Fern is now my official representative in the 1/4 scale dolls. I love Willow’s quiet grace, but I am neither quiet or graceful. I love Olive’s take charge spirit, but that’s not me either. Fern, little as she is, is someone I completely understand. Which is why I knew, when she was sad and missing her mom, that a dog would be just the thing to cheer her up. Turns out I was right.
I’ve enjoyed spending time with the On Our Own family so much that I think I’m going to spend an extra week or two with them and see how Olive’s story turns out. Olive reminds me very much of my sister, Melanie, so I’m going to send her on the kind of adventure she would have loved when she was a kid.
I mentioned last week that many of these pictures come from the Columbia Gorge. Fern’s brave sword stance is by the creek at the top of Multnomah falls, while the pictures of her holding onto a rope on a trail are on Eagle Creek Trail (the center of last year’s Columbia Gorge fire), and her plunge in the water takes place in Punchbowl falls, also on the Eagle Creed trail. Olive’s bike ride through the woods is at Cape Lookout, on the Oregon coast.
It seems I often find my dolls like this, sitting in chairs (or benches, in this case) waiting for their adventure to begin.
In Fern’s case, she’s about to start a grand-ish adventure, if I could just figure out what it was :). What I’d *like* to do is do very short animations with her (since her sister, Willow, just got a video camera). And, if I can get enough light in my workroom today, and Fern is easy to pose, I’ll give that a shot. Otherwise, I’ll just do stills from the video.
I often find myself here, where my big ideas for doll adventures hit firm ground. Yes, a video would be great. But, do I have the patience to take all those shots? Oh, how about if she started searching under bushes for fairies. Sounds great, but it’s pouring outside, and I haven’t the patience to construct a bush. So, Fern will have to sit a little longer while I figure out what sort of adventure I’m capable of sending her on.
In this story, Fern is very much missing her Mom. Willow and Olive are older, but Fern is the baby of the family, and much too young to be without her mother. Willow has an idea on how to brighten her up, but it involves getting her out of the house so that Olive can set up the surprise.
This episode marks the first time I can recall when I completely ran out of inspiration. The girls sat for weeks on my desk, with no clarity at all on what they were going to do. It was the delivery of a little felted cat that broke the dam – the episode just fell together after that. I suspect the problem is that I don’t have a clear sense of their individual or collective personalities (except for the dog, Bodger, who I’ve totally pegged :)). Nor do they have a clear back story.
I do have some basic idea of a plot, but I’m not sure whether to surface it. It has to do with why the girls are escaping (and their escapes will get longer and longer until they finally make their way to a new world). That is that they live with a single, dysfunctional parent, and they want to make their way out of that world and into their own.
But . . . I really hate photographing grim doll scenes. It just seems so gratuitous to plunge them into some dark back story and leave them sitting in a bad situation for days or weeks while I photograph. So, there’s that. As a practical issue, I’m having a heck of a time finding an adult-looking doll in this size. Pair that with the idea that they’d be a villian (so, not a doll I love) and it just makes no sense.
I’m thinking that I might use an actual person as their caretaker, and just photoshop them into that picture. So, if you see photos of my husband passed out on the kitchen floor, you’ll know why 🙂
For the practicalities, I used old postcards of Paris, photoshopped the girls in, and then used a sketch filter to change them into graphics
In our last episode, Cosette befriended a rat, and the whole team spent the night in the sewers under Paris. We continue our story on the next morning.
For all of my fussing about Mathilde this week, clearly my (surprisingly) calm dog, Sydney, was the star of the episode.
What I learned this week is that it’s (not surprisingly) very difficult to photograph dolls under a bed. First, in its normal state, under the bed is a fearfully dusty place – full of lost items which are better to remain lost. Second, it is very dark down there. Third, photographing small objects under the bed necessitates lying on the floor with aforementioned star dog Sydney sniffling around ones’ head.
That said, I think they look pretty darn cute down there. The only (slight) misadventure is that, after my first day of photographing them, I was unable to locate Jinjur and her dog, until I realized that I’d left them under our bed all night. My husband, normally calm and supportive about all of this doll foolishness, seemed a little creeped out that he’d spent the night with dolls under the bed. So, note to self, collect the dolls before going to bed.
Next week, I return to the In The Pictures story. As a clear-eyed look into my “process,” know that I have not the slightest idea at this point what the story is going to be about. The only little snippet I wanted to weave in is having Bodger retrieve a Rin Tin Tin video and attempt to jump into it. Beyond that, who knows. Hopefully the dolls have some good ideas.
I was worried all week that the pieces of this episode wouldn’t come together – right up until the last few days, I didn’t actually have a plot – but, in the end, I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. My one remaining concern is that this is an awfully truncated version of a story. If I’d had this plot in my original doll adventure, it would have dragged on across many episodes. And, there’s a cost to this truncation – the whole thing plays out before you really have a chance to get involved.
OTOH, I didn’t feel like I had anything to add beyond the plot. I *could* have played up the rescue scene, so that it wasn’t clear until the end whether they’d get away. But, really, I know things turn out well – why put everyone through all that trouble 🙂
This is the episode where I painted (using photoshop) the background photos. For the characters, I just put them through a simple Photoshop filter to make them look more like drawings, so they’d fit in with the background. I like the painted effect, and will probably use it in other stories when characters leave the real world (as they so often seem to do, in my stories.)
I really love how different the three main characters’ faces are in this series. The big guy is all angles, the pixie is all eyes, and the kid just looks like a kid. The dolls in my other series all share some kind of family resemblance. These three look like they come from different worlds.
Next up is the Underfoot episode, where I’m thinking of moving them under my bed. We’ll see whether that photographs well 🙂
One of the hardest parts of creating a story built around actual figures that I can see and touch, is that I feel an enormous weight when I set them onto some awful path. Yes, I understand that Camellia is a doll, but I pass her every day in the bookcase, still lying in her boat, and feel a responsibility for getting her out of the situation I’ve gotten her into.
Maybe it’s no easier when a character is drawn or written, but I know that it’s hard when they can look back at me at the end of the episode.
Since this is the second go-round for this story, we all know that it turns out OK in the end. Somehow, that hasn’t made it any easier.
In the visual space, I’m still playing with filters for Camellia’s scenes. She’s moved out of black and white, but still not into full color.
In terms of the story line, I’ve moved this piece of the story (where she tosses things off the boat) from the end to the beginning of the story. That choice really has to do with wanting to get it over with in one place. Once she finally gets out of this boat, I won’t be sending her back in flashbacks. But she still has a few more episodes to go before she reaches land. Right now, she can’t imagine that she’ll ever get off the sea.