Monday, April 25, 2011

A theater for Pit

My sister in law is preparing a little theater for her son, my nephew and the sweetest child in the world...(love you Pit!). She has proposed a collaboration where I'll be in charge of designing panels for the gates of the theater, curtains, and other decorations.
On the left, you can see  the preliminary design (she chose the second possible arrangement):

I've started working on the the drawing for the first panel. It's a classical forest scene with three little siblings encountering a dryad in a clearing. There is still a lot of work to do I don't know how much you'll be able to see in these pictures, but I thought I'd show you. I tried to bring the picture alive with lots of detail that might attract a child attention and excite his/her imagination. As for the story behind the characters, it's still very undetermined...maybe I'll think about it, or maybe Pit will come up with it one day...;)

Hopefully, soon I'll finish inking this...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Arwen's shoes completed.

I finished my Lord of the Rings-inspired piece, "In Arwen's shoes". This is the progression from inking to the final piece (if you want you can also see the initial drawing in pencil from a previous post):

Inking: the easy part

Defining a palette
Sticking to the palette: the hard part for me...
The finished piece: copic markers with touch ups in pencils and white gel pen. Enjoy!

The 2011 ED contest...

As I was saying last time, I am a fan of Marina Bychkova's work and I participated in her annual contest. I have been following Marina's progress for a few years now and have been inspired by her dolls. Indeed, the possibility of winning one of these precious creations has always been very exciting. For a while I had been thinking I should start drawing more and better. But I am kind of lazy (unfortunately!) the extra incentive of the contest was exactly what I needed to spruce up my skills, practice and be more creative...
After last year's contest, won by the talented and wonderful Amarilli with her great piece Ermallina, I tried to come prepared for this year's challenge.

We were supposed to come up with an idea for a new doll, describe it in no more than 200 words and provide illustrations for our project. Each participant could submit up to 3 entries.

These are my 3 attempts:
I worked for weeks in planning and realizing the first one, "The love of Gods: Daphne". It was my husband's big favorite...
What is it like to be loved by the Gods? What if your prayers were listened and answered? One has to wonder if the mysterious ways of the Gods would conform to our desires and if their intervention would really bring the help we hope for.
This doll is inspired by the myth of the nymph Daphne. The Gods indeed loved her.
Apollo burned with passion for her. Cupid had seen to it in revenge for Apollo’s mockery of the power of love. When pursued by her divine suitor, Daphne realized that she could not escape his unwanted attentions. She prayed to the Gods for mercy. They listened. They intervened. She was transformed into a beautiful bay leaf tree. Apollo, finally reaching her, wept on her breast as it turned into wood and swore that she would become his symbol: the symbol of triumph for generations to come.
Was she gifted with eternal beauty and glory for her virtue? Or was she forever deprived of her freedom and form? Was this the only way she could be saved?
This doll comes with bay leaf branches bracelets and headdress, root-shaped boot, and a bark-like tattoo on half of her body.
For the second piece called "The love of Kings: Anne Boleyn" things came a bit more easily, although I got stuck on deciding the color of the gown for at least a week! This is the one I had my best hopes on....

What is it li to be loved by a king? Anne had caught the eye of Henry VIII. She was strong, willful, indomitable, like the king himself…and beautiful. The king could not help but want her. She did not give in, at first. But you could not deny the king for long. He courted her tenderly and passionately. He overturned the laws of England, defied the temporal and spiritual powers of the age to make their union legal. He asked of her just one thing: an heir to the throne. A male heir. She gave him a girl…a terrible disappointment. Her exquisite features could not keep him enthralled after that, nor could her spirit and fierce intelligence feed his love. In the end, she was discarded, her reputation maimed, his love turned to hatred. He had her head cut off. And all because she gave him a girl. Just a girl…but what a fine girl, her triumphant, her glorious golden Elisabeth!
This doll was inspired by Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elisabeth I. She comes with a fur lined brocade vest, regal jewelry and tattoo representing her daughter, the sovereign that brought to England its golden age.

