Category Archives: dotty the suicidal rag doll

Dotty in 8-bit (updated)

Dotty has been itching to make another appearance for several days now. She tried last night in a journal page, but then changed her mind, citing a bad hair day. She liked that page though, so tried again today. She wanted to pay homage to classic 8-bit graphics from back in the day. She said she was still feeling the bad hair day and didn’t trust me with anything more complicated just yet.

She brought my attention to some ancient graph paper I had lying around waiting to become a background; “That. Draw me on that. You can erase easy, and the squares should give you a decent guide.”

I tried to explain that the size of the squares on the graph paper would mean she would need to be quite a bit bigger to look anything recognizable as herself; “no one will be able to tell it’s you if I make you too small. These squares are too big for smaller detail…”

She insisted on the graph paper anyway.

“Ok, but that means you won’t fit the page you like…”

“That’s ok. I’ll figure something else out for that page.”

I set to work lightly sketching her lines in. I then dug out fine-liner markers with which to give her some color. She complained about the background after noticing how pale her cloth was against the cream paper. We chatted for a bit. She threw around the ideas of a colored background (she really liked the green and purple markers I had). We talked a bit about contrast, and she eventually settled on a black background; “black is the most comfortable surrounding anyway… but don’t color in the whole page. I like this paper. Make sure some of it shows. Just do the black around me.”

“Will do. You’re the boss…”

If she could have smiled at this, she would have. She likes to think of herself as in charge. She picked the classic pose, though decided against the stool. She likes to use her noose as a swing; “the stool will get in the way of my feet and I won’t get the momentum I’m looking for…”

Check. No stool.

Dotty in 8-bit


Now she is occupying herself swinging back and forth while we wait for another page in the bigger journal to dry. She tried to get me to put her on that page, but I had to explain she would cover too much of the happy timeline. I reminded her I have a hard enough time remembering the happy things, I don’t want to have to push her around trying to see what’s written. She pouted for a bit, then got distracted swinging again. It must be nice to have no spine, or lungs, or any other pesky vital organs that would make playing at the end of a noose quite impracticable…

(Dotty would like me to remind you that her more-complete story can be found here)


She got a bit excited when I told her she could go into the journal tonight. She feels at home now. She almost looks like a macabre cross stitch…


Art dump

This is stuff from the last 2 weeks or so. Most recent is first. I’ve been obsessed with spirals lately. And watercolors.  Tonight’s (Monday’s) is the bug-thing, which is a huge departure from my normal style. It started as an eye and grew from there.  The frog does not do the reference photo justice…

Older art I would categorize as “art therapy”

I was browsing through my gallery on an online art forum and found a few pieces I would like to share here also.  In no particular order.

mostly-finished Inside-out Box & WIP painting that I have also given up on for the time being

ok, so I lied about updating that post… It’s been about 3 weeks since I declared it finished and showed it to De.  Sitting there looking at it in session, I realized how much I hated the ribbon around the outside lid and ripped it off as I walked back out of the building.  I felt much better.  i replaced the ribbon with black sand, but i still want to make a wall of small river stones or gravel along the curtain-line. To do that, i will have to buy some stones though.

Sometimes I get frustrated with my lack of supplies, or expertise in technique, or ideas, and just let the project rest indefinitely until I either get what I need, inspiration strikes, or I scrap it and change it all together.  This box has been sitting “mostly finished” since the beginning of the month.  It will likely stay like that for another several weeks as I have mentally moved on from it.

So, to keep from leaving too much suspense over the mostly-finished product, here are some pics.  I don’t know where the pics of the outside of the box went, apologies.

