Saturday, November 27, 2010

Story of Baba Dojda (Granny Doyda), Part 2

The background story;
The painting of Baba Dojda, featured in the previous post, is in fact the second incarnation of the character. It was at first conceived as a preliminary drawing for one of my paintings done in 2009, and named  Hans, Greta and the Old Lady.  In that first incarnation she was  a proper witch, and took part in a retold version of the famous fairytale Hans and Gretel. As a witch she behaved quite badly, which she later on bitterly regretted, and therefore decided to return as a good dwarf Medicine Woman in her following incarnation, and repair the damage she had caused during her previous existence.

The sketch of the witch

Hans, Greta and the Old Lady

The witch, detail

At the beginning of the spring of 2010, I found myself wonderfully submerged into  already mentioned Banished Demons book project. I was being busy with the project for several months already, and  was enjoying  it very much.  It was one of those “ my cup of tea” projects and I was in a kind of uplifting state of mind, that I unfortunately do not experience every day. One morning, I was in the bathroom trying to free myself from my beard, at least 10 days old, when a picture of a tiny dwarf lady flashed through my mind (I often get the inspiration while shaving myself). The story quickly followed and soon I had to stop shaving in order to write down the words that were popping up in my mind.
Then I remembered the preliminary drawing of the witch and knew I had to incorporate it into the new composition. So, I took the old sketch, added an extra sheet of paper to give the  drawing more breathing space, and redrew it.  

Finished preliminary drawing

When the preliminary drawing was finished, and realizing that I would need a good reference photo for the picture’s background, I took the photo camera, jumped on my bicycle and went into a very nice piece of nature located at the edge of the place I live in. I was riding along the meadows with my eyes fixed to the ground in search of the floral “models”,  regularly stopping to shoot photos of the plants and the flowers. After many miles of bicycling and numerous photos  I still had the feeling of not yet having made the right reference photo. I even started to criticize myself for spending  so much time in vain, searching for the reference in the wide nature, while I could get the photos of all sorts of plants and flowers on the internet in just a few clicks. As I was approaching my house I passed by  the garden of  my first neighbor. In the middle of the garden there was a beautiful full grown apple tree. Beneath the tree there was a circle paved with the pieces of stone. There I spotted a few tiny white flowers pushing their way through the narrow strokes of soil between the stones. The spot was lit by the sunlight that was piercing through the branches of the apple tree making the fragile flowers gleam.
Instantly I knew I found the right spot.

When the painting of the background was finished I approached my younger colleague Dragan Bibin and asked him to do the last step in the process of making this image. He then skillfully put the drawing and the background painting together in Photoshop and -  Voilà! -  the Baba Dojda picture came into being.

There is an anecdote in connection with the first BadaDojda incarnation that I want to share with you. When the painting Hans, Greta and the Old Lady was finished, and during one of my visits to my parents’ house in Serbia, I showed the reproduction of that painting to my father. I said to him that I used an old photo of the grandmother as an inspiration.
 He looked at the picture for a while and recognizing the posture of his deceased mother, said: “ Shame on you, my son. You have made a witch of my mother!”.
He was deadly serious and angry, adding that I hurt his feelings with the picture. I was shocked and pleased at the same time. It was the FIRST TIME that my father reacted emotionally to one of my paintings.  In fact, he never supported me in my intentions to become an artist, and with a good reason, I must say. He was always afraid I would not be able to earn my living as an artist. Well, several times in the past, when I was desperately struggling to earn just enough money to buy food and to pay some of  my monthly costs, I found myself on the brink of admitting that my dear father was right after all!

Photo of my grandmother from around 1969. That little troll standing next to her and pretending to be a good boy, …that’s me.
And, at the end, for some of you who still question the existence of Baba Dojda, here are her shoes. Beside the story, it’s everything that is left of her.


  1. Nice post! It's great reading about the process. I love the warm color on the dress. Looks awesome!

  2. I knew there was something special about those shoes, and now I see that you actually have them. Well, that explains everything.

    Once again, fabulous work Petar !

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