Noel Cruz is one of the most versatile & distinguished repaint artists in the doll community. He is most recognized for his character & celebrity dolls……. We at Diana’s Legacy, The Royal Doll Report, and facebook group “Princess Diana & Princess Kate Doll Collectors” are proud to see that Noel has finally repainted our FM Princess Diana Doll – please read on…….
When did your art talent first show itself?
I have always had a keen interest for art for as long as i can recollect. I remember, that back in my kindergarten, I would find so much pleasure drawing ships, cars and various landscapes. Every so often I would draw stick figures and clearly recall enjoying it.
Did your parents / siblings / friends / teachers encourage your talent at all, if so, how?
My mom was particularly very encouraging of my talents. During my teens, when I was beginning to hone my skills in portraiture, my mom would bring some of my sketches to her friends, in hopes that she could interest them to commission me for portraits of their family and/or friends.
Although that was the case, she and my dad didn’t particularly feel that it would be a practical career choice. They have always been influenced by the phrase “starving artists” and therefore did not find art a suitable course to pursue for stable economic prospects.
How did you get interested in repainting dolls? When did you begin doing so?
It was by sheer accident that I happened upon repainting dolls in the summer of 2001. I was casually browsing online looking for dolls for my wife’s collection, when I stumbled upon these beautifully painted dolls. Upon closer investigation, I discovered that these were regular mass produced dolls repainted to look more detailed and realistic. I was completely mesmerized. I quickly learned also that these were the 15-inch Gene dolls by Ashton Drake, which were at that time gaining ground and popularity with collectors.
I was so fascinated and drawn to the whole prospect of repainting, primarily because of my background in creating photo-realistic black and white portraits. I quickly embarked upon repainting. As quickly as I did, I realized that the process was not exactly the same as creating portrait on a piece of paper. My first attempt failed on ebay – having no bids. But I was firmly determined. I went back and redid my repaint – scrutinizing photos of several repaints on ebay. I took to practicing for several days and when I was finally satisfied that I’ve made significant improvements, I attempted one more time to list the doll on ebay. It finally sold – for $162.00! This meant a great deal to me because up until that point I have never sold any art work for anywhere near that amount. It was to me a validation of my work! Since then, I have been fortunate to sell every single repainted doll I created.
We know you created a drawing of Princess Diana before, were you a fan of Princess Diana, and if so what about her did you like most?
Yes! My wife and I are both avid admirers. It was mostly her story and how she came into her own that we were drawn to. She was a fine example of grace and beauty, yet had the vulnerability and genuine compassion that endeared her to the masses. She was the epitome of style and elegance as well. Just like many others, it was easy for us to love and admire her, in the most sincere way she reached out to the masses and most of all the ill-fortunate people.
We were all excited when we saw your facebook post about doing a repainting the FM Princess Diana doll…. What made you finally decide to do it?
I have to be honest and say that the very first time I saw the Franklin Mint doll, I thought that it fell short of capturing Diana’s essence. Of course the clothes were an entirely different story. However, the doll itself lacked the warm and gentle demeanor of Diana. In my opinion, the face paint missed the mark significantly that it was difficult to see through it. I purchased the doll many years ago and have it displayed in my collection, but I didn’t think there was much hope with the sculpt.
I must admit, that I had to consider the many instances you (Catherine Ford-Barbiero) requested me to repaint the doll. Then one day, I went through my cabinet and looked at her closely, with your request in mind. I told myself “maybe there is a chance that I could bring out Diana’s essence in this doll..” And so I did. Upon removing the face paint, it quickly dawned on me that this was a great sculpt after all. I became more excited and to my utter surprise, the repaint came out wonderfully. Had I known about it sooner, I would have created a Diana repaint much, much earlier.
What keeps you repainting for all the dolls that you do?
Without a doubt, my passion for art! I have always been fascinated and intrigued with the human face and the many subtle expressions the face conveys. Furthermore, I find great satisfaction in the idea of transformation. The excitement it affords me is immeasurable. And of course, not to mention, it isn’t a bad way of making a living, especially to wake up every day and have the chance to utilize my God-given gifts. It gives me a sense of purpose and meaning to know that I am able to contribute to the beauty in this world and be able to share that with others in the process.
What doll has been or will be, your most challenging doll to repaint?
To date, I will have to say that the most challenging are the Jack Sparrow dolls and Lord Voldemort from “Harry Potter”. The sheer amount of detail was overwhelming at times. But I always love a good challenge. It wasn’t a matter of whether I can accomplish it, but how long before I finish it.
Many of the members on the website and facebook page – “Diana’s Legacy” – would love to know if you do private commissions and what is your base price for doing so? — or at least share the website address where people can find out more information…… and contact you directly.
A. I appreciate the Diana fans for their interest in a commission of a repainted Diana doll. However, I am booked out for months on commission orders and will be unable to take any more commissions at this time.
In the meantime, if they wish to learn about details of a commission order, they may visit my commission page, using the links below: