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.
The plates I am making for plates I will post on January 22 include Morse, so I thought I would try to get ahead and finish his first bits of wardrobe. I made the mistake of posing this character in a way that makes it a little difficult to layer his outfits and alter the position of his hands, but I am working on ways around that. In the meantime, it's a typical pose for him, so it works, regardless what he's wearing.
This should not have taken me as long as it did, but I made some huge sloppy mistakes with the layers (despite my lightbox), so it required a lot of Photo-shopping to correct (alas). The good news is, the pieces should work together fine now.
The other difficulty with Mister Morse is his infernal collection of purple vests. Purple is the absolutely most wretched color to mix, keep consistent, and paint. Most pre-mixed purples are not very good (and look like no color known to nature), so I feel like I have to make my own. Fortunately the end result doesn't look nearly like I struggled with it as much as I did. Now let's see how many variations on the purple vest I can manage. This one is pretty simple because I was exhausted from just getting the color to layer.
The base outfit on the left, above, pretty much represents what Morse will wear for the rest of his life (ha!). We shall see how many more pairs of trousers I have to end up painting for him, though (certainly his war uniforms will offer some variety ~ at least for a while).
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.
Yes, it's true, I couldn't stand it. After painting Tennessee Morse and him coming out looking just so, I knew I was doing poor Razi-el an injustice. I really should repaint him, but for now I just PhotoShopped the heck outta his face and came up with something that might actually work (I'll have to live with it for a while before I decide).
I seriously don't know which of the two (Razi-el or Tennessee) should be the more vapid-looking. Right now I think Tennessee is winning. And that's okay. Razi-el should probably be the brighter-eyed and bushier-tailed.
As promised, here is brother no. 2 of the Morse clan, Tennessee. The scan looks very washed out to me, so I may redo it for the final plate, but here he is in the meantime. I approached painting this character with a lot of trepidation because I knew if there was anything that looked even slightly off about him, it would be a total loss, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results (another good argument for just jumping in and not thinking about things too much).
And now that I have done Tennessee, I want to go back and re-do Razi-el, but I am going to restrain myself from that at the moment. Maybe later I will just re-do Razi-el's face (it's already been PhotoShopped a lot because of problems I had painting it). This face came out excellent. Once again, the hair is a tiny bit flat, but I'm happy with it overall.
I am especially happy with the skin tone (though again, this looks washed out). One of the mistakes I made with Razi-el is that his skin color is too dark (the fault of him being the first character I painted, and therefore the "experiment" with the skin tone I had mixed). This is another reason I am tempted to re-do Razi-el.
I will try to work on some clothes for the Morse brothers this weekend so that they won't be so naked. I am also redesigning the plates because I have decided the current layout is too much of a reduction and I don't
It's kind of appalling how little drawing I have done this year, but I am striving to remedy that.
I am a firm believer in the fact that anyone can learn to draw because I have no particular natural "talent" for drawing, and yet I have managed, slowly, over the last five years, to learn how to do it. Just in the span of the time since I created this blog, I have managed to improve pretty mightily (frankly I am kind of amazed myself since drawing is probably my most neglected hobby).
So if you are an aspiring artist and frustrated with your inability to draw hands or feet or relatively believable anatomy, just keep at it. Do the work! Copy images out of books, draw from life, use Google image search to find poses to help you. Study animation techniques (you will learn more about dynamic drawing from animation than you will from a straight anatomy text).
If you just keep doing it, and pay attention to what it is you are doing (i.e. learn how the body works under your skin), easier free-hand composition will gradually come to you! Hang in there!
The picture above are the bases for my final bodies. I haven't quite assigned heads to the poses yet but these will eventually be Lewis, James, and Morse. The fourth body might be Mish and I am drawing a fifth for Razi-el.
No matter what I draw, I find the influence of Tom Tierney in all of my paper doll work ~ probably because I learned a lot about how to think about paper dolls from cutting out his characters and spent a good deal of time studying anatomy from his paper doll postures.
And while Tom Tierney is a past master in the paper doll world, I am kind of disappointed that my own style is not very original. I'm in good company, of course: I see Tierney's influence in a lot of original paper dolls on the internet.Perhaps what ultimately distinguishes one artist from another will be in the design of the clothes, the expressions and stories of the characters, and the handling of whatever medium in which the artwork is created. I have made no decisions about these two on the right. The last two dolls I created (two weeks ago), I completely ruined by attempting a new medium. I haven't decided whether to play it safe with these, but I want to get them out of the pencil stage before the day is over and hopefully posted properly by the end of the weekend.
Don't mind the hot cocoa stains on the art, there. The dog wanted to share out of my cup. Silly thing.Looking back through this blog to its beginnings, I realize I have gone through a lot of drafts and a lot of reboots on these dolls, looking for the right set (what a lot of work!). Sadly, I was never happy with any of the sets I posted (even though it seems to me that some of them were actually kind of cool). But something seemed missing, I guess, so I just continued to make dolls. I am definitely done with that rut. No more remakes, reboots, or starting over. I feel like I've learned a lot from creating those other dolls (over and over) and now's the time to settle down and get to work. Time's a'wasting, after all!Today is our first snow day of the season, so naturally I have all this crazy energy (yay snow!).
Let's hope it leads to good things.Also, it's Edwin Booth's birthday, so please visit the paper doll I made of him a while back and wish him well (though he's been dead for over 100 years).
I did not have time today, as I had planned, to dedicate exclusively toward my dolls, but I didn't want to start my first week of scheduled postings off on the wrong foot. So I share with you today something like proof that I'm actually working on these: a draft of the coats and hats for the Morse brothers.
I do all of my drafting on old dot-matrix printer paper (you can see the little "feed" holes up top if you click to make the image bigger). I work out the designs in pencil over rough outlines of the characters. Then I use a lightbox to make sure the measurements are correct before transferring the designs to the actual watercolor paper for coloring. I'm actually considering doing these clothes on cardstock instead of water color paper since I will probably be coloring them with markers instead of paints.
I'll probably make some changes on these before they are finished, including more specificity in the pattern on the vests, and adjustments to the lapels on the winter coat there. Not sure about the hat on Tennessee. I can't imagine him wearing a hat, though surely he must have one. I might change it to another style. I have some ideas, but I will reveal them later.
I have been away a while, but as I promised, I have been working (slowly). I have been much encouraged by the comments I have received lately ~ it's always nice to know someone is reading the blog and following along and hoping for updates. It definitely motivates me to get back to updating!
Today I am sharing with you a draft of three new dolls from the Morse family (from left to right): Ginny (short for Virginia), Tennessee (also called States), and Mish (short for Michigan). There are nine children in the Morse family, so for the moment six other sisters are absent (want to guess which states they are?).
The Morses are the "ideal" Southern family of the era: wealthy, beautiful people who have literally been raised to "inherit the earth". Their father is a retired merchant sea captain who built a fortune in the slave trade and other "property" investments. But their world is far from ideal. Scarlet fever took their mother and blinded Ginny at a young age. Mish is a willful abolitionist zealot, and Tennessee...well, there's just something not quite right about him.
And that's all the backstory you'll get from me for now. I'm working on their first outfits this weekend and will post a draft of those as well. Ultimately the downloadable/printable versions of these dolls will be featured along with the series when it kicks into gear hopefully in February!