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Arena Work

It’s strange how time can be flying by at an alarming rate, while at the same time, standing stock still. For me, a large part of this seems to come from the fact that here in Central Finland, we still have tonnes of snow on the ground. Along with temperatures in the high negatives. It’s the same weather we’ve had for months. At the same time the last two months have just sliced through the first part of the year with amazing speed and accuracy.

My daily journal keeps me on track and moving forward. Even though the snow just will not going away anytime soon, I’m still at my work table creating every, single day.


The gesso was completed on the bottle dolls. And the painting begun. Like most of my artwork, I approached the painting of the base coats with an “I know” frame of mine. Once the base coats were dry, the plan was to add some more decorative paint elements. I’ve done a lot of this in the past. Especially with my larger, paper mâché pieces.

The base coats of paint are never just two or three coats. These bottle dolls took around six (and some spot painting)  final coats of paint for the base coat. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with my changing of my gesso recipe or not. Time and further work with this gesso recipe will tell.

There is always a point in the first two or three coats of the base paint that I inwardly cringe and say, “Oh crap. I’ve made a horrible mistake.” This was the case with these four dolls as well. Man! They looked extremely rough during the first few coats of paint. I mean, garbage-like rough. It was around paint coat number four that I finally began to unclench and decide the pieces looked okay.

Colour choices:

There was not a whole lot of thinking about the colours I chose to mix for these four bottle dolls. In my head I do remember thinking, “I need two warm and two cool colours.” But not much beyond that. Nor did I make any spectacularly in-depth thinking about which doll would get what paint. That being said, I did discover that I had made some of the colour choices in a subconscious manner.

Realizing the aforementioned didn’t happen until I had completed the decorative painting over top of the base coats of paint. Each of the dolls had additional paint applied with different textures. The yellow doll has its additional paint colours applied with sponge. The purple doll with bubble wrap. The green doll with cling film and the orange doll with my own hand.


The yellow doll ended-up reminding me so much of butter. Even her head. It’s a butter cube. The purple doll ended up recalling a storybook I had as a child, Put me in the Zoo. The green doll is a watermelon. And the final red-orange doll reminds me of a kachina.

Somewhere in all that in-between space, parts of my lived experience got stuck to the artwork without my even being aware of it. This can be simultaneously cool and really unnerving at the same time. Why did my brain pick these things to place into the artwork I’m creating right now? Butter. Really?

Next steps:

The four bottle dolls will have some additional elements drawn onto their surfaces. I have to wait until the pieces are as dry as humanly possible. Otherwise, the drawing tools will make indentations in the painted surfaces of the doll. The surfaces can even be punctured if I’m not careful.

I have an idea of where I want to go with the drawings on the surface of these four dolls. I’m going to play around with the same concepts on the four rectangular boxes I made prior to the four bottle dolls. The four boxes are bone dry. They also have the advantage of being relatively flat surfaces. Making them so much easier to draw on.


The teeny doll brooches are also bone dry. They too can have the surfaces finished with either more paint or drawing. They are so terribly small. I don’t want to over-do it on the decoration of the surfaces. That would just make them too busy I think. I found some pin backs for the brooches last week. So I’m in a good position to finish them and get them into my online shop.

Something completely different:

I had an interesting…communication (?) on another social platform regarding the four bottle dolls I discussed earlier. It was an comment that instructed me to “unmake” my artwork. Now, I’m a trained, degree-carrying graphic designer. Art school, and especially my graphic design and illustration courses, did an excellent job teaching me how to critique work. This comment was in no way, shape or form a valid critique of the artwork I posted.

This ham-fisted, semi-coherent, decidedly negative critique of my artwork was just, for lack of a more accurate word, dumb. It felt like the least informed or intelligent person you know attempting to make you feel bad because you’re doing something that they aren’t able to do. And while the words are oozing from the dank bits of their communication innards, they think themselves the funniest person on the planet.

So…yeah. That happened. I did not engage them, other than to say, “No.” And a total stranger came to my aid with similar sentiments. The whole thing was just so weird and out of left field. The Transitory Property of Assholery prevented me from from further engagement with the little squidget. As we all know, when you call out a person for being an a-hole, you too become an a-hole in the eyes of everyone witnessing the exchange.

So now what?

I get back to work. There is a lot of art to make, and only so many hours in a day.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.