It's been a long, hard summer for me, with competing interests taking away time from paper dolls. I'm a ridiculously huge fan of Christopher Nolan's Batman series
and unless you have been under a rock since June you know that this summer was the release of the Dark Knight Rises
~ so my attention has been elsewhere.But I'm coming back eventually ~ I promise! I'm teaming up with Toria
over at A Paper Closet
and Rachel over at Paper Thin Personas
to do something Halloweeny ( I think). It's going to be fabulous!I want to
write something more about what I have been working on, but haven't really organized my thoughts about it. Will try to post again in the next couple of days or thereabouts. In the meantime, I offer Little Mary from 1857 (got this from an auction site, I believe ~ how sad is this? It's been so long I can't even remember). Ah well. Just have to think forward, right?
Today, a lovely European paper doll on auction at eBay. Because the title is in multiple languages, it's hard to know its place of origin. I am going to guess German because German is the first language represented on the box. The seller thinks it's French.
Either way, we both agree that it's from the 1850s and it's lovely! Has a few other dresses and some hats, but this is the best representative image and besides, that decorative box is just way cool. Typical of the style of that era, this doll is printed both front and back and pieces like the veil shown here go over the head and around the shoulders; sometimes these designs were wonderfully complex for playthings; but cheap paper dolls were still another decade or so away, so the rich little girls who played with these expected the full monty (so to speak).
UPDATE: This auction ended on 3/9 and netted $431.99!
Perhaps the best way to post these interim pictures (before the plates are uploaded) is to show the clothing on the doll as it is supposed to fit. I am still completely disorganized when it comes to posting, but I'd rather post disorganized than not post at all.
Emmaline's traveling dress went through about 187 permutations and I am still not entirely happy with it, but once again, it's an exercise in "get over it and move on". My goal since last year (and topping my list this year) is to quit over-thinking everything and reaching for impossible perfection; just create, pop things off into the world and keep on creating. So far this has worked wonderfully. I have been very productive despite my inner-critic.
After doing this for so many years, I can see measurable improvement and that is encouraging. Even if I am not 100% crazy about this dress, I like it 100 times more than the dress I painted for her the last time ~ and in another year or so, whatever dress I am working will be even all that much better.
I have been fighting mightily with my internet connection (hence the silence), but I finally managed to get the plates posted (almost up-to-date). So check out the gallery
, download, and enjoy!In the meantime, I am working on more stuff. The 1st Christmas Annual has been posted to the Reconstruction site (yay!), and the first issue is due to be posted this coming Sunday. I'm having a hard time coordinating the plates with the series at the moment ~ too many plates and not enough series presently, but I think it will gradually even out.I'm excited about many new things to share very soon!
Happy New Year!
I'm going to stop referring to this character as Tennessee because it's just weird to me (it's his name, yes, but no one really calls him that). More than 20 years ago (ack!) when I created this character, his nickname was States and that (or just "Morse") is how I think of him in my head, so calling him Tennessee is akin to hearing myself as some scolding parent shaking my finger at him and saying "Tennessee States Morse, you are in big trouble!"
So States it is.
States and Raziel both wear a lot of black, which makes them challenging on the one hand (I don't paint in black, I paint in Payne's Grey, but it's still a daunting color whatever you call it). In a way, though, it is also a lot easier for me because I can't deal with color theory so putting characters in colors is also daunting. This is why many of my earliest painted paper dolls were done in sepia.
The Morse brothers are fairly wealthy (or the sons of a wealthy father) in 1859, so they have nice clothes at the outset. I was going to paint this coat separate from the underclothes, but I don't mind so much painting shoes over and over as I did in the past.
In case it's not obvious, I think States Morse is adorable--he's a fun character because he is so disingenuous; somehow a deep thinker without any hint of erudition or superiority.
And I love his Mona Lisa smile (I may have mentioned this before here long ago). You just never really know what he is thinking.
And now that I have a full complement of the initial critical characters, I need to go back and work on the story a bit (it's a blobby mess of verbiage at the moment, alas). And since I want very much to get this series launched on Christmas Day, that means I've only got twenty days to coax it into some kind of shape.
So I will be working on more painting, etc., but possibly only posting from my collection or plates from the web for the next couple of weeks (I've been doing good this month ~ haven't missed a day yet!).
It occurs to me, from a comment RLC made on my last post, that of the eight characters I've made, only two are women! Clearly I like my men. Don't worry, I will definitely have more women in the new year.
As promised, here is the coat I was working on last night. The vest did not come out like I intended, but I'm still trying to learn the best way to handle very fine detail. Since you have no idea what it was supposed to look like, I won't belabor explanation ~ it's fine as it is and I will try something different next time I have a chance.
Anyway, as you can see, the coat does go with the hat, so the outfit looks a lot less goofy when assembled.
