anonyrrie: Illustration Friday & Inspire Me Thursday - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Illustration Friday & Inspire Me Thursday - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?


The topics for this week's Illustration Friday (Opposites) and Inspire Me Thursday (Child's Play) challenges serendipitously came together when I started to thinking how some animals are portrayed in myth and literature with either positive or negative attributes, usually depending on the cultural context. The wolf is a perfect example.

Wolves, as predators, have historically been perceived by humans as mysterious, cunning, and dangerously bloodthirsty. Yet as an archetypal symbol that's both negative and positive, the wolf represents the union of opposites. Although in many mythologies and religions, the wolf is considered demonic and destructive, there are as well many examples of the wolf as the protector-companion. For example, in the Middle Ages, the ancient idea that men could be transformed into werewolves, half-human, half-animal creatures who roamed the streets at night and feasted on humans, became a widely accepted belief, attributing the transformation to the devil. Yet in Classical mythology, the wolf is the companion to the goddess Artemis, and it was a she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of ancient Rome.

The opposing images of the wolf appear in literature as well. A large body of folklore attests to the negative image the wolf has attained throughout history; an image that has in fact caused the word "wolf" to become a metaphor for wily humans (usually men) who prey on innocent, helpless creatures (usually women). Fairy tales such as "Little Red Riding Hood" bring the creature and the metaphor together in a story with a moral: "...young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf." In contrast, the Russian Folktale, "Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf", shows the wolf as a loyal friend who helps Prince Ivan achieve his goals and live happily ever after.

In nature, the wolf is a keystone predator, and as such, is an important part of its ecosystem. Prior to the 20th century, however, the wolf had been almost hunted out of existence in the United States and Europe, as it was erroneously perceived to be dangerous to humans and livestock. Fortunately, ecological research has caused more people to understand the importance of predators in the natural order, and there have been efforts to reintroduce the wolf to its former habitats.

(acrylic on 10" x 10" stretched canvas)

Check out my article on Andrea Pratt of Colouring Outside the Lines and her really outstanding art. If you don't know about her work, you're missing a wonderful experience!

56 Comments:

Blogger michael dailey said...

like ur commentary and ur beautiful painting to go with it

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Kaya said...

Gorgeous image and fascinating commentary. I got the feeling the wolf and moon were opposites, and the wolf is always yearning for her other half, the moon.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

You my darling constantly amaze me.

Your artwork and your teaching.

Takes my breath away.

Love to you

5:53 PM  
Blogger HARDWAX said...

I suspect human kind is more than a little jealous of a creature so, beautiful, wild and free, no wonder so many have been slaughtered.

The piece is beautiful and inspiring, and the narrative very informative and sad, but at least there is some desire to repopulate our country with these amzing creature. Strong work and wonderful to view!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Liz Jones said...

Oh, very good interpretation! I'm noticing a new trend in your color and style here-- very nice!

7:46 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I love the theme you've chosen and how you've extended the idea of the previous piece. Wolves and wolf behaviour are, strangely enough, a particular fascination of mine from both the standpoints of zoology and myths/archetypes. This has a lovely feel to it: clean design, nicely executed.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

I always learn so much from you Carla.
Love the silhouette of the wolf against another of your beautiful skies. this piece also has a lot of depth to it.

11:33 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Cool--another silhouette piece. I can see a whole book full of these by you, along with your writings. Nice job!

12:54 AM  
Blogger Loni said...

Great narrative as well as a fantastic peice. Nice job Carla! Excellent interpretation of the theme.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Jana Bouc said...

Beautiful painting. Thanks for educating people about the wolves.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Aravis said...

Wolves remain my favorite animal. Thanks for sharing their truth, and for capturing their essence so beautifully in your illustration! :0)

2:38 AM  
Blogger constanthing said...

I like your subject of the wolf's conflicting caricatures. The wolf is indeed a mysterious creature, inspiring both fear and awe. It's a thoughtful interpretation.

4:22 AM  
Blogger zordis said...

Powerful image still wulnerable. Great painting and information. Full of knowledge!

4:52 AM  
Blogger cristosova said...

A forceful image! And a good read.

PS: Have you heard about the renowned pianist Hélène Grimaud and her wolf center in New York?

