Sunday, 19 May 2019

Summer Circus Stars - miniature portraits by Julie Ann

It's lovely to be back at Calico Craft Parts Blog with a project that I found so much fun to create.

I have been taking some on line classes in portraits, as I've always been fascinated by faces. This led me to think about substrates: do portraits always have to be on canvas or paper and does a portrait always have to be landscape or portrait shape?

I was in the mood to experiment, so I grabbed a couple of beautiful, Calico birch ply stars and collaged them with crafting tissue fixed with matt medium.

To create a smooth surface for a portrait, I added a couple of coats of diluted Gesso. It was at this point that I had a rummage through my Calico supplies and found these dolls legs and somehow the idea of Circus Stars took over!

I have been working with photos of my daughter lately, so I took one of my basic sketches from these photos and accentuated certain features, creating a slightly caricatured image. I sketched her first in water-colour pencil, going over this with acrylic ink and a very fine brush. There is also a little shading with grey water-colour pencil.

Now for the fun part! I added colour with water-soluble coloured pencils. Some snazzy leggings and clown's make-up along with a jaunty clown's cap and she is one of the Circus Stars - a group of tumblers and acrobats.

Matilda's companion is Iris who specializes in the high wire. Iris is a character from my imagination, a little face that I just sketched intuitively on to the centre of the star shape. I think she ran away to the circus, although I'm not sure why. One thing I know is, that like Matilda, she is a dreamer. She's at her happiest above the crowd on her high wire, performing an elegant dance, perfectly balanced.

Now I feel inspired to create a whole troupe of characters!

This is such a quick and fun way to create mini portraits/art dolls you could even create a kind of bunting from them. And if you're not into portrait painting or caricatures, you could always create faces from digital downloads or magazine cuttings - maybe you could make a unique face using the features from a number of different images, either your own art or photos? The possibilities are endless. Wishing you a creative time until we meet again here on the Calico Blog in a fortnight's time.
Calico Craft Parts used in this Project
6 Pointed Star Birch Plywood Plaque
Standard Jointed Art Doll Kit Style 1 (Medium and Large sizes)


  1. Oh Julie Ann!! These are star characters are just delightful!! I love those snazzy leggings as well!! What a great idea to use the stars in this way! Another winner in my book!
    hugs and love,Jackie

  2. Thank you so much, Jackie, for your lovely comment. These were a fun project! xx