Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Painter's Life

I can hardly believe an entire month has gone by since I last posted. A little mouse can only do so much in a day, and the days have have been mighty filled. To be very honest, I've been burrowing and licking my paws alot. I often wonder how other little mice can wake up everyday and be cheery. And, yet, when I'm like this, I often do my best work because it is the meditation or zen of work that gets me through the day. If we don't have occasional blues, the pallette of our life is missing the entire spectrum. I'm a yellow and orange mouse. High creative energy colors, so a swing to the other side of rainbow makes a long trek back to the sun. So what have I been working on? Goodies.

After the Alice challenge, a dear collector asked me to make her one of my Wee Alice Trunk Sets. I love painting Tenniel so accepting this commission was a delight. While the other little storybook trunks I've painted in this genre have been illustrated with entire scenes from the story, my OOAK necessity positioned me in a way to try the front first pages of the book I have, which are little vignettes of the characters with washy backgrounds of the outdoors. On one side, the front has been finished with the characters, and when the other side is complete, the individual background washes with be done together in a connective way. Some of these characters I've never painted before, and Tenniel is always a challenge, a sweet challenge.

The other project I'm working on is for a dear friend who joined the Bleuette Sewing Group not too long ago. The current sewing challenge is First Communion dresses and veils for the dolls from the vintage patterns. Bleuette was Catholic and La Semaine de Suzette (Suzette's Weekly) was published to teach little Catholic girls how to sew and become good mothers and housekeepers. So far, the outfits these ladies have made would make you swoon! Glorious. And, my part is to make an accessory set a little Catholic girl would receive for her First Communion. These items include a scapular (a prayer necklace, worn dutifully, will ensure your escaping the fires of hell upon death), a rosary and other times. I've learned not to give too much away on the Internet so that my work does not get copied (for awhile at least).

The other piece for the First Communion is a Prie Dieux, or kneeler. This is for an individual to kneel upon and say their prayers to God. In the past, many have been made quite ornately, while modern ones are more simplified. Naturally, a Missy Mouse prie dieux would be ornate! I found some incredible cut-work wood, in a Gothic style, that made the perfect "trellis" work to showcase the paintings, or holy portraits. The images came from holy image cards a Catholic could collect. Currently I am working on the Virgin Mary in the clouds. It is the last painting of the four as there are four ovals in the cut-work that accomodate the paintings. These would have been originally done in oil, for the soft blending of fabric folds and the delicate loftiness of clouds. However, my experience with acrylic has given me the ability to create these effects ratherly nicely in this medium. When the prie dieux has been assembled and stained, I will post a photo of it. The doll it is being made for is 10 1/2" tall and made for her specific body type so she can kneel at it comfortably.

Now the challenge for me, is switching from Tenniel to the oils of the holy cards. Two entirely different techniques are required to paint these images. Just as all paintings are a product of the artist's technique, these are as individual as expected. Imagine painting a face only 1/2" long, sometimes smaller.

It is the Memorial Day weekend and the weather finally cooperated for barbeques and picnics. Its been the coldest May on record and at least one resort in the Sierra reopened for skiing and snow boarding this weekend. Mercy! I need summer so I can scamper through the warm lawn again and feel my whiskers twitch in the rays of the sun.

June is just around the corner and its time to think about lakes and beaches, bathing suits and shorts to hike in. May your days be sunny and your disposition merry!


Missy Mouse


  1. Oh, Melissa, now that I've had a peek at your First Communion set, I am SO excited! Your efforts are always special... but these treasures will be THE BEST!!

    [I'll keep my identity hidden by signing with the name my grandchildren use for me]

  2. Melissa my dear, I don't know how I missed this post! I've been thinking recently it's ages since I've seen a post for you so came and found these treasures. (I need to check that you haven't somehow dropped out of my blog list, these things do happen from time to time).

    How wonderful your Communion project is, something different. Of course it will be amazing - you don't know how to do anything other than perfection :)

    I hope you are enjoying the summer weather, perhaps doing some hiking.

    Looking forward to your next post to see what you've been up to. Hugs from far away ...