After my time with Lady of June, I once again came to an impasse with Lady of July. The summer isn’t a time of year I really resonate with. I tend to spend it hiding inside waiting for autumn and cooler temperatures to come! The biggest event in July for me as an American is our Independence Day, where my family, who was usually stationed on Army bases during my childhood, would usually attend concerts and colorful fireworks displays. There was always a bursting sense of pride, music, and patriotism around this time of year! There was also, of course, lots of food, smores, and drinking!
Other than that, however, I was drawing a blank for what my Lady of July could be! I didn’t want her to be specifically American and the nature-related cycles which I usually draw upon for the whimsical atmosphere of the Ladies didn’t link the time of year to anything specifically inspiring. Thankfully, research helped expand my horizons and inspirations to some beautiful places I hadn’t thought of!
America isn’t the only country to celebrate a sense of freedom and independence in July, research also reminded me that Bastille Day and Naadam are also celebrated during this month. On July 14th, 17879, revolutionary forces stormed the Bastille, leading to one of the pivotal moments in the French Revolution. July is also the time of year Mongolia holds its midsummer festival of athletic games, Naadam, which also celebrates their independence from China.
The celebrations of Tanabata (the Star Festival) and Qixi (or Double Seventh) in Japan and China, respectively, captured my imagination instantly! Both holidays celebrate the only time of year in which two celestial lovers are able to see each other. In Japan, celestial punishment keeps the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd separated all year by the Milky Way until the summertime, when the two deities represented by the stars Vega and Altair align. It is a time for making wishes. Similarly, China’s Qixi echoes this story of separated lovers who are only able to see each other during this time of year when magpies form a bridge for them to cross. Qixi is roughly equated to Valentine’s Day in America.
July finally started to take shape in my mind as a Lady who embodies breaking boundaries, independence, self-expression, and unhindered love. My mind was a whirlwind of flying birds, floating lanterns, and unbridled joy! I made the decision that Tanabata and Qixi would play heavily into her themes as I moved on to the thumbnailing phase.
In each of these thumbnails, I have the Lady looking every upwards to the heavens. I wanted a figure who has broken free of gravity, ascending ever upwards with the stars and lanterns. The birds will probably end up being magpies in honor of Qixi, but also as symbols of freedom. Out of these, I feel like the 4th thumbnail encapsulates that feeling of unrestricted joy, as the others strike me as more tragic, as if she is a haunting spirit instead of a freed one. The body language of the 4th thumbnail with her head high and chest out connotes more confidence in her upwards path.
But we’ll see what happens! I may wake up tomorrow and do several more thumbnails. I’m giving myself some time to think about this direction.
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