Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Being An Artist

Oil on canvas (24" x 30") American Hut on Eagle Mountain
Recently while scrolling through the channels on television, I came upon a PBS special that aired earlier this year in March.  It was titled Becoming An Artist, and showcased the National Young Arts Foundation that was established in 1981.   I recorded the special and watched it several times.  The NYAF was founded to identify, support and nurture the nation's most talented young artists.  What I experienced in this half hour program was hope.  Hope that through the airing of such a program, and knowing such a foundation existed, that more people would discover how precious and necessary art is to our human existence.  And, to better understand the nature of the artist, whether they are established or becoming one.

Oil on canvas (30" x 40") Delicate Arch, Utah
I spent the next several days thinking this through, recalling my childhood, young adulthood, and present condition.  As a creative individual, I was often called upon to examine if I truly was one.  People would say, "You're an artist?  What do you paint?"  When I would tell them what I was currently doing, they'd call me a crafty person.  Or even artsy.  To which I would not defend myself, but simply reply, "No. I'm an artist".  They'd generally sniff, guffaw, or do something to belittle me since my name did not end in "Kinkade".  I'd walk away feeling quite alone and often frustrated.  How can a person who is not an artist understand what it means to be one?

The first few minutes of the PBS special began with Rosie Perez speaking to an audience of young adults at the NYAF.  She began, "Being an artist is not easy.  Ever go into a room and feel like you don't belong?  You feel that way because you have the soul of an artist.  You feel that way because your skin is electric.  Use that energy to create, express yourself.  Let your heart live.  Let your life defy that moment.  Its a great thing to be an artist."

Oil on canvas (24" x 30") Mennonite Quilters
These words spoke to me.  They brought back those dark places artists go to when they're bullied, frowned upon, told that what they do doesn't count or have merit, or it is implied that they are simply not good enough to call themselves an artist.  Those dark places of self-doubt.  Those sink holes of confidence lacking.  The quicksand of years of walking alone.  And this is the feeling, the inspiration that drove me to write on Being An Artist.  It wasn't the ego or joy at creating.  It wasn't the need to pontificate something I feel expert in, for I don't.  It was the cry of a lone wolf seeking the pack.

Oil on canvas (24" x 30") Bamburg Barn, Ontario, Canada
What is an artist?  Perhaps 100 years ago, or even prior to 1981, to most people an artist was a person that painted canvases.  And, even then, perhaps an artist was only someone who showed their work in a gallery.  Or let's get real tough, How about a painter that sold their work through a gallery.  If this wasn't you, you weren't an artist.  Today's definition of artist is, the opera singer, the sculptor, the writer, the poetry reader, the thespian or actor, the dancer, the fashion designer, the musician, the photographer...and more.  It is the human with the talent and soul to strive to create beauty and perfect their art.  You have to love the craft, and also love the work involved in making it better.  Not chasing after fame or fortune, but chasing excellence.

Why do we create?  Because we can.  Why do we struggle with it?  Because we must - to perfect.  How do we feel after we've performed, or finished a work of art?  For myself I've learned to feel little other than a momentary sense of accomplishment.  Then the drive to do better next time, whatever it is I attempt.  And why?  Because the act of creating is what makes me feel alive.  Its the process, the challenge, the adventure.  All that I do teaches me more and more about myself and what I'm not only capable of, but also what I may not be.

I cannot speak for others, but I do know that for myself, feeling the need to ground myself is of the utmost importance.  Creating is like an obsession, and when the product is complete, there's an initial sigh of joy, then emptiness.  It is not the emptiness of not having a next project in mind, its the loss of the adventure in creating.  The end of the journey.  Its likened to watching a child go off to college.  You nurtured it, and now it has a life of its own.  I once had a drawing teacher tell me that after he drew a picture (he taught charcoal drawing), he'd take the piece out back and burn it.  He told me once you create something, it belongs to the world, and if its personal to you, destroy it.  I would reword this as, "Once you create something, it is out there forever."

How often have you heard a song on the radio, or sat in a theater watching a musical, and hummed that tune for the next several days?  Or thought long on a piece of art you'd seen?  Or watched a dancer leap into the air and land as if on air, and not be able to get that image out of your head?  Once you create something, it is out there forever.

