I was blessed to grow up in an environment rich in art. Lahaina, HI boasts one of the healthiest collections of art galleries in the United States, and my father was friends with a couple of artists and gallery owners. This was partially due to his brief flirtation with doing art himself, he loved sculpture and painting. But, as he said, along with discovering his talent, he discovered what it means to be a "starving artist" and went into real estate. Lost the career in art, kept the friends in the business. So I have many fond memories in childhood of being surrounded by art, and that's transferred into adulthood as an appreciation of art and art history, and my own love of creating art.
One particular theme of my art that comes out over and over again is drawing women and girls. I drew illustrations to stories I wrote, and almost all the protagonists were female. I won a prize from my school in grade two for a story I wrote and illustrated of a group of girl astronauts boarding a magic ship to go to all the planets in the solar system to meet the alien inhabitants of each planet. All of the aliens were girls, and at the end, they all got on the magic ship together and had a picnic on Pluto. I had two major interests at the time: Astronomy and art, and they went together nicely in stories like this.
Since there were lots of prints of artwork in my house, I often tried to imitate what I saw in the prints, and most of them were pictures of women. Women riding horses, women staring in admiration at vases full of flowers, women sleeping and dreaming of dancing, women taking baths. I grew up surrounded by women, and my art reflects this. In my childhood, it was amazing for me to see women in art, for a variety of reasons. The most blatant two are related to imagination and role models: Imagination-wise, I could make up stories about the women in the pictures. The woman looking at the flower vase had made up the arrangement herself, and was entering it in a contest to win a prize she really wanted. The horse riding woman was out to rescue her kingdom from a two-headed dragon from Mars. There was no predetermined storyline I had to follow, like in a movie or a book. It was all up to me.
Secondly, that freedom of interpretation meant that I could find inspiration in these painted figures. They were a sight more inspiring and interesting than any Disney Princess or Skydancer. It inspired my own art, and my crayola markers filled pages of my father's printer paper (Sorry, Dad) with pictures of me and the women in the paintings on adventures. But there was a down side as well.
To this day, I can't draw a decent male. I have tried time in and time out. I can do women, monsters, animals, children, landscapes, and mystical creatures that are vaguely to not-so-very humanoid, but human men continue to be beyond the graspings of my pencil.
I still feel very frustrated by this, and I am trying my best to learn how to draw a human man. I won't give up on it. But I don't feel as bad about it as I used to. It can sometimes be irritating, but I've discovered that it's not as big of an impediment as one might think. Why? Because most of the subjects I draw and the stories I write are about women. And why not? They're my stories, drawing from my experiences. I shouldn't have to apologize for flooding my pages with woman after woman.
But as it turns out, I am not alone. So, to commemorate this post, I'm going to picspam with other women who draw primarily women. Feel free to check out their art, and I hope you enjoy their stuff as much as I do. And whether you are an artist, a writer, or a lyricist, remember that your art is yours and while you can constantly look to improve and expand your horizons, do so on your own terms.
Frida Kahlo (Come on, you knew I couldn't go this far without mentioning her in this topic)
Tamara De Lempicka (Margaret Atwood fans might recognize her work from the cover of The Penelopiad)