Concerning the New Banner Design

It is my understanding that some people do not like the new banner/header design, with a specific complaint being that the little girl is a terrible artist. This, to me, is rather beside the point. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but children on the whole are not terribly accomplished artists. In fact, the messiness of her writing, and the fact that she clearly takes pride in it anyway, is, I think, far more characteristic of what children are like, and therefore a better reflection of what Pigtails represents. I know there may be some tendency among certain followers of our site to romanticize young girls. That’s fine to a point, and we have certainly not eschewed art that falls along those lines, but that is not, and never has been, the point of Pigtails in Paint. Before I say more, I would like to take the opportunity to post what I have said in private to Ron with respect to the new banner:

I rather like the idea that the title is not immediately legible and that it takes a few seconds of work to make it out. That will make it more memorable, since people must actively engage with it instead of just glossing over it. Which, I think, is a fundamental reflection of what good art is about, so the banner better represents what our site is. There are layers to it. It would be easy to make it all very pretty and simple—that’s how my earliest banners looked—but girls aren’t just pretty and simple, and that’s the point. The title reflects that they can be rough around the edges sometimes, but to me that adds to their charm. And it’s one thing to have a simple design when you’re just starting out, but we’ve hopefully moved beyond that. We are a well-established site now, and we’ve been through a lot. The new banner I think captures that complexity. The girl has made her mark, so to speak, and it cuts against the status quo, violates the simply ornamental. Like our girl (maybe we should give our mascot a name), we have made a mark, and we did so on our own terms. Anyone could post images that are simply pleasing and non-challenging—what we’re doing is exploring aspects of girlhood that much of society would rather we didn’t. There have been several attempts to silence our voice, but we didn’t let that stop us, did we?

That is the philosophical basis for the new design. I think it is a respectable goal for us to move past the pleasingly ornamental, which can be equated with vapidity, sentimentality and triviality. We are an art blog, and art takes many forms, not all of them immediately pleasant to the eye. As an artist myself, I know that the best art is often initially challenging to the viewer. That being said, a banner must first and foremost be functional. If it does not convey the information it is meant to convey, then it fails. Some followers of the site have expressed that the ‘Pigtails in Paint’ lettering is much too difficult to read, particularly for those viewers for whom English is not their first language, and that is problematic.

Thus, I will alter the banner design in the next few days to make the lettering more legible. I will not redesign the entire banner, or stray too far from the original concept—I stand by that. I will, however, try to make the lettering more legible to Pigtail’s readers, including our foreign fans. The new banner should be completed sometime before this coming weekend. Thank you. – Pip

Poster Art: ‘Logan’

I’m doing a new series that focuses on poster art for girl-related films, television shows, etc., starting with the upcoming X-Men film Logan. This film is set in the near future when most of the mutants have been wiped out. In this context Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, is charged with protecting a young mutant named Laura, better known as X-23, who, in the comics at least, is actually a female clone of Wolverine. The character is portrayed by the super-talented Dafne Keen.  If she is, in fact, Logan’s clone, then she was well-cast because their resemblance is remarkable. I don’t know about you but I am quite excited for this film, which hits theaters on March 3rd in US venues.

The first poster is actually the official poster for the film. It only shows X-23’s hand, but I love the juxtaposition of her small, seemingly vulnerable hand against Woverine’s deadly claws.

Artist Unknown – Logan (poster)

The next one was illustrated by comic book artist Babs Tarr (best known for her stint on the Batgirl series). I think it perfectly captures X-23 in all her adorable fierceness. I certainly wouldn’t want to cross her!

Babs Tarr – Logan (poster)

This last one is my favorite. It references all those fantastic illustrated film posters from the late 70s and the 80s we all know and love, most of which were done by Drew Struzan. This poster is for the IMAX edition of the film and was illustrated by Dave Rapoza.

