Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#AtoZChallenge, D is for Dress it Up!

Today's topic, Dress it Up!, goes way back to my very first NaNoWriMo effort (2004!) when I made dozens of character, setting, and wardrobe collage pages to go along with my text. I still have that draft as well as all the accompanying illustrations. The reason it stays in a cardboard box is complicated, but let's just say it's got a lot to do with the story being a genre-authentic romance, and I don't know if I'm very good at writing romances. I love the story, I love my characters, but I have other projects with louder voices calling for my attention right now, so . . . maybe one day I'll re-open that manuscript box!

In the meantime, though, I enjoy riffling through those pages of magazine cut-outs I made to go with the story, remembering how much fun I had putting them together. Part of the story is set in an Italian fashion house. Here's a glimpse of Gina, the beautiful designer and evil villain of the story:

She loves to accessorize:

One of my favorite scenes in the plot is when Bailey, my beautiful (all my characters are beautiful, LOL!) heroine is tricked into "borrowing" items from Gina's storerooms so she can go out on a date with Gina's equally villainous accomplice, Ashe, the hero's brother. Bailey goes a little wild for green and gets into a lot of trouble for wearing these items when Gina finds out.

I've got dozens of these pages: outfits for Bailey when she goes to Paris with the hero, Declan, (under duress, of course. The old "on the road together, but they hate each other" scenario); pictures of Bailey as a little girl in jeans and T's, and ending with her gorgeous wedding dress when she finally marries Declan (and they don't hate each other any more).

These and other clothing pages I've made for my various drafts and published work since then have been, for me, one of the great delights of writing. Life in Albuquerque is casual--we hardly ever dress up to the extent I sometimes find myself longing to do, and I admit many of my outfit-collages stem from some kind of wish-fulfillment. Probably the same reason why I prefer to read novels and watch movies filled with fabulous clothes!

Adding clothing pages to your art journal doesn't have to be linked to a manuscript, however.  For today's page I've glued in another of my practice sketches of a dress I liked, and added a few little embellishments. The flower piece actually fell out of an old journal--the glue must have evaporated to nothing, one of the hazards of living in the high desert--so I stuck it on here just because I liked it. It made me think of old prom dresses and yearbooks and that's probably what I'll be writing about later tonight.

Other prompts to get you started on some clothing pages could include:

  • Organizing your wardrobe and choosing the pieces you want to keep and those that need to be tossed or donated.
  • Memories: favorite dresses, fashion changes throughout your life, fabulous outfit "flops" you'll never recover from . . . 
  • Make a list of "What I Wore" on different occasions, e.g., "What I wore on the first day of school throughout the years," or "What I wore to friends' and family weddings," or "What I wore for on first dates."
  • Recalling what your mother, grandmother, aunts wore, especially the clothes you loved or that intrigued you in some way. I remember being fascinated by my great-grandmother's old-fashioned black lace-up shoes when I sat on the floor by her feet playing with my tea-set and pouring her cup of air.
  • Wish lists of clothes you'd like to own. Past experience has taught me that shopping with intention, not only saves money, but goes a long way to avoiding those "flops" mentioned above.

Another good reason to include clothing in your art journal is that it's super-fun to draw or paint. The colors are pretty, working with the draping, shadows and highlights can help your drawing skills, and there's no dry cleaning bills!

Tip of the Day: When I'm not cutting up fashion magazines, my favorite go-to place for design inspiration is Polyvore.com, a digital fashion collage site that's more fun than a barrel of monkeys. (Warning: it's extremely addictive.) But once you've learned to pace yourself and only go there once a day, you can quickly design all kinds of fashion plates you can then print out and paste straight into your journal. Very easy and very effective.


Linda Jo Martin said...

Hi, Valerie, I keep coming back because I like the art inspiration. I've also got aging NaNoWriMo manuscripts that have never been edited and published. I've decided to focus on four because they're in a series. Well, I love your fashion art. Thanks for the education.

Valerie Storey said...

Hi Linda! So glad you're enjoying these posts. Makes it all worthwhile to share journal ideas with you. You're very welcome! Best wishes with the manuscript revision--I've never tried writing a series, but now you've got me intrigued, LOL!

Deb Atwood said...

Very fun fashion art. I can see the usefulness of keeping a record of what your characters wear and what they look like so you can always refer back when you get deeper in to the ms and forget some details.

Valerie Storey said...

Yes, keeping track is very important, Deb. Has saved me from making all kinds of mistakes such as putting my heroine in a blue dress on one page, only to have her wearing pink shorts on the next! I need visual references to help me stay on track.

Sue said...

Love the dress up theme here. We must do this in our group sometime!