Historical Fashion Project

I love studying history. Whether it’s visiting a new history museum, looking through an antique store, or reading a history book, I just can’t get enough of the past. More specifically, I love cultural history. Military facts and war stats, meh. I am generally a pacifist and a war-averse sort of person, so military histories aren’t really my cup of tea. But, I can’t get enough facts on historical day-to-day life—what people used to eat, what they did for fun, and most importantly what they wore. I just adore learning about the history of fashion.

It’s kind of funny that I have such an affinity for historical fashion, because apart from dressing up for my yearly visits to the Renaissance Festival, my clothing is pretty utilitarian and boring. I’m not what you would call a fashionista. I wear shades of black and grey and tend to opt for comfort over style. But, historical fashion fascinates me. It’s interesting how the cultural landscape of a time dictated how fashion evolved.

I started researching notable times in fashion history and began creating some illustrations based on what I learned. I have only started the project, and I could see it evolving into something bigger, but for now it’s a small side project that I work on in between my larger projects.

I started with researching medieval styles. I was playing a medieval-themed video game at the time, and I was interested in the names of the articles of clothing that I had never heard before, like braies for instance i.e. medieval underpants.

Historical Fashion: 13th Century Men's Clothing Historical Fashion: 13th Century Women's Clothing

After finishing that, while researching fashion history in general, I came upon information on the pivotal fashion styles of Edo Japan (1603 – 1868). The beautiful patterns and silhouettes of the outfits and hairstyles of that era were inspiring.

Historical Fashion: Edo Japan

I posted these previous illustrations on Instagram and a friend requested I try my hand at some swimsuit fashions, specifically she wanted to see a swimsuit from the 1920s, when it was still scandalous to show off too much skin. I learned while researching this time that police would actually measure the swimsuits of women on the beach to ensure that they weren’t showing too much skin. Only about one hundred years ago, it was scandalous to wear anything so revealing. It’s weird to think how that really wasn’t all that long ago.

I loved creating the 1920s swimsuit, so I followed up with a swimsuit illustration from the 1950s and the 1970s (see below.)

Historical Fashion: Swimsuits

So, I still haven’t even touched a lot of interesting times in fashion history. I will definitely keep working at this project. So many outfits, so little time!


Water Deer!!!

I just made a new mini-illustration after learning about the existence of water deer, a species of deer native to China and Korea. I just learned about these animals, and I am 31 years old. How did I manage to live 31 years on earth and not know that these glorious creatures existed?! My favorite animals already were deer, but these species have the added bonus of vampire-looking fangs, thus making them the greatest of all the deer!

I know have to go on a vigorous Google search to find any more animal species that I am missing out on.

Water Deer Illustration

Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!

I’ve finished a children’s book! I did it! One day I was all, “I’ve always wanted to both write and illustrate a children’s book, maybe I should do it.” And so…I did.

There was a lot that happened in between my idea and making that idea a reality. Children’s books take a lot of time and perseverance, especially when you’ve decided to do the text, illustration, editing, and design all in one go. Also, sometimes my larger projects can get relegated to the back burner depending on what is going on in my life, and this project did get set aside as I got wrapped up in other projects and life events. When it’s a personal project and there’s no real deadline, it is sooooo easy to let it slide. So, I have to admit that I am more than a little proud that I did eventually get back on track with finishing this.

So, “Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!” was created and can now be found on Amazon.com. What’s it about? Well, being from Minnesota, of course it had to be about fuzzy forest creatures. Here’s the blurb about the book:

Edward the Elk wants to play hide-and-seek with his forest friends, but his antlers are making it difficult to hide! Follow Edward as he searches the forest for the perfect hiding place. A great book for beginning readers, parents can guide children as together, they spot Edward in his many hiding places.

Where's Edward? There's Edward! Children's Book
“Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!” Book Cover
Where's Edward? There's Edward! Children's Book
“Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!” Printed Book

It was such a rewarding experience, and I am already gearing up to create another book.

Before I wrap up this blog post, I did want to show a little bit of my process in making this book. Below is a comparison of a final sketch that turned into a final illustration. For anyone who does art or illustration, you know how much prep work goes into a project that the public doesn’t normally see. After making this book, I made more pictures of elk than I ever thought I would. But, not complaining; this was a very rewarding project!

"Where's Edward? There's Edward!" Sketch
“Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!” Sketch
"Where's Edward? There's Edward!" Final Image
“Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!” Final Image

Click here to check out “Where’s Edward? There’s Edward!” on Amazon.