Dave Rapoza – Logan (IMAX poster)

 

Johann Baptist Reiter

Austrian painter Johann Baptist Reiter found success as a portraitist in the Biedermeier era, which somewhat overlapped Neoclassicism. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and then got his start painting porcelain, doing a few paintings in between. After winning the Lampi-Preis for an exhibited work, he switched to doing paintings pretty much exclusively, building up his career with genre pieces and then portraits.

What’s interesting about this piece is that it is quite an informal pose, a rarity for the period. I’ve seen plenty of photographs of children in similar poses, and even a few more contemporary paintings and illustrations, but this may be the earliest example of this pose in a painted portrait. Face propped upon one arm, the girl wears a somewhat bored expression. You can easily picture her swinging her feet back and forth as she waits for Herr Reiter to hurry up and finish painting her portrait so she can go outside and play.

Johann Baptist Reiter – Die zernagte Puppe (1845)

Three from Mabel Rollins Harris (And One from William Fulton Soare)

Mabel Rollins Harris was a pinup/calendar artist whose most popular period was in the 1930s. She specialized in cheesecake-style women, female nudes and little girls. I confess I’m not particularly fond of her work overall. I find it generally uninspired, and I prefer strong lines and darker colors to the soft glowing look of Harris’s work. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of pastels in general. But she did produce a few notable pieces. The curly-top look of some of her little girls was clearly inspired by Shirley Temple, who was enjoying her greatest success during the same period. And the half-dressed toddlers in Look Who’s Here are fairly charming, I think.

Mabel Rollins Harris – Contemplating the Cookie Jar

Mabel Rollins Harris – Bedtime

Mabel Rollins Harris – Bedtime (detail)

Edit: I originally had two versions of the following image posted here, neither of which I was fully satisfied with. I have now replaced them with this superior version sent to me by one of our readers. Thanks, Lester! – Pip

Mabel Rollins Harris – Look Who’s Here

Mutoworld: Mabel Rollins Harris

Compare Harris’s work against this piece  by William Fulton Soare, which, while rendered in the same style and medium, I find to be a much more interesting and accomplished piece. Soare studied under master artist Dean Cornwell, and it shows.

William Fulton Soare – Mother and Child

Pulp Artists: William Fulton Soare

A Girl Playing Astragaloi

This is one of the earliest known works of art in which the sole subject is a little girl. There are older works—primarily ancient Egyptian wall art—that include girls as part of a family portrait, as well as some funerary stele for deceased Roman children that may be older, but this is a rare example of Greco-Roman art focusing on the young girl as a subject in her own right (though this piece too may have served as a memorial for a young daughter who had passed away), and that makes it particularly fascinating for lovers of girl art. The ancient Greeks and Romans of course created a lot of sculpture that captured the adult form—male and female—and occasionally young boys, but it seems girls were considered of very little interest to classical aesthetes.

The game she’s playing, astragaloi—sometimes called knucklebones—is one of the oldest known games in existence and provides us with the origin of the modern games of dice and jacks.  Although the game was called knucklebones, it was usually played with the astragalus (ankle or hock) bones of sheep, hence the name.  The girl appears to be somewhere between ten and twelve years old and is probably upper class, perhaps the daughter of a senator.  Though the sculptor of this piece is not known, it has been dated to 150-200 CE and is known to have originated in Rome.  The original version is now housed in the Altes Museum in Berlin.

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (1)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (2)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (3)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (4)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (5)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (6)

Now, here’s something really cool.  Sketchfab has a complete three-dimensional scan of this that you can spin around with your cursor and observe from any direction.  If only every other sculpture of interest to us had one of those!

Henri Émile Martinet

Here’s a lovely little Art Deco sculpture from Henri Émile Martinet. What I most love about this piece is the easy, unforced stance the little girl takes. There’s very little about Martinet on the web, but I do know he was a student of sculptor Charles Valton, and he became well-known in his lifetime for his sculptural portraits of early 20th century luminaries.