Still quarreling with my scanner. Must be the cold.
These two pieces may seem rather disparate (ill-matched is a more obvious expression perhaps). But they will make sense once I finish with Mish's coat, which I am currently working on. The gist is that Mish leaves abruptly during Christmas dinner, throwing on this hat and coat and never mind that he's still in his formal wear, he just wants to get out of the house. And anyway, the South has a somewhat different idea of formal wear; particularly when it's just a family dinner.And o
nce again, the scan loses a lot of the detail, but take my word for it, this shirt is the most fabulous thing ever. Meanwhile, I have posted (reposted) the first four plates to the Gallery. Again, with apologies for continually changing things up, but I really wasn't happy with the reduction. The current plates reproduce the characters and clothing by only 10%, so they are just shy of actual size (and therefore probably a lot easier to handle/cut, etc. I have two additional plates in the wings (Olivia and Sandy), but I am equivocating about what their numbers should be. Once I finish with Mish, I will have a better idea of who should come first and then hopefully I will post all three plates later on this week.I might not get to Tennessee's clothes this weekend (unless I get very ambitious ~ but I have a lot to do today). So he will have to bear being bare for a wee bit longer.
As promised, here are the rest of the pieces that go with the character I posted yesterday: a pair of ice skates (with curled prows), a winter suit of quilted trousers and light knit top, and a knit hat (that matches the scarf and mittens). The horse is probably wood or possibly gutta percha (no plastic in 1859).
Once again, I included an image of the assembled outfit. For the hat here, you would need to cut carefully along the inside in order to fit it on his head.
Painting the quilted pants on this was a total joy. Sometimes something just "works" and makes everything fabulous. I had also worried about the little horse he is holding, but it actually came off very well. All in all I am almost completely pleased with everything.
I had to do some PhotoShop fudging on areas where I was very careless with my overall design. Sometimes I don't use my light box when I should.
This is so far one of my favorite sets. It was fun to design and fun to paint.
Looking forward to getting more done, so stay tuned!
There are a lot of things I could quibble about with regard to how this character came out, but all things aside, for just leaping in without much planning, I guess I did all right by him and he will do.
Many of these characters will have multiple iterations as the story progresses, so I for now this one is just fine as a starter.
In 1859 Lewis is 14 years old (going on forty), though I did intend to give him a more youthful appearance. I may yet tweak his expression in the final plate, though I kind of like the scowl he has going on here.
I may use this same representation for the early 1860s as well (I haven't decided). But since he wouldn't look much different from 1850 through about mid-1862, it seems silly to create another. Again. i will have to think about it.
I had originally intended that this representation should be the only one of Lewis in which we would see his bare feet, but at the last minute I put socks on him anyway ~ maybe it's because I was painting winter clothing and thought his feet would look cold. And since I put long underwear on him, it just seemed to make sense.
And anyway, there's something kind of weird and fun about the fact that he never lets anyone see his feet and therefore you never get to see them either. There could be goat hooves under there for all we know!
I painted four pieces that represent Lewis' Christmas 1859 clothing: the pea coat shown here at the right, and three other bits which I will show in the post to follow this one.
The pea coat was supposed to be "too-large", but it fits him pretty well after all. The fate of his red mittens will also be a little leitmotif in the story, so I definitely wanted to include them.
I still have one other character to post, but I have not yet painted him. Don't know if I will get to him this weekend since it appears to have taken me all day to do these pieces. For sure I will post tomorrow; I need to finish the pair of ice skates that I am currently working on.
Painting this dress took me two hours, which is kind of staggering. And I am not even wildly crazy about how it came out (and to make matters worse, the scan doesn't do it any favors here, I don't think). But I'll have to keep moving forward.
This is the dress that Emmaline wears to the Christmas party (with James from yesterday's post). The two have a quarrel about it because James doesn't think it's appropriate for a dinner party. He's actually kind of a jerk about it. Emmaline takes it well though. It's only the first of many slights for the evening.
I really struggled with the lace on this one, so I will have to learn some techniques for handling lace. Lace was a bad choice anyway ~ it's too fru-fru for Emmaline, I think. Ah well, I expect there will be many more Christmases in which to improve her style.
I suppose I should say that I would have made a Thanksgiving set of clothing except that America did not have an official formal Thanksgiving holiday in 1859. And while it's early for Christmas, I know, that's where the story begins nevertheless and I have many more Christmas things to make before the actual holiday, so you can expect more winter clothing throughout the month of December, and at least two more new characters.
I was fairly close to giving up on painting these pieces (or any for that matter) a couple of weeks back. I feel like the train has regained the tracks now and all is well in the world, so as long as my scanner holds out, there should be regular updates here.
In the meantime, once again, happy holidays!