy Adamson and her lion Elsa as a child. No wonder my inner child has kept asking for cats!
Discovering Through a Different Pose
So, I thought, let’s draw another leijonanukke – lion doll – for the child. This time, I changed the pose so that the character would only need to glance sideways and wished that a shyer creature would appear.
“Are you a hunter too?” I asked when discovering the new character. “No, I am an orchid whisperer! Shhh!”
One of my orchids just stopped blooming, and I am eagerly waiting another to bloom. So, there’s a need for her too!
Whisperer is smaller than Hunter. The small size also makes her look less finished in the pics. If you need to provide a hand drawing in a digital form, always draw larger than the asked size. The result looks neater that way.
Discovering a Human Character
This week, I went to the studio and gathered all the courage I got. “Hunter,” I said, “could you bring me a human that really touches my heart.”
And that’s how this little country girl came out – a true nature child!
I didn’t use any references when drawing the girl and the cats. A reference can help us draw what’s expected but not what comes out naturally. References are great practice, and during the years, I have been practicing with them too. For example, in the class Innovative Portraits, we draw faces and use references creatively. But when discovering a character that feels like a soul mate, references become disturbing. Then it’s all about the connection with your inner self, traveling back in time for inspiration and forward in imagination.
Digital Pencil Work
I drew the girl on my iPad with Apple Pencil and the program called Procreate. I got these fancy tools as a birthday gift from my husband in February but have been waiting for the right moment to get to know them.
So far, I have mostly been using a simple digital brush called “Peppermint” that imitates a graphite pencil.
I will blog more about Procreate later, so it would be interesting to hear if you have used it. Also, if you have any questions, please let me know! However, if you are not into digital tools, don’t worry, I will keep on drawing with real pencils too!
This week, I talk about the hidden potential behind artworks and how we can reveal that by not only building but also breaking.
I have just designed a collection of surface patterns called Modern Maximalist. It’s drawn digitally in Adobe Illustrator and more modern than my work usually is. However, I love modern, especially the 1960s and 1970s styles. I was born at the end of the 1960s, live in a house built in the same era, and my love for retro has been too hidden in my art. But still, I didn’t want to design the collection based only on the images of others, but to build a bridge from my art to design. So, most of the motifs were based on this watercolor painting that I made a couple of weeks ago!
More Artistic Potential by Building and Breaking
Often when we create art, we build. We communicate the big picture and compose bits and pieces so that they work together. We get happy accidents (and sometimes some not-so-happy ones) and aim to make an image where the overall atmosphere takes over the details.
But to reveal more, we also need to break. Then the romantic flower that was painted to represent a dreamer, becomes a more stylish and symbolic figure.
Yellow flowers and all the yellow washes can be more geometric when they are away from the big picture.
The juicyness of the fruits and other decorative details can be reorganized.
Picking Ideas from Other Images
We can also add more fuel, and break and pick from other images. This design called “List Maxima” uses motifs from the painting, but also the idea of a list that came from playing with the name of the collection, and fashion pictures that showed puffy and full dresses of the maximalist style.
By breaking and picking, we also develop our ability to curate – to see which inspiration suits what we have already done. It’s an essential part of a style-development and and growing artistic vision.
I saw a pleated skirt on Prince Charles’s wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, not a maximalist style at all, but wonderfully modern so I broke and picked the image and got creative from that.
Artists often say to me: “I need to focus!” But by focusing on narrowing, we non-creatively force ourselves to do one thing. By breaking and picking, we can curate all kinds of inspiration and be creative so that it grows our artistic vision.
Revealing the Artistic Potential
No matter where you are in your artistic journey, your art benefits from the idea of building and breaking. Build to go deeper into the experience and break to reveal more ideas and potential! In practice, building often means painting, and breaking is often connected to drawing – even if, of course, you can use any techniques that suit you.
What was first a watercolor painting, could now be a quilt!
Building and breaking can alternate endlessly when we combine new ideas and results with old ones.
Here I am breaking and picking to create something new into my art journal.
Here’s what I built by cutting and glueing new prints and old hand-decorated papers.
And I couldn’t resist checking if this could work as a repeat too!
I hope you found this post about building and breaking inspiring!
This week’s post is dedicated to collaged fashionistas – fun paper dolls. It’s for all of us who love to get art inspiration from the world of textiles and fashion.
I have been practicing surface pattern design daily this month and got quite a lot of patterns already. Of course, all of them are not so great and need more work, but I have really enjoyed challenging myself. I have experimented with all kinds of media – watercolor painting, line drawing, collage, and digital tools too.
The more my computer gets filled with these designs, the more I want to see how they look when used. After all, a surface pattern is nothing without a surface to put it on!
So I printed some on paper and wrapped a couple of books. I also gathered some handmade stuff just to see how well digital designs fit with my handmade world.
But I wasn’t satisfied at all. Books felt too flat. I needed a figure – a model to dress!
Collaged Fashionistas in Paper
After taking the photo of the books, I remembered someone who would be perfect for it. I created her – or should I say cut her – in 2014. Back then, I used to run art journaling classes in a local scrapbooking store, and I had an idea about a class where we would draw fashion items like clothing, jewelry, and such. But the class was scheduled for May which is a busy month for Finnish women, and it never took place. However, I made an online class called Collageland four years after this idea, and it was also one of the seeds for the class Magical Inkdom. So never underestimate those preliminary ideas that don’t seem to fly off right away!
And now I wanted to hire that fashion-obsessed fashionista to showcase my patterns! I wondered if she would still return my calls but phoned her anyway.
“Hi Myriad, are you still modeling?” “Oh, hi, yes – if it’s for real this time,” she said. “And I want shorter hair!” “I’ll make you bald,” I promised.
So I cut a new Myriad and I really like what those seven years have done to her!
A Living Doll Gets Back to Fashion
“I like the boots,” she said. “But the skirt feels so heavy!” But she wore it without further complaints because that’s what models do. They get all kinds of silly wraps around them and just keep posing no matter what.
“These boots make me want to go for a walk!” she said joyfully. And so she stepped into one of my paintings like she would own the view.
“This is fine art,” I said to her. “Models like you don’t belong in these kinds of paintings.” “Oh nonsense,” she responded. “This is a windy Siberian meadow, and it’s just perfect for the shoot. What kind of clothes do you have?”
Here’s a closeup of the watercolor design. Her cheerful scarf has hand-drawn motifs.
And here’s a closeup of the skirt and shoes that have a pattern too.
My planner for 2021 has a quote from Kandinsky: “There’s no must in art because art is free.” To me, it means challenging myself. That after all that I have learned in the last seven years, I can still feel the same freedom as a beginner. And that if we push ourselves creatively, our world keeps expanding and we accept more than one technique, or one style, or one truth. Art is never about absolute rights or wrongs because art is free. As a teacher, I find this reminder especially important.
Making collaged fashionistas have brought many more ideas of how I can display my designs! More of them in the future posts.