I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wild Things

Oh, the fun I had at ~ART IS YOU~ in Petaluma, CA. My sister and I arrived at the Sheration Sonoma Hotel on Tuesday afternoon so we would be ready for our first class on Wednesday morning.
Sis and I only took one class together so we shared a room, but went our separate ways during the day.
My first class was Clarissa Callesen's class called Steampunk Sally... where we recycled an already constructed doll.
This is one of Clarissa's dolls. A wonderful example of the "Steampunk" concept.
Remember the dolls that I took with me?

See the little doll with the blue striped outfit, white lace apron and dark hair? When striped down to the basics, she ended up looking like this... after the gesso, some butane fire and walnut ink, acrylic paint and body tats. The parts can't be plastic for this technique or they will melt during the burning. They have to be resistant to heat, like porcelain.
 But she just didn't look like a "steampunk" personality. She looked more like a Santos doll.
Also, this doll (and I now believe that they all do) has a distinctive personality. She is not a happy one. She's Joan of Ark, she's Hester Prynne after the fall from grace.
Something is not right with her. If I were giving her a "story", I would say that she is physically not well. She has a hump on her back and her spine is crooked.  She can only stand and finds sitting difficult. She is a complicated woman, but one that is resigned to her fate.
So, I will not be making her into a "steampunk" doll. She may stay the way she is... but I think that I will give her some clothing and let her live out her life, somewhere quiet and safe, in some corner of my home.
I will work on another doll with the leather, wires and goggles of the steampunk genre.
This doll has had quite enough.
(I do know one thing. I now understand why I didn't want dolls when I was a child. Stuffed bears and other fuzzy creatures were fine but not dolls. They always scared me a little and I think they might have tiny minds of there own.)


On Thursday, my sister joined me for a second class with Clarissa Callesen. This one was called "Wild Things". We had a fun and wonderful time .
This was one of Clarissa's examples.
There is no end to what you can do with a doll and a stuffed animal. It's fun and creative. You get to play with body parts like Henry Frankenstein... in the classic movie. Remember?... " Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE"
I'm sure that line was running around in our heads as we created these amazing creatures. I heard it!
 I took the stuffed gray mouse, cut out the nose, eyes and paws.

And added some doll parts .Clarissa calls it "creative surgery" and "transplantation". Sounds like Dr. Frankenstein, doesn't it? Then we repainted the faces. We had already Gessoed the heads, arms and legs, carefully wrapping the cloth parts in foil because we burned the gesso with a butane torch to make it bubble and darken. We also used Walnut ink to age the burnt gesso even more.
Then we learned to paint faces. This was a real learning curve for me but very satisfying.The face below was not completed when I took the picture. This is a process that requires time and careful attention to detail.
 Clarissa showed us all the techniques of face painting right down to putting a sparkle in their eyes and a blush in their cheeks.

Here she is... Miss Marsha Minnie Mouse, named after my Mom's sister who was a very pretty lady and, although I never knew her, because she died when she was 18 years old, I loved the name.
I need to do some finishing touches on her arms and add some embellishments but she is basically done. I love her sweet expression.

My sister started with this doll.
And created this unique piece of art.
Sis wants to work on attaching the fur to the shoulders. This doll shows too much frontal exposure. Can't keep her dress on. Maybe she was Gypsy Rose Lee in a former life. But look at this face...
I love this face.
This was a cuddly, creepilicious class that created some amazing art dolls.You can see more of what Clarissa Callesen does here... and here.

Tomorrow we go into Petaluma for lunch. It's a charming little town on the Petaluma River that has a lot of history with chickens.


  1. ok the make overs are cool..but your dolls are scaring me, just a bit...ha....glad you had fun...

  2. This is over the top amazing! very cool.


  3. It sure looks like you two are enjoying your classes. Looking forward to updates.

  4. I enjoyed this post and you and your sisters creations. Have a blessed evening. Madeline

  5. Awesome transformations! Yep dolls will tell you what they want to be,

  6. I have been waiting to see what you do in your classes. Wow! I am so wanting to do this someday. Can't wait to hear more about your journey. Love Petaluma! Tina

  7. Wow. This is an amazing process, creating very unique creations. Love it. Nice work, girls!!

  8. Whoa Connie...they are a little freaky but in a good way. That first one you did reminds me of one of Rimas paintings over at the Hermatage. How fun it all must have been, thinking up and creating such mythical beings...your art-self is ever evolving.

  9. Oh my goodness! That first doll...the dour one, well I swear I've seen that very expression on my late grandmothers face a thousand times...may she rest in peace! Love the face painting, you did great. I think this brand of art looks fun; but I couldn't do it. It makes me a bit nervous...like I'd be painting mustaches on portraits. Its so outside the lines! You, on the other hand, well you are just fearless in your pursuit of artistic expression!

  10. I never would have suspected adults could have so much fun playing with dolls (I must lead a sheltered life)!
    Love your story about the sad doll, I agree she does look like she has "problems". A friend of my father used to have problems that were never specified. I do love your tutor's steampunk doll although I think she might scare a child.


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