Henri Émile Martinet – Jeune fille nue debout (1930) (1)

Henri Émile Martinet – Jeune fille nue debout (1930) (2)

Henri Émile Martinet – Jeune fille nue debout (1930) (3)

The Art of Artlessness: Motherhood, Warts and All

Photographer and feminist Anna Ogier-Bloomer has spent the last few years documenting her life as the mother of a baby (now toddler) girl, Violet. In keeping with Ogier-Bloomer’s philosophy as a documentarian of the mundanities and biological realities of motherhood, the images are not always pretty, but they are genuinely fascinating.

This image, taken the first night home with the new baby, shows Ogier-Bloomer with her still-bloated body after the recent birth. The photographer’s mother lies behind her.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - First night home, 2013

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – First night home, 2013

Anna Ogier- Bloomer - Asleep, week one, 2013

Anna Ogier- Bloomer – Asleep, week one, 2013

Anna Ogier- Bloomer - Grandpa had a cold the first time he met my daughter, Cincinnati, Ohio 2014

Anna Ogier- Bloomer – Grandpa had a cold the first time he met my daughter, Cincinnati, Ohio 2014

Several of the images feature Ogier-Bloomer breastfeeding her daughter. Breastfeeding in public has become a battleground for mothers’ rights in the last few years as more and more mothers are choosing to forsake bottled formula for breast milk owing to its many health benefits for the baby. Breastfeeding also helps the baby to bond with its mother.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Tug, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Tug, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Splayed, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Splayed, 2014

Contrast these images with that of Violet’s father bottle-feeding her, where only his hand is visible. This composition somewhat alienates the father, making him feel more emotionally distant from the baby than the intimate images of mother breastfeeding her.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Evening feeding with Daddy, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Evening feeding with Daddy, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Nursing and peeing, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Nursing and peeing, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Violet hot, removing her pants, Los Angeles, California 2015

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Violet hot, removing her pants, Los Angeles, California 2015

In addition to Ogier-Bloomer’s photos of her own family (largely documented in the two series Letdown and Family Pictures), she also sometimes captures the children of friends and relatives.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Backyard pool, Los Angeles

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Backyard pool, Los Angeles

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Alanni and Mia in rashguards, Los Angeles, California 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Alanni and Mia in rashguards, Los Angeles, California 2014

 

A Couple Album Covers

Regular readers of the site know that I love album covers, and I happen to have a couple of new ones to share. The first is a simple design for the Tragically Hip album Man Machine Poem. It should be noted that this may very well be the Tragically Hip’s last album, as lead vocalist Gord Downie is suffering from brain cancer.

Artist Unknown - The Tragically Hip - Man Machine Poem (2016)

Artist Unknown – The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016)

Wikipedia: The Tragically Hip

The second album cover is an absolutely beautiful piece done by Joe Helm for Queensrÿche’s latest, Condition Hüman. It’s a digitally manipulated photo (if you are observant, you can see that several of the objects do not cast proper shadows, but you really have to look closely). Guitarist Michael Wilton discusses the symbolism of the artwork with respect to the album here.

Joe Helm - Queensrÿche - Condition Hüman (2015)

Joe Helm – Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman (2015)

Linked In: Joe Helm

Wikipedia: Queensrÿche

Queensrÿche (official)

International Day of the Girl

Hey, folks!  How’s it going?  Just a little reminder that today is the International Day of the Girl-Child, so designated by the United Nations, so it’s a great day to celebrate girls, including girls in art (and girls in the arts!) This is the fifth anniversary of the UN-created observance, founded in 2011 and initiated by the charitable organization Plan International.

Further Reading:

Day of the Girl (Official)

Day of the Girl Summit 2016

Wikipedia: International Day of the Girl Child

International Business Times: International Day Of The Girl 2016: Quotes And Facts To Celebrate, Empower Young Women

The White House: Presidential Proclamation — International Day of the Girl, 2016

The Guardian: How are you marking International Day of the Girl? Share your stories