Big Eye/ Blythe Doll Art by Blonde Blythe
I paint Blythe dolls and other big-eye cuties!
I'm a self-taught Southern artist who paints big-eye art in the tradition of '60s pop culture icon Margaret Keane--with a twist of fantasy added to the mix.
Call me Blonde Blythe--it's not my real name, but I've kind of adopted it. Some folks call me Blythe, and some just call me Blonde. I'll answer to either one--lol! ;-)
I like all sorts of things: Blythe dolls, hippie girls, owls, fairies, frogs, ballerinas, mermaids, genies, Alice in Wonderland, witches, pin-ups, cats, Boston terriers, flappers, pumpkins, ghosts, butterflies, paisleys, bright colors, whimsy, Victorian homes, and much, much more. These things that make me happy somehow manage to make their way into my paintings, so that you can enjoy them too! :)
Big Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed by Blonde Blythe
This is my very own book (I am the author). Big Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed is the first book on the market to address the resurgence of big eye art. This stunning volume presents the big eye work of 22 incredible artists in an array of styles, and all with their unique visions of what big eye art should look like. In this 222 page big eye delight, you will find Blythe dolls, fairies, mermaids, anime characters, tattoo art, surreal art, Gothic art, animal art, and more! Inspirational biographies of each artist is included in addition to website and contact info.
I started collecting Blythe dolls in 2000, when I happened upon an eBay auction for a vintage "changing-eye doll." The headline definitely caught my attention, so I decided to further investigate this intriguing doll. At the time the Blythe doll came out (1972), I was fifteen years old, and too "grown up" to shop for dolls. But boy, what I had been missing!
Shortly after I started collecting Blythe dolls, I also began painting fantasy and folk art on canvas. One day, while deciding what to paint next, I thought, "Why not paint one of my Blythe dolls? I painted a portrait in oils on a 14- by 11-inch stretched canvas of my blonde Blythe doll wearing "Kozy Kape" fashion (11/2000), and she got several bids when I listed her for sale on eBay--Yay! From that moment on, my artist name was "Blonde Blythe." A few weeks later, I was invited to appear in Barbie Bazaar magazine (July/August 2001) in the article, "Blythe: American Gothic" (production time was six months).
I started out painting these big Blythe doll heads on stretched canvas, then progressed to painting scenes featuring my Blythe-style girls dressed up as witches, fairies, mermaids, genies, and fairy tale maidens (Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Alice in Wonderland, to name a few).
I now paint in liquid acrylics (you know, those little bottles of paint sold at Walmart in the craft section) on canvas. I love bright colors, so I try to make my paintings as vibrant as possible, sometimes to the point of almost being garish. Lol! My work is inspired by many things, not to mention my moods. I'm a very moody person, so you never know what you'll get when I finish a painting. Lol! And, I have also been known to change my mind a time or two, so I'm continually painting out or adding things to my composition.
I love kawaii (cute). The earliest memory I have of being wowed by cuteness is when I saw my first Betty Boop cartoon at the age of five. After that, I began to notice the cutesy figurines and figural planters that were offered for sale in department stores in the early '60s.
I'm a big fan of other artists' work, and also have quite a collection of art books. I've also managed to snag a few original paintings by my favorite artists. Some of my favorite artists are: Margaret Keane, Gig, Jasmine Becket-Griffith, Misty Benson, Vicky Knowles, Maxine Gadd, El Greco, John Singer Sargent, Charles Burchfield, John Steuart Curry, Tamara de Lempicka, Frida Kahlo, Bosch, John Waterhouse, Grandma Moses, and illustrator Norman Rockwell.
In 2008, I had a book published, titled, Big Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed, which is still available on Amazon.Com. If you purchase my book from my Web site: BlondeBlythe.com, I promise to personally sign your copy with whatever your heart desires.
What in the World Am I Doing Now???
Now that I have finally finished the Victorian landscape painting for my hubby, I'm free to get to work on some big-eye girls--I can't wait to get started! :)
Who is Margaret Keane?
Margaret Keane, who began creating her big-eye cuties in the late 1950s, is known as the "mother of big-eye art," and is famous for her "homeless waif" paintings. Prints of her work were widely mass-produced in the '60s, and '70s. Today, her originals are eagerly sought by collectors--most notably, celebrities Matthew Sweet, Tim Burton, Marilyn Manson, Robert Wagner, and Jerry Lewis.
