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A Heroine - Madeline McDowell Breckinridge

Bootcamping again with Make Art That Sells, and this months assignment was Suffragettes. I was given Madeline (Madge) McDowell Breckinridge, from Kentucky, to draw for an imaginary Magazine.

I went down several rabbit holes whilst researching her, and the suffragette movement: Google, Wikipedia and