There is never a time when I don't feel inadequate.  Its a struggle for artistic perfection that keeps me going.  Yet, I know when I've completed something that it is good.  Its simply not my opus.  Being an artist is not easy.  It is not like going off to play at something.  It is work.  It is cerebral.  I needs an intelligence, an intellect and life experiences to grow and develop.  An artist needs to be aware at all times of their surroundings, the details of every living and inanimate thing.  It is self examination and honesty.  Above all, being honest with yourself.  From shadows, to stars, from objects to the spaces in between and the natural, pleasing arrangement of beauty.  Often we are intense individuals who seek release from the stone.  We sculpt our lives and our memories to leap to the stars in one brilliant achievement.  To dream the impossible dream, and make it possible.

"This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star"

This blog is, and always has been on the creative process.  I chose to open myself up to you in this article, and also share some of my early work.  It helps me remember where I've come from.  It helps a reader understand where my art comes from, and possibly why I do what I do now.  I recall reading an article once that shared that Pat Benatar was trained as a classical performer, an opera singer.  Yet when she was asked to sing Rock and Roll, she never looked back.  If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right was the lesson.  However, the fun for an artist is all about seeking, learning more and new, applying that knowledge and working through the challenges.  Never giving up or giving in. 

Miss E. Mouse 

Oil on canvas (24" x 30") Father George, my second cousin, unfinished

Oil on canvas (30" x 40") Road to Zion, Utah in Autumn - the last canvas I painted

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Matching Travel Suit for Theodore David

A Travel Doll Suit
I have a lovely friend who lives in the picturesque town of Solvang, California.  I had the good fortune once, to come and visit her by way of giving a talk on my, then, miniature work.  I met the fabulous Susan Quinlan and her husband, and was able to spend a short time on some gorgeous coastland in Southern California.  Olivia and I've been friends for many, many years, and she owns some of the very best work I've ever done in doll accessories. 

So when she asked me to make a matching Travel Doll suit for Wendy's recent creation, the 9" Theodore David, Travel Doll's brother, I was most honored.  And, a little awed.  I never really intended to sew for the 9" Lawton dolls, as there are other seamstresses out there who've clearly made their mark among collectors as the "go-to" seamstresses.  So I accepted this commission with great humility and did the best I could to come up with something fabulous for her. 

Travel Doll and Peter Modeling
Travel Doll, one of the most coveted of the 9" Lawtons, came out in 1997 wearing a red coat and hat with silk embroidery, over a delicate white dress with lace and ribbons.  Boneka was sewing for Lawton Doll Company at the time, and did a splendid job on both her outfit and the little red and black travel suitcase she came with.  They even made a tiny matching coat for her Travel Bear.

Years later, I would find myself trying to come up with a fabric match to the coat and a smart little boy's outfit to compliment Boneka's fine couture.  I'd just purchased a small book called English Children's Costume 1775 - 1920, and found a boy's outfit that inspired Theodore David's matching suit.

Bottom Left-hand Corner Inspiration
We talked of a white top, black pants and a red jacket, and all that came to mind was a toreador's costume.  I could not get that image out of my mind, especially since the jackets worn by the 9" boys are generally bolero, or short.  After a spell, I decided to try a vintage black and white striped shirting cotton, pinwhale corduroy pants, and polished dress cotton for the jacket, which would be lined in black like Travel Doll's.

A Smart Little Suit
My first attempt at the shirt was with a collar in the shirting stripes, and that quickly leapt into the wastebasket.  The second attempt, and I was dubious, was with a white collar attached to the stripe.  This seemed to work, and if I recall, many men's dress shirts are even made this way today.  The illustrations in such books leave much to the imagination when selecting fabrics. 

The pants would be knicker style with the banded knee, and this, the top and pants, are sewn together as one piece.  This is the way Lawton's creates their boy costuming, so I follow suit.  The doll is easy to dress this way, and the sleeveless "top" allows for a nice fit under a jacket. 

The Back
The jacket!  Oh, the jacket.  Of all the jackets I have made, I really had a tough time with this one.  It only goes to prove my point that mock-ups are the only way to go.  The final jacket was my third attempt, and the problem was mainly everything.  The sleeves needed to be straight, and the jacket a bit longer.  The patterns I had created for prior boy outfits were all with puffed sleeves.  If you use this sleeve and don't band it, you have a bell sleeve.  Travel Doll's coat has a rather "belled" sleeve, but this would not do for Theodore David.  A little more length to the hemline, a tapered sleeve, and third time's a charm

Then I had to come up with a hat.  I adore the little newsboy caps, and made this six piece crown with visor out of the same corduroy the pants were made from.  This took two tries.  I guess I'm still better hats than jackets.  And, yet, in the end, the little suit was a perfect match to Travel Doll's Boneka outfit.  While I prefer black boots and stockings on the boy, he could easily wear a pair of black and red boots to match his sisters. 

