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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anyone for Croquet? - OPDAG issue 106

This week I received my copy of Paper Doll Studio, the quarterly magazine showcasing the work of members of OPDAG (The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild).  The theme for this issue was GOOD SPORTS and for my contribution I decided to submit two sheets of dolls playing croquet with outfits from 3 different eras.

This is my second submission to the magazine.  My first was a doll called Clarissa.  On that occasion I was given a quarter of an A4 size page.  This time I was thrilled to see my dolls received a lot more exposure.  The two colour scans shown above were allocated a whole page on their own (pg 14).  I also appeared in the section of 'Artists talk about their theme art paper dolls...'  and was listed first!  (But that was probably because I sent in these dolls such a long time ago.)   Jenny chose the blue skirted outfit (top left) to put with my introduction.

The cover page I put together (above) was not printed - I mainly included it to show how the hats and umbrella work.  For the umbrella if you make a slit in her left hand (our right) the handle can slide through quite nicely and then the other end hooks into the area between her thumb and hand.

I based everything on contemporary images from the eras represented and just rounded up the dates.  The two figures are taken from an American fashion magazine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries called The Delineator.  Something about their poses made me think they could be easily adapted to croquet  This illustration appeared in the magazine in 1911.

The two outfits on the page with the dolls were inspired by this delightful illustration.  It is called 'Croquet or Wicket Thoughts' and appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post dated 5 September 1931.  Although I loved the design of her outfit I felt I needed more colour in my interpretation and was really happy with the way it turned out.

These are the sketches for the two pages.  I drew each outfit separately and then cut and positioned them on the page.  Cleaning everything up afterwards can be a bit fiddly but I find its the easiest way to get the different pieces arranged to make optimum use of the space.  I've been experimenting with different ways of doing the lettering.  For Clarissa I printed it directly onto the sheet with the doll once she and her outfits were drawn but not coloured.  That was quite difficult and it took a couple of attempts to get it right.  Here I printed and pasted the wording on the original sketch.  I cleaned everything up, printed it again and then coloured it in.  For the new doll I'm working on (next submission) I've taken yet another approach.  I'm doing the lettering last directly onto the scanned image using Microsoft Paint.

These two paintings provided the inspiration for the dresses on the second sheet. I adore this next image.  It is by the English painter Percy W Gibbs (1894-1937) and is called 'Ladies Playing Croquet'.  I love the pastel colours and the feminine effect of the artist's technique.  I would have liked to have reproduced these figures exactly as you see them here, but the style of my dolls was quite different so I had to adapt it to keep the overall look of my pages consistent.

The last two gowns come from this painting, possibly the most famous and well known depiction of a Victorian croquet game.  It is by the American artist Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910),

When I completed my paper doll of Alice I sent a scan of her off to Jenny at OPDAG.  Jenny liked her but as the doll did not fit in with either the Sports theme or any of the upcoming themes she could not include Alice in the body of the magazine.  What she did for me instead is put Alice in the Showcase Section where members advertise paper doll books for sale.  A small image of Alice is shown with a link to my blog.  It was so exciting to see my work there - I felt like a child who was allowed to mix with the grown-ups!     

The theme for the next issue is QUEENS.  I've almost finished my submission (due by the end of next month) and have already sent in two outfits for the special Dress-a-Doll section - in this issue a young Queen Elizabeth circa her coronation in 1953


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ruby Reeves - An Enchanting Fairyland

These exquisitely detailed paintings are the work of South African artist Ruby Reeves (1904-1986).
I came across them while looking for pictures I had in mind for last week's post.  I've not thought of including them before because the quality is not great - they are cuttings from a magazine (Ster - the Afrikaans word for star) and you can even see the date in one of the details below - 2nd May 1974.  At the time I would have stuck these on my bedroom wall where they must have complimented my Sulamith Wulfing posters beautifully.

It was only when I looked online and realised how little is out there of this artist's work that I decided to put together this post today.  If you would like to see more of her art this Facebook page contains additional examples as does this site called Rust en Vrede (if you swap the two words around it would translate to 'peace and quiet').

This painting called 'Midsummer's Night' or 'The Fairy Queen's Birthday' is possibly her most well known work.  I used to spend hours studying the detail when I was young, imagining living in this magical land.  This is what I always imagined Tolkein's Rivendell looked like and I longed to explore this enchanting landscape.  It was only when I scanned and cropped these images today that I noticed some of the details again I had forgotten - if you look at the picture below on the right you'll find faces in the tree and I'd missed the fairies dancing around the queen's head like a halo.  These would both make beautiful paintings in their own right.      

It also struck me looking at these again that Ruby Reeves must have been familiar with the work of Danish artist Kay Nielsen. (There is an example of one of his illustrations - Sleeping Beauty - on my sidebar )   I can see a lot of similarities between the two, especially the gates in the illustration above left and the details of the clothing below. 

I painted the picture below in my 20's during a period when I was besotted with Nielsen's work and emulating his style in everything I did.  I'm sorry you can't see the figure next to the tree terribly well - her clothing is very similar to that produced by both Nielsen and Ruby Reeves.

This Facebook entry contains a detailed biography about Ruby Reeves.  I was interested to read that she worked mainly at night and used a magnifying glass to create this incredibly fine detail.  She lived on her own but was never alone - the fairy world kept her company and she had a special favourite called Marion.

Another lovely painting - I enlarged the figure on the right to show off her beautiful gown:

I'm sorry these two examples are not in colour although there is a detail of the one below to give some idea of what the original looks like.  I've always pictured the dress to be pale blue.

Ruby Reeves lived in George (a lovely town on the Cape Garden Route) from 1955 until her death in 1986.  The George Museum has some of her work on display - I'm sorry I was not aware of that when we were last in South Africa as I would love to see her paintings close up.  I was in the vicinity - my husband's parents live in nearby Knysna so I could easily have paid the museum a visit.  I don't have any photos of George but have included some of the Knysna / Wilderness area so you can get some idea of what it looks like and the landscape that might have inspired some of Ruby Reeves' work.

The view from my in-laws house

The Knysna Heads are quite a famous landmark in South Africa.


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