Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Art Challenge: India

India c. 1857
Holy crow, our first week of the Art Challenge couldn't have gone better, in my opinion (the fact that we had not only more than one submission, but seven on the premiere edition makes me giddy as pie). For this and the next few weeks, the challenges are going to be fairly straightforward- a large or well-known culture to make it easier for researching and brainstorming, not saying that conceptualizing multicultural or any steampunk is by any means simple. Still, I don't plan on throwing any curveballs (like Brittany or Fiji) for a while yet.

India was chosen not only because several people requested it, but  it's powerful creative appeal (also I'm reading the Mahabarita for class...). Think of India and NOT have something very unique pop into your head- whether it be elephants, grand rajas, chai tea, sumptuous or millennia-old civilizations. Let's see what some very talented artists dreamed up:
BEFORE ALL OF THE PRETTY: Remember, this is someone else's work- so if you MUST link to show your pals, please either A. Go to the artist's website and ask permission. or B. Link back to the original artist (such as the case of tumblr or twitter). And please visit these fine folks' deviantarts or personal webpages- give them some likes, some praise, hell- give them a commission if you're able! (Because if there's one thing we artist types like, it's doing what we love AND getting paid to for it!)

Artist: Denise Farinsky

Artist's Comments: This painting is symbolic of Queen Victoria's reign in India and how the native peoples of India [represented by the mechanical elephant symbolizing the Hindu god "Ganesha"] were made to be the work force supporting the British Empire. The Victorian lady symbolically represents Queen Victoria in 1880s attire with a gas mask that symbolizes this toxic situation for the people of India. Queen Victoria was called "The Empress of India" from May 1st, 1876 in an act of Parliament. The mechanical elephant has a melancholy expression. The land is barren and the sky reflects the toxic atmosphere.

Miss K's Comments: Quite a statement about the evils of colonialism even without Denise's explanation. The picture's bleak and the woman's angles are exaggerated (almost villainous) compared to the elephant.

Artist: Chelsea Gould

Artist's Comments: A little messy, but...I had gotten so busy after a week of eyeballing pretty armor that I ended up having to churn it out in an evening. Bad me.
Anywho, here's my entry. I had spent some time wanting to design a somewhat more streamlined version of the old armor from India and this was the result (though it doesn't honestly differ that far). And who doesn't like a warrior lady? I focused on removing some of the old details, reworking them, and adding in new excessive detail in places there wasn't any before.

Miss K's Comments: I'm in love with the decorative brass medallions on the front and the shape of her sleeves. And anyone who doesn't like a warrior lady will be sacked.

Artist: Novella Delphine

Artist's Comments: My first attempt in a very long time at digital art, so you'll have to excuse my messiness. The character herself doesn't look all too steampunk (which I figured was because she's a harijan, thus unable to buy any wonders of the world) but I'm planning to use her in a steampunk novel.

Miss K's Comments: Well I think it turned out nicely- I didn't even know it was your first trip back into digital post-hiatus until I read it. She looks so swashbuckling!

Artist: Valeriane Duvivier

Check out the detail shots here.

Artist's Comments: (via deviantart) This is a picture of Maharani Sumati, the first wife of Maharajah Prasad, taken just after their wedding (attested by the wedding menhdi on her hands). Maharani Sumati, born into the Nair Clan, was known for her interest in science and western civilization. She was sent to England with her eldest brother the Prince Rajnish, to keep him company during his studies.
While her brother succeed in his political and economical studies, she centered her own around steam vehicle, earning the respect and admiration of her classmates.
Back in India, with the help of her brother, she arranged a wedding with Maharajah Prasad, who agreed to let her built the first Indian Steam Engine, the ISE Vāhana. Coupled with her brother and husband politic and a fructul import-export of both goods and foods by the mean of the Vāhana, she became one of the first lady of the country, in both influence and wealth.
At the death of her husband (rumoured to have been assassinated by political opponent), she fled the palace with his two others wives and their four children and went into hiding among the people. Five years later, she pull down the government with the help of the blacksmith cast, came back to power and put her son on the throne before building the ESI Vāhana II and the Indian Airship Engine, IAE Garuda, the first Airship to make the non-stop flight between Dhaipur and London.

Miss K's Comments: Tres charmante, Val- l'histoire origine notament. (Sorry for appropriating your language, forty lashes with a wet noodle for my gross insensitivity). Anyhue, I love how you've developed this history for the character and you can plainly see it written on her face and clothing.

Artist: Claire Hummel

Artist's Comments: (via deviantart) This is pretty subtle in its steampunkery (read: no extranneous metal bits), but I was just trying to bring in a few western/Victorian elements to traditional Indian clothing- legomuttoned sleeves, the double breasted, collared choli, and adapting the churidar into buttoned spats.

Miss K's Comments: Holy Crapmuffins, Shoomlah reads my blog. The color and sumptuousness of this piece is lavish, I feel like I should be going to the gym just for taking this painting in.

Artist: Kallen

Artist's Comments: (via deviantart) This is Steampunk Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. ^..^ Considered to be a god of learning and writing...rather fitting for a subculture like Steampunk, I think being that it has literary foundations, and values such tropes as scientist and archaeologist...learning features foremost, in other words!

Miss K's Comments: Very true, and I like the subtle (and not-so-subtle) cues back to traditional depictions of Sri Ganesh.

Artist: Jeni Hellum (Miss Kagashi)

Llama by Paul Eyer

Artist's Comments: Miss K. will upload her entry tomorrow after she takes her exam on (you guessed it) India during the Mauryan period because she's one of those weirdos who has to scan her art in.

Big thanks to all of the artists to participated this week- it was a great showing! Now for the starting gun for next week. Our next challenge is:

(Pendersleigh and Sons Cartography)
The Maghreb- A region comprised of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. Be sure to check out a prior post on the clothing of the region and get ready for (hopefully) another slough of fantastic art next week.


  1. Wow! I'm so happy! So unexpected, everyone's entries were so great! Thanks you for choosing my illustration, "Ganesha and the Empress of India" :) Here is the link to my blog submission:

  2. Everyone's art is so beautiful! I'm really glad I decided to participate in this. ^___^

  3. Also, we just did a segment on the Tuareg in my Cross-Cultural Gender Perspectives class, so I'm really excited for next week's challenge!

  4. Wow! I had no idea my cousin Denise was so knowledgeable about history as well as art-bad ignorant me-lol! All of these pieces are wonderful and interesting!

  5. There was a lot of awesome works this week! As much in design, skills and research! (don't worry about my langage, I'm not sure my english is better sometimes ;))
    I did learn a lot while doing this picture, mainly about Indian clothes, pattern, the way to conduct a research and that well, you can't please everyone.
    I don't know if I will have the time and energy for the next contest, but I'll try to sketch and read about the Maghreb.

    1. No worries. The beauty of these challenges is that there's one every week, so people may come and go as they please.

  6. Here's my entry...

  7. For the Maghreb:

    Can't wait to see what's up for next week! ^..^

  8. ah i'm so bummed I missed the India challenge, though I may do it anyway. But here's my sketch for this week's Maghreb:
    I'm looking forward to next week.

  9. I didn't really have enough time to finish this, but I thought that I'd post it anyway, just because, what the hey, right?

    (you don't need to post this in the contest, I just thought that I'd show someone that I tried to finish it!)

    Anyway, I'm super excited to see all of the entries for this contest. The Maghreb is a fascinating place!

  10. I assume the llama placeholder is not Miss K's entry... I wonder when we'll get the chance of seeing it. :-)

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