Theodore David was dressed by the Lawton seamstresses in an entirely different color theme.  They chose a brown silk dupioni sailor style and Wendy gave him a travel steamer all his own.  To be honest, I was thrilled by the challenge to make a matching suit since this is how I love to dress my own dolls.  Peter, of Wendy and Peter (Pan), is my model for Theodore David's Travel Suit. 

Presently there is a yard of gold silk on my table and I just finished the jacket pattern for Alice Liddell's fall ensemble.  I realized I needed one more size of double-faced, black silk ribbon for the trim, so I had to order some today.  Hopefully by the time it arrives, I'll be well on my way with this luscious gown.  And, I'm looking forward to making the black velvet toque with the huge white pom-pom.

September has always been travel time for us here.   The weather is perfect, and the shorter days bring cooler temps to the Sierras.  There is just so much I wish to do!  I think I'll let the dolls travel, even if its only in our imaginations.

Miss E. Mouse

Theodore David in his own colors.

Travel Doll - Guild Quarterly 1997 - Left Page

Travel Doll - Guild Quarterly 1997 Right Page

Ready For Travel!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Alice Illustrated

Alice Illustrated
In the beginning there was Alice Liddell, the sweet, curious child for whom Charles Dodgson wrote the story.  It would be years later, after Mr. Dodgson entertained Alice and her sisters aboard a row boat heading out on a picnic with his amazing tale, that the story would be put to pen and illustrated by Sir John Tenniel.  The wait was long, but well worth it.  Today there is hardly a child or adult who wouldn't know something of the tale, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, or as most people refer to the story, Alice In Wonderland.

The image that immediately comes to mind is that of a blonde child in a full skirted blue dress, wearing a white pinafore with red trim.  All too often it is the Disney Alice the person in question thinks of, but Alice was a true Victorian child of means, and would never have left the house for any adventure, even a tumble down a rabbit hole, unless fully and properly dressed in the latest fashions of the day.

Copy of My Book From the U.K.
Our storybook Alice would not be in the image of the carefully protected Alice Liddell, but the image of another child, Mary Hilton Badcock, who sat for one of Dodgson's photo sessions.  The image of a precocious child in a puffed sleeved dress, arms stubbornly folded in front her, with a serious pout on her face, would be the Alice we have come to know and love.

I have Alice dolls.  At one time I collected every Alice doll I could get my hands on, and when I had about thirty, I turned around and sold all but a couple of them.  Each seemed to be dressed slightly differently, and their hair was often styled in any fashion other than the combed back, bandless image Tenniel illustrated.  Black velvet hair bands were actually a fashion accent for little girls in the latter half of the 1860's.  But, as artists, the hairstyles and interpretations of Alice's costuming would be as individual as the creator.

Mary Hilton Badcock
Today I have six or seven Alice dolls, and the latest inclusion, is my Alice Illustrated.  She, like my Alice Liddell, is a Wendy Lawton wood and porcelain doll that I put new eyes in and re-wigged.  This little 12" doll was Wendy's Prim and Proper.  I'd been looking for a doll I could turn into what I'm calling my Illustrated Alice, for the purpose of creating a wardrobe for her from many of the different illustrations of Alice through time.  I've seen her dressed in pink, green, white with black, many different floral patterns, and even one in a red and white checkerboard print.  Back in the early 1990's, Robin Woods, for Madame Alexander, had done the same thing with her Ultimate Alice.  This trunk set was, and is, fabulous, and I have two!  One to play with and one to keep mint.  Her inspiration was the book, The Ultimate Illustrated Alice, that delivered the story with a sampling of Alice illustrations from various artists through time.  In art, there is nothing new.  We only discover and create again, but our way.

Time For Alice
When I set out to make my little Alice her first costume, Jean encouraged me to begin with the traditional costume, so people would instantly recognize her.  I had other ideas as I generally like to surprise, but this turned out to be the perfect beginning for her.

Instead of using the standard blue cotton, I chose a gorgeous blue silk dupioni, and one of my textured Italian shirting cottons for her apron.  She needed a little sparkle, and I find silk does just the trick.  Mini braid was used in red and black for the trimming.  And, I need to order some more.  I must remind myself to do so.

Earlier, I'd found this Canadian artist who was selling little pocket watches for the Steampunk dolls, and purchased two.  One of which I've given to Alice Illustrated - White Rabbit was kind enough to loan her his while napping. 