6:15 AM  
Blogger frank h said...

carla, this piece is wonderful - so beautiful
really nice!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Julie Kieras said...

Carla,
I had to catch up on a few of your posts, but as always, lovely, thoughtprovoking and detailed.
I learned so much more about the various layers of meaning to the wolf from this post! And I FINALLY did another Illo Friday myself! :P Hope you're enjoying the summer! Julie

1:19 PM  
Blogger Brandi said...

Beautiful work! Wonderful detail and colors in the sky!

2:50 PM  
Blogger Robert McLaughlin said...

Hi Carla,

I can always count on you for thoughtful commentary. Your illustration and post really dig beneath the surface of the subject. I like the illustration and what you have to say.

I'm afraid that when I get around to it, my post will be quite unsubtle.

Ciao,
Robert

2:51 PM  
Blogger Loca said...

I could never think of those two themes together as you did it. Great job, wonderful drawing and amazing explanation, loved it all.
:))

3:15 PM  
Blogger haze mcelhenny said...

lovely use of color and an original take on the theme. your commentary is quite provocative and thought provoking.

5:15 PM  
Blogger georg said...

Hi Carla -

I like your comments and your wolf - I can say, I've been wiser after reading your post. Thanks for very fine comments and illo - as always.

Hugs from Denmark - georg

8:10 PM  
Blogger String said...

Lovely picture and great write up, I love wolves...now that would look good hanging on a wall...heh heh.

I have to say they are very uncanny and have a very intelligent way about them - and additionally of looking at a person. The wolf howl/cry is an amazing sound.

8:27 AM  
Blogger The Tart said...

Beautiful wolf. The sky is wonderful ... makes me think of the heat that still simmers over the lands in the night! ; )

SMooch,
The Tart
; )

9:44 AM  
Blogger Andrew Thornton said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog. However, as far as merging concept with imagery, I must take my hat off to you. You've provided quite an extensive literary companion to your illustration that was very well-informed.

Your sky reminds me of "Impression, soleil levant" by Monet. Perhaps it's the color combination or the loose brushwork. I also liked how your color choices were complimentary a.k.a. "opposite" colors. (Further playing into this week's theme.) It does this amazing push/pull with the silhouette. *Though my favorite part of your piece are the shapes. The shapes created by the mountains, the shapes in between the legs, the shape of the water broken up by the central image... all very well constructed and of varying sizes and configuration.

Good work!

10:01 AM  
Blogger Roy Blumenthal said...

Hey Carla...

Thanks for your comment on my piece.

Your wolf is very well painted, and evokes the mythical very powerfully for me.

Before I read your description below it, I was thinking, 'Hmmm... this would make a good tarot image.' Turns out it is one. Hehehehehe!

A response to Hardwax... I think the jealousies go way deeper... I think they're metaphorised jealousies towards 'the other'. In other words, the freedom and beauty of an enemy or rival (be it an individual or an entire culture) is transfered to the wolf. The wolf then becomes a safe recepticle of the hatred that is unsafe to place onto the original object of rivalry.

Blue skies
love
Roy

10:58 AM  
Blogger Amy Zaleski said...

Wolves have always fascinated me. I really enjoyed reading your post and the wolf's position in literature. The painting itself is so well done! I love your composition and the feeling of depth created through your use of the blue gradient on the mountains. The wolf makes a perfect centerpiece and I love how it is almost part of the mountains in silhouette and placement. The sky is gorgeous....I would love to be lucky enough to see this sunset! Thanks also for your kind words ~ I really respect your opinion!! :-)

12:04 PM  
Blogger melanienyc said...

what a beautiful piece!

12:11 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Wow! Girl you always intrig me with your art and stories! Thank you for taking the time to inspire us!

4:04 PM  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

A perfect set of illustrations with the horses; like they are right over the next hill...

4:58 PM  
Blogger firstborn said...

how cool is this?! thank you for sharing!

:) mary ann

12:16 AM  
Blogger Wee Cottage said...

Wow, your posts and art amaze me. I always love to read what you have come up with along with your wonderful artwork. My daughter is fasinated by wolves. I'm going to have her read this last entry you made. Thanks for inspiring and sharing.

