October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Almost anyways...give it another hour and it will be, officially, my favorite holiday: Halloween!

So, how is that Cinderella costume coming you might ask...well, rather than sewing, I may have become a little distracted the past few days (no thanks to Pinterest), and pulled out the colored pencils & paper instead!  I was given a set of watercolor pencils a while ago that were just begging to be used, and Pinterest kept tempting me with ideas for Victorian fancy dress, and, well, the rest is history!  I mean, really, when the creative muse demands, who would dare to resist?  

My Creative Process 

"The creative process is a process of surrender, not control."
~ Julia Cameron

Each of my costume renderings begins as a simple thought, a picture that I see in my head that demands to be realized on paper.  Inspiration, be it a historical garment, image that I come across, a simple color laying next to another, etc. comes at any moment.  Morning, noon, and night I think and dream of costume designs!  Alvin Ailey described it best when he stated that the "creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it's with you all the time."  However, very rarely do these designs in my head ever make it to paper.  But, when they do, the start as a basic pencil outline:

Nothing fancy, just a good, old, #2 pencil from the pencil cup and a brief sketch laying out where "things" go.  To help keep in proportion, I usually draw guidelines for the figure first, and then build on the clothing.  For the past two days, I've collected quite the stack of pencil sketches!

Another pencil sketch, 1880s.  I think I was going for a "checkers" fancy dress...
 I really like the shape of that hat brim though!

If I am pleased enough by the pencil outline, and the muse demands it, I will move onto inking the sketch.  Again, very few sketches move onto this step...this time, it was only four designs.  Yes, I am far too critical for my own good when it comes to my drawing.  Often details will be worked out in pencil first.  After inking (employing a fine "sharpie" pen), all of the pencil framework is erased:

Then, color...this is the scary part for me!  I tried a new medium this time, watercolor pencils.  I began the same way as with regular colored pencils by filling in the lightest colored areas and adding shading.  The gold took several, different layers to achieve the color I was looking for:   

Then, I transitioned to the darker colors:  

Perhaps paint in a suggestion of a background, and, ta-da, a finished costume rendering!

Overall verdict:  I'm still not sure how I feel about watercolor pencils...they are definitely harder to use than regular colored pencils or watercolors.  And, achieving the color intensity and specific shades I wanted was a challenge, not always met.  Something to continue experimenting with...

The Finished Victorian "Fancy Dress" Results

(1) The "Lady Archer"

Inspiration came from this original fancy dress: 

Fancy dress costume designed by Jules Helleu for the House of Worth, c.1860s.
(Image via: V&A Collections, E.22036-1957)

(2) "Lady Chess" Fancy Dress

You can see that I am trying to add some sense of movement to my previously static figures.  The blue did not turn out the way I wanted, so it sort of reminds me of a 1950s diner...and, yes, coloring in those checks took forever.  Inspired by this period fashion plate:

Fancy Dresses by Capewell and Kimmel
for "Frank Leslie's Family Magazine," c.1858
(Image via: Pinterest)

(3) "Starry, Starry Night" Fancy Dress

Again, the blue proved unpredictable, despite layering like 10 different colors...Inspiration came from this natural form gem:

Toilette de promenade, c.1875-1880
(Image via: Pinterest

(4) Last, but not least, my most favorite:

Bustle drapery detail shot.

And while we're at it, some accessorizing for Cinderella:  
To prove that she's not forgotten...  

Warm wooly number one - a handmade sontag shawl, knit by some very talented hands (not mine!).  Eeeeeee, I love it so much!!

Warm wooly number two - fingerless mitts.  Because my blouse is short sleeved, and it's freezing cold out there, mitts are a must!  I found these fingerless gloves a while back thrift store hunting for a two dollar steal.  I think they may have had "Love" embroidered in sequins on them.  After some seam ripping...

...A perfect pair of hand warmers for Cinderella!

"I'm a very restless person. I'm always doing something. 
The creative process never stops."
~ Oscar de la Renta


  1. I am very impressed by your sketches! My sketching ability is pretty sad, and I'm impatient so I usually skip that step because what ends up on paper almost never looks like the picture in my head. I'd rather go straight to creating! But I should practice so someday I can communicate my designs to others - or remember what I designed for a project in case I don't get back to it for several years... Not that that's ever happened! :p

    1. Thank you, Chelsea!! Your comments are very much appreciated! I completely understand impatience when it comes to sketching, because it definitely takes time to draw everything out (time that could be spent creating!). And, when the results just don't lay out like they do in the mind, it sure is frustrating! Guess like anything else worthwhile, drawing takes practice, practice, and more practice! Good luck & happy sketching :)

  2. I am in awe of you drawings!! I can draw stick figures. That's about it. So when people can draw, I am amazed!! I so get what you mean by the muse striking!! Try sitting in church, listening to the sermon where the muse strikes!!! Hahaha!!! I've had that happen more times than I can remember!! I loved the lady archer drawing!! So very wonderful!! Keep that must happy and keep creating!!

    1. Thank you so much, Gina!! You always have the kindest words to say!! I like stick figures. To me, more complex sketches can be broken down into “stick figures,” with just a lot more lines. Practice makes perfect!! And, yes, haha, I can just imagine the muse striking in church, or at any other time when your attention is needed elsewhere. She's wonderful in every way, but needs to work on the timing ;)