Monday, July 14, 2014

Childhood Flashback

Today I'm going to share a couple of old paper doll sets I made as a kid.  It's a post I've been planning for a while, and today it feels all the more appropriate.

For those who haven't heard, Tom Tierney lost his battle with cancer on Saturday.  Jenny Taliadoros (OPDAG, Paper Doll Studio Press, Paperdoll Review) has a touching obituary posted on her blog.  Jenny points out that the paper doll industry was nearly extinct before Tom Tierney revived it.  So many paper doll artists and collectors know & love his work and cite him as an influence.  I'm an artist because of Crayola and Tom Tierney!   I only recently discovered that he illustrated a large number of things for Golden Book, including a Miss America paper doll I vividly remember owning as a kid, as well as several children's books based on Jem and the Holograms & Barbie.  Tom Tierney's work was a huge influence on my interest in art, fashion, illustration, and paper dolls long before I knew who he was!  I wish I had been able to meet him - he will be missed tremendously.

My childhood dolls in no way compare to the genius that inspired them, but I'll share them anyway! I think it's important to remember that everyone starts somewhere.  I know there are young artists who read my blog and this post is especially for you! 

This one was tough to scan.  It's actually larger than my scanner could accommodate!  This doll is dated 1993, so I was somewhere between 12 & 13.  This was drawn on construction paper with colored pencils and then glued to more construction paper to make it stiff.  I never made clothing for this doll because I never really like the way it turned out!

This doll was made sometime between 1993 and 1994.  I had just discovered Tom Tierney's collectible dolls and spent a lot of time studying them.  This isn't a great masterpiece or anything, but there's a lot of improvement over the first image.  From the time I was 9 until I was 19, I drew every single day.  Sometimes for hours at a time.  Anything worth doing is worth putting in the time!

The four images above are all that's left of a paper doll set I worked on between 1994 & 1995.  I know I made them in the summer, I just can't remember which summer!  These were painted with craft paints.  My mother painted ceramics around that time and I'd get her leftover paints to play around with.  Again, these were after I discovered Tom Tierney - before I saw his books, I didn't use a base on my dolls.  I wish I still had the actual dolls but those have been lost for a long time!

None of these are fantastic works of art!  The lesson here is really about putting in the time.  It can be frustrating & discouraging when starting out in art.  There was always a clear image in my mind that I wanted to get down on paper and it just never seemed to happen.  And then, one day, it did.  It takes hours and months and years to get to that point.

Just for reference, my Goddess paper dolls were drawn about 10 years after these childhood dolls.  I started drawing the Goddess dolls around 2003 and finished painting them in 2006 (I had a lot going on during those years!).  And my Wicked Women, the project I just completed? About 7 years after I completed the Goddess dolls!  It's all about practice and putting in the time!

I hope this was in some way encouraging to everyone starting out.  And remember Tom Tierney while you create this week - he spent 80+ years creating!  Something I think we should all aspire towards.  



  1. I actually hadn't heard about Tom Tierney, so I read this post through pretty teary eyes, but I wanted to tell you your drawings were really excellent for the ages you did them!
    I'm just trying to get back into drawing after 40 years of raising a family, and it's really hard when you get out of practice. So to you and every younger person with an interest, always try to find the time to draw!
    I love your paper dolls! Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much! There are always so many reasons to not draw - families, jobs, etc, and even 5 minutes of drawing a day can go a long way. I'm super busy with the kids but in order to keep my sanity, I have to draw (or paint, or whatever) regularly. I like to tell my husband that I loved art long before I met him or had kids, so they will all just have to live with my first love :)

      I have to admit, I was teary eyed about Tom Tierney, too. I wish I had met him. His legacy will live on in all the people who were privileged enough to know him and all of us who admired him.

  2. These are fantastic. It's really cool to get to see you childhood drawings.

    1. I admit, I cringed posting these. As unimpressed as I might be about my own work, I think the journey is as important as the outcome. For me, it's been a very long journey just to get to the point where I don't hate my art! I love seeing how much other artists have improved. It was time to add my terrible early art to the mix!