What does it mean to find your guide?
Is there anyone in your life that has made a big impact on the way you think, feel, or live? Someone that inspires you to be the best version of yourself? Think of it like having a mentor or leader that really resonates with you. Whether it's Yoda in Star Wars, Rafiki in The Lion King, Dumbledore in Harry Potter, or your Aunt Edna, your guide can be anyone that makes you feel empowered. If you like art, you might be inspired by some of these figures in history - fearless and inspirational women that paved the way for artists today.
Guan Daosheng was a Chinese painter who combined poetry with art. Back in the 1200’s, art was primarily for men as women were not allowed to be educated. Many people found it dangerous for females to have that kind of freedom. However, Guan didn’t let that keep her from expressing herself through art!
She loved bamboo ink painting, breaking the barrier of bamboo being considered “masculine”. She used it to tell stories about her children, husband, and her feelings about growing old, often using calligraphy to write poetry directly on top of her paintings - a technique that is still used in many art mediums. Guan Daosheng became one of the first female artists to create art for other women and is now known as a pioneer in the Chinese arts.
Mary Cassatt found herself right in the middle of two huge movements. One movement involved women pushing against society’s expectation for females in ways that included marrying by choice, being educated and independent, and pursuing whatever they were passionate about - things that were typically forbidden or looked down upon. The second was a rebellious art movement called “impressionism”, breaking away from the highly valued realism art form.
She drew upon her experiences to create artwork that valued women as their own person rather than subjects of male desire. This opened up doors for her to support women’s suffrage in a big way. Mary believed, “Women should be someone and not something”.
Frida is known for turning her physical and emotional pain into some of the most recognizable and moving paintings this world has seen. A lot of her work rejected popular beauty standards, instead portraying a woman’s natural beauty with an unshaven face and exploration in identity, gender, class, and race.
Frida was all about painting freely from her imagination without a second thought. Art was her place to create her own reality, and she did so unapologetically. She is now a symbol of feminism, supporting one’s true self.
Hannah Hoch stretched the limits with her artwork, being one of the earliest artists to use photomontage, a similar technique to collage. Her art criticized beauty standards, sexism, racism, and homophobia. Being an artist and bi-sexual in World War II, she faced many hardships. In 1933, the Nazis took control of the government, banning any art that they declared “degenerate”. This included Hannah’s art, forcing her into isolation.
Instead of stepping away from what she believed in, though, she continued to make art that stood up for female strength and kept her friends’ works of art safe from being destroyed during World War II.
Louise was devoted to life in the arts, no matter how hard it became for her to make ends meet. She worked many odd jobs just to be able to continue doing what she loved - sculpting. Her work became a huge sensation, using scraps of wood she found on the streets to create large-scale works of art.
Her sculptures were made up of all shades of white, gold, or black - her favorite color. To Louise, the color black “contained all color. It wasn’t a negation of color. It was an acceptance. Because black encompasses all colors.”
JULIA MARGARET CAMERON
Julia’s career in art took off at the age of 48 when she was given a wooden camera as a gift. Typical photography at this time was considered more of a science than art because the subjects had to sit still for an extended period of time in order to get a clear image.
However, Julia made up her own rules, embracing the “happy accidents” of blurs, movement, and changing expression. She didn’t want the stiff, seemingly lifeless photos. She wanted to capture life as it was happening, documenting raw emotions. Critics called her work unprofessional and sloppy, but the rest of the world sees her as the woman who established an all new art form.
Still need help finding a guide for your art journaling project or just want to learn more about powerful women in art history? Check out the book Women In Art - now available on our website!