1:31 AM  
Blogger miragee said...

Oh I really like the colors in this illo. The background is excellently done. Beautiful!

4:04 AM  
Blogger untamechildofnature said...

i wish i can write like you. Fantastic!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Frivolitea said...

So what do you think of the book Women Who Run With the Wolves? I have a copy but haven't read it yet. I know it was very popular a while back. I am betting that you have read it.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

Your animal series are beautiful!

11:13 AM  
Blogger Roz Foster said...

Thanks for the exploration of the wolf. As a culture we really do project an amalgam of all of our hopes and fears on it. Neat post and lovely silhouette.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Jaimie said...

your painting is beautiful and I'm always amazed at how much time and thought you put into each one of your posts.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Lu*** said...

Is really beautiful! it's so gratifying to look and read your post...:)

3:54 PM  
Blogger tiffinix said...

Beautiful painting! I love the silhouette and the evening colors. And what a fantastic exploration into the myth of the wolf. Lovely!

5:15 PM  
Blogger scarecrow said...

Very nice work!

Later

8:43 PM  
Blogger Shano said...

I can see how much your work has been inspired by Andrea! It is a wonderful thing to find inspiration in fellow artists. Although your color scheme remains the same, your art has taken on something new. I hope you have fun exploring that side!!

12:17 AM  
Blogger Sofia Barao said...

This artwork is amazing :) the colors everything :)
Thanks for your comment and yes the same heat here, humid arrggghh ....can't wait to have autumn back again :)

5:37 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Your commentary on the wolf is fascinating. It's interesting how one figure can have so many different meanings, but sad that in the past those meanings have translated into whether or not we care about protecting these animals.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Twisselman said...

Beautiful post on a persecuted animal.

7:39 PM  
Blogger albina said...

I love the painting and the text -- informative and affirming...

11:43 PM  
Blogger Christine Lim Simpson said...

Once again, I have learnt something from you. Thanks for sharing.

10:57 AM  
Blogger scribblesk said...

Enlightening and engaging commentary and imagery!

11:37 AM  
Anonymous carra said...

I've always found wolves both beautiful and intriguing. Just like your painting (I love the colours of the sky) and your text!

12:32 PM  
Blogger TXArtcGal said...

Beautiful as always! I love the color of the sky...wonderful!

3:51 PM  
Blogger Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Fabulous image and commentary, Carla--and I love Andrea Pratt, too, publshed her in Silk Creek Review and BloodrootZ

Great Wolf image. Mary :-D

11:11 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

oh carla.. i thank you... every week my daughter and i look forward to the carlacomment!...you always seem to appreciate what i am trying to acheive..and your so consistant! and i thank you

loved the pratt article... what amazing work.. was fascinated by her use of colour opposites as the underlay....
and your wolf pic... mmmmm colours....mmmm contrast..and your commentry... wonderous.
thanks again carla....look forward to hearing your next comment and seeing your next post
all the best to ye,
lea

3:07 AM  
Blogger flossy-p said...

I always learn so much from your illustration entries, and lovely colourful illos.

I was telling my partner today about how much affort you go to deliver personalised thoughtful comments to so many people. I think so many of us look forward to your comments each and every week. I also enjoy reading comments you've left for others.

Thank-you, you're a star.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Cez said...

beautiful illo...and commentary...wow!!!!!

9:54 AM  
Blogger Angela Rockett said...

This is a great image - soulful. And I love the juxtaposition between it and "child's play" in order to come up with "opposites". The rest of the commentary is great too. How do you do it all and still find the time to comment so thoughtuflly on so many other blogs, including mine?! (Thanks for that by the way, I really enjoy your comments.)

Thanks also for re-introducing me to Andrea Pratt's work. I had noticed her a couple of months ago, but lost the link.

11:19 AM  
Blogger fenris said...

very interesting stuff. and i like your wolf, he or she is very well drawn. i like how the lake frames him (her!).

5:16 PM  
Blogger Ian T. said...

I'm imagining this one and "Clean" as a pair of swap-cards... or maybe greeting cards.

Cheers,

Ian T.
(does anyone remember swap-cards? :))

8:42 PM  

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