Still having fun drawing admirable women. Here is my favourite illustration so far of Mary Somerville, from Scotland, who translated several scientific texts into English at a time.
So on my website for PROW: Positive Representation Of Women I had a small blog. However I have decided I don’t have the time to run it the way I want to, so this is the first post I posted on it which was the official introduction to PROW that I wrote to act as an extension of the ‘About’ page. You also get my illustration of Jane Austen this week.
Initially this project began because I decided that my younger sister needed to read books with strong female protagonists. There are many resources on the internet to find them. My favourite is a website called ‘A Mighty Girl’ who has been my main navigation in the world of literature for young girls with strong female leads. It is very easy to search, you can get it to narrow it down by reccomended age, by prize winners, genre etc. Essentially I wanted my younger sister to read about girls and women who went out and did stuff, not females who either sat around and waited for the guy, or was the guy’s sidekick.
So I ensured we got some of these books for her birthday. We started off with three novels for the 9-12 age group. ‘The Girl who Circumnavitaged Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making’ (I adore the title), ‘Goth Girl’ and ‘The Spindlers’.
She loved them. I read them, and I loved them. In fact, ‘The Girl who Circumnavitaged Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making’ is firmly on my list of favourite books. It is a beautiful whimsical book. And they all had strong female main characters. I have since bought my younger sister a wide variety of books with strong female main characters.
I wanted to illustrate some of these characters to frame on my sisters wall. I began by drawing Theodosia, September and Liza who I all loved. (I think my favourite is Theodosia, because she lives in a museum and I work with museums because I love them). However for quite a while I’ve also been working on injecting some real-life female heros and role models into my sisters life. I decided to expand the project and draw real women as well who I wanted her to take as her role models.
Now I must admit that one of my fictional heroes is Hermione Granger. Ever since I was twelve and was given my first Harry Potter book by my grandfather, I have related to her. Probably because just like her I was a dark blonde, bushy-haired, large teeth, know-it-all. And Hermione Granger made that okay. I could go on about Hermione and me, but I think that will have to be another blog post. The point is I always admired her for founding SPEW. I tried to figure out a way I could use SPEW, but couldn’t think of any relevant S-words, so I ended up with PROW. Postive Representation Of Women. Like the ‘prow’ of a ship I hope that this work will go forward, be visible and make a difference in how we think of representation of women.
The aim of this project is therefore to illustrate women, both fictional and real, in all of their strengths and beauties. I have also aimed for a very symbolic illustrative style, the objects that surround the women are objects that I relate to them. I hope you enjoy them and learn about some new female heroes and gain some new female role models.
A couple of months ago I started drawing some pictures of characters from some of my little sisters books. She is ten years old. I had been inspired by some articles I had seen online about giving girls books with strong female characters to read. How can we expect our girls to be strong leaders if in all the books they read the girl is either the prize or the sidekick?
So I found several wonderful websites that provide lists and reviews of books with strong female characters. My favourite by far is A Mighty Girl. It is brilliant, they have done so much hard work, its easy to search in specific categories and age groups, etc. I firmly recommend it. I used it a to source books (and toys and science experiments as well actually) for ‘mighty girls’. I was highly satisfied with the books I got her for her birthday and as prizes in the coming months (She gets earns stickers for extra homework and chores and can save up for prizes). Some of the books intrigued me (which is naturally why I bought them for her) and I read some of them when she finished with them. (She won’t let me read them before her. It makes her very upset and she hides them from me.) They are full of beautiful and wonderful strong characters who I admire and want to emulate!
So I wanted to draw a series of pictures for them. But then I began to expand my project. I wanted to not only draw illustrations of these strong fictional girls, I wanted to illustrate real women I admire as well.
So this is how my newest art project has been born. Inspired by Hermione Granger’s acronym SPEW, I decided to name my project PROW (its a bit better than SPEW) which stands for Positive Representation Of Women. Every week I will be posting a new illustration. In the next few months I also hope I’ll be able to start selling them on Etsy, so keep an eye out for that announcement in the future!
Everyone is welcome to recommend strong female people/characters, however bearing in mind that I already have a very long list so it may take a while and I reserve the right to not draw your suggestion.
So here is the kick-off illustration. This is Theodosia Throckmorton, the main character of one the series I’ve just bought my little sister. I thought I’d start with this one because I just read number one yesterday (more like last night to be honest) and it was brilliant! It is set during the Victorian Era. Theodosia lives in a museum that her parents run. They specialise in Egyptian artifacts and archaeology. However they keep bringing back cursed objects from Egypt, and only Theodosia can sense the curses and get rid of them. She is a fantastic heroine, most of all because throughout the whole thing she is terrified. However she is brave in equal measure. I recommend them for grownups as well even though Theodosia is 11, she is amazing.
