Doll of Paradise

Doll of Paradise A drawing in coloured pencils of a doll I saw on display in a Higashiyama shop window. July 2016

Doll of Paradise
A drawing in coloured pencils of a doll I saw on display in a Higashiyama shop window.
July 2016

As I sat on the plane on the way to Japan last month, I instructed myself, “Don’t forget to take photos into plate glass windows”.

Two days later I found myself in a narrow lane in Higashiyama which was lined on both sides with souvenir shops.  I stared at a row of dolls who danced without moving in a display window.  As I looked, my visual awareness deepened.  I noticed fans reflected in the glass from the shop opposite.  What perfect accompaniments for a doll in a dance pose. I manoeuvred myself into position to capture the composition with my camera.

Back home in my studio I wanted to draw the doll in the window but I was unsure.  Did I have enough patience to handle the amount of detail on the kimono?  Was drawing an impassive doll a worthwhile project anyway?  I asked Matthew.  He reassured me on both counts.  He said, “You’ll enjoy it”.  He was right.  The obsessive-compulsive part of me was in its element.  I drew for extra-long hours by day and into each night as I could hardly pull myself away from the colourful and intricate work.  I would say it was a labour of love, except that it didn’t feel like any labour was involved; only joy.

I call the drawing “Doll of Paradise” as she is a figurine who is exotic, rich, colourful, luxuriant and unusual.  She is an imitation of a maiko.  And yet, often maiko are described as looking so much like dolls.  So my question to myself is – who is imitating whom?


17 thoughts on “Doll of Paradise

  1. Tess Lee

    Your “Doll of Paradise” is absolutely beautiful, Julie…who is imitating whom, indeed. 🙂 I was given one of those beautiful dolls years ago as a “thank you” for doing a portrait…I still treasure her. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent. 🙂

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I have one too, Tess. I bought it at Kansai airport in 2009. Sadly, they don’t sell them at the airport any more…or maybe that is a good thing. In any case, mine is in a prominent position in the house. Mine isn’t quite as colourful as the one I drew.

  2. occasionalartist

    Such a great composition Julie, I love the background. The different textures and the subtle fans. I am not sure how you got it all to work with the beautiful intricacy of the doll’s fabric, but it does beautifully. Karen

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      It actually wasn’t too hard, Karen. I have to admit, working on the kimono patterns was rather like colouring in. While I was working on it, I thought to myself, now I can see why adults like adult colouring in books.

      1. fuzzydragons

        the type of drawing where you hope you don’t mix your hands up 😉 I think we all do that when working and probably have all forgot about the pencils in the other hand and made a mistake :/

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        OR – drop the pencils from the other hand. I’ve done that more than once. I do so hate it when I drop my pencils on the floor as I think about the leads I am more-than-likely shattering.

  3. anna warren portfolio

    Exquisite! As soon as I saw this one I knew it was an absolute winner. The combination of soft background, the geometric slats and the the colourful effusion of the doll just WORK. It is an interesting philosophical discussion about life and art, imitation and perceived reality.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I feel that last trip to Japan was worth it just for this piece. I agree, it is a very strong composition. I saw the potential for an art work as I stood outside that shop. There were so many people walking behind me, I had to wait for a second when no people were behind so that the fan reflection was uninterrupted.


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