Monday, November 18, 2019

Art Contest – Midwinter 2019

Art by Hynek Šnajdr (Czech Republic), Teen First Place Winner, Midwinter Art Contest 2013


The theme for The Norse Mythology Blog's eighth art contest is different than it has been in the past. Be sure to carefully read the entire Contest Theme section so that you understand the assignment.

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

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

I strongly suggest doing some reading and research on myth and folklore 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 mythology, browse The Norse Mythology Blog Archive. You can also click here to check out the past Midwinter Art Contest winners in the three categories: kid, teen, and adult. Most importantly – be creative!


Your artwork entry must somehow relate to the character and legends of the god Odin and the celebration of midwinter.

This complex god has many aspects. Your job is to find something about Odin that speaks to you and inspires you, then combine it with some aspect of midwinter and create your own original work of art.

Art by Kamil Jadczak (Poland), Adult First Place Winner, Midwinter Art Contest 2013

Odin has connections to magic, runes, wisdom, poetry, song, creativity, performance, travel, hospitality, gifting, community, fatherhood, relationships, religion, ritual, ravens, wolves, trees, battle, life, death, and standing against evil. There certainly is a lot to draw on for your entry!

To get you started on your art project, here is how the Icelandic author Snorri Sturluson describes Odin in his Edda (c. 1220).

Odin is highest and most ancient of the Æsir [gods]. He is called All-father, for he is father of all gods. He is also called Val-father [father of the slain], since all those who fall in battle are his adopted sons. He assigns them places in Valhalla [hall of the slain] and Vingolf [hall of friends], and they are then known as Einheriar [lone fighters].

He is also called Hanga-god [god of the hanged], Hapta-god [god of prisoners], Farma-god [god of cargoes], and he called himself by various other names.

Most names have been given to him as a result of the fact that with all the branches of languages in the world, each nation finds it necessary to adapt his name to their language for invocation and prayers for themselves, but some events giving rise to these names have taken place in his travels and have been made the subject of stories, and you cannot claim to be a wise man if you are unable to tell of these important happenings.

[adapted from translation by Anthony Faulkes]

Snorri also writes about Odin in Saga of the Ynglings and describes his appearance, abilities, and attributes.

When Odin of the Æsir came to the Northlands, and with him the gods, it is said with truth that they created and taught those skills which men have long afterwards practiced. Odin was the foremost of all, and from him they learned all the skills, because he first knew them all and more besides.

And it is to be said, for what sake he was so much honored, these things bear on it: he was so fair and glorious of aspect, that when he sat with his friends, all laughed heartily. But when he was in battle, then he appeared fearsome to his foes. And it was due to this, that he knew those skills by which he changed hue and form in every manner which he willed.

Another was that he talked so well smoothly that all who heard thought it alone true. He spoke all in verses, such as now that is recited which is named skaldskap [poetry]. He and his temple priests were named ljodasmidir ([song smiths] because that skill arose from them in the Northlands.

Odin changed shapes. Then the body lay as if asleep or dead, and he was then bird or beast, fish or serpent and traveled in a moment to faraway lands on his errands or another man’s.

He also knew to do that with words alone, to extinguish fire and calm the sea and turn winds every way that he willed, and he had a ship, which was named Skidbladnir [split-wood bladed], in which he traveled over great seas, but it could be folded together like cloth.

Odin had with him Mimir’s head, and it said to him many tidings from other worlds, and sometimes he woke up dead men from the earth or sat himself under hanged men. Because of this he was called draugadrottinn [the lord of ghosts] or hangadrottinn [the lord of the hanged].

He owned two ravens which he had trained with speech. They flew widely around the lands and said many tidings to him. From these things he became immensely wise.

He taught all of these skills with runes and those songs which are named galdrar. Because of this, the Æsir were called galdrasmidir [spell-smiths].

Odin knew and himself performed that skill from which most strength followed, which is named seidr [sorcery], and from it he was able to know the fates of men and things not yet happened, and also to cause death to men or bad luck or lack of health, and also to take wit or strength from men and give it to others.

Odin knew all treasure in the earth, where it was hidden, and he knew those songs which opened up before him the earth and boulders and stones and the burial mounds, and he bound with words alone those who dwelt within, and went in and took there such as he willed.

From these powers he became very famous. His enemies feared him, but his friends trusted him and believed in his power and in him.

[translated by Karl E. H. Seigfried]

In the anonymous Saga of the Volsungs, Odin takes his favorite disguised form of an old wanderer and enters the hall of King Volsung, his own grandson.

It is now told that when people were sitting by the fires in the evening, a man came into the hall. He was not known to the men by sight.

He was dressed in this way: he wore a mottled cape that was hooded, he was barefoot, and he had linen breeches tied around his legs. As he walked up to Barnstock [child-trunk, the tree in the middle of the hall], he held a sword in his hand, while over his head was a low-hanging hood. He was very tall and gray with age, and he had only one eye.