And here’s the WIP painting I mentioned.  It was born of an in-session assignment.  I got frustrated with the way I was painting the chair as well as my lack of definition/direction with the person in the chair, so I moved on to other things (specifically, a shadow-puppet piece based off the same image – also stalled due to my lack of knowledge about where to take the performance of it, and technical know-how to accomplish what I am picturing in my head).  I will finish this painting some day, but I doubt it will be any time soon.  All my current energy is focused on making that shadow-puppet piece work out.  I really miss puppetry.  I’m having a blast trying to figure stuff out for it, and it’s getting me in contact with puppet-arts people to help get things correct.  It has also renewed my interest in puppetry in general.


almost finished – inside out box

I think I am just about finished my box.  It has become quite crowded on the inside, with many elements to it.  I am having trouble figuring how to adequately photograph it so I can post it here.  There are a lot of things: things that move, things that are hiding, things that blend in, and things that stay still.  Most of it is done in a dark color-palate, so lighting is difficult.  Too much lighting and I get too many shadows that make things hard to see.  Too little lighting and everything blends into everything else.  Because of the “curtain” dividing the box, I have an even more difficult time angling the camera correctly.

The bats came out pretty neat (in my opinion), but are the ones causing the most trouble.  They obscure some of the other elements when I try to take the picture, and they tend to blur-out because even the slightest breeze or bump has them wiggling all over the place.  I try to show one piece, and they get in the way.  They take over the whole picture  as they distract from what it is I’m trying to focus on.  The bats in the box mimic what they are supposed to represent real life.  I think I did a better job at this than I imagined I could, even without consciously trying to make certain elements work as they do.

I’m hoping someone can point me in the right direction for getting the pics correct so I can do the full visual effect.  When I do that, I will post them in this blog with an “UPDATED: Finished Box” leader to its title.

Ooohhh… I just got another idea for the box, but it would involve another purchase. Hmm… I may have to do that. We’ll see.

The story of Dotty: The Suicidal Rag Doll (possibly triggering drawings and story)

Dotty is my original image and concept.  Please do not use her without express written permission from me.  She is my story, and she holds a sacred place in my heart and head.  While I am putting her out here for all to see, she is still my private world, and I would like to keep her being respected throughout her journey… in short: hands off, she’s mine! 😉

Dotty is a sad little one… She came about during a hospitalization a few years ago and spilled out in a series of drawings.  The first is the most detailed and I spent the most time on it.  Her story started with a single sketch that I ended up spending over an hour on.  The rest came quicker and I struggled to keep the momentum going.  The drawings varied in detail, and most of the last ones lacked effort beyond the basic sketch of the idea (crappy shading and detail, hurried drawings to be able to move on to the next scene).  I had not drawn her for about 2 years, but picked her back up this past week in the hospital.   This time she was not suicidal, just sad and defeated.  I have 2 more elements to add to the scene before I call it finished, but I will post the last one then.  Most of the titles are song titles that fit the image, but the images don’t necessarily depict the lyrics.  The lack of backgrounds is as deliberate as it is lazy – much of my struggles are fought in the vacuum of my head.

Dotty is a suicidal rag doll.  She just can’t get it right. She has tried to kill herself many times, but always fails.  Maybe it’s because she is not truly alive that she cannot die… She parallels my struggles and journey to healing. While I have not attempted suicide as many times or in as many ways, Dotty brings to light the images that have floated through my head or events that have happened in my life either figuratively or literally.  I have never really strung together her story in any comprehensive way before, but this is my best interpretation of her.  I say this because, while she parallels my own story, and is rooted in it, she has a story of her own that I attempt to bring to life (or death) in my drawings.

The first time we meet Dotty: 1) Gravity

Dotty - Gravity

Dotty has tried to hang herself, but soon realizes that she doesn’t breathe, so suffocation will not work.  Also, she weighs about as much as a feather pillow… So much for that.  Next.

2) Bullet With Her Name on it

Dotty - Bullet_With_Her_Name_On_It

Dotty tried to shoot her brains out, but only stuffing suffered…  The dog has done worse damage in the past.

3) Far Away

Dotty - Far Away

Drowning does not work when your body absorbs the water.  Oh, and she has no lungs.

4) Bliss

Dotty - Bliss

Pills only make her high.  Good effort Dotty.

4) Laws of Illusion

Dotty - Laws of Illusion

She sees her reflection, but does not connect.  This “together” little doll in the mirror cannot possibly be the container of the mess in her stuffing-filled head.  She looks at her image and is constantly amazed that there is anything even remotely “human” looking back at her… She will often stare at that doll in the mirror and not comprehend how she and the image are related.

