November Birthday Gown with Chrysanthemums and Topazes in Orange and White, and an announcement

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

If I get distracted and don’t update, eventually people start to worry if I’m ever coming back. This makes me smile. I call drawing paper dolls a “hobby,” but it seems to have more in common with a curse. When I’m on my deathbed, I’ll probably be drawing the outfit I’ll be buried in — or maybe the one I wish I was being buried in, which will have 90% more pearls.

That said, trying to post something almost every day has obviously come to be untenable. If I’m just coming up with an outfit, it takes from five minutes to an hour to decide what I want to draw and what it will look like, and if I’m researching something like a particular year’s fashions, it might take an hour or two to get a sense of what the styles were like, then that five minutes to an hour again to come up with an original drawing. The time I spend drawing has increased over the years, easily hitting three hours for something with a lot of detail, and then there’s the time involved in scanning, cleaning up and writing a post – an hour, maybe two depending on the post. My job is part-time and the hours vary wildly, so sometimes it’s actually not all that unreasonable for me to take that kind of time working on something, and then just as often I get scheduled for a lot of hours and feel busy again.

Besides the actual work involved, a lot of other factors come into play: do I have a great idea or am I feeling really uninspired? Is there something else I’m really involved in at the moment? Have I put off drawing until it’s fairly late? Would the thing I want to draw take a long time to research? If, after work and chores, I only have time for one interesting activity, do I really want it to be paperdolls? Are my Prismacolors organized, or are all my blues rolling around my desk drawer because I stole one of my plastic bags I use to sort them for a trip through airline security? Do I much feel like sharing myself with the world today, or am I content with keeping to myself, hermit-like? Do I have time to write a good blog post, as well, or will it just be a couple of sentences I pad out so that it doesn’t look so unbalanced next to the dress? What about all those things I said I’d do and didn’t? (If I never heard the phrase “twelve dancing princesses” again it would be way too soon.)

In short, I expect too much from myself, I don’t prepare myself well, then I psych myself out and end up using my time elsewhere or really phoning it in. It’s frustrating and unfulfilling, so I’m going to try a different tack. Here are my main goals:
1) To draw three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
2) To write blog posts that aren’t just afterthoughts
3) To integrate my drawing hobby with my interest in Japanese

The first two are pretty self-explanatory; the third one is something I’ve been thinking of for quite some time, and I think I’ve come up with some good ways to do it.

Well, we’ll see how I do. Wish me luck! And thank you, as always, for your patience. Sometimes I wonder if I unconsciously sabotage myself with unreliable behavior so that I can deflect notice, hoping to drive people away so I don’t have to add their expectations to the already ridiculous weight of my own. Whether it’s that or just plain old laziness, either way you all are much better readers than I deserve.

Today, a November birthday dress with chrysanthemums and topaz accents. How many more of these do I have to do? I know I’ve skipped rather a few…

Halloween ’10: High Priestess of Paperdoll Halloween (With Bonus Red Version)

Click for larger version (PNG): black, red; click for PDF version: black, red. Click here for the list of dolls.

I don’t know if the other paperdoll bloggers would agree, but to me, Halloween is the supreme paperdoll holiday, so much that the thought of a month of costumes can pull me out of the deepest slump. In my humdrum real life I don’t like to be scared, and I don’t usually even bother slapping together a costume, but for Sylvia, Grace and company I’ve done some of my best work: poison-green masquerade gowns, cute ladybugs, scarecrows with real, entirely fearless crows. So let us celebrate this month together: we’ll enjoy closets full of imaginary costumes and, I hope, a couple of good stories to go along with them. I shall be the High Priestess of Paperdoll Halloween, and sacrifice dozens of Prismacolors to the pencil sharpener! And here is what I might like to wear for such a job, had I but fabric enough and time.

I myself may be a capricious and unstable sort of high priestess, but the patience of the multitudes touches my heart, so I offer a psychedelic sort of red version of today’s outfit as well.

Colors used: black, warm grey 10%, 50%, 70% and 90%, dark umber, sunburst yellow, goldenrod and pumpkin orange.

Ruqun in Black with Fire Colored Sash

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Diane won my last contest, for guessing that I had 1,040 visitors on September 12th, and she wrote:
I’d like both the skirt and jacket in a shimmery black, and the trimming and belt on the jacket in a kind of “fire-colored” orange and red iridenscent type fabric. The jacket could also have some simple red-gold embroidery on it (nothing big). And the little dangly charm (I’m not sure what it’s called) could be of a gold thread/cord, with the circle ornament of green jade.

I hope you like it! I always like doing fire-colored things…

No one has won the next contest yet, so it’s still on!
What’s my favorite book?
Rules as always:
1) If you’ve already won this year, please don’t enter. (Music contest winners are OK to enter a black-and-white coloring contest though.)
2) One guess per person per day.
3) If no one gets the exact book by noon PST, September 17th, I’ll pick the closest guess.

Here’s your hint for the day: it was both written and set in the 1800s.

Flame Colored Gown

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

This skirt is not intended to conform to the realities of fabric. Paperdolls 1, real life 0.

In any case, it reminds me of poor damned Linnetta, possibly because of the pale vermilion and sunburst yellow. (How impossible is that dress, too? Paperdolls 2, real life 0. Still one of my favorites, improbable or no.) In my imagination, she and her sisters are still bound to the Devil, and he’s never short of jobs for them. She can wear this, then, but I doubt it would give her much pleasure anymore.

Oops! I forgot to note down the colors I used for today’s dress, and yesterday’s too, and now the pencils are all put away… Let’s see — black, pale vermilion, poppy red, sunburst yellow, yellowed orange, cream, non-photo blue, Copenhagen blue, dark umber, bronze. I think. Forgive me, I am still out of practice…