This year has been a definite Seasons of Life for me with my dear Father's passing and then deep family issues...it threw me for bit but I did survive and realized that many things in life that deeply challenge us are there not to hurt us but to help us evolve to a higher understanding of just who we are and how we fit into this world...we may have ugliness slam into us, but there is always the balance of beauty. We just need to hold firm and find that beauty.
I was so effected by this that I wanted to express it in my work using the Seasons of Life...the Four Seasons and the beauty each holds.
Since Autumn is upon us here in Colorado...I thought that I will start with her...
Photography: Mark Mortensen
Hand-made wood stools: Gary Leitch
This doll is held in a private collection
...and so during this journey, I felt fragile and felt that I needed some emotional protection. I researched many different things that bloom in China in the fall and this is what I found... the Chinese Lantern... protection and also lantern as light to lead the way.
Měilì de tiāntáng
Details:Chinese lantern flowers symbolism - they have an endearing and joyful emblem of warmth. Given that these flowers enfold and defend the small, delicate fruit buried within their husks, they may be the perfect symbol for protection. Their fiery orange red hue denotes a passion for life, amiability, endurance and vitality.
When selecting my fabrics for this I wanted to use use rich warm colors, oranges and reds...I started with the peach tone fabric of her dress with the delicate embroidered flowers. Found a bit of vintage kimono in just the right red for her cuffs...leaning more to the orange side.
The entire dress is lined with traditional vintage red Chinese silk.
To highlight the red in the cuff I choose this silk brocade for the pants cuffs. Each piece is carefully placed on the fabric to make the most of the design...fussy cutting...and yes, most of my beloved fabrics look like Swiss cheese!
Not visible is the wonderful silk fabric for her pants. Many years ago I visited Ankie Daanen in Spain and purchased the lovely black and grey fabric from her. The grey is flat where as the black is lightly gathered.
Shoes made from the wee bit of hat fabric I had left and tipped with the tiniest of sequins (from Australia).
Her crowning glory...her hat.
I found many hats in China had a bar like shape that mounted on top of their head...I wanted that basic shape but also being able to spotlight the wonderful fabric.
Part of our endeavor as artists is to find things to inspire us to create something within our own personal style. Not to copy...it is a well traveled road to be original.
I had just enough vintage fabric with this most perfect weaving in it. I had to use it.
Full hat view
I added the red sequins as an after thought...letting the open space between the weaving of red within the fabric guide my placement of each sequin.
Hand-made tassels using threads with a hand painted metal cap to symbolize the outer shell of the Chinese lantern flower.
and in final thoughts...
Her face...I love the texture of the silk crepe that I use for her face overlay as well as her body. Her eyes are hand painted with many layers of gloss to build up the round shape of the eye. Shading done with pastels, a very sharp sepia pencil, and a fine line marker. All sealed with a workable matte fixative that does change the fabric characteristics.