Side View
Her Boneka shoes were once again perfect for the outfit (as with Alice Liddell), and I made her new stockings.  Her wig is human hair, and her eyes, blue.  The human hair wig was a comb back style, but on this little doll, it looked too big and puffy for her face, so like the other artists before me, I styled it the way I wished to.  Yet, the style can be held nicely in place with a velvet black band, and I will make her one.

On order, I think, because I haven't heard hide nor hair of a confirmation from Catspawonline, is a tiny gold oval locket.  For now, I've sewn a little vintage gold button on the front of her pinafore for "the look".

A Lustrous Human Hair Wig
As will all my creations, I do a lot of research, simply because I enjoy it and learn a lot as I go along.  I found a few images of the styles worn by little girls in the 1860's, to help illustrate how her look came into being.  It was not made up from a Disney drawing board.  Mercy!  But, conceived by Tenniel from the clothing of his era. 

I hope you'll enjoy this little adventure with me, as I create new outfits for her from some of my favorite illustrators.

And, now, its time to work on a very special little travel outfit, for an adorable little boy doll, for a friend of mine.  And, then I think its time for Alice Liddell to get her gold gown for fall.  So, so much to do!   

Miss E. Mouse

Pinafores by Degas

Boneka Shoes

A Portrait Close Up

The Back

Notice the small child's dress and pinafore.

Back View, on left, of puffed sleeve dress.

Alice Illustrated

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Katrena Czarina, the Royal Treatment

Dimitri and Katrena
After completing the Storybook Toy Chest last week (see previous blog post), I needed a little creative endorphin boost to kick start my next sewing projects.  For quite some time, I've wanted to do something for Katrena and Dimitri, my 9" Lawton, Russian brother and sister dolls from the UFDC Denver convention in 2002.  Wow.  That was twelve years ago!  And, no, I didn't attend the convention.  In fact I don't think my first UFDC convention was until nine years ago.  Nevertheless, when I began collecting Wendy Lawton dolls, Katrena was one of my first.  She was easily acquired since at least 500 had been made as banquet souvenirs.

Katrena's New Gown and Venec
It was during the Las Vegas convention (four-five years ago??), that I miraculously, through a tip-off, acquired one of the three Wintergarden sets that were auctioned off at the banquet in 2002.  Karen Rockwell was selling hers at her booth and I didn't think twice to make the purchase.  I have no idea why it sat for the two hours it did at the open of the sales floor that year.  I was tremendously thrilled at the find, and lucky to have driven down to Las Vegas.  Since the cabinet is huge, and I was able to transport it home in the car.  Karen was especially kind to me (she's purchased my work, and commissioned one piece), to allow me to pay her over a couple of months for the piece, once I returned home.  Since then, its been one of the centerpieces of my Wendy Lawton collection.

Thank you Karen.  I never forget a kindness.

A Side View
Katrena and Dimitri were originally dressed for the Russia winter, and white with black trim "sailor" outfits could be purchased as extras at the convention.  I acquired these, as with many of my Lawton purchases, on the second hand market.  When Wintergarden came home, the siblings were able to enjoy a much more extensive, traditional Russian wardrobe.

The traditional costuming of Russia is grand and glorious.  The colors rich, the embroidered patterns stunning, and the designs, unique and beautiful to the different regions.  My deep appreciation of the Russian culture is realized by the folktale and folklore books I own, my love of the Russian ballet, my fascination with Catherine the Great (who coincidentally reigned during my favorite period in art), my recent interest and collecting of Genedy Spirin's books, and a noodle "desert" dish a Russian lady I once worked with, brought in for a pot luck.  There is no question that once I hop back on the dream train to St. Petersburg, I'm lost for hours in the grandeur of the Russian culture.  Oh, and let's not forget the little princess, Anastasia, and the tragedy that surrounded her life.

I also recall that one year, long, long ago, when the magazine first came out, Victoria offered a train trip to the central tourist destinations of Russia.  It was aboard one of those luxury tourist trains.  A group of Victoria readers surely had the trip of a lifetime!  Regrets. 

A Back View - Tiny Pewter Buttons
But, yes, I do love the Russian art culture and when I dressed Dimitri in Sterling's little green velvet and silk suit (made by the Lawton seamstresses), I had to make Katrena a matching dress. 

So yesterday I began early in the morning and literally zoomed through the process.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the best way to tackle silk dupioni is to not think about it.  Just handle it deftly and with confidence and it will sew up beautifully.

