Thursday, May 14, 2015

Art Contest – Midsummer 2015


The theme for The Norse Mythology Blog's fifth art contest is a bit different. Be sure to carefully read the entire Contest Theme section so that you understand the assignment.

During the summer solstice on June 21, those of us in the northern hemisphere will experience the longest day and shortest night of the year. This may seem early in the season, but it’s really the middle. From this point on, days will get shorter as we slowly move back towards winter.

Midsummer Eve Bonfire by Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup

Throughout Northern Europe, there are local traditions that celebrate midsummer. Some of these practices preserve very old rituals. Your original piece of visual art should capture the midsummer spirit of Norse mythology.

I strongly suggest doing some reading and research on the Norse myths before you begin your artwork. What characters and concepts can you discover? Can you think of a way to relate them to the contest theme?

If you need some ideas about Norse mythology, browse The Norse Mythology Blog Archive. You can also check out the winners of the Midsummer 2014 Art Contest in the three categories: kid, teen and adult. Most importantly – be creative!


Your artwork entry must somehow relate to this excerpt from the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál ("Sayings of Sigrdrifa") from the Poetic Edda, the great collection of mythological and heroic poems from medieval Iceland.

Sigurð discovers the Valkyrie – Willy Pogany (1920)

At this point in the poem, the dragonslayer Sigurð has just woken the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa (who may or may not be the heroine Brynhild under another name). She had been mystically put to sleep by the god Odin as punishment for vanquishing his chosen hero in battle.

As she wakes, the Valkyrie sings a beautiful song of celebration. In the classic 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows, she sings:

Hail, day! Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win.

Hail to the gods! Ye goddesses, hail,
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.

You can do any of these things:

1. Illustrate the scene of Sigurð and Sigrdrífa
2. Illustrate the words of the song sung by Sigrdrífa
3. Illustrate the feeling of the scene
4. Illustrate the feeling of the song
5. Create something inspired by the scene
6. Create something inspired by the song
7. Draw something connecting the song to other Norse myth characters or concepts

You must do this one thing:

Include an explanation with your entry explaining how your work relates to the poem.


In this contest, Marvel Comics characters are NOT considered part of Norse mythology. Art with imagery from comic books or movies will NOT be accepted. Do some reading and research on Norse myth, then base your imagery on what you learn!

Want to learn more about Sigurð and Sigrdrífa?

Read the entire poem in English by clicking here.

* Includes introduction and notes by Bellows

Read a kid-friendly version of the story here.
* Sigrdrífa is called Brynhild in this version


I am extremely proud to announce the judges for the art contest. I greatly respect both of these incredibly talented people, and I'm very happy that they agreed to participate this year. The three of us will judge the entries together.

Simon Fraser
This brilliant Scottish artist is one of my absolutely favorite comics creators. I've been following his work since it first appeared in the UK's 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine in the mid-1990s, and I'm continually amazed by his fusion of Bollandesque clarity of line, Corbenish depth of color and Mœbiusistic level of detail with a determinedly personal vision.

Simon Fraser
Simon's work with writer Robbie Morrison on the Megazine's Shimura series was fantastic, but the pair's collaboration on their co-creation Nikolai Dante was revelatory.

Between 1997 and 2012, the adventures of the Russian rogue happened in real time. The characters aged and changed, loved and lost, lived and died. In my four decades as a comic book fanatic, I have never been moved by any title as deeply as I was by this series. Years later, I still can't think of the series without feeling a tug of emotion. It's a tremendously powerful and perfectly unique work, and Simon's art deserves the highest accolades than can be given.

Nikolai Dante with friends, enemies & frenemies
Art by Simon Fraser

He has also made his mark on the legendarium of Judge Dredd himself, drawing the adventures of the future lawman to scripts by creator John Wagner, Robbie Morrison, Gordon Rennie and John Smith.

Simon is currently gaining a new legion of fans with his wonderful work on Doctor Who for Titan Comics. You can check out Simon's comics art, illustration and portraits at his wonderful website,

Dr. Merrill Kaplan
One of today's strongest voices in the field of Scandinavian studies, Merrill is Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Ohio State University. She's also Associate Professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at the Center for Folklore Studies and Affiliated Faculty with the Department of Comparative Studies. On top of all that, she's Director of the Scandinavian Program Faculty at the university.

Dr. Merrill Kaplan

Merrill teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Norse mythology, medieval Icelandic saga, Old Norse language and related subjects. She has published several academic articles and co-edited the collection News from Other Worlds: Studies in Nordic Folklore, Mythology and Culture (2012). Last week, she hosted the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. I'm exhausted just thinking about everything she does!

She studied with John Lindow at the University of California at Berkeley, where she completed her PhD in 2006 with a dissertation on The Irruption of the Past in Nornagests þáttr and Allied Texts. Her undergraduate degree at Harvard University was in Folklore and Mythology with a thesis on "Re-Evaluating Ragnarök: An Examination of the Gosforth Cross as a Celtic Christian Monument."

You can learn more about Merrill at her faculty page, and you can find out about the Scandinavian Program at OSU by clicking here.


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

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


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 June 19, 2015)
3. Your location (city, state/province, country)
4. A short description of your artwork that explains how it relates to the poem
5. Your artwork (as an attachment)

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


Midnight (Chicago time) of June 19, 2015


Simon, Merrill 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 all
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.

June 22: Kid winners announced
June 23: Teen winners announced
June 24: Adult winners announced

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

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This contest sounds wonderful and, as a Scandinavian artist who focuses primarily on Norse mythology, I would eagerly submit my work - however, as I sculptor, it appears I am excluded from participating. Please consider broadening the scope of this contest in 2016 to include 3-dimensional work and I will be the first to submit under the new category.

~Aric Jorn

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