Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making Magic Out of Junk

Today we are pleased to be featuring a blog post from one of our extremely talented and popular instructors... Clarissa Callesen! As a self-professed "creator of strange and wonderful things" her journey oftentimes starts out with a less-than-appealing goodwill score. See how she transforms this tacky doll into a sublime masterpiece!

beautifully tacky doll before transformation

I joke that I had to become a Mixed Media Assemblage Artist so I could continue to justify collecting junk.  But the reality is that I am inspired by junk, both the sublime and the tacky.  The school book from 1950 that has the inscription of 5 different students all written in shaky childhood beauty has its appeal... but the once loved doll at the goodwill with her fake yellow hair and her atrocious outfit complete with hand painted snowman also has her charms.

There is catharsis and liberation in deconstruction. Aka it is a lot of fun to tear the hair off of a tacky doll.  Then the magic begins. The transformative powers of paint with a side of fire…

Here's a little video showing the paint and fire technique.

After tearing the doll apart and setting her on fire, then comes the fun of adding paint washes and  diluted walnut ink over the body and face.

Tacky doll being reborn, midway through the proces

My style of working is not heavy on the precise and the tidy. I really love the look of distressed and grungy.  I love the happy accidents they tend to give a piece of artwork more life.

After the paint washes then comes painting the face.  I can get lost in painting a face for hours. Most of my dolls tend towards “realistic” faces, but on this doll I took some inspiration from both Picasso and circus clowns.

close up of face painting

After putting on her face, then on to the clothing.  I do a lot of hand dying of lace and vintage fabric and then combine it with found object to create a complete look.
And here is the completed doll “Saint Serene”. She sure has come a long way from her humble beginnings!


I will be teaching several classes at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach and Art and Soul in Portland including many that incorporate these techniques. So come join me and turn tacky into truly transformed!

Thanks for stopping by… Clarissa 

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