Joanna Harmon & Brenda Stearns
Brenda Stearns is a mother of four young children 6 years old and younger. Somehow, amid cooking, cleaning, and caring for her family she makes time to create gorgeous heirloom dolls. They are all handmade by Brenda, and are all as one-of-a-kind as the children they will eventually go to.
When she made her first doll for her daughter's birthday in 2013, I'm sure she did not imagine that in about four years she would be close to making her 200th doll! After making that first doll she found a charity that was recruiting artist-made pieces to auction, all proceeds going to a family in need. All her dolls sold, and there was such a demand afterward that she decided to open an etsy shop to fulfill the demand. Her dolls truly are exquisite--I have loved scrolling through her website and seeing the incredible variety of dolls--from the hair to the small details on the clothes.
For the "I ART YOU" project I chose to make a watercolor collage of Brenda and her family. I have enjoyed working on this piece and thinking of this beautiful mother and her precious children. Whenever I work on portraits, it becomes a kind of meditation on the subject--noticing lines and shadows, expressions and posture. In creating the nest, I was impressed with the idea that parenting is a creative act--whether one thinks of themselves as creative or not. Parents create a safe shelter--both physically and emotionally for those in their care. We create positive memories and associations, and we create foundational relationships that will inform all of our children's future relationships. I think of each piece of grass, leaf, and feather that I placed around this little family as a small act of creation. It is these small pieces--small acts of kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness--that add together to become one strong whole.
Brenda has created a beautiful nest for her family, and I am so happy that I have had the chance to make a portrait for her!
A quote from 3 and 3 Heirloom Dolls website: "Working from home, owning a handmade business, homeschooling these preciousness and doll making is the best life ever!!"
Portrait of Brenda Stearns By Joanna Harmon
For Joanna I chose to create a Classic doll. Joanna has brown hair and dark eyes. I wanted the doll to represent both Joanna and her daughter. That's why I didn't add freckles.
The fabric I chose for the dolls legs has greenery inspired by one of the photos I received from my partner. The birds in the doll's dress represent the freedom of the mind when we create. Joana is a great artist and I wanted to add a bit of emotion to the doll.