Artist's Corner

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At Janelly Bean, we appreciate the work and talent of artists who strive every day

to create new works. Here in our Embrace Artist's Corner, we celebrate the art and artists that inspire us, and we hope their work inspires you as well.

Featured Artist: Paula McGee

Get to know our featured artist in our exclusive Q & A.

Who are you?  What is your name?

I am an artist , creating fantasy figures in cloth & sometimes in cloth and clay. I make faeries and other fantasy art characters. My name is Paula Casey McGee.

What type of art do you do?

I’m a mixed media & fiber figurative artist. I love creating mainly with natural fabrics, papier mache and paper clay. I create fantasy characters such as fairies and I’m a life long lover of folklore, fairytales, nursery rhyme, Greek myth and Irish faery stories…

What is your background?

Eep! Well my background is in raising my family, my three children… and fitting in art while they slept at naptime or when I could craftily steal away a couple of hours early mornings before they woke. My second marriage brought my 4th child, already 11 years old and completed my ‘mother’s heart’. I’ve owned an art shop/studio and a clothing alterations studio (with art inside). All the while keeping an online presence with my art dolls. I’ve traveled with my dolls and teaching to places with other doll makers. I’ve been published in various zines, etc… I’m learning!

What is your favorite part of creating?

I love every moment when I’m creating but I think my favorite has to be costuming. Though I do love needle sculpting delicate doll hands. And I adore drawing faces on my dolls!

What is your favorite art piece that you created? And why?

I love all of them. I put so much thought into each one it feels as though I’ve put a part of myself into them. But when a doll is finished, I never feel that it’s mine to keep, it’s created for someone out there. And I love to hear when the doll has found it’s person! The person will tell me about when they saw the doll that it just speaks to them in a way they want to keep it. Each collector becomes family to me!

Do you have another job or is creating art your full time job?

Creating is my full time “job”… I’m trying to learn to become better at the business side of it and schedule my time for better use of creativity.

Do you research or reference your art?

I feel that I’m always researching and using bits of things I see in my environment. For my creative process to take place, I do specific research such as on costuming for a particular look or time period or color. Pinterest is a go to research tool for me. Also artful or period movies for costuming and color theme. I have a collection of children’s beautifully illustrated books that I turn to for inspiration a lot of times, taking them down to read to my cat now that I don’t have littles around! The Marsh King’s Daughter is my cat’s favorite book because there’s frogs and mermaids in the story, lol!

What artist inspires you?

Many artists inspire me, whether it be their work ethic or their magical way to bring art out of their subconscious to share with the world… My first and always inspiration is Brian Froud. I discovered the Faeries book when I was around 11 years old and I’ve been in fairyland ever since. Jim Henson, because even at a very young age I realized that somebody made those puppets! And I wanted to make cute monsters too. Wendy Froud, no explanation needed because she’s amazing. Laurel Burch because of her amazing legacy.

What is your dream project?

I think the one project that keeps floating around my head is the “tree house”. I used to have a big shop building and wanted to create a fairy doll house tree to fit in the huge front display windows there. I still want to create that, maybe even NEED to create it. I also want my own house one day that I can turn into a life sized Faerie Cottage.

Professionally, what is your goal?

I want to create a wonderful world with the dolls I make. A legacy, if you will, through my art and sewing classes. I love to write so maybe one day these fairies will be telling their own stories in books.

What is your favorite art tool?  Favorite brush, canvas?

5 ½ inch hemostats and the Barbara Willis stuffing forks. Favorite pencils are Prismacolor’s, Sharpie pens, Faber-Castell artist marker brushes.

Do you have a studio or favorite place to create?

I finally have an entire room in my home that is dedicated studio space. After years of creating on the dining room table, it feels great to now leave a project lying there until the next day without having to pick it up and store it away while the family uses the dining table. I also love creating on my front porch where I have an old-fashioned porch-swing and a table set up so I can bring my ‘office’ outside and work.

Do you have a good support system in place? 

People who support your efforts?  An art tribe? My children are awesome supporters, they’re grown and have lives of their own but they always check in and hang out when they can. I love it when they cook for me! (I hope they read this and make something wonderful, LOL)  There’s a wonderful community I’m creating at patreon with amazing supporters of my studio and my life. I know I’ve over shared sometimes about what’s going on in my household and they still support me and keep me going happily back to work in the studio. They truly are a huge part of how I’m getting through the last 18 months of my husband’s heart attack and cancer battle and losing his job all at the same time.

Do you have a ritual before or after you create?  An alter maybe?

I had to think about this one as I didn’t think I had a ritual but I do always light a candle (vanilla scented) when I go into the studio each day and usually burn some incense (nag champa). Music. I love all sorts of music. Chillhop study music or café jazz on youtube gets me through the long hours of pattern writing, class outline and detail, and editing videos for patreon and online workshops… But when I’m in the amazing, messy moments of creating then rock (pat benetar, blondie, joan jett, etc…) or celtic or viking blood drumming is the sound.  So candles & music and a big glass of water to stay hydrated are the things that keep me in the creative zone.

What message do you want to get out when they see your art?

I want the world to believe in mystery and whimsy and magic again… I do believe in fairies! I do! I do! ~peter pan

How do you know a piece is finished?

Are they ever really finished??? Heeheehee!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell her to focus on her art and work on it every day no matter what anyone around her says about it. In my younger years I was told many negative things about my art; that I couldn’t make a living and that I was selfish to be spending my time creating. These people were negative influences. Art is positive. Make More Art!

Do you have journals of sketches and ideas?

I do! I have sketchbook journals from now and back to 20 years ago when I first began my own designing of the dolls.

What is your favorite accomplishment? Teaching online would have to be my favorite. I get to play dolls with people who also like to play dolls! I have an amazing time meeting people from around the globe, sharing my knowledge and learning from them as well. It’s the best feeling.

Did you take formal art lessons or are you self taught?

I did take art classes in high school but other than that I learned dollmaking techniques through sewing patterns and publications such as Soft Dolls & Animals. SD&A’s premier issue in 1997 was the first time I’d seen Art Dolls! I designed my first doll then and published her pattern in 1998. She was a Victorian fashion lady doll, I named her Quintilly. Then went on to make fairies and storybook dolls such as sleeping beauty.

What do you want people to remember you by?  Your legacy if you will?

Hopefully, that I was generous and kind and made them feel happy with my fairies and work that I share.

How do you handle the haters or critics?

Critics are fine as long as they give you something to think about which leads to improvement, but the haters and trolls just get blocked and deleted. I don’t let them take time away from making more fairies!

Do you collect artwork from other artists? Yes, I collect paintings and pieces from artists I like and want to have their inspirational energy around me. I buy or trade directly with the artist when I can.