Saturday, November 28, 2015

Imaginative Play: Fashion Dolls Upcycled

Remembering Play

While I was pregnant with Emmeline I began thinking back my childhood. I wanted to remember what inspired me as a child, in the hopes of giving Emmeline the opportunity to experience something similar. For me it was always imaginative play that fulfilled me, whether that be mud pies, home made capes, having my dolls climb trees or ride my dog's back, drawing, coloring, reading, writing, creating masks, carving chalk, painting designs on my own skin, and in general imagining myself and my surroundings in different time periods and different places in the world.  

My first Bratz repaint. For this happy doll I created a face out of my imagination without an inspiration photo.
She looks like someone I'd like to get to know.

Tree Change Dolls

Around that same time period, while I was pregnant, I came across a viral video that was really meaningful to me. It feature a thoughtful Tasmanian woman named Sonia Singh who had created her Tree Change dolls from used fashion dolls, mostly Bratz dolls, removing their factory painted faces and repainting them to look younger and more natural. She dressed her dolls in play clothes and put boots on their feet, imagining outdoor adventures for them. It was such a hopeful outlook on childhood conveyed through a simple act of reimagining an everyday toy.

This is my second Bratz repaint. I wanted to make sure these repaints represented a variety of appearances
not just my own imaginary friends, so I found an inspiration photo online of a fully freckled young woman.
To get the right effect I repainted the entire face to have a cooler under layer of skintone
(by cooler I mean leaning towards light pink instead of yellow) and then layered in the freckles.

My Upcycled Doll Beginnings

I really wanted to try it out for myself, but my paintings had to be the priority, so I imagined I would create one in the next few years when Emmeline would be old enough to play with it. After Emmeline was born I knew it would be difficult to paint for a few months, at least, and assumed that this time would simply be a fallow period for my painting, and an opportunity to focus on living in a totally knew way and getting to know my little one. 

But, I found I was itching to create. I have managed to get in a few brief paint sessions, but one hour naps aren't very conducive to setting up to paint an oil painting getting about 30 minutes of paint time in and then rushing to take care of the munchkin. Also, I find sleep deprivation can endanger complex paintings. :-P Those lovely Tree Change Dolls kept coming into my head. It turns out repainting a doll is perfect for nap time. It is quiet, requires less set up, and can be stopped and restarted without losing focus.

This is my third Bratz repaint. Once again, to insure a variety of faces types are represented I found
an inspiration photo online of little dark haired girl. I'm happy with the subtle difference
in her facial expression. She isn't smiling, or sunny, but instead appears contented.

Imaginative Play to Come

Now that I have found so much enjoyment in just these few repainted faces I want to see what kinds of imaginative play memories I can incorporate into them. There will many accessories in their future. I have masks in the works, capes, and perhaps play dress up clothes. Some of these will be reserved for Emmeline's future play and some may make their way to my Etsy shop, Spicy Paprika.

I'll post my progress.

P.S. Oh, and there is a group portrait that gets worked on here and there that I'd love to share when it is completed and the client has received it, so be on the look out for that too.

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Thanks for your interest in my art. I'm very curious to hear your thoughts. Cheers!