Upcoming Art Show: Gods and Monsters

I broke my camera in Paris. My fiancé and I were distracted, trying to figure out how the city’s futuristic public toilets worked. I tried to hand the camera off, readying myself for an adventure in a public bathroom that speaks French and washes itself after every use, but we were both staring at the toilet instead of the camera, and the camera plummeted to the ground with a sickening CRACK. My beautiful Nikon 5100, the camera that took pictures of all the work that was too large for my scanner, it died in Paris.

I’m recounting this tale to explain why the documentation of my most current work is not up to par with other pieces I post to my blog. That’s right, I’m a poor artist, and it’s gonna take time to save up for another lovely digital camera for documentation. In the meantime, I am stuck with documenting work with less-than-satisfactory equipment. So, that’s my sort of explanation / apology.

So anyways, this October, I will be displaying work for an upcoming show in Minneapolis, MN entitled “Gods and Monsters” at The Jackson Flats Artspace. The opening is on Saturday, October 8 at 7 – 10 pm for those of you who are art lovers, live in the Twin Cities area, and want to stop by.

The theme of the show is work inspired by horror movies, so in response, I created three pieces. I’ve entitled the set “Architecture of Horror,” and I used as my inspiration iconic buildings from famous horror movies. I am interested in how architecture often plays an integral role in many horror movies and literature and is often treated much like an additional character rather than just a setting. So, I consider these paintings (one from The Shining, The Amityville Horror, and Psycho) more as portraits than as landscapes. And again, I’m kicking myself for breaking my documentation camera, cause I think these shots don’t do the pieces justice.

Inspired by “The Shining” 18″x24″

The Shining

Inspired by “The Amityville Horror” 18″x24″

The Amityville Horror

Inspired by “Psycho” 18″x24″


Picture Book – Nepalese Children’s Song

I was recently approached by someone who wanted to make an illustrated book for his family based off of a traditional Nepalese children’s song. His family is from Nepal, and he was looking for a book that would not only incorporate imagery to illustrate the song, but also include his son, who is incredibly adorable and the main character of this project. So, I started out with preliminary sketches (see a few below). The text that I am illustrating is in Nepali, I language I definitely don’t know, so I was given a rough translation of what I would be illustrating and some guidance on cultural specifications.

The images represent each different verse of the song. Here’s just a few:

Children's Song Book Project - W. Woods Illustration

Children's Song Book Project - W. Woods Illustration

Children's Song Book Project - W. Woods Illustration

Children's Song Book Project - W. Woods Illustration

Traditional Meals from Around the World: 1st Installment

I started making these fast food doodles for fun. I was inspired by two things I love: food and travel.

The funny thing is that I am a terrible cook, no amount of practice has made me better, so the closest thing I can do to reproducing cuisine from around the world is by drawing it. I started with these three countries, and I plan to make more.

Note: If you look closely, you can see the remnants of the graphite sketches that I used underneath the watercolor. These aren’t final drafts, merely very quick doodles!

Food in France

Food in Japan

Food in Kenya

Artists I’ve Discovered Through the Power of Twitter

Sharing on social media is not something that comes naturally to me, and I have to work hard at forcing myself to connect online. I’m one of those weirdos that would rather live in a world of calling cards and handwritten letters. But, we live in a digital world, and I am trying my best to be a part of it.

Luckily, I have a friend who works in web writing and marketing, and she’s opened my eyes to the wonders of social media, specifically Twitter. It took me awhile to get used to it. But after I started to follow a couple of illustrators and publishers, I found myself going down a rabbit hole of finding even more awesome and inspiring artists and illustrators. Below are my top three that I’ve found so far via Twitter:

Briony May Smith
Smith’s work has a folklore look to it and brings the reader back to the world of old European fairy tales. She recently created the artwork for the book Imelda and the Goblin King by Flying Eye Books and it perfectly highlights her talents in creating a vibrant and rich story through beautiful illustrations.

Briony May Smith

Clare Caulfield
Caulfield’s colorful prints, paintings, and sketches of cities throughout the world will have you longing to get on a plane to visit each one. Rather than creating realistic renderings of streets and buildings, she captures the spirit of each location she visits. Viewing her work will make you wish you were walking through Venice or sitting at a Parisian cafe.
Clare Caulfield

Taryn Knight
Knight’s illustrations are quirky and whimsical. She can take everyday objects and scenes and make them look magical. With a mixture of contemporary and historical influences, and a notably unique style, she creates charming scenes and characters. She also has created several Harry Potter-inspired illustrations that, as a Harry Potter fanatic, I truly appreciate.
Taryn Knight

These are my top three discoveries so far, but I’ve only recently been branching out via social media. I intend to write more as I discover more incredible illustrator and artists. There’s nothing like seeing other great work to get inspired!