Sunday, December 31, 2023

Art Contest – Adult Winners, Midwinter 2023

Here are the adult winners! This year's Midwinter Art Contest celebrates the tenth anniversary of our international Norse Mythology Art Contest here at The Norse Mythology Blog. We received many amazing entries from around the world in the adult division this year, and it was very difficult to choose between them.

You can view the winning work in the teen division and check out comments from the judges by clicking here.

I'd again like to thank my fellow judge Lee Carter (UK artist for 2000 AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, and many other great comics). This contest would not have been possible without his kind donation of time and insight.

The assignment was to create a piece that somehow relates to the character and legends of the Norse gods and goddesses and the celebration of midwinter. There was a really wide range of conceptual and technical approaches in the adult group this year, and it was very hard for us to rank them. Congratulations to all who entered! We are very thankful for all the artists who shared their creativity with us.

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

Nordhild Siglinde Wetzler
Age 25
Småland, Sweden

Nordhild explains her winning entry:
When the days get to their darkest point, we brighten them by spending time with the ones who are closest to us. That doesn't just mean family and friends but also the ones who deserve our time and attention the most – our pet companions. I imagine this is the same even for gods and goddesses, who surely have even more busy schedules than us.

It was hard to find straightforward information connecting Freyja to Yule, but – having two cats myself – I felt most drawn to her. With her being the goddess of love and fertility, I feel those are two things closely related to Yule, which is about the love we have for the ones around us as well as the rebirth that midwinter stands for.

I imagined her sitting in her hall Fólkvangr, surrounded by her pets, enjoying an apple and perhaps waiting for the first guests to arrive to celebrate midwinter.
Nordhild won second place in the teen division of the Midwinter 2013 Art Contest, way back in the contest's very first year. She won second place again in the teen division of the Midsummer 2014 Art Contest. In the Midsummer 2015 Art Contest, she won first place in the teen division.

This year, she moved up to the adult division and tied for first place. I love the calm power emanating from Freyja and her cats. The whiteness of Freyja's wonderfully rendered dress, of the cats, and of the snow outside contrasts beautifully with the warmth of the candlelight and the food and drink of the midwinter celebration. Nordhild really captures the warm spirit of the holiday.

Lee writes, "The perspective works great and draws you in towards the character, then you're gifted with a mountain range that lets your imagination wander."

Congratulations, Nordhild! It's been wonderful to see your art grow in depth and maturity.

First Place (Tie): Nordhild Siglinde Wetzler

Eleanor Rose James
Age 22
United Kingdom

Eleanor writes this about her entry:
I was inspired by the imagery and tales associated with Skaði, the jötunn and goddess who embodies the winter's spirit. Residing at the top of the tallest of frozen mountains, I aimed to depict Skaði as an ethereal elemental and natural force, a sharp frost that sweeps across the land in a graceful and deadly dance.
Lee comments, "A wonderful palette of cool winter colors with a well thought out composition. You can feel the movement and the cold winds."

The colors in Eleanor's entry really are wonderfully chilly. I love the quietly determined look on Skaði's face as she glides across the snow and ice. This is a work of art that really inspires the viewer to imagine the stories that hover behind it.

First Place (Tie): Eleanor Rose James

Dawn Reynolds
Age 44
Columbia, Tennessee, USA

Dawn wrote a very detailed essay on all the elements of her artwork and their connections to Norse mythology. Here's an edited version of her lengthy statement about her image of Kvasir:
Kvasir is a god created from either the saliva of the gods or chewed-up berries spit together as a pledge of peace after the war between the Aesir and the Vanir.

According to lore, the dwafs Fjalarr and Galarr didn't like him, so they killed him and drained his blood. They mixed it with honey to make mead. Anyone who drank it could become prolific in poetry.

In the United States, we could celebrate with beer (hops) or a beverage possibly made from cranberries to represent the berries chewed up and spat out that manifested his creation.