While finishing the hem on the dress, I'd been contemplating what she should wear on her head.  In a brain blink, I set my work down and rushed off to one of my doll closets and pulled out the Muffy Vanderbear "international" travel trunk I had stored away.  I dressed my 8" Muffy in her Czarina Muffina costume, and there was my answer.  A diadem or "venec".  I had to make one for Katrena's outfit.  I even hand-stitched each pearl on it.  Fun!

A Lenci Doll
These traditional headpieces worn by girls and women had symbolic and mystical representations.  They also varied by regions.  In brief, the rounded ones were worn by maidens, and the pointy ones, symbolic for the tree of life, were worn by girls engaged or married.  The way they were adorned also changed during the cycle of a girl's life.  For more on this fascinating history, check out  On this website are also detailed illustrations and descriptions of how the costumes were designed.  So, yes.  I will make Katrena and Dimitri a set of very traditional Russian garb.  Soon.

Czarina Muffina
This little sojourn also allowed me to finally try, once again, to take photos of  the Wintergarden  collection.  It was very difficult to photograph due to its size and high gloss on the cabinet.  There is also a mirror inside that wouldn't cooperate with the camera, but I've done my best to help share with you this enchanting piece.  Over the years I've added other outfits and many miniature Russian "toys" to enhance the set.  I think one of my favorites is a tiny "nesting doll" for Dimitri that I picked up at a Russian gift shop in Sacramento, CA.  On the outside is painted a Russian sea and ship scene, and inside is a tiny wooden captain - that in the last photo below, he's holding.

Doing a little bit of research, I found a fine example of Russian costuming on this beautiful felt Lenci doll.  Examples of other "venecs" or diadems can be seen below.

And so, I am ready now for the next few costuming projects, and will certainly be thinking about what I would like to do for our little Russian 9"ers in the future.

Miss E. Mouse

A Page to Color - Simple Illustration

Anna Pavlova


Wintergarden Plate


With Toys

How It's Displayed

Katrena and Dimitri

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Tale of a Storybook Toy Chest

A Storybook Toy Chest
Its been a very long time since I've done any miniature painting.  So long in fact that I had serious doubts that I could still manage to hold a tiny brush steady and remember how to apply paint to a surface.  And, therein lay the challenge before me. 

About a month ago, my friend, Betsy, sent to me a small wooden chest that she'd picked up at a crafts store.  The dimensions were approximately 5 1/4" long, 3 1/2" wide and about 4" tall to the top of the decorative back.  She had an idea for me to paint scenes, or characters, from her favorite childhood storybooks on the piece, and turn it into a toy chest for her little dolls (probably most specifically her 9" Lawton dolls). 

In the beginning, there was wood and paper....
Since I'd not painted in awhile, and especially since she requested Alice and the White Rabbit, I readily agreed to give it a go.  What I didn't anticipate was how rusty at the brush I would be. 

The first task was to prepare the box for paint.  In the past I've gone out to the garage and with my miniature table saw, cut up pieces of bass wood to make my own little trunks.  I thought, "Cool!", the box is already made!  Ha-ha!  But, the wood these boxes are made from require just as much, if not more prep work. 

I sanded the piece by hand, then gessoed it, covering the exterior and interior.  Because the lid was stationary, I had to apply the gesso in thin layers so the lid wouldn't stick to the interior of the box.  I let it dry over a couple of days, which is more easily done in dry summer conditions, then sanded the heck out of it by hand, trying to achieve as smooth a painting surface as possible.  The very nature of the wood with its deep grooves would prove a problem on several sides as I began the actual painting of the characters. 

The First Panel Painted
The next stage was choosing an acrylic base, and Ceramcoat is my bottle paint of choice.  I chose Ivory White, and gave the box several coats for an opaque finish.  Again, dealing with the stationary lid would be tricky in getting as much surface covered as possible.  While coats were drying, I selected images from the four stories she chose.  Alice in Wonderland, Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), Winnie the Pooh and Raggedy Ann and Andy.  In the long past, I became familiar by paint, with these characters, as I've made the tiny 3 1/2" Storybook Trunk Sets from all these beloved tales.  It would be interesting to combine them into one piece.

