The Little Mermaid

The Little MermaidThis is my personal interpretation of the mermaid heroine from the famous Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”. Her pose is loosely based on the statue in Denmark named after the character, although the oyster piercings on her tail are from the original fairy tale.

What I find most fascinating about the Andersen original is how bittersweet its ending became. In the story’s first draft the mermaid simply dissolves into sea foam after a move of self-sacrifice, but in later drafts she becomes a spirit of air who can ascend to heaven after doing good deeds for three centuries. However, I must admit that I never cared for the popular Disney adaptation (I think it was because the sea witch scared me when I was little).

Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia of Alexandria.jpg

Hypatia V2

Hypatia of Alexandria (370-415 AD) was a female philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer who worked and lectured at the University of Alexandria in Roman-controlled Egypt. Despite the gender prejudice that prevailed during her time, she nonetheless won respect as a brilliant academic by her contemporaries as well as later historians. Unfortunately this did not save her from the wrath of fanatical Christian monks who had her dragged by her chariot down the street, stripped naked, beaten to death, and then burned. These same radicals would then proceed to burn down her university and then drive out the city’s artists and intellectuals. It was a tragic end for both a woman of Hypatia’s intellect and the institution she represented.

This isn’t the first time I’ve drawn Hypatia of Alexandria of course, but I took another stab at it since looking at my previous effort now embarrasses me.

Nubkhas the Egyptian Mercenary Princess

Nubkhas the Mercenary Princess

Nubkhas got her start as a princess of Egypt, daughter of Pharaoh Mentuhotep IV of the 11th dynasty (that’s during the Middle Kingdom period). However, after the treacherous vizier Amenemhat deposed her father in a bloody coup, Nubkhas fled the country and has since lived her life as a traveling mercenary and adventurer. She’s a skilled martial artist, hunter, and diplomat as a result of her royal education, but she retains a fierce and haughty spirit worthy of an Egyptian princess.

Hair Protection for Nubkhas

In my previous drawing I had Nubkhas’s hair all grown out after years of life outside the comfort of her palace (the usual practice of Egyptian nobility was to shave their heads and wear wigs). But then it occurred to me that an African woman wandering across the ancient world would probably have to deal with all kinds of curious foreigners trying to touch her tightly curled hair. As a precaution against this unwanted hair molestation, Nubkhas wears this headwrap whenever she’s in a big city (outside of Africa itself, of course).

Macaroni Grill Doodle

Macaroni Grill Doodle

Last weekend I ate out with my family at Macaroni Grill, and I doodled this with the crayons and paper tablecloth they were kind enough to provide us with. Unfortunately there were only three crayons available at our table, two red ones and one green, so I had a very circumscribed color palette to work with. Still proud of what I could achieve though.

Baryonyx

Baryonyx

Baryonyx walkeri, a smaller European cousin of the Spinosaurus, lunches on an Early Cretaceous lizard. I was originally going to make the prey animal a primitive mosasaur, but I think the mosasaurs evolved sometime after the Baryonyx became extinct. But since the mosasaurs were essentially marine lizards, maybe the one being eaten here is among their ancestors?

Medusa

Medusa

In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of three sisters, known as the Gorgons, who hailed from the African continent (which the Greeks called “Libya”). She was originally a very beautiful maiden who fell victim to the sea god Poseidon’s sexual violence in a temple to Athena. In a senseless and appalling example of rape culture at work, Athena punished not Poseidon but Medusa, transforming her into a snake-haired monster so hideous that men would turn to stone upon the mere sight of her. Poor Medusa never found justice. Instead her fate was for the demigod Perseus to slay her and use her severed head as a weapon.

Honestly, Medusa’s story is one of the saddest Greek tragedies I’ve ever read about, even if in this case it was unintentional.

King Solomon of Israel

King Solomon of Israel

Solomon was one of the kings of ancient Israel made famous through the Old Testament in the Bible. A son of King David, he is said to have taken the throne around 967 BC, ruling a kingdom that stretched from the Euphrates River to the north and Egypt to the south. He became known for his building projects (including the Holy Temple in Jerusalem), the great wealth and wisdom he accumulated, and for a harem of reputably 700 wives and 300 concubines (yeah, he was quite the player). Unfortunately, archaeological and historical evidence for his reign outside the Biblical accounts are few and far between, so it’s possible he—like many other characters in the Bible—is a mythical character rather than a real historical ruler.

Many portrayals of King Solomon that you see in Western art, going back to the Middle Ages, portray him as more or less a stereotypical medieval European monarch. For my own rendition, I opted instead to emphasize his Middle Eastern roots by giving him a more sultan-like getup. I believe the trousers he’s wearing are called sirwal, which are worn in a number of Islamic and northern Indian countries (they’re the bagging trousers the characters are wearing in Disney’s Aladdin).