I Made a Video of Some of My Favorite Paintings and Set it to My Favorite Silent Movie Music! - The Music is "Hand Trolley" by Kevin MacLeod.
What is a Blythe Doll, Anyway?
A Blythe doll is a vinyl doll with oversized hard plastic head and Skipper-size body that was originally manufactured in 1972. She is unique in that her saucer-shaped eyes change color and expression with the tug of a string, which is located in back of her head.
Here are three Blythe dolls from my personal collection, representing three of the four original hair colors (red, blonde, and black), and three of the four original eye colors (blue, green, and pink). The dolls are wearing original fashions: "Pleasant Peasant," "Aztec Arrival," and "Medieval Mood."
Vintage Blythe Doll Commercial
My Blythe Doll Art in "Dolls" Magazine
My "Tooth Fairy Blythe," and "Halloween Blythe Owl Witch" were featured in the October 2009 edition of Dolls magazine in the article, "The Eyes Have it."
My Blythe Doll Art in "Barbie Bazaar" Magazine!
My Blythe doll art was featured in the July/August 2001 edition of Barbie Bazaar magazine, in the article, "Blythe: American Gothic." The author, Tiffany Lewis, also included a short bio about me.
Big Sister Was the Artist & I Was the Ballerina
Growing up, my big sister was the artist, and I was the annoying tag-along sister. I did a little doodling as most kids do, but at that age, I just didn't have the motivation or inspiration to pursue art any further, especially when my sister was so amazing! My sister was talented at all sorts of things--she could draw and paint, she could write, and she was musically inclined. When I got to be around eleven, I finally found something I could do better than her--ballet! At that age, I had more energy than I knew what to do with, so ballet was the perfect outlet! I got many compliments from the ballet teacher for my elevation, which further encouraged me. I particularly enjoyed the recitals, and wearing pretty costumes! I continued the ballet lessons, and even worked part time as an assistant ballet teacher, until I graduated high school and began college.
Ballet!Click thumbnail to view full-size
My Sister--A Talented Singer & Song Writer - Teenage Mel Strumming Her Guitar
Sister Melanie was very musically inclined while we were growing up. She wrote songs, and also gave guitar lessons. This photo was made while we were living in Germany, probably around 1968.
Melanie Lee: There's a River - Big sis Melanie, the artist of the family, is now a singer and song writer!
My sister, Melanie, who has had many interests over the years, now writes her own songs, and sings them beautifully! Click to listen.
"I Dream of Jeannie Doll" by Blonde Blythe
The original painting (acrylic on 20- by 16-inch canvas) was commissioned by an I Dream of Jeannie fan, who wanted a big-eye version of Barbara Eden's "Jeannie" character. The painting, which took a month to complete, has been one of my most popular images ever since.
"Evil Green Jeannie" by Blonde Blythe
The original painting was commissioned by the same I Dream of Jeannie fan that commissioned the "I Dream of Jeannie Doll" painting. This of course is the evil half of the Jeannie sisters.
"Gothic Genie Doll" by Blonde Blythe
I like creating Gothic paintings from time to time, and this is my Gothic version of Jeannie. I decided to keep this painting for myself.
"Purple Genie Doll" by Blonde Blythe
My Purple Genie was inspired by my love for purple and its perfect compliment--red hair! There are many jewels in this painting--both on the bottle and the genie. This is the latest in my "Genie" series; after painting it, I decided that I couldn't part with it.
Blythe Doll Portraits
"Cleopatra Blythe Doll" by Blonde Blythe
I think Blythe makes an adorable Cleopatra--don't you? It took me quite awhile to paint in all the jewels and beads, but it was definitely worth every minute of it. :-) Here is another painting I couldn't part with.
"Biker Blythe" by Blonde Blythe 2004
Inspired by the T.V. show, "American Chopper," I came up with an idea for a Gothic-looking white-haired Blythe doll on a chopper, in shades of red, purple, and black. I did the cycle in a checkerboard pattern with orange flames.