The Second Panel Painted -" Is there any honey for me?", Piglet asks.
One of the most important things an artist must do is create a balanced design, pleasing to the eye, to encourage the eye to travel naturally and enjoyably over a painted surface.  I must have spent several days just looking over my books and selecting images that worked in coordination with the shape of the box.  Pooh was the most difficult.  Pooh and Piglet were requested, and it was hard to find one illustration by Shepard (from A.A. Milne's book) that featured them together in such a way to compliment the slanted side of the box.  I finally found two separate images and combined them together for the side panel.  Also requested were bees and the honey jar.  Initially I wanted Pooh's face to show, but in the end, I selected images from three separate pages to paint, and Pooh's nose appropriately stuck in the honey jar.  A good place to be for Pooh. 

What's all the fuss?  Again, the design must be correct and often the pre-work, the brain work behind the piece isn't taken into consideration by a commission.  That, to me, seriously, is where half the work comes from. 

Peter Rabbit getting ready to make some trouble in McGregor's garden was the first panel I painted.  With this, I had to relearn the techniques I'd practiced long ago and had forgotten.  No, its not like riding a bike.  And, its been that long!  But, by the time it was done, I was ready to move onto Pooh and feeling more confident.

Marcella's Treasured Companions
Another factor to take into account is that the illustrations were all done by different artists.  So after you've gotten into the hang of painting "Potter style", you have to learn a different style like Shepard's and so on.  We are not doing "master forgery" here,  but we are giving our best representation of the artist's work.

From Pooh I moved onto Raggedy Ann and Andy by Johnny Gruelle.  I love Gruelle, and everyone knows it.  The gentle, sweet stories and very loving characters who always make a happy ending for every situation they come in contact with in their adventures.  We should all live and behave so generously as Raggedy Ann and her companions. 

Finally, it was Tenniel's time.  Alice came first, then the White Rabbit.  Betsy sent me a book, The Nursery Alice, so I could have a color plate to work from for his costume.  Of all the characters I painted, I truly feel he came out the best.  I cannot tell you why...maybe because he was the last, but I just love his checkered jacket and that wonderful pocket watch!

Alice and the White Rabbit
I know it will sound silly, but I was ready to be done.  Each character , on each panel had been painted to perfection with all the tiny, thin black outlines - all done with a teeny weeny pointy brush with about three bristles on it.  But, it wasn't done.  Betsy wanted more.  So on came the radish and carrot with Peter Rabbit, and the Gruelle garden flowers for the curved back decorative panel and corners.  Hmmm....  Still not done.  She suggested a tea cup for Alice and the White Rabbit.  So I drummed up the Tenniel teapot pouring a "spot of tea" into the gold rimmed cup.  Hmmm...  Still not done. 

With Corner Illustrations and Tea
By this time I'd photographed everything several times, including the last photo at the bottom of this journaling post (which is why you don't see the cards!).  However, the inclusion of cards would come, and those were just painted yesterday.

 I love ending of the first book when the cards fly up and over Alice, so I took a short "spray" of them, and in a half semi-circle, painted them in below the White Rabbit.  And, added a few in the top left corner for balance.

But wait!  There's more!  Before the inclusion of the corner art, I'd pulled all the stories together with an illustration I made up of my own.  Open the lid and there are old books with different characters from each story "coming alive" from them.  Timmy Willie with his, what looks to me like, a gingko umbrella, Beloved Belindy, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and Eeyore, the sweet, silly donkey whose very name is a donkey noise.  I love this interior panel piece.  It, alone, was a full design combining the stories and I enjoyed painting it so much. (photos further down)

Lastly, a thin coat of matte Mod Podge to seal the artwork was done, and of course, I signed the bottom.

From the Front, But Not Quite Done
What surprises me more than anything when I finish something like this, is that I actually do sit back and admire it.  Gone are the struggles and re-dos and trials of creating the piece.  In the moment, is the satisfaction and wonder that I even did it in the first place.  Was able to create it.  I know I can.  I know I can do anything I put my mind to.  We all can.  But, still, it humbles me that someone would have such confidence in my abilities.  Betsy is good for this.  She understands what I'm capable of and pushes me to excel.  I had to laugh as I imagined her Pope Betsy and me Melissangelo.  "Keep painting!"

Thank you so much, my friend, because I know you'll treasure this piece for years to come! I love you!

Please enjoy the following photos I took, and remember to enjoy each moment.   We grow by challenging ourselves, learning new things and thus, further discover who we are.

Please remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge and see them better!

Miss E. Mouse

Close Up of Radish and Carrot

Gruelle's Garden Flowers

Storybook Characters

How It Looks Opened

The Cards - "Time for tea?", inquires White Rabbit.


In the Works.  That's my great magnifying lamp.

Itty Bitty Brush Tips

A Storybook Toy Chest For Dolls