Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dolly Goes To The Big City--Libby

Dolly Goes To The Big City

11" x 14"; Affixed to painted 3/4" canvas
Commercial and painted fabrics; fused applique; acrylic paint

Working with this photo was a little tough. I don't seem to see the same things as everyone else. I also don't have any special associations with dolls; they don't conjure up any memories or images for me. What I did key in on was the idea that the dolls were waiting to be made into something. I also knew that I wanted this piece to be "illustrative". I wanted it to tell a little story but also to look like a drawing from a children's book.

Once I decided on all of the various elements that were needed (girl, suitcase, hat, etc.),I set about composing a story about my Dolly. Eventually, the idea that the act of taking the photo was important popped into my head. I decided that the photo had "transformed" Dolly; had caused her to come to life. She was off to the Big City on an adventure. She has written a letter(printed on the background) to her sisters and I include it here:

Dearest Sisters,

It is with a heavy heart but with much optimism that I write this letter. By the time you get this, I will have already started my new life. I am off on my journey to Paris! I will miss all of you terribly but my dreams have come true at last!

I always knew that my life at the open air market was so very limited. Then one day that nice lady came along to take our photograph. Do you remember? That photo transformed me! I felt like a brand new person. It was then that I knew the adventure had begun.

Please don't cry or be sad. Wish me well. I will miss all of you. my doll sisters, and hope that one day soon you too will be able to join me in my new home.

Fondest regards,

All of the elements are drawn and painted by me, including the background. The border is commercial fabric. The whole of the three layers are stitched and then affixed to a painted 3/4" profile canvas. I have written a longer post about the complete process. It can be viewed on my regular blog here


  1. Wow, Libby, you really have taken me back to my childhood books! I enjoyed the story idea,and your images certainly convey that sense of innocence and wonder we have as children. Your work also reminded me of Pam Rubert's art, which I thoroughly enjoy- it has that same whimsical, childlike feeling.

  2. This brought such a smile to my face, both from looking at it, and from reading the "letter." I think you captured the look and writing style of an old children's book wonderfully, Libby. Terrific job.

    The fabric choices are perfect too, both the painted background and that border.

  3. How sweet. You definitely achieved the look and feeling of a children's book. I'm glad that you, "don't seem to see the same things as everyone else." How boring would it become to visit this blog if everyone's interpretation were basically the same thing?

  4. Just charming. Reminds me of a Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly movie..."An American In Paris", but now I am showing my age!

    You conveyed the message you wanted perfectly.
    The layout is balanced and the colors perfect.
    Your combination of canvas and quilt are working very well.

    Finding out how each person interprets differently is the best part of this challenge.

  5. . . . . and now we know the end of the dolls' stories! What a cute idea! You did a marvelous job of capturing the storybook idea, Libby! Clever.

  6. Your interpretation is inspired, imaginative, and delightful. You captured the features of the photo dolls and made them your own ... or rather, Dolly's own. She's obviously a bold and adventurous and "modern" young woman. She's even dyed and tried to straighten the blond curly hair that someone gave to her and all her sisters.

    I like the fleur de lis patterned fabric choice for the framing border. Not only does it say "France", but it reflects a strong hue from the original photo and plays nicely with the blues.

  7. What fun! I love how you were able to see how one of these bisque bust could become a real girl - a playful twist on the story of Pinocchio. Your style even reminds me a little of Enrico Mazzanti's illustration.

    Well done.

  8. I just love how you've brought this image to life with a sweet story. One really gets the feeling that she is about to be on the journey of a lifetime and maybe there's a little wishful thinking attached to that. At that age, we are fearless and the world looks like a big adventure. The whole thing made me smile and brought back some very exciting memories and isn't that what art is supposed to do-connect with the viewer.

  9. Inspired! Taking the dolls and giving one a story. Love the letter. The rich fabric of the border just fits so well with the Paris idea. A different take on the photograph for sure!!

  10. I'm with you Libby, no real connection with dolls, although I played with them as a child. But it was fun to see you give a doll a story, and an adventurous one, to boot! Love it!


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!