This influence Map has been bobbing around the Internet for a while now, and I’ve seen some of my favourite online artists fill it out, and its so fun to see what influenced them. I filled it out myself a while ago, and have it hanging on my wall so when my muse is all gone, I can just glance at my influence map. It’s also interesting, just in the exercise of having to carefully consider what and who has actually inspired you. As I don’t only do art, but also a lot of writing, this influence map reflects both those interests.
1. This is an image from Angela Kohler, a photographer who I adore, and who’s style I try to emulate. I love how casual, yet beautiful her photography is, and how much impact she can put into a picture, even when said picture is of such normal, even mundane events. And than there are the stop-motion films that she has done for Amazon and A Fine Frenzy’s music video, Lost Things. I just love the whole concept of stop-motion films, but Angela Kohler takes them to a level where they are an amazing artform.
2. This is an image from one of Kate Beaton’s comics, on her online comic website, “Hark a Vagrant”. I love Kate Beaton’s work for many reasons. First of all, her comics are hilarious. And its not cheap funny, its intelligent funny. Many of her comics poke fun at historical, politic, scientific, or literary figures, events or concepts, and I’ve realised that you do have to have a background knowledge of these things to find the humour in her comics,. My sister who has no interest in history at all rarely gets the punchline. But being an archaeology student, and having studied English Literature and History for my British A-Levels, I have all the background knowledge I need to be delighted and laugh out loud every time she releases a new comic strip. I wish I could be that funny. Also, I love her very sketchy style, which very much resembles some of the random in-class stuff I do. Basically, I wish I could make comic strips like Kate Beaton.
3. This is an image from another online comic, “The Dreamer” by Lora Innes. I love it for the history, the plot, and obviously, the amazing art. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to recreate Lora’s style and art, but I often fail. Point is, that Lora’s art is truly one of my muses, and an amazing artist and writer.
4. Jane Austen! Honestly, she made me fall in love with her world and Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley and Colonel Brandon, and seriously… I am a goner… I am totally naming my first son Fitzwilliam.
5. I bet your wondering why on earth twilight of all things is on here. How can that inspire/influence anyone? But whatever its shortcomings, there is just so much EMOTION in Twilight, and all that angsty teenage emotion is such a good art muse.
6. Harry Potter. What else can I say, he instantly injects magic into my world! Plus there are just so many good themes going on their to analyse. And so many fantastic varied, deep characters. Its heaven. In seven books no less! Its always so good when its a long series, but not too epically long either.
7. C.S.Lewis’ quotes always make me think and they are fantastic when I want to write or draw something a little different. In fact its a while since I did a piece based on one of his quotes, I think its time to break one out…
8. John William Waterhouse is among my favourite painters. I just love the style, the figures, compositions, colours etc. But apart from the technical aspects of his paintings, I love the legends and myths behind. I find myths and legends fascinating, and they inspire a lot of my own art. I also use J.W. Waterhouse to get inspiration for some of the historical costumes that I draw or paint. I love costumes, and I often go to his paintings for medieval or greek ideas.
10. Monet is another of my favourite painters. I’ve loved his work since i was little, and one of my favourite holidays is when my parents took us to Monets garden on one of our big roadtrips. I love how everything just seems to merge together and look real when you look at it from afar. I think he is probably my biggest inspiration to abandon the rules that my art teachers taught me, and to experiment on my own, and that even though it might not look perfect in the details, its the picture as a whole that makes the impact.
11. History is a major fountain of muse for me, particularly historical costumes which I loved to research and then draw, its such amazing good fun. As you’ve probably noticed in some of my drawings. 🙂
12. William Morris was among the people who founded the Arts and Crafts movement, focused on the charm and importance of something that one has made with ones hands, carefully crafted, rather then mass-produced products which were at that time the new vogue due to the Industrial Revolution. He makes beautiful things, truly a man of many talents, in particular I love his fabric patterns, of which this is an example, and his stained glass windows which are gorgeous.
13. The sea is probably of of my major creative influences. Throughout my childhood and teenage years we lived in Denmark, which is a bunch of more than 300 tiny islands. What this means is that even if you live smack in the middle of any given island, you still live pretty close to the sea. That and the fact that my parents have always been the nature sort, so we frequently went to the beach, and I always loved the sea. It now features in a lot of my art.