"Love Head Vase Blythe" by Blonde Blythe 2017
Another passion of mine is collecting vintage lady head vases; my favorite lady of all time is the "Love" head vase. After getting the idea to combine my love for big-eye art, head vases, and Blythe dolls, here is the result! Instead of the usual vibrant colors, I opted for pastel colors this time and, after a little experimentation, I decided to go with a matching striped background. I love this girl so much that I decided to keep her for myself. If you decide you can't live without her she is available as posters, stickers, cards, tee-shirts, mouse pads, necklaces, etc., etc. in my Zazzle shop.
"Love Hippie Blythe Doll" by Blonde Blythe 2014
When I began the preliminary sketch for this painting I had already decided that I wanted it to be very psychedelic. I also wanted my hippie girl to have a headband with the word, "love," on it. I had previously added "eye flowers" to my "Hippie Girl Mermaid" painting, and decided to put them in this painting as well. Instead of painting them all one color as in the previous painting, I decided to paint them with multi-color stripes.
Although I did a preliminary sketch on paper to work out the composition in the beginning, the actual painting turned out a lot different, which is not unusual for me. I tend to change my mind a lot and get other ideas during the creative process. One of the biggest changes was her hair color. In the beginning it was blonde; I decided to change it, as I thought black would provide a bolder contrast.
"American Hippie Blythe Doll" by Blonde Blythe
This hippie was painted right before the fourth of July, which inspired me to paint her wearing stars and stripes. Purple is my favorite color, as you can tell by her eyes. I love her golden hair.
"Paisley Hippie Blythe Doll" by Blonde Blythe
I decided to do this hippie with black hair, since I get so many requests for a black hair Blythe. I gave her blue eyes: blue eyes are killer with black hair. I love purple, as do most women, so I decided to go with purple for her outfit. Of course I had to paint in a ton of paisleys. The original painting was sold to a fan in Hong Kong.
"Peace Hippie Blythe Doll" by Blonde Blythe
My Peace Hippie Blythe is one of my older, as well as one of my most popular images. This painting was done as a gift for a friend in 2002, and is painted in acrylics on a 14- by 11-inch canvas. The background is made up of flowers, hearts, and peace signs in all colors, shapes, and sizes.
"Mermaids' Moon" by Blonde Blythe
"Mermaids' Moon" is actually a made over painting that was painted eleven years before, but never finished. I pretty much changed just about everything in this piece, even down to the color of her hair.
I experimented a lot with this painting; I changed the background so much that I was beginning to think I would never get finished! Some of the fish I wasn't happy with were painted out and new ones added. I came up with the idea of a harvest moon in the background surrounded by twinkling stars. I'm very pleased with the results, and I love this painting so much that I think I'll keep it! The painting measures a huge 36- by 48-inches.
"Hippie Girl Mermaid" by Blonde Blythe
My aim in creating this painting was to make it as psychedelic and whimsical as possible. I came up with the idea to add eye flowers to the composition, then I just kept adding elements as I went along. I hope she makes you smile!
"Tooth Fairy Blythe" by Blonde Blythe
This was a commission for a local dentist, who was thrilled with the painting. "Tooth Fairy Blythe" has become quite a conversation piece at the dentist's office.
"Boston Terrier Ballet Fairy" by Blonde Blythe
Inspired by a love of ballet, and the cuteness of Boston terriers, I decided to combine them. This big-eye ballerina is merrily performing the "Boston terrier ballet" among red dog-faced flowers.
"Snowy Owl Fairy" by Blonde Blythe
I love owls, and decided to do a winter fairy scene with a snowy owl. The fairy is wearing "Kozy Kape" fashion, popular among Blythe aficionados, and my personal favorite.
"Blythe Kiss Fairy" by Blonde Blythe
My "Blythe Kiss Fairy" was created for Valentine's Day 2007. I decided to include chocolate kisses, pink clouds, and hearts. Her scepter is a giant kiss with big eyes and lips pursed as if to deliver a kiss--very whimsical, indeed. This is another painting I decided I couldn't part with.
"Winter Carriage Ride" by Blonde Blythe
I wanted to do a wintery scene with a carriage and fairy, and decided to use polar bears to pull the carriage instead of horses. Unfortunately, one polar bear seems to be sitting down on the job! The inside of the carriage is brightly lit with a toasty fire, so our little fairy doesn't get cold on her journey to the North Pole.