He brandished the sword and thrust it into the trunk so that it sank up to the hilt. Words of welcome failed everyone. Then the man began to speak: "He who draws this sword out of the trunk shall receive it from me as a gift, and he himself shall prove that he has never carried a better sword than this one."

Then this old man walked out of the hall, and nobody knew who he was or where he was going.

[adapted from translation by Jesse L. Byock]

There are many tales of Odin that you can read to inspire your entry. A good place to start is by reading Children of Odin by Padraic Colum, which retells the major Norse myths and legends in family-friendly form. You can download the book for free from The Norse Mythology Online Library; it can be found in the Retellings and Reinterpretations section.

You can do any of these things:

1. Illustrate some version of Odin and some aspect of midwinter
2. Illustrate the feeling of Odin and midwinter
4. Create something inspired by Odin and midwinter
5. Draw something connecting Odin and midwinter to other characters or concepts from Norse myth and Germanic folklore

You must do this one thing:

Include a short explanation with your entry detailing how your work relates to Odin and midwinter


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


I am extremely proud to announce the judges for this year's Midwinter 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.

Liam Sharp
I've loved Liam Sharp's art for decades. From his 1980s series for the legendary UK weekly comic 2000 AD (with writer John Wagner) to his latest work on DC's The Green Lantern (with writer Grant Morrison), Liam manages the impressive feat of being both uniquely innovative and deeply engaged with the tradition of comics greats from around the world.

Liam Sharp's mythic art for The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman

Expanding on the legacy of artists like Moebius, Philippe Druillet, and Richard Corben, Liam slows time for his audience by packing immense amounts of urban, natural, and cosmic detail into each page. You can't simply flip through a comic illustrated by Liam; you have to immerse yourself in his universe and absorb everything he's sending.

For 2000 AD, he's drawn many adventures of future lawman Judge Dredd, including several with the great chinny one facing off against the notorious PJ Maybe. In the early 1990s, he co-created the character Death's Head II for Marvel UK.

Over here in the United States, Liam's dizzying amount of work for Marvel has included stints drawing Venom, X-Men, Hulk, Spider-Man, Man-Thing, and Magik. For DC, he's drawn Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Justice League, and many others.

Liam dove deep into Celtic mythology for his series The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman, which he both wrote and illustrated. His ongoing Green Lantern series with the brilliant writer Grant Morrison has had a cosmic focus that famously included Hal Jordan arresting God.

Liam has already established himself as a living legend, and I'm very happy that he's agreed to judge the contest this year.

You can learn more about Liam by visiting his official website, liking his public Facebook page, and following him on Twitter.

Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir
Longtime readers of The Norse Mythology Blog will remember Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir from her appearances in the articles "Elf Kerfuffle in Iceland" and "Letters from the Elf Church."

Poster for the new documentary about Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir

The Álfagarðurinn (elf garden) website describes Icelander Ragnhildur as "a seer, artist and a friend of the elves and huldufolk [hidden people]. She has since childhood been in contact with the elves and spirits of other dimensions. The elves and huldufolk asked her to be their spokesperson, and she has been called the Elf Whisperer and the Elf Lady. She does lectures and workshops about the elves where she emphasizes how important it is for the sake of Mother Earth that man and nature beings like elves and huldufolk work together to stop the forces of greed and disruption that endanger life on Earth."

The Seer and the Unseen, a new documentary about Ragnhildur, is currently being screened around the world. The film follows Ragnhildur for two years as she and Friends of the Lava Conservation stand against bulldozers and police while a new road is built over a lava field outside Reykjaviík that she says will harm the homes of the elves who live there. The documentary has received rave reviews from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

I'm very thankful that Ragnhildur has agreed to serve as one of the judges, and I'm really looking forward to her comments on the entries.

You can learn more about Ragnhildur by reading these articles on her relationship with the elves or visiting the Álfagarðurinn website and Facebook page. You can learn more about The Seer and the Unseen by visiting the film's website.


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

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


1. Art must be done with crayon, marker, 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 20, 2019)
3. Your location (city, state/province, country)
4. A short description of your artwork explaining how it relates to Odin and midwinter
5. Your scanned artwork (as an attachment)

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


11:59 p.m. (Chicago time) on December 20, 2019


Liam, Ragnhildur. 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!

Contest winners will be featured on sites and pages of Norse Mythology Online

The three winners in each age group will be featured on the many sites and pages of Norse Mythology Online:

The Norse Mythology Blog

The Norse Mythology Facebook Page

The Norse Mythology Twitter Page

The Norse Mythology Pinterest Page

Your art and your description of it will be posted on all of the above outlets and will remain permanently in the The Norse Mythology Blog Archive.

December 23: Kid winners announced
December 24: Teen winners announced
December 25: Adult winners announced

Good luck to everyone!


David M Brigance said...

Are those of us that use 3d rendering /modeling allowed to enter? Examples being Poser Daz Studio , Blender and such..

Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried said...

Digital art is totally fine. Just submit your art as a single image.

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