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!

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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″

Psycho

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

You can buy W. Woods art!

My online store is up and running now. In the next couple of weeks, I will be expanding to include a variety of prints and art-related products. I also take requests if you’ve seen a piece of art on my website that you would love to see hanging on your wall.

Click here to check out the small selection of prints and tarot cards I have available now: http://woodsillustration.bigcartel.com/

Madame Bovary, Art and Illustration by W. Woods
Madame Bovary 11″x14″ Prints Available

A Halloween Story

By W. Woods

A Halloween Story

The vampire invited the mummy for tea in the garden room of his castle. The vampire always took great lengths to ensure that his infrequent guests were comfortable and welcome. He was especially eager to see the mummy. She was one of his most cherished friends, and he always looked forward to her visits. He created a tea of ancient spices for her and a light brew of blood water for himself.

He was, however, somewhat bothered when the mummy arrived with the witch, who the vampire was not expecting nor liked very much.

“The mummy and I ran into each other in the forest outside,” the witch cackled. “I just had to stop by and see the old castle. It has been ages!”

The vampire grumbled. “Very well. I suppose I have toadstool tea for you somewhere.” He invited them in and walked back to the pantry.

After he prepared the tea to everyone’s unique specifications, he sat down amidst the ferns and flowers of the garden room and eagerly began to discuss with the mummy the trials and tribulations of being undead. However, the witch, being fully alive, could not contribute to the discussion. She eagerly changed the topic.

“Have either of you made plans for the Halloween celebrations? The holiday isn’t too far away,” she asked. She then began to rattle off all the wonderful plans she had already made in preparation for the festivities. She carried on about her uniquely spooky décor and her incredible new costume.

The vampire sat back in his chair sullenly. His Halloween plans were the same each year, and he enjoyed it that way. He planned to sit in his study with a good book, a glass of vintage blood, and the company of his bats resting overhead in the rafters. He never did like the loud screams and laughter of the holiday and the constant headache of socializing with all those strange ghosts, ghouls, and monsters. He felt exhausted just thinking about all the idle small talk that accompanied the celebration.

He preferred more intimate conversations, especially with the mummy. He was very fond of her. She was kind and always had interesting things to say and wonderful stories to share. He looked forward to her visits. Unfortunately, she was not saying much with the witch going on and on without any sign of stopping.

The witch asked the vampire and the mummy if either would be attending the Halloween ball at town hall.

“Of course!” said the mummy.

“Maybe…” the vampire quietly replied.

“Oh you,” laughed the witch. “Always such a loner.”
The witch continued to ramble, and the visit carried on until early dawn.

“We really shouldn’t impose on you any longer,” the mummy said to the vampire as she stood up.

The witch waved her hands animatedly. “I just get so chatty sometimes. I don’t even know where the time goes.”

The vampire sighed. He then bowed graciously and led the witch and the mummy to the front door. Before leaving, the mummy laid her bandaged hand on the vampire and sweetly said, “It was so good to see you.” She leaned in a bit so only the vampire could hear. “So sorry about bringing an unexpected guest. She followed me all the way here.”

The vampire smiled, and the mummy gave a knowing wink as she left the castle. He watched from the doorway as the mummy and the witch walked down a winding path into the dark forest below. He then returned to the garden room and tidied up.

On Halloween night, the vampire considered going at the ball. He thought of all the happy faces of his acquaintances from the village. He thought of the mummy, who was probably having a delightful time, perhaps conferring with a friendly ghost or dancing with a dashing werewolf. For a moment he considered dressing in his best cape and flying down to town hall. However, something pulled him back, and he stayed that night confined to his castle. At the witching hour, as he sat with a book in his lap, he imagined the crowd hollering and celebrating. He quietly looked out of the window into the night.

Eventually, the sky turned from an inky black to a deep blue, and he knew morning would soon begin. He opened his coffin and stepped inside, feeling the warm and familiar red velvet embrace his body. It was always such a comfort after a long night, and indeed it was still a comfort, but he felt a strange heaviness in his chest.

