Thursday, May 17, 2012

Greek Goddess Fabric Design

Tada!  Another fabric design, another contest.  This time I have entered into the Spoonflower weekly contest, themed: Handrawn.  If you like my work, please consider voting for it sometime this week.  There is a lot of competition this round.  My fabric will be available for sale in Kona cotton in about three weeks.  The original drawings are in color pencil and pen on watercolor paper.
It all started with a couple recent Greek Goddess themed ATC swaps for at  I found I enjoyed researching the subjects of the swap and creating images. When I was a girl, one of my favorite books was filled with the myths of Greece and Rome.  It was a book printed in the late 1800s and must have had a lot of fairly contemporary artwork for the time.  The black and white pictures (glued into the book) included sculptures and paintings which included many of the Romantic painters, as well as many Neo-Classical masterpieces.  This book was not the classic Bullfinch's Mythology that I had seen in the school library but a similar book, Myths of Greece and Rome by H A Guerber published in 1893.  I just loved the stories and the art.  It has been many years since I last saw that book and so I had forgotten a lot of the stories I once knew.  Rereading the backgrounds on the Goddess has been really interesting.
I have drawn upon comic book art, pinups and the artwork of Alphonse Mucha for the inspiration.  For example, my Medusa was inspired by a Alphonse Mucha calendar I have.  Her pose is after the dancer in Mucha's La Danse. Mucha is an Art Nouveau artist who was basically a pin up artist with flair.
I have tried to incorporate what I know of the temperaments of each Goddess from my research into the poses.  Aphrodite (aka Venus) originally more than the pin-up she is popularly portrayed as, was the Goddess of what draws life to create more life. I have attempted to draw her as a desirous, mischievous character. Athena is the Goddess of Wisdom and War. I have tried to represent her as intelligent, proud and determined. Artemis was a Goddess of the moon who is independent of men and a hunter. She is represented as an athletic woman, relaxed in her power. Hera is a proud, mature woman, she is believed to have joined the Greek pantheon from Egypt where she was Hathor.  Gaia, the Earth I have drawn as a lush woman.  Demeter and Persephone are mother and daughter.  Demeter is the grain Goddess and her daughter the Goddess of Spring.  Circe is a minor Goddess and is featured in the Oddessy.  She clearly gets a lot of come-ons from men if one looks at the number of pigs on her island.  Circe was known to change men into pigs if they disrespected her.  It is arguable whether Medusa was a Goddess during Greek times but it was her card that started this who process for me so I will share more information than the brief summaries above.
Medusa was originally a daughter of water deities but in later myths Medusa began life as a beautiful priestess of Athena who was turned into a snake creature when she had sex with Poseidon in the temple.   The snake was a very powerful symbol in ancient times.  The snake was seen as an animal from underground because of its appearance after hibernation but also because the snakes would slip underground before earthquakes.  This underground connection tied snakes symbolically to prophecy and they were kept in the Temples to Apollo, the God of prophecy.   The snake's habit of shedding its skin was representative of renewal and it's phallic shape was not lost on the ancients making it a symbol of sexuality.  In many ancient mythologies the snake was also the symbol of the Chaos that the world was drawn from and was thought to surround the world still.  Slaying Medusa can be thought in terms of civilizing the chaotic and restoring order.
* My periodic notice all images created by me are copyright Penney Hughes and may only be used with permission.

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