Alice in Wonderland
"Alice in Wonderland and the Caterpillar" by Blonde Blythe
I painted this Alice in Wonderland Blythe doll with a three-quarter face, which was quite a challenge. Her dress is modeled after a child's dress from the early 1900s. The big-eye flowers and goofy-looking caterpillar add fun and whimsy to the painting, and the doll adds a Gothic twist.
"Kawaii Noir Alice in Wonderland" by Blonde Blythe (2006)
This is one of my favorite paintings I have ever done. I wanted to break all barriers and do a Gothic sexy version of Alice with a bit of whimsy added to spice things up. I think she looks great in the corset and fishnet stockings, don't you? I added my own version of the Cheshire Cat. Instead of the usual stripes, I made him a calico, with huge, luminous eyes.
"Alice in Wonderland and the Flamingos" by Blonde Blythe
This is my first Alice in Wonderland painting. I love pink flamingos, so I chose to illustrate the "flamingo croquet" scene. I decided to create a spring-themed background, and painted in some fluffy pink trees. For her hair, I went with a cool ice blonde.
"Kawaii Noir Alice in Wonderland II" by Blonde Blythe (2008)
This is my second Gothic Alice in Wonderland painting. It's so much fun painting Alice with dark hair! This painting represents the Caucus Race. I had a blast painting all the characters, especially the owl!
"Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat" by Blonde Blythe
In this Alice in Wonderland painting, I decided to change Alice's look a bit, and I wanted to create a completely different cheshire cat than I had ever seen in any Alice in Wonderland art. So, I decided to make the Cheshire Cat a calico. I created this painting on masonite board rather than my usual canvas as a change of pace. The original painting was sold to a collector from the Netherlands.
Fairy Tale Art
"The Wizard of Oz in Big-Eye" by Blonde Blythe 2012
"The Wizard of Oz in Big-Eye" took me a year and three months to complete (January 3, 2011--April 3, 2012). Although it was a struggle, I wouldn't change a thing. I had been wanting to create my own big-eye version of the "Wiz" for quite some time. I hung in there, even though I was sick and tired of working on the same painting for so long. I'll always have the painting as a reminder of overcoming my struggle with artist's block (And no, I'm not selling this one, either! ;)
"Hansel & Gretel Blythe Dolls" by Blonde Blythe 2004
This is my Blythe doll version of Hansel and Gretel--with a Gothic twist. Although there aren't any boy Blythe dolls, I created one for this painting, which is on an 18- by 24-inch canvas.
"Snow White and the Animals" by Blonde Blythe
This is my big-eye version of Snow White. I love cuteness, whimsy, & color, and this painting definitely has it all! In this painting, I wanted to make Snow White look as cute and innocent as possible, with equally cute and innocent animals.
The original 20- by 16-inch painting was sold to talented big-eye artist Kelly Haigh, who is also featured in my book, "Big Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed."
"Snow White's Wishing Well" by Blonde Blythe
In the second installment of my "Snow White" series, I decided to do a scene by the wishing well with some very attentive animals, and a goofy frog in the bucket.
"Snow White Christmas" by Blonde Blythe
I created this Snow White painting for Christmas 2004, in more of a folk art style. I then used the image to make unique Christmas cards for friends and family.
"Halloween Blythe and the Haunted Tree House" by Blonde Blythe
This painting was commissioned by a fan who wanted a white-haired Blythe doll witch in a Halloween scene with a black cat. In the background is a haunted tree house with all sorts of ghouls and goblins residing there. The black cat smirks as he stirs up an evil brew.
"Blythe Pumpkin Witch Doll" by Blonde Blythe
I love green, so I gave this witch a bright green face, offset with a purple hat (my two favorite colors, which are killer together). Her pumpkin is modeled after the postcard pumpkins from the 1920s, which I love.
This painting was sold to gifted artist Jade Benco. I admire her work very much, and own a couple of her mermaid paintings.
"Checkerboard Witch" by Blonde Blythe
For this Halloween painting, I wanted a white-haired witch with a checkerboard pattern outfit in orange and black, which is quite striking! Being a cat lover, I wanted to lend a feline flair to this piece, so I decided to include kitty pumpkins and ghosts!
