Take a moment to look at this flower painting. What do you see? A confident stroke of the pencil outlining a flower petal, a bulky stem, a detailed pistil... When I first saw this image, I couldn’t help myself from comparing this type of bold line with the ones I see in my husband’s hand-drawn architectural plans and sketches. I guess this comes to show the uniformity of architectural training across not only continents but also time, since the author of this painting was a representative of the Belle Époque at the turn of the 20th century. His name was Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and he was a Scottish-born architect and artist.
Take another look though and notice the colors. The dark blue with hints of purple, the ochre, the olive green, all applied to the paper in the thinnest of layers. So thin, in fact, that the petals and the leaves seem almost see-through. There’s very little modeling to show depth and, instead, the flowers almost look a little flat. Almost decorative, as if they’re a kind of geometric design. And it’s no wonder, since Mackintosh belonged to a group of artists who broke with traditional, heavily-painted realistic art and sought out fresh ways of capturing the life around them. The style they developed became known as Art Nouveau (New Art), a style inspired by Nature, its flowers and plants, and its curved, flowing lines.
Art Nouveau was a very interesting movement because it didn’t just content itself with the visual arts, such as painting, but embraced all aspects of daily life, from architecture to interior design to jewelry to furniture and, finally, to textiles. Yes, people could be entirely surrounded by it and have an Art Nouveau life! Now, as you know, ideas like this really intrigue me, and I decided to find a way to apply this Art Nouveau style to my own doll fashion.
I came upon several Liberty prints which so closely resembled Mackintosh’s flower designs, that they seemed to have come out from under his press. The same subdued and beautifully-matched color palette, the same interest in the flowing curves of flowers and leaves, and the same irresistible fragility. I immediately saw how beautifully these fabrics would suit the fresh, crisp days of the approaching Autumn. The soft, velvety corduroy I decided to use for a pair of light-weight overalls, and the fine mix of wool and cotton - for a loosely-fitting dress with a raised waist.
Why not a give a try to living the Art Nouveau life? Who knows, you might like it and decide to travel back in time to the dawn of the 20th century...