Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Quick Sketching Practice: Or How to add More Art Time into your Daily Life

In April 2018 I started taking a sketchbook with me everywhere I went.  I wanted to increase my art time and improve my sketching.  One of the things that intimidated me the most was sketching people in action. I tend to take my time with all of my art so I wasn’t sure how quickly sketching people in movement was going to go.  I started out by trying to sketch the water fountain in the Turning Stone Casino.  After doing that I decided to start sketching the people walking by.
 
sketches by Marla L. Niederer
I found this to be fun and wanted to find more places to practice sketching people.  I thought sketching people seated somewhere might give me a bit longer time to sketch them.   So I decided to start sketching while sipping a London Fog tea at Starbucks from time to time.
 
sketches by Marla L. Niederer
About this time the apple tree outside my living room window started to bloom so I decided to add that in my sketching practice too.
 
sketches by Marla L.  Niederer
I went for a trip to California last summer and decided to do some sketching while having lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf.
 
sketches by Marla L. Niederer
I then spent some time at my sister in law’s downstate and took some time to sketch at Starbucks in Suffren NY.  While I was there someone took pictures of me sketching.  I guess that is only fair.
 
sketches by Marla L. Niederer
After my travels I continued my Starbucks sketching in Watertown NY.  I decided that I needed to learn how to sketch a full figure quickly so I started focusing on that.  I’m really enjoying adding more art into my life wherever I go! 
 
sketches by Marla L. Niederer
 
sketches by Marla L. Niederer

I’m also getting ready to teach my online class, Claudette, on A for Artistic starting February 12th 2019.  You can find out more information about the class and sign up for it by going to the A for Artistic website here.
https://tinyurl.com/yckty5uw

 
Claudette by Marla L. Niederer
I also have several art doll making instant downloadable PDF tutorials for sale in my shop
 
Bridgette by Marla L Niederer, instant downloadable PDF tutorial
If you are interested in taking a live doll making class from me I am scheduled to teach my Moulin Rouge Dolls workshop at Artistic Figures in Cloth & Clay in Columbus Ohio April 25th – 28, 2019
 
Moulin Rouge Dancers by Marla L. Niederer
I am also scheduled to teach a class on how to make dragonfly wings for dolls and bears at the Philadelphia Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Convention May 2nd -4th
 
La Fae Verte by Marla L. Niederer 



Until next time…….
warm hugs,
Marla

Friday, January 4, 2019

Photo Studio Upgrade or how to set up an Art Doll Photo Studio on the Cheap


Did I ever tell you how awesome my son Jason is?   Not only has he grown up to be a great bestower of gifts, he also has grown up to be one of the kindest, most thoughtful, generous, and all around awesome man that I have ever met despite my parenting skills!

 Over the holidays he gifted me with two professional studio lamps with light bulbs and diffusers.    


Up until now whenever I did my photography for my online classes or photos of my art dolls I have used a make shift photo studio dependent upon how much light is filtering in through my studio windows.

Originally I used a grey mat-board to set behind whatever I was photographing in order to have my photos focus on the art doll rather than what was behind it.  Last year I broke down and bought some professional photo studio background paper to use as a backdrop for my photography.  I tried to tape it to the ceiling and the table I was using but it really didn’t work that well.  I wound up ruining quite a bit of the paper as a result.
 
curtain rod clips holding photo background paper
If you can see in the photo, Jason gave me the idea, to just attach some hooks to the ceiling to hold a curtain rod for the paper.  I used some curtain rod clips to clip the top of the paper on which works really well. 

In order to get that curved consistent background for the photos I did wind up taping down the bottom part of the paper to my table.
background paper held down with tape

My husband, Bob, brought me up some clips from his workshop to use instead of the tape.  I haven’t tried them yet but bet they will work like a dream.

