Sunday, 4 April 2010

Playing Dress Up

When I was little, I used to spend Sunday afternoons watching Abbott and Costello on the Family Film Festival. If you grew up in Los Angeles during the 70s, you'll remember Tom Hatten introducing the week's family movie on KTLA at 3:00pm.

More likely than not, I would have some drawing in hand, a multi-tasker from my earliest years. From week after week of Family Film Festivals, I managed to accumulate quite a box full of drawings. I went through a period of copying Art Deco artist Erte, or devising comic strips with my most hated classmates as the principle antagonists.

One of my favorite projects was making paper dolls --- sketching the paper clothes based on whatever period piece happened to be on. "Top Hat" yielded lots of fluffy, flowy ballroom dresses festooned with feathers and sequins. "The Adventures of Don Juan" inspired intricate Baroque creations with tight bodices and full skirts. "Meet Me in St. Louis" suggested costume after costume of beautifully tailored and detailed outfits, adorned with ribbon, buttons, beads, piping, shirring, and pin-tucking, completed by the matching bonnet.

As I work on my current freelance project, these lazy afternoons of sketching, coloring, cutting and gluing come flooding back. I'm creating paper frocks (made from foamboard) for a life-size paper doll inspired by (not copied from, because that would be unlawful) the Disney Princesses... Aurora, Cinderalla, Belle, Ariel and Snow White. As I trim the foamboard, I'm amazed at how many of my childhood pleasures have reappeared in my adult life as a means of making a living. From creating a croquet set based on Alice in Wonderland to folding paper flowers, painting fantasy backdrops, to painting anything at hand to look like marble, wood, marquetry, or tortoiseshell... these projects bring a breath of fresh air to the daily grind, and allow me to indulge in a little whimsy and lightheartedness each day.