The worst part of not having a scanner for all those weeks and falling into a funk is that I spent a lot of time thinking. This is an unfortunate business, of course, because thinking invariably leads to re-thinking, and subsequently revising. I love my water color paper dolls, but they give me anxiety for whatever reason. I seem to approach working on them with dread, which is the opposite of what making paper dolls should mean to me (and what it has always been in the past: a contemplative de-stressor). So when the think you love causes more stress than what it's supposed to alleviate, it's definitely time to reevaluate it.
Part of what causes so much stress is that it feels so time-consuming (even though it's really not ~ I can paint a page in under two hours; under one if it's not terribly complex). So even though it takes as long as it takes, it feels long and that's another good indicator that I'm not enjoying it as I should be.
I drew the dolls above over the last week; five last weekend and five today. I don't doubt I could produce clothing for all of them over the next two days (and then some). It would basically mean getting very well ahead of the last effort, which has taken me almost six months, in a matter of weeks.
I computer colored these because I have not decided whether to color them, how the color them, or leave them black & white. I do like the option of letting other people color them, so the original artwork is all simple ink.
I am shy here of a few characters I had previously painted (like Razi-el, Henry and Buster), but have added Eulalia and Peg & John Stewart Preston. You can click the image and see them a little larger, but since I have not decided what to do with them, I'm not making them the official choice until I can get some perspective.
If I stick with these, I can produce work quickly, which ostensibly means I can post more. Doesn't that sound like a good deal?
I dunno. Most days I just want to retreat into a corner.
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.
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!
Plates No. 1 and 2 are now available in the Gallery.
There was traveling and then I was all out of sync again with what I was doing, which is just tragic. I get so easily derailed! But I am back now and will hopefully get on the tracks again. For whatever reason, putting together the second plate was really agonizing! Fitting things in, making sure everything was right. I couldn't fit Olivia's apron on this plate, so it will have to come later. It's a good lesson to me to make sure to work in sets that I can squeeze onto a page. I will be more careful with the next round now that I know the format/size/etc. that I am working with.
Now if I could just figure out my tags in a way that made more sense....Will be working on new stuff over the weekend. Sorry to be such a slacker!
With caveats: I have not tested the printing on it to make sure it will come out okay. But it will
definitely download a nice .pdf at the moment, so feel free to clicky click! All of these plates will eventually be posted in the Gallery
. And while I am quibbling: the .pdf text refers to the website at Lookingland.com
, but I confess it's still not pulled together at the moment. In fact, I figure you who are visiting here and seeing this work are actually getting to see it before it's officially posted (which is great for you since I don't think I am officially posting anything over there until the start of the new year!). But anyway, here are the characters in their "official" scaling (unless the printing test goes horridly wrong). They are reduced about 25% of their original size, but I don't think they are too small to enjoy. I also gotta say: no matter how much I love Photoshop and think it's the most amazing thing ever, I also can hate it sometimes. Putting the dolls on their bases and getting all this laid out was practically painful. I sure hope it gets easier now that I have a template.
I'll try to post the download for the second plate (with all the clothes) this weekend. And then: new stuff!UPDATE: The print test was a success on my end. Yay!
The first time we see Emmaline Hunter, she is sick in bed.
In the mid-19th century people sometimes wore more clothes to bed than they did while awake. Particularly if they might be receiving visitors (doctors, etc.), in which case it was as important to be well-dressed in bed as it would be out. Not that Emmie would care about such things, but modesty would dictate she at least be covered up and not just in a chemise.
I chose for her a plain negligee, which in those days usually meant a robe with a sash made of light (and occasionally sheer) fabrics. Most were heavy on the ruffle/lace/and decorative side, but Emmie's tastes are rather plain, so she wouldn't likely dress something like this up too much.
I did a very messy paint job on this piece (was fighting with the paint and a new brush for some reason), but I am nonetheless pleased that what I perceived as a somewhat slapdash attempt actually looks all right! While it is hard to scan watercolors, the scanning process can be forgiving of major muck-ups, too. Only had to do a little digital touch-up to fix a bad streak. Bet you can't even tell where!