“I am lonely,” he thought, not knowing where the idea came from. He had lived for several centuries, yet he had never experienced loneliness. He had been content for so long with his castle and his bats, impervious to any unpleasant thoughts. He wondered, as he shut the lid of his coffin and enveloped himself in darkness, if the mummy ever felt the same heavy feeling. Perhaps she felt the same as she shut the lid of her sarcophagus and settled against the ancient wood, heavy with the scent of resin and spice.

“No,” he thought as death-like sleep began to overcome his senses. “She has so many friends. She must be content, like the witch. The witch is always so energetic and happy. Same with the ghosts, the ghouls, the monsters, the goblins…” The vampire slowly muttered, feeling more and more alone with each word until he finally fell into a dreamless sleep.

The End - A Halloween Story

New Piece for Horror Art Show

I will be showing a new watercolor and ink triptych in an upcoming group show. The show’s theme is artwork inspired by horror movies. Of course, I picked a vampire movie. Here I present my artwork inspired by the 1922 film “Nosferatu.”

Click to view larger image.
Nosferatu

I’m really excited to see see my art hanging next to some other awesome horror arts.

Lil’ W. and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Lil W

Back in the day when I was a diminutive child with a pageboy haircut, oversized glasses, and a superstitious nature, I had a strange fascination with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I can’t recall how I heard the story. It must have been told to me at some point (I was still in the picture book stage of my reading comprehension). I just remember being absolutely fascinated by the story and accepting it as fact. I still readily believed everything that was told to me, whether or not it seemed like obvious fiction.

My entire life I have been both terrified and fascinated by dark and macabre subjects, and that story was just what I needed to become completely obsessed. My parents bought me the animated Disney movie version which I watched again and again with delight and terror. They also took me to a theater production of the story. I closed my eyes during the Headless Horseman scene, yet was still full of glee over the experience.

I think my mom in particular found my gullibility adorable, because she decided to feed into my magical beliefs. I truly took The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to be fact, and my favorite part of American history. So, it seemed very natural when, during a short road trip in Wisconsin, my mom parked the car next to a covered bridge in a wooded area, turned around to me and my sisters in the backseat, and announced, “This is the bridge.”

Little me (in a very squeaky voice): “What bridge?”

“The bridge that Ichabod Crane had to cross to get away from the Headless Horseman.”

The Bridge
Bridge

My little brain flooded with wonderment and dread. This was the very place that Ichabod Crane dashed across on his horse to escape the Headless Horseman. This was the last place he was known to be before disappearing forever. I clearly had no concept of geography, because we were in Wisconsin, not New England. But, none of it mattered, I felt like I was connecting with something magical and terrifying. My most vivid memory of this event is peering down below at the river running under the bridge and thinking over and over in my head. “This is it. This is the place.”

With age came the realization that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was just a tale written by Washington Irving, and that we weren’t even close to New England. Speaking with my mother now, apparently that evening when we returned home, I cried before bed, fearing the Headless Horseman would come get me. This, I admit, I do not recall. The really vivid moment I can remember is looking over that bridge railing at the creek below in absolute belief and awe. I’m glad that I got to believe the world was filled with ghosts and magic a little while longer. I never believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, but I sure as hell believed in the Headless Horseman.

Here is my one of my newer illustrations inspired by The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Headless Horseman

Continuing Thoughts During Vampire Month

So, vampire month is almost over, and I am currently working on compiling my observations into a larger project. However, there’s one small issue that has been bothering me as I continue to consume vampire-related media, and I feel like discussing it right now.

Silver: Does it or does it not kill vampires?

Silver

Now, I’m just going to go out and say my opinion on the matter: Nope. Traditionally, silver is used to kill werewolves. Sunlight and wooden stakes kill vampires. Crosses, holy water, and garlic repels them. (Of course, there’s also ye old decapitation to stop a vampire, but that’s pretty gross.)

The Old Standbys
Vampire Weapons

Let me clarify: When creating vampire movies and books, the creator can make up whatever rules they want. If you’re making a movie and you want your vampires to be allergic to kittens and candy, by all means, go ahead.

Vampires Beware!
Kittens and Candy

But, there’s just too many rules for monsters. In my own opinion, I prefer to simplify the problem. If I have a vampire slayer protagonist, I don’t want them squirming over whether to pick up the stake or the silver. I want hard rules.

Besides, Anne Rice agrees with me on the subject.

But, what does the reader personally think?