"Halloween Blythe and the Magic Window" by Blonde Blythe
I love all the colors in this painting, especially her fuchsia hair! I added to this piece as I went along, which is typically the way I do most of my paintings. In this piece, as well as most pieces I create, I never know exactly what the painting will look like until it is finished. Whatever I decide to put down on canvas is determined by my mood and inspirations at that particular time.
"Halloween Blythe and the Magic Garden" by Blonde Blythe
In this painting, I wanted a bright, fiery background, and a garden consisting of pumpkins and skull-flowers. I made her witch's hat look a bit like a pirate hat; it compliments her purple hair nicely.
"Halloween Kitty Cat Fairy" by Blonde Blythe
I made this fairy very Gothic-looking, with chalky-white skin and blood-red eyes. Her dress is festively designed with rows of hissing kitty heads encircling the skirt. Her kitty companion is so ugly, he's cute, with big, bi-color eyes.
"Green Halloween Blythe Witch" by Blonde Blythe
Green and purple are my favorite colors, and they look great in a Halloween painting. I included lots of pumpkins, ghosts, pumpkin people, bats, tombstones, and even a black cat on broomstick in this piece. Warning: Beware of the demonic pumpkin in the haunted castle!
"Halloween Blythe: Pumpkins on the Fence" by Blonde Blythe
This was my very first Halloween Blythe painting, and was completed in 2002 in acrylics on a 20- by 16-inch canvas. It was purchased by a collector from Beverly Hills.
"Boston Terrier Charleston" by Blonde Blythe 4-2010
In "Boston Terrier Charleston," I combined two of my favorite things--Boston terriers and flappers. The Boston terriers go great with her red fringed dress with black and white checkerboard accents. In the twenties, external horns had been eliminated, manufacturers opting instead to use internal horns, Because I like the look, I still wanted to include a gramophone sporting a big morning glory horn with painted flowers. After all, during this time, many folks were still using the old-style gramophones. In the windows are glowing leg lamps--they're sexy and cute, and add a touch of whimsy. Everyone gets a big kick out of the dancing dog!
"Halloween Blythe Owl Witch" by Blonde Blythe 2005
Halloween in my favorite time of year--I love the atmosphere, colors, decorations, costumes, and festivities. The Blythe doll, with her spooky and mysterious big eyes, makes a perfect witch, and I adore owls, so I decided to combine them! Yet another painting I couldn't part with!
"Snowy Owl Witch" by Blonde Blythe 2010
Being the big owl lover that I am, I decided to do another one. This one features a completely white snowy owl, and witch with a striped cat-in-the-hat style hat. I love the wintery blue shades in this one, as well as the snowflakes. I think I suceeded in projecting the wintery aura that I was striving for.
"Purple Victorian House" by Blonde Blythe 2015
Although I mostly paint big-eye cuties, sometimes I dabble in landscape paintings, like this one. My husband had been wanting a Victorian house landscape painting for many years, and when he took a photo of a local Victorian home that we both love, I used the photo as a reference for this painting. He requested a fall scene, so I put fall trees in the background, as well as an old wagon and pumpkins. I had fun adding various coordinating colors to the sky, lending it a dreamy appearance.
This painting is huge--24- by 48-inches. Between my on-again, off-again painting style, not to mention the frequent composition changes, all told, it took me a year and a half to finally complete this "painted lady," and was well worth it, I might add. My husband is thrilled, and so am I!
"Gordon's Lighthouse" by Blonde Blythe 2003
"Although this painting is definitely not big-eye art, I still wanted to include it in this lens. The painting was done on a huge 36- by 24-inch canvas, and was a gift for my son, Gordon, who is a chief petty officer in the United States Coast Guard.
I Dream of Jeannie Doll Work in Progress - The following pictures show the progress of my I Dream of Jeannie Painting
This painting was created in liquid acrylics on a 20- by 16-inch stretched canvas. In the beginning, I did a loose sketch, then started blocking in color. I normally start out dark and go progressively lighter, which gives depth to the painting.
In these two pictures, You can see that I have started defining and detailing her costume and her bottle, building up many layers of color.
