Friday, November 15, 2013

Where did I get the love for those big eyed and a little creepy dolls?

I was in second or third grade, my sister and I shared a bedroom. My mom had our bedroom all fixed up pink and white for her little girls. Even though I was a tom boy growing up I really loved all the pink in that room.  Across the room from our beds hung two prints. They were by what I could remember the cutest but saddest looking doll faces. Every night before I went to sleep with the nightlights glow I would stare at them wondering what they were thinking and why they were so sad. I remember sometimes feeling that way too. Life with an alcoholic father and a co-dependent mother wasn't always the easiest.   Those doll faces were the last thing I would see every night before I went to sleep.  I loved looking at them.

I also loved these dolls that my mom or grandma had bought us. They were pretty cheap back then, the faces were painted on cloth and they wore big dresses with fancy hats. I remember holding them and moving their hair around to see the Styrofoam underneath.  I thought they were so fancy back then, I didn't know how much they cost but they were like a million bucks to me!  I didn't have many dolls, not because I couldn't have them, but cause I didn't want them but there were a few I treasured, like my new born doll that had this white christening dress on.  My grandma had bought me that one and I can still remember the day we brought it home from the toy store. I still have that one although her arm is torn and I don't think the dress survived. I gave it to my daughter Devon and she played with it when she was little too. 

Flash forward and I am now a grown up with a love to create doll faces.  I will venture off making other things but I always come back to my love of drawing a stylized face.  I had always loved those paintings and dolls when I was a kid but I didn't know much if anything about them.

Mike and I were away at Leavenworth for the weekend and I was telling him about the dolls and prints and how much I loved them as a kid.  We decided to go to the antique shops in Cashmere (didn't know it was the largest antique mall in our state, it was huge and Mike will tell you there was ton of stuff!).  Mike was a trooper following me around the mall.   To be honest it was quite overwhelming for me too but I was on a mission to see if I could find any of these dolls or prints and guess what, I did!  I found out that the dolls that I loved as a kid were called, "Bradley Dolls"  They were made in Korea or Japan and were sold at five and dime stores.  The first one I found was the smallest but it had a wooden base that said Bradley on it and I had to have it! I ended up bringing home three. I thought it was kind of cool how they used Styrofoam over wire as the armature  and covered it with fabric.  The dolls are now in my studio perched atop of the box shelf that holds my other dolls.  Here is a picture of the ladies. Fancy right! LOL. I know they are not everyone's cup of tea and are a little creepy but I love them so! I love pop culture and things from the past. I think my boys are happy that they are in the studio, they were a little freaked to see these dolls on the kitchen counter.
Here is some more information about Bradley dolls from the Trash Collector  Do you remember these dolls? Did you have one?
So I found the dolls but I didn't find those prints or paintings. I did some research and found out who made those beautiful sad eyed girls.  Her name is Margaret Keane and her story is so interesting.  Walter and Margaret Keane were a husband and wife duo and they were  rising stars in the pop culture scene of the 50's and 60's, because of Margaret's kitsch big eyed paintings of children.  Walter and Margaret ended up getting a divorce and Walter claimed that he was the artist who made all the paintings. Margaret challenged him in a paint off in court and she won.  Margaret lives in San Francisco today and is still painting. I would love to meet her!  Here is a link to her site or Facebook
Tim Burton is making a movie about Margaret and Walter called "Big Eyes" I can't wait to see it.  It is said to be released sometime in 2014.
There are other artists from that time that painted big eyed children, Gig, Gogi, Igor and Lee to name a few. They all so much fun to look at. I am still hunting for those big eyed dolls that hung in my bedroom, I am hoping someday I will find them and I promised my boys they would be hung in my studio only. LOL. 
I'm not sure if those prints from my past were Keane, Lee or another artist from that time but I do know those big eyed girls with the sad expressions sent me off to dreamland many nights when I was a little girl and today they inspire me to create my own big eyed girls like my Creepy Cuties.
So did you have any of these prints in your bedroom growing up?  I would love to hear if you did so please comment.
Here is another link to big eyed artists.

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Thank you for reading my blog. Please feel free to comment on any of my posts. If you try a project and you have pictures please post them I would love to see them!

I hope you enjoy reading about my journey in the world of art and crafts.

Happy Creating!
Lesa B.