Caroline Seales of Viridian House is an artist I admire for both her distinct style in photography and face-ups. I love how her photos are always light and dreamy and how she makes the dolls she paints look so sweet and charming. She is certainly one of my biggest inspirations in this hobby. ♥
I was beyond ecstatic when she followed this blog when it started, and I was floored when she agreed to do an interview! Read on to know more about this talented lady.
Hi Caroline! To start off, tell us 3 things that most people don't know about you.
In case anyone didn't know already – I'm Scottish, 25 years old, and I'm passionate about music & art.
The dolls listed on your website have no names, but they have distinct personalities that come out in your photos. Are they really nameless? What are their stories?
Yes they really are nameless! I used to try and give them personas because that seemed like the 'done thing', but for me it never seemed to fit. I think this is because I've never seen my dolls as characters, instead they are purely creative devices. Instead of playing with them, I prefer to transform them from objects into art. The personality that comes out in the pictures is my own! The dolls don't have emotion so it's my job as a photographer to try and express myself through them.
You're well-known for your soft and sweet face-ups. How did that style come about?
Personal growth, tastes definitely changes over time! Experimenting with ideas is normal and eventually what develops is a personal style. I moved from painting with black, to trying out brighter colours and when I saw how they reacted to the resin and how they photographed, I just kept on refining them until it was exactly how I wanted.
What and who are your major artistic influences?
Everything I see can be an inspiration, different colours, ideas, styles are all around. I've mentioned this before in my own blog, but music is also a major influence in my life. My favourite is a Scottish band, Cocteau Twins, and the vocalist Elizabeth Fraser has the most intriguing voice in the whole world! It's hard not to be inspired by such beauty.
Do you have a saying that you live by, or a motto that inspires you?
Well like the above question, some of the Cocteau's songs seem to stick with me. For example 'know who you are at every age' and 'no fights, no fuss, no fantasy' – I feel words like that keep me grounded.
Describe your work area and your work process with face-ups and photography. Do you prefer working in a neat area or do you work among "organized mess"? Do you have any quirks or strange habits while working?
Most definitely a neat area! I tidy up every day and I like to keep my desk clean and organised. It makes everything feel fresh and ready for work – of course at the end of the day there's paint, pastels and brushes everywhere but it doesn't take too long for me to sort it out again!
I have a habit of using my hands as paint palettes which I can't break out of – there needs to be just the right amount of paint on the brush and my hand is much nearer to what I'm working on than my actual palette!
Your girls' style and innocent charm remind me so much of mori girls. Are they really mori girls or is it just coincidence?
I knew I liked Mori before I even knew there was a Mori girl subculture! I do like elements of this style, but in more of a simpler way – soft colours, light space and a natural way of life. I personally don't like to wear the extreme elements, such as being head to toe in lace! So I kind of use my dolls as a way of experimenting with it without having to wear it myself.
I love how you dress your dolls! Do you make their clothes? If not, where did you get them?
I have tried many times over the years to try and learn to sew! I've always found it too difficult unfortunately, so I buy their outfits and accessories. Wimukt/Foxybrowny is one of my favourites because the style is exactly what I like and the outfits come with layers so I can mix and match different pieces. Clear-lan.com makes really cute and affordable outfits which my Limhwa Sara can wear, and again the pieces are all individual. I do wish there more natural style seamstresses available, I'm seriously lacking in dolly cardigans!
Judging from the photos in your Flickr account, it seems like you prefer high key lighting. Why is that so? Do you only use natural light?
I have a white obsession! My walls are painted white, I have white furniture and I love how it reflects the light. So in my photos everything is light and pretty – luckily I live somewhere that has wonderful big windows and I try and let as much natural light in as possible. When photographing my dolls I never like to use lamps or flash, the harsh shadows are distracting.
Your doll photography reminds me of vintage story book art. What are your favorite books?
Like most people I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series! When I was growing up I had a few Beatrix Potter books as well, I love her delicate drawings so much.
If you weren't working as a doll artist, what do you see yourself doing instead?
Well at the moment I'm also an illustrator, so if I wasn't working with dolls I'd be doing that full time. Art is my whole life, I can't see myself doing anything else so as long I'm doing something creative then I'm happy.
Lastly, can you share some advice and tips for those who want to improve on their face-ups and photography?
Take a good look at what you're doing, be honest with yourself about flaws. Learning is done best through experience so just keep practising – it takes a lot of time and effort but it is worth it! Use what you have before going out and buying something 'better'.
And specifically for photography – don't forget about negative space. I personally love this aspect and when I compose a picture, I look at the entire area from corner to corner. The doll is merely one point in the picture, think about the space around the doll, the background, the light.
Find out more about Caroline and her works through her blog and Flickr.