Catwalk Couture: Paper Dolls in Progress

painting_01I love being a fly on the wall to observe others’ processes. Whether it’s art or writing or any kind of planning, really, I just enjoy seeing how people go about creating. I like my own process too, but I am abysmal at documenting it. I get caught up in the doing, and forget to visualize an audience, even when I’m mindful of it.

This is my way of saying I utterly failed to capture my work from conception to completion on the catwalk models even though it was my intention to provide a blow by blow. And perhaps that’s not terribly interesting to some of you anyway. There are many ways to skin a cat, but not everyone wants to watch it happen.

But I will at least give some specs: these will be Holbein and Winsor & Newton watercolor/gouache on hot press 100% cotton (ooo fancy!). With a little bit of Sharpie marker, a bit of Copic marker, and lots of small touch-ups in Photoshop. I’ve been using the same paint and paper for at least ten years and more. Some of my gouache I inherited from a painter back in Texas more than 20 years ago. Which is awesome because Winsor & Newton cadmium red in particular is insanely expensive and I have enough to probably last a lifetime.

I tend to use cheap brushes since my method of painting (which is more like pushing pigment around on the paper until it goes where I want), is hell on fine brushes. I am well aware that my tools and methods probably make the process more work than it needs to be. There are habits at this point that I can’t seem to break.

My dolls are typically about nine inches tall (I reproduce them at actual size in the downloadable plates). It makes doing little accessories a challenge and some of the detail work is very fine. That little face in the image above is about an inch and a quarter. Without the hair, it’s about the size of an actual quarter, in fact. I have thought of going larger to make it easier, but I am very bad at achieving solid color coverage (even in small scale), so this size feels ideal for me. Can still manage the little details, but I don’t get overwhelmed by large areas to paint. I have an insurmountable tentativeness about painting due to a traumatic event in my childhood involving colored paper that scarred me for life (you don’t want to hear about it–ha!).

burberryOnce I finished the models, I decided I wanted to plate them with some foundation pieces. I didn’t want to just post a bunch of half-naked bodies. My friend who asked me for a General Hux paper doll is (as you can imagine) a huge fan of Domhnall Gleeson. We were talking about that Burberry commercial he recently made. So I thought: why not start with Burberry?

Here’s why: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life. Burberry is all about lines!

But I decided not to let it stop me. If I quit every time I paint a lopsided line, I’ll never get anything done. And I want to learn from this process. Learn how to use and coordinate colors (even if I’m copying), how to paint patterns, how to reproduce styles and folds I don’t typically draw. So much to learn! Working on Cookie’s outfits for Empire showed me that I’m up for the challenge (more on that later).

The models are more or less done (two men, two women). And their handful of Burberry bits are done (thank you Lord). I’m still working on the plating. Then I’ll start to select wardrobes for them (not Burberry). I’ll try to capture that process as I go. I expect to start posting finished plates the first week of January, 2017!