Saturday, December 20, 2014

Art Contest – Adult Winners, Midwinter 2014

The adult category in this year's Midwinter Art Contest received entries from Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, and throughout the United States. There were many wonderful entries, and it was very hard for us to rank them all. The difficulty of ranking such a high quality of submitted works shows in the fact that, in a first for The Norse Mythology Blog's art contests, there were exact ties for both first and second place.

I can't thank our two guest judges enough. They both spent a lot of personal time ranking all the entries for the three age divisions, then writing comments on each of the winning pieces. Their work is much appreciated!

Steve Parkhouse has been a major force in comics at least since his appearance in 1969 as a writer for the legendary Marvel comic Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. He made a huge impression on me when I was a kid; his comics from the pages of Doctor Who Monthly have been reprinted multiple times in the US and UK and are rightly considered classics. He continues to blaze new trails as both writer and artist, such as work drawing Resident Alien for Dark Horse Comics.

Steve Parkhouse art for Dark Horse's Resident Alien

Dr. Helga Hlaðgerður Lúthersdóttir is currently Teaching Fellow in Old Norse and Icelandic language and literature at University College London. She has also been Head of Nordic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has taught courses on Norse mythology, Icelandic saga, Vikings, and the Nordic sources of Tolkien's mythology. Her insights on all of the entries were very helpful.

If you haven't checked out the winners in the other age divisions, click here for the kid winners and here for the teen winners. Congratulations to all who won, thanks to everyone who entered, and hails to the judges for their work. Stay tuned for the next art contest in 2015!

Note: You can click on the art to see larger versions.

Levi Simpson
Age 34
Sedro-Woolley, Washington, USA

Levi writes, "It looks as if the midwinter celebration is kicking off. The blazing Yule logs have the town glowing as the Yule Goat makes his way for the yearly celebration. But it looks as if more snow is in the forecast as Frau Holle seems to be shaking her bed out again."

Dr. Lúthersdóttir says that Levi's work utilizes "great composition and excellent use of abstract patterns juxtaposed with stylized winter-scapes to create a tranquil mood of midwinter."

Mr. Parkhouse comments, "A light touch and a decorative feel make this image stand out. Images that utilise an extended landscape format have a compositional advantage over other formats, being easier to implement Golden Section ratios, which this artist has done very successfully. Together with a subtle color scheme, Levi has produced an arresting illustration."

I love that Levi has brought together elements from various folklores into a unified whole. The piece manages to exude both the cold of midwinter and the warmth of the celebrations. Fantastic!

First Place (Tie): Levi Simpson

Ida M. Kozlowski
Age 35
Poznań, Poland

Ida describes her piece: "The illustration shows the goddess Skaði. Natural, Norwegian winter landscape in the background. Viewers may feel the same winter climate in which I grew up. All together shows the winter weather of northern Europe – a terrible cold and wind. In these difficult conditions, every ray of sunshine, happy like nothing else on earth. Such a climate means that people always stick together. So let us be together this winter, as the Northmen!"

Dr. Lúthersdóttir was very impressed: "Excellent use of color, great composition and beautiful depiction of movement and mood. An impressive depiction of Skaði indeed."

Mr. Parkhouse writes, "This picture demonstrates a professional quality of illustration. However, I don't see any great emphasis on mythological content. The artist has focused on the characteristics of climate and has done it very successfully with a cool palette and a very knowing use of composition."

I have a very hard time deciding which piece – Levi's or Ida's – I like better! This is a wonderfully original take on one of my favorite characters from Norse mythology. Beautiful work!

First Place (Tie): Ida M. Kozlowski

Jean-Hubert Rouppillard
Age 39
Sannois, Val-d’Oise, France

Jean-Hubert writes, "For me, the midwinter is the moment in the season cycle where the principles of Winter/Night/Death fall back in front of the forces of Creation/Day/Life. So I choose to represent it through the confrontation between jötnar and Thor, protector of Midgard. I try to divide my picture in two. Jötnar for one side – forces of winter, long nights and event negative chaos (with the avalanche). Thor for this other side – force of Life and Order (with the rising sun to symbolize the return of Life Forces)."

Dr. Lúthersdóttir says that the piece features "dramatic composition and good use of color. Interesting personification of the dramatic relationship the Norse had to nature ."

Mr. Parkhouse comments, "This is a lively and robust rendering of a dramatic event depicting the conflict of elemental forces. It's a very ambitious project, its impact being projected through the corresponding "angles of attack" of the main protagonists. However, I can't help feeling that the impact would be heightened if Thor had been outlined against an empty background rather than mountains and trees."

I really like the idea of a jötunn taking form as an avalanche using the weapon of an uprooted tree as a weapon. This captures a profound understanding of the natural forces behind the Norse myths in a powerful image.

Second Place (Tie): Jean-Hubert Rouppillard

Sam Flegal
Age 34
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Sam explains his work: "Frigga the All-Mother and Lady of Winter sitting atop her throne. She weaves the cosmos, holds the keys of Asgard, and wears the crown of winter. In the background are the souls of children who die young, forever in the care of the All-Mother. To the side of her throne a sprig of mistletoe hangs both as a symbol of her peace and the doom of Balder."

Mr. Parkhouse writes, "Sam has depicted a wonderful earth mother in this image, with many elements of mythology in their rightful place. Very complex compositions such as this can often look overly cluttered, but the skilful use of color has prevented this. Our eyes are drawn immediately to the Mother's warm smile and comforting anatomy. The decorative detail is also rendered with warmth and a great deal of heart."

Sam was a runner-up in the Midwinter Art Contest 2013, and he's a great guy, so it's nice to see him move up the rankings this time around. I'm always amazed by both Sam's technical skill as an artist and his love for Norse mythology – a love he clearly expresses in his striking works of art.

Second Place (Tie): Sam Flegal

Marc Macaluso
Age 40
Oberlin, Ohio, USA

Marc explains the elements of his piece: "I was working with the idea of midwinter as a time allowing more passing between the realms and a jötunn responsible for an ice storm over Stockholm. The jötunn is wearing a robe with the rune Þurisaz."

Dr. Lúthersdóttir writes that Marc's work is a "beautiful modern depiction of the jötnar as representatives of winter. Excellent composition, beautiful coloring."

Mr. Parkhouse comments as both artist and writer, "The color range here is very subtle and altogether appropriate for the subject. Depicting an elemental jötunn in a contemporary setting is an interesting and original idea. Marc has hit upon a story idea which might be well worth developing."

Like the other winning entries, Marc's work shows a very unique approach to the mythic material. He shows a jötunn in a way I had never imagined or seen portrayed by previous artists. Wonderful!

Third Place: Marc Macaluso

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