5) These Things

Dotty - These Things

She tries to drown in the river, but the rope slips from her leg and she floats back to the top.  (Dotty, here’s a tip: you don’t have lungs, and can’t breathe, so cutting off your air supply does nothing.  What were you trying to accomplish here?)

6) Seeing Red Again

Dotty - Seeing Red Again

She slices her pain away, but they just stitch her up and throw her back to the toy chest.

7) Lost

Dotty - Lost

Dotty sits alone in the corner, a forgotten toy.

8) Inside Out

Dotty - Inside Out

She tries to eviscerate herself, but they blame it on the dog again, patch her up, and put her back on the shelf.  They don’t know that she was trying so hard to rid her insides of the memory of the dog.  They see a broken toy and fix her up, then put her out of reach so it doesn’t happen again.  They are baffled when the dog gets her over and over again… They don’t realize she is trying to show her darkest secrets.

9) What A Wonderful World (done by my wife)

Dotty - What A Wonderful World

Dotty tries electrocution.  What a Wonderful World plays in the background as her brain fries.  Who needs ECT when you have a good-ole-fashioned socket?

10) Oh oh oh I’m on Fire

Dotty - Up in Flames

She burns herself, or at least tries.  Damn those flame-retardant fabrics they make toys out of these days.

11) Left Behind

Dotty - Left Behind

Her friends and family take off as fast as they can, leaving Dotty behind to deal with her own hell.  She tries to catch up, but the train is long gone out of town.

12) Stuck in the Land of the Living

Dotty - Stuck in the Land of the Living

They pump her full of drugs and drag her back to life.  They tie her to the bed so she can’t hurt herself anymore before they drug her up to a stupor… This is not what she had wanted.  This was not her intent.  She just wanted an escape.

14) yet to be named… but I will put it up as soon as it’s done.

Dotty #14

Dotty #14

15) Don’t have a name for it, but was done around 11/14/13 (nowhere near complete, but as “complete” as it’s going to get anytime soon).


Dotty came by to see why I was crying.  She didn’t realize how deep the tears had gotten.  When she tried to step through the puddle, she fell in past her head… Oops!

16: Dotty: in the Felt.  As part of my “inside-out box” I wanted to make a “living” representation of Dotty.  I had some extra felt lying around, and this is what came out of it.  I wish I had stitched her face a bit better and that you couldn’t see the awkwardness under her “skin”… oops!  Better job next time I guess.  (I hadn’t sewed anything by hand in about 15 years and even then I was a total amateur). Presenting Dotty in 3D:


16) Spark.  Not totally sure where in the line-up this fits.  I do not know if it was done before or after the official “first” Dotty drawing, and I didn’t put a date on the file name (the original is in storage).  I know it was done in 2010… So I guess it fits somewhere in the first 13.  It was an entry for a contest to visualize the Tori Amos song “Spark” off of her From the Chiorgirl Hotel album.

Dotty: Spark  (A lost Dotty sketch)

Dotty: Spark (A lost Dotty sketch)

17) Dark Dotty (Art Journal piece on contrasts: light and dark). The best answers are the ones you discover within yourself, until you come up with something better. You have to discover something better Dotty… (5/31/14)

Art Journal/Dark Dotty


18) Dotty Finally Does It. She pooled all her resources and made her best effort… It didn’t work. She was quite upset after. (7/30/14).

Dotty Finally Does It

Dotty Finally Does It

19) WTJ Dotty: Crack the Spine. Dotty heard about my Wreck This Journal fun and wanted to check it out for herself. She got all excited when she found the page about cracking the spine. She liked the idea that was there, but thought she could pull it off better. I told her it was fine. I didn’t bother to remind her that she has no spine (Snoopy might break it to her though. He’s thinking about it)… (November 2014?)

Dotty: Crack the Spine

Dotty: Crack the Spine

20) Dotty in 8-bit. She really liked the graph paper and wanted to pay homage to early digital graphics… The whole story of this one can be found here. (June 7, 2015)

Dotty in 8-bit