The third piece was one I really worked on at the last minute but I am pretty happy with. It's title is "The love of the sea: Nautilus"....
Nautilus was an immortal nymph of the waves. Nemo was a young sailor and explorer. Their love was true and passionate, but it could not last. Too strong was for her the pull of the sea and for him the need to live among his people. Nautilus left him a daughter, a precious and delicate mortal, who could not follow her in the depths of the ocean. But Nemo desperately longed for Nautilus. He built a wondrous vessel named after her and with their daughter he traveled the vast aquatic expanses of the world seeking her. He taught the girl the secrets of the sea and the mystery of her birth.
Growing up, the child swore to find her lost mother. In her diving suit, she ventured among the anemones and the morays in the hope of a chance meeting with the elusive creature. And often, as she braved the cold dark waters and walked among schools of fish, she perceived a loving presence, a sweet sound of lullaby in the sloshing of the waves. She had hope.

As it turned out, Marina liked Anne Boleyn made it all the was to the top three, which to me it's a great accomplishment given the high participation and tough competition. I am still incredulous but very happy...thank you very much for everything, Marina! ;)
The winner of the 2011 competition was Amal with her beautiful entry Doppelganger The other top 3 was Karolin Felix with her charming Valentine. Amal won a stunning Lily mold doll...hope to see her pics soon!

What will happen next year? Who knows...the rules of the contest will likely change, but the desire to compete and win will stay the same for the Enchanted Doll fans all over the world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

About Enchanted Doll

This is going to be a long post, so I invite you to find yourself a comfortable armchair with soft pillows, get a nice cup of tea, and relax…or get excited…which is what happened to me when I saw for the first time an Enchanted Doll.

These are the most remarkable, expressive and truly artistic dolls I have ever seen. Enchanted dolls are a creation of the gifted Marina Bychkova, who is originally from Russia, but has grown up, studied and now works in Vancouver, Canada.
I don’t remember feeling so enthralled by a doll since the years of my childhood. I am not a collector and know very little of the ball jointed dolls world. But in this case, it was love at first sight…and I am not the only one! People of all ages and walks of life have fallen under the spell of these porcelain beauties.

Not only Marina has brilliantly engineered her dolls to be perfectly posable, well balanced, and exquisitely proportioned, but she has also mastered the art of painting life into their faces. The observer has often the impression to be in front of a mystical figure or of an ancient spirit trapped in the porcelain and about to burst out of it.


Furthermore, she is a wonderfully skilled designer of jewels and costumes. Her costumed dolls are breathtaking for the intricacy and historical accuracy of their gorgeous outfits.

Marina literally invests hundreds of hours in producing gowns, headdresses, crowns and dreamy shoes.

Last and most important of all, Marina’s works are not simple expressions of grace and elegance. Each doll in her collection carries a meaning, has a story that calls our attention to deep and sometime sad or even unpleasant truths of the human condition.

Beside her many artistic accomplishments, Marina is also a very generous individual and once a year, in occasion of her birthday, she holds a contest that awards one of her coveted nude dolls to the winner and other precious tokens of appreciation to the runner ups. This is a fantastical opportunity to be creative and have a chance to become owner of an Enchanted Doll.  

Isn’t she great?
You can see much more on her website,
All pictures presented in this post belong to Marina Bychkova and appear on her webpage.

PS: As you can guess, I had to participate in the contest…but this is a topic for the next post!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Arwen in Turin

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Margherita came to visit us in Chicago from Turin (Italy). Together we visited the comic expo at the McCormick's Center (C2E2). After seeing all the phenomenal artists at work there, Margherita asked me to draw a portrait of herself  and a few other friends as superheroes. Since they all love horses and like The Lord of the Rings, I thought it would be fun to draw them as characters of the books. Of course, I thought Marghe should be Arwen as she is tall and sinuous as an elf. This is the work in progress...there are a few more details to hone, but I hope to have it ready soon!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A bit more of Galatea...

Gita, who liked her Little Flat Galatea a lot, suggested to add a few more pics of her here. Well, happy to comply! In the first one here you can see that Galatea flew to the branches of my potus to enjoy the last rays of sun:
In the following photos, instead, Galatea is spying on Sophie (my beloved Enchanted doll) before going to rest on the frame of one of the pictures on the kitchen wall:
Enjoy! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Little Flat Butterfly-Io Galatea

This is a little flat doll I made for a friend. She owns one of Marina Bychkova's amazing Enchanted Dolls. You should know that I am a fanatic admirer of the beautiful works of this artist. So I was thrilled when Gita (or should I say Tiggy) asked to make a 2D portrait of Butterfly-Io. It took me quite a long part because I am rather slow, in part because I painted the character on two sides. (wings included).  For this piece, I used Copic Markers and pencils on Fabriano Artistico Hot Press watercolor paper.

Coming soon, a post dedicated to Marina's work, which you should go and check out on her website