On a really dark overcast day I tried to do some photography using the lights.  Before having the lights I wouldn’t be able to do any of my photography during overcast dark days, much less in the evening hours.  
Light with diffuser

When I put the light on behind me It was bright enough to get a suntan in the room but using the diffuser over the light kept the subject of the photo from being washed out which is what typically happened when I used room lights for my photos.  So I tried to take some photos with one light set up behind me while I worked on some photos for the Moulin Rouge class I will be teaching at AFICC in Ohio this April. 
light used as a reflector

I took the second light and used it as a reflector to keep shadows at bay while taking photos.  It worked like a dream! 
Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer

Here are some pictures I took on an overcast day with my new photo studio set up.
Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer

Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. NIederer

Until next time……….

warm hugs,
Marla

Moulin Rouge Dancers by Marla L. Niederer

P.S.  You can sign up for my live Moulin Rouge Dancers class at AFICC in Columbus, Ohio on April 25-28, 2019 by going to the AFICC website here:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Wishing you a Wonderful New Year

I can’t believe another year has just about ended.  It seems like it just fluttered by so quickly!  I don’t really make New Year resolutions but like to take some time to reflect upon the past year and think about changes I would like to see in the coming New Year. 


When I look back over the year I find myself quite thankful.  I continue to be blessed with the comfort of family and friends whose company I enjoy.
 
Bob & I
Vola & Jason
My doll making has resulted in some travel this past year. I really enjoyed seeing new places, visiting with friends made on previous trips, and making new friends as a result.
California seaside
 
Kathryn & Julie
I started to paint and sketch wherever I go.  This has become such a joyful part of my life and helps me grow as an artist.
My paintbox and painting of flowers while downstate NY
 
Indianapolis University Quartet
I was able to have a second critique done on my art dolls by three amazing NIADA artists, Donna May Robinson, Sandra Oglesby, and Tanya Buckley Marriott.  If you never had a formal NIADA critique done on your work, it is an absolutely wonderful experience.  It’s like having a private class focused specifically on improving your own work by the most talented doll artists in the world.  It doesn’t get better than that!
 
Moulin Rouge Dancers by Marla Niederer
I’ve learned how to slow my pace a bit more this past year and take the time to enjoy all that surrounds me. 
 
Outside my living room window
I have accomplished some goals this past year and look forward to working on some new ones in the New Year.
 
Sketchbook page by Marla L. Niederer
I hope your New Year is filled with much laughter, love, good health, a comfortable home in which you may rest, and many art supplies to keep your creativity flowing!


Until next time………

warm hugs,
Marla

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

Festival of Trees
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season!  Recently my husband Bob and I went to see the Festival of Trees at the Dulles building in Watertown. 
Bob and I at the Festival of Trees
 We had to pose in front of the choir! 
 
Westelcom tree
This is the Westelcom tree that my son Jason helped decorate. 
 
3D printed decorations
He 3D printed some of the decorations.
 
Year of the Dragon tree
One of the trees I found quite creative was the year of the dragon tree.
 
Under the Sea themed tree
Another one I particular enjoyed was this under the sea themed tree.
 
Nerissa by Andrea Baughman
 Speaking of under the sea, Andrea Baughman, shared with me this picture of the mermaid she created after taking my class Sleeping Mermaid.  She is so talented and creative!  I just love how it turned out!
 
Sleeping Mermaids by Marla L. Niederer
Until next time…..
the warmest of hugs and best wishes,
Marla

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I thought I would share what has been on my workbench lately

Just before I went to Indianapolis this fall to teach my Sleeping Mermaid class my favorite sewing machine stopped working.  I didn’t have time to play with it until I returned from my trip and it needed a new belt.  I have never changed one before so I watched quite a few YouTube videos from the Singer Featherweight Shop and finally was able to get it working again.  While I was at it I polished it with Caruba wax and it now looks and runs like new!
 
My Singer Featherweight
This is a good thing because right now I am getting materials ready to teach my Moulin Rouge Dancers at AFICC this spring.
 
Moulin Rouge Dancers by Marla L. Niederer
I did get a little off task though.  My granddaughter is really into dragons now so I decided to design and create one just for her.  It is kind of a silly project but I had so much fun making it!   I thought I would share with you a few process and completed photos of the dragon. 
 
Needle sculpting the dragon head

Sewing the wings to the dragon

Completed dragon  for my granddaughter

close up of dragon by Marla L. Niederer

Rear view of dragon by Marla L. Niederer


If you are interested in taking a live doll making class from me I am scheduled to teach my Moulin Rouge Dolls workshop at Artistic Figures in Cloth & Clay in Columbus Ohio April 25th – 28, 2019
 
Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. NIederer

I am also scheduled to teach a class on how to make dragonfly wings for dolls and bears at the Philadelphia Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Convention May 2nd -4th
 
La Fae Verte with her dragonfly wings by Marla L. Niederer

And if you don’t want to wait until spring, there are several new instant downloadable PDF tutorials in my shop
Mistique by Marla L. Niederer

Until next time……..

warm hugs,
Marla

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Story of the Moulin Rouge Dancers and La Fae Verte

If you know anything about me or follow my blog, you will know that I follow everything shiny down the artistic rabbit hole.  I thought you might enjoy finding out how this affinity for chasing everything shiny led me to create the Moulin Rouge Dancers and La Fae Verte.
 