Midwinter where I live is often represented with the colors red and green. We have evergreen trees and holly berries. However, I chose to use gigantic green hops and red cranberries. The snow is all around. What's in the cup? Is it his blood and honey? Is it an intoxicating drink of chewed up, spat out berries?

The hops represented are obnoxiously large. There are two to represent Fjalarr and Galarr. The symbols on Kvasir's cloak fasteners are bees to represent honey. The runes around the border and along the cloak seams are the ones that stood out to me the most in relation to this god of peace and how he became so.

These runes in the painting are meant as an offering from me to Kvasir. They are for protection, harmony, friendship, home, and peace, as well as knowing the hard times that created the wisdom to seek peace.

Kvasir is not alone in this painting. He is observing those who have gathered and is prepared if conflict breaks out. But it shouldn't.

Peace, as we gather at midwinter – isn't it all anybody wants? Not everyone can have that. The challenges may come and even conflict. But we all have mysteries and magical abilities to overcome.

I personally write songs and lyrics to overcome difficulties. The poem on my painting is actually lyrics to a song I wrote called "Dark is Closer" that can be found on YouTube. Without poetry, we wouldn't have lyrics for songs.

There is great peacemaking magic in music and lyrics. This is why Kvasir inspires me.
Dawn was the third-place winner in the adult division of the Midwinter 2019 Art Contest and runner-up in the adult division of the Midsummer 2020 Art Contest. It's great to see her back again with an entry that won her highest ranking yet.

Lee writes, "An intricate piece with your attention being draw towards his eyes, trusting and inviting. Wonderful work with a range of colous that fit really well together."

There's a wonderful sense of welcome and peace in this work with an emanating warmth that truly expresses the thoughtful joy of the midwinter season. I greatly appreciate all the thought that Dawn always puts into her work – thought that brings depth and emotional resonance her art.

Second Place: Dawn Reynolds

Abigail Epplett
Age 28
Uxbridge, Massachusetts, USA

Abigail writes about her artwork:
In this quiet winter scene, bright Baldr and blind Höðr walk together, perhaps on their way to a midwinter gathering. The mistletoe along the path foreshadows their fates.

The body positions of the gods are deliberately anachronistic, as they demonstrate the best way to act as a sighted guide and to navigate with a blind cane.
This entry shows a very different technical approach from the others and – even while being set outside – has a unique wary of communicating a deep feeling of warmth and togetherness. The moment within the mythological timeline in which the artwork is set is interesting in a way that sparks reflection. Abigail shows both artistic skill and a creative imagination. Congratulations on a wonderful work!

Lee comments, "What a wonderul picture! A real sense of friendship and ease, happy and content with each other's company as they wander down the avenue of trees. Great costume design."

Third Place: Abigail Epplett

Jissey Raye L. Rafanan
Age 32
Zamboanga City, Philippines

Jissey's explanation of this wonderful piece:
The artwork depicts some members of the Asgardian pantheon – Freyja, Odin, Thor, and Tyr – around the Yule log. I opted to have them stand in a circle around a Yule log being burned while at the base of Yggdrasil.

Odin, with his back to the viewer, presides over the ceremony, in keeping with his station as the head of the Norse pantheon. Freyja is at his left, due to her role in the partition of the Einherjar for those to attend to her in Fólkvangr. Thor is at his right, since Mjölnir is used in consecration rites.
It's always amazing to see entries come in from all over the world, to learn how far Norse mythology has traveled, and to enjoy wonderful artistic interpretations like this beautiful artwork by Jissey – the piece that most closely sticks to this year's contest theme. Somehow, Jissey manages to draw us into the warm moment even without any of the main characters full facing the viewer. I also greatly appreciate the attention to mythological detail in the portrayal of the Norse deities.

Lee comments, "Really nice rendering of the costumes and armor. The blue shadow across the snow puts a coolness in the air but with the fire keeping a really nice ambience."

Runner-Up: Jissey Raye L. Rafanan

Thank you to all who entered this winter. We really enjoyed everyone's work. See you when the next contest rolls around!

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