In the last two pictures, you can see that I have further refined the painting, tweaking the highlights and shadows, and adding more detail. The last picture is the completed painting.
Preliminary Sketches and Doodles
Today I dug out some of my sketches. These sketches are unfinished, preliminary sketches to help me work out my characters and composition. Sketching out ideas on paper helps me to visualize what I want my paintings to look like. I don't always sketch out the idea on paper first, however. Sometimes I do a loose sketch on canvas and take it from there, changing and adding to the composition as I go along.
Alice in Wonderland and the Caterpillar
This is a preliminary sketch I did of my Alice and the Caterpillar painting. I had a bit of trouble with the three-quarter perspective of her face, but finally (with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears) I eventually got it right, as you can see in the original painting, which hangs upon my art studio walls as I speak. If you look at the original painting (in the Alice in Wonderland category), you will see that I didn't go exactly by my sketch, which is typical for me.
Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat
I wanted to do a different type of Alice, so here I concocted an Alice with an attitude. The Cheshire Cat looks a lot different in the completed painting, with a friendlier demeanor, much larger grin, and a more robust body.
Somehow my Emerald Ballerina Fairy sketch ended up turning into the "Boston Terrier Ballet Fairy" painting, which is totally different from the sketch, except for her leg position. I added crystal prisms to her wings, turning them into fluttery chandeliers; there are also little emerald pom-poms on her skirt and an emerald sun. Maybe one day I will paint one like this, too.
Love Hippie Blythe Doll
I thought it would be really cute to create a hippie based on the "love" theme! I wanted the background to be really detailed and psychedelic and I wanted the hippie to be dressed in my favorite color--purple! I made a preliminary sketch for my Love Hippie Blythe Doll painting on my sketch pad, which took a long time, considering all of the detail in the background. Although I deviated from my sketch somewhat, it did help me a lot in figuring out exactly what I wanted to do.
The Wizard of Oz
This is of course my preliminary Wizard of Oz sketch. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted the characters and surroundings to look like. While working on the original painting, I made countless changes to just about everything, including Dorothy's hair and dress.
Meet Akiane, a Child Artist Prodigy
In Akiane, you will discover a treasure. It's the story of a girl who grows up in poverty raised by atheist parents until one day the lord speaks to her, guiding her to paint and even write poetry. Akiane's work, way ahead of her years in maturity and technique, causes a sensation with the public, lifting her family out of poverty and inspiring millions. A fascinating read that you won't want to put down. The paintings are out of this world!
This book is wonderful! It has really inspired me to not give up on my art, and is also a great example to follow for life in general.
Some of My Favorite Things
I'm a big Teddy Roosevelt Fan! He was fearless--a doer, a thinker, a conservationist. TR was the most colorful and irrepressible United States president in history. He was the author of 35 books and created many national parks (including the Grand Canyon) and wildlife sanctuaries to protect our wildlife for future generations. TR fought graft and corruption. He stood up for what he believed was right and could not be bought at any price.
The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt DVD
I own and highly recommend this fascinating Teddy Roosevelt biography! This is one DVD I watch over and over again! In this DVD you will discover why Teddy Roosevelt was our most colorful president!
I'm a HUGE Waltons Fan!
Ever Since "The Homecoming" debuted in 1972, I've been in love with the Waltons! I love the entire cast, and have always wanted to live on Walton's Mountain. The show teaches wonderful life lessons, and I love its simplicity and the way the family takes pleasure in the simple things in life.
I love the Waltons! It has been my favorite TV series since it first aired in 1972!
I Love Art! :)
I bet I have more holes in my walls than anyone on the planet! What I mean is that I am a bona fide art lover and collector! Not only do I create art, I also collect it! Every feasible space on my walls is taken up by artwork of some kind. With all the holes I have hammered in my walls, should I ever remove all the artwork, my walls would look like a war zone! My hubby is not pleased!
I treasure my original works of art, which I have purchased from different artists, most of whom are good friends. Many of these treasures hang in my art studio/ computer room, surrounding me with their beauty and charm as I work.
My Art CollectionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Big-Eye CollectiblesClick thumbnail to view full-size
For More Big-Eye Art, Visit These Artist Links:
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