Additionally, I made for Emmie a simple corset typical of the period (short-waisted), and a plain pair of stockings with ribbons for garters.
Once again, I think Emmaline's clothing is generally geared toward the practical for the most part. She comes from a family of modest means and in the late 1850s James is employed as a schoolteacher, primarily, though does a little architectural and engineering consulting on the side. They are not wealthy people at this point.
I suppose I should have made her some slippers, but she wouldn't be wearing them in bed, so I sorta forgot. I will try to do some later and add them to the final .pdf version.
Speaking of which, I am sill trying to figure out how to best .pdf these dolls for you amusement. I have some samples posted to the gallery at the moment, but I am using them to test some things. I will make a big screaming announcement when the actual final versions are up.
More to follow!
Got James' wife painted pretty quickly this morning (but I think women are easier to paint then men ~ the skin requires much less detail because you want to keep it smooth).
I always describe Emmaline as not very pretty, with very large eyes, a tiny mouth, and otherwise unremarkable features. It's hard, however, for me to draw her the way I see her in my head, but I'm not displeased with this rendition. Maybe her nose is too long, but otherwise, it looks generally like her.
I cheated a little with her chemise also (purists, please don't throw rotten vegetables). When trying to make a figure over which you can overlay other clothing, I guess I am inclined to compromise. So yes, her chemise is very short for the period (again, this would be 1850s-1860s), and yes, it's awfully form-fitting (in reality it ought to just hang down from the top). While I am usually a stickler for the look of authentic period-era clothing, I am satisfying myself by suggesting that at least the garment doesn't have clocks and gears on it (sorry all you steam-punkers!).
I am still learning how to drape fabrics. This wasn't 100% successful, but it's in the ballpark. It's amazing to me how much I still have to learn.
At the start of Stain the Earth Red, James and Emmie have been married for 15 years and Emmaline is just shy of her 30th birthday.
I have a handful of introductory garments to paint for both Emmie and James. Hopefully they will all be up before the end of the day.
Today's couple is James and Emmaline Hunter. These dolls will probably have the largest variety of heads and clothing styles since they are older characters. James and Emmaline were married in 1844 and James has been for many years (to his dismay) a career soldier, which puts him in a pretty wide variety of uniforms throughout his life (from military academy to wars in the west, to the fall of the Confederacy). He doesn't mind the uniforms, though: he's a clothes-horse and loves fancy things. It also helps that he's fabulously wealthy so he can actually afford these things. Think: Count of Monte Cristo wealthy. Except that he didn't really do anything to earn the money.
Emmaline is almost her husband's diametric opposite. Where he's robust, egotistical and lusty, she's frail, humble, and pious. She comes from a Moravian religious community and would prefer to dress very simply, but the influence of her husband has corrupted her (just a little). She does all of her own sewing (and has the time and money to be extravagant) so she often sews for other people. James also often bribes her to wear fancy clothes now and then ("you put on a silk gown and we'll build an orphanage" ~ that sort of thing). So you can expect to see a pretty wild array of clothing for these two.
Notes on the doll construction: yes, Emmaline is very short. She's a tiny woman. Also, the current heads on these two are post-Civil War. I will be drawing antebellum heads for them as well as heads for when they are old and grey in the 80s-90s.
Lastly, I forgot to caution, for the purpose of downloading and playing with all of the dolls on this blog, I am posting them here with their heads attached. The dolls are actually designed with removable heads ~ not only to change their ages, but to accommodate various hairstyles, etc.
So, if you print the dolls, collars may not lay properly on their neck (and wind up covering their chins). To remedy this (if you are really desperate), print out two copies and cut one set's heads off. Then fasten those heads over the other set so that there is a gap underneath their chins. This was a style I adapted from Raphael Tuck, the difference being that the way mine are constructed, they are actually interchangeable, whereas Tuck's were generally pasted on.
Next time: More introductions or shall we look at something different?