Hel of a Woman

I’ve always been fascinated with Norse Mythology; something about it is just more epic than Greek/Roman myths. In Norse Mythology the goddess of the underworld, where people who die of disease and old age go, is named Hel. She is described as being half alive and half dead. She is commonly depicted with one half of her face being a skeleton or zombie and the other a beautiful woman with cold eyes. She also typically has half black hair and half white.

My interest in Norse Myths flourished in college, where I had access to a number of books on the subject in our school library. During that time I would often sketch the Norse gods and goddess as I imagined them. The image of Hel has always stood out for me. When I read that she was half dead and half alive I imagined that she was split at the waist rather than down the middle. Since that time I’ve wanted to do something with that concept.

O.K. pause there.

I now have to interject with a story from Illuxcon 2009 when I got to meet one of my personal art heroes… BROM. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved BROM’s work. In particular I was always fascinated with his textured backgrounds offset by a single creepy figure. When I met him at Illuxcon I took the opportunity to ask him how he did that. You see I imagined that he spent hours detailing wall texture with tiny brushes… WRONG! He explained that he used acrylic paint to lay down his basic colors and then took a toothbrush, dipped in water and flicked it at the paint while it was still wet. He then let it dry, and the result created all sorts of interesting organic shapes that look like a textured wall. He then painted in oil to enhance some of the details of the background.

Now we combine the two. Ever since the magic of BROM’s technique was explained to me I’ve wanted to try it. For over a decade I’ve wanted to do a painting of Hel. Well I am pleased to present you with…

… “Hel of a Woman”

Hel of a Woman by Sam Flegal

Just for nostalgia’s sake here is the sketch I did back in 2000.

Sketch from the year 2000

Oh and if you’d like to learn more about Hel or Norse Mythology, just do an internet search or even better head to your local library.

Stay Strange!

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