Hand beadwork  for Ocean Goddess by Marla L. Niederer

Prior to the Moulin Rouge Dancers project I had been working on my Ocean Goddess for six months.  I was trying some new techniques with her and wanted to use beadwork to create the shimmery scales of a fish.  After doing a few rows of the beadwork on her I knew this was going to be a long project. The process became quite meditative and something I looked forward to each day.  When she was complete I felt a bit lost and was looking for something not quite as intense and a bit lighter to create.
Ocean Goddess by Marla L. Niederer
I had been fascinated with the costumes of the Moulin Rouge and thought it might be fun to create a Moulin Rouge Dancer.
I started the project by developing a pattern that would utilize a wire armature to hold the pose of the dancer. Then I started searching the internet for pictures of Moulin Rouge Dancers to use as inspiration for the pose and the costuming.  This is where the chasing everything shiny down the artistic rabbit hole kicked in.
 
First Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer
As I was creating the first Moulin Rouge Dancer which has a very happy expression on her face, I started to research the history of the Moulin Rouge and the stories of the dancers on the stage.  I found out that the Moulin Rouge, which is still a tourist attraction in Paris, was where the can-can dance started. 
 
Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer
I also learned that the Moulin Rouge was a place where the different social classes would mingle.  It was also frequented by many artists, one of which was Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 
 
Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was known for painting the most realistic portrayals of the Moulin Rouge.  As I researched more about Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec I found out about his fascination with the dancer Jane Avril who was the subject of several of his paintings.  Of course that led to researching Jane Avril. 
 
Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer
Jane Avril had a very difficult life which was the basis for the character Nicole Kidman played in the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge.  Of course I had to watch this movie again for research purposes only, wink, wink.  I then created my Jane Avril inspired Moulin Rouge Dancer with the not so happy expression on her face.
 
 Jane Avril inspired Moulin Rouge Dancer by Marla L. Niederer
Originally I was going to do the costuming completely with fabric but soon found myself utilizing beadwork in the costuming inspired by some of the costumes used in the 2001 Moulin Rouge movie.  I guess I just can’t leave those beads alone!
 
Moulin Rouge Dancers by Marla L. Niederer
I was enjoying this project so much that I decided to continue to create a series of Moulin Rouge Dancers with three different poses from the can can dance.
 
Moulin Rouge Dancers by Marla L. Niederer
When creating an art doll project I tend to immerse myself in everything to do with the project and since I enjoy reading I tend to do quite a bit of research along with it.  I continued to read about the Moulin Rouge and how the artists tended to gather together there while sharing their ideas and a drink or two of absinthe. 
Absinthe was called La Fae Verte (the green fairy) by many and five o’clock was often called the green hour due to the popularity of the drink.  La Fae Verte became a symbol of artistic transformation and artistic liberty.
 
La Fae Verte by Marla L. Niederer
When Absinthe is prepared to drink, cool water is slowly dripped on top of a cube of sugar on a slotted spoon placed over the glass of absinthe.  This process transforms the drink into a cloudy greenish-white mixture.  As the drink transforms from the green liquor into the cloudy greenish-white mixture, it is supposed to transform the mind of the drinker liberating his/her thoughts.  Absinthe was considered a muse by many artists and writers.  
 
La Fae Verte by Marla L. Niederer
Once I read this information about absinthe and La Fae Verte, I had to create my own version of La Fae Verte, the green absinthe fairy leaping out of a bottle of Absinthe.  Maybe she can act as my very own artistic muse!

If you wish to join me in a class to make your own Moulin Rouge Dancer, I will be teaching this at Artistic Figures In Cloth and Clay April  25-28, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.  For more information on the Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay conference and to sign up for the Moulin Rouge Dancers class go to the website cyndysdolls.com

Until next time……..

warm hugs,
Marla