Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art Contest – Midwinter 2014


The theme for the fourth Norse Mythology Blog art contest is midwinter. During the winter solstice on December 21, those of us living in the northern hemisphere will experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. This may seem pretty early in the season, but it’s really the middle. From this point onwards, the days will start getting longer as we slowly move back towards summertime.

Yule Goat and Tomte by Swedish artist Jenny Nyström

Throughout Northern Europe, there are local traditions that celebrate midwinter. Even though many have been subsumed into Christmas festivities, some of these practices preserve very old rituals. Your goal with your original piece of visual art is to capture the spirit of both midwinter and Norse mythology. Will you draw dwarves sneaking into the house to taste the cooking when nobody’s looking? Odin riding Sleipnir through the snowy city streets while everyone’s asleep? Thor driving his goats through the starry skies at night? It’s up to you!

I strongly suggest doing some reading and research on midwinter celebrations in Northern Europe before you start working on your artwork. Do you know about the Yule Goat? The Yule Lads? Frau Holle? Krampus? Most importantly – can you think of a way to tie these traditions to Norse myth?

If you need some ideas about Norse mythology, browse The Norse Mythology Blog Archive. You can also check out the winners of the Midwinter 2013 Art Contest in the three categories: kid, teen and adult. Most importantly – be creative!


I am very proud to announce the judges for the art contest. Both of these wonderful artists create thoroughly modern works that show great respect for and understanding of the complicated issues in the original Norse myths. In my classes on Norse mythology and religion, I use works by both of these creative illustrators to show how artists who have a deep engagement with the myths can bring out subtleties from the source material in their visual interpretations. The three of us will judge the entries together.

Steve Parkhouse
For forty-five years, Steve Parkhouse (UK) has been a major force on the international comic book scene as both writer and artist. In 1969, he made his comics debut at the top, writing both Ka-Zar (in Marvel Super-Heroes) and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD for Marvel Comics. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a regular writer for Marvel Comics UK's Hulk Comic and The Incredible Hulk Weekly.

Mythic Comics: Merlin appears in both of my
favorite Steve Parkhouse Doctor Who stories

Throughout the 1980s, Steve wrote the comics in Doctor Who Monthly. His Doctor Who strips were reprinted in the United States in Marvel Premiere and as a standalone series. As a young Whovian at the time, I was a huge fan of his work. Two of his Who stories – The Neutron Knights and The Tides of Time (both with brilliant art by the legendary Dave Gibbons) – made a particularly strong impression on me. This amazing, fantastic, creative, visionary work made the actual television show look completely tame by comparison.

From the late 1980s through the mid-2000s, Steve was a regular contributor to 2000 AD, the great UK weekly comic that is home to Judge Dredd and dozens of other unique characters. As an artist, he has collaborated with some of the major writers associated with the weekly. Beginning in 1983, he drew The Bojeffries Saga with legendary writer Alan Moore. Since 2012, he has drawn Resident Alien with scripts by writer Peter Hogan.

I'm very excited to have such a major figure on the judging panel this time around. Much thanks to Steve for agreeing to participate!

Dr. Helga Hlaðgerður Lúthersdóttir
Originally from Akureyri in Iceland, Helga is Teaching Fellow in Old Norse and Icelandic language and literature at University College London. Before moving to England, she was the Head of Nordic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also taught Nordic literature, film, culture, history and language. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado and a BFA in Ceramic Arts and Art History from the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts.

Dr. Helga Hlaðgerður Lúthersdóttir

Helga has taught courses on Norse mythology, Icelandic saga, Vikings, and the Nordic sources of Tolkien's mythology. I think you can see why we get along! She has also developed independent Nordic language programs for students. When she left University of Colorado for her new position in London, one of her students told the local newspaper, "Nordic Club and Nordic minor students always refer to her as being the Nordic program itself."

I first met Helga at the 2011 Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies conference held in Chicago, where she presented a fascinating (and hilarious) paper on "Image, Identity and Ownership: Representations of Norse Gods in Popular Culture and Social Media." From the beginning, she has been very friendly, open-minded and supportive.

I'm very glad that our schedules finally lined up and that she is able to be one of the judges for the contest!


There will be three winners in each of the following categories:

Kids: Age 12 & under
Teens: Age 13-19
Adults: Age 20 & up


Your artwork entry must:

1. Be on the theme of midwinter.
2. Contain at least one element from Norse mythology.

Note: For the purposes of this contest, Marvel Comics characters are NOT considered part of Norse mythology. Any art with imagery from the Marvel comic books or movies will not be accepted. Please do some reading and research on celebrations of midwinter and the winter solstice, then base your imagery on what you discover about these holidays and Norse myth!

There is a lot of very interesting winter
folklore throughout Northern Europe!


1. Art must be done with crayons, markers, paint, pen, pencil or digital materials.
2. Original art only; no photos or collage.
3. Art must be kid-friendly; no nudity or violence.
4. No copyrighted characters. Let’s leave the Marvel Comics to the professionals!
5. One entry per person, please.


Send an email to that includes the following:

1. Your full name (kids can give first name and last initial)
2. Your age (as of December 18, 2014)
3. Your location (city, state/province, country)
4. A short description of your artwork that explains how it portrays midwinter and what element(s) you have included from Norse mythology
5. Your artwork (as an attachment)

Seriously, don’t forget to include your art as an attachment!


11:59 p.m. (Chicago time) on December 14, 2014


Steve, Helga and I will be judging the entries based on creativity and relation to Norse mythology. Do some reading, do some thinking and make something original!

Winners will be featured on Norse Mythology Online sites

The three winners in each age group will be featured on The Norse Mythology Blog, The Norse Mythology Facebook Page, The Norse Mythology Google+ Page, The Norse Mythology Pinterest Page and The Norse Mythology Twitter Page. Your art and your description of it will be posted on all the many sites of Norse Mythology Online and will remain permanently in the The Norse Mythology Blog Archive.

December 18: Kid winners announced
December 19: Teen winners announced
December 20: Adult winners announced

It’s time to sharpen your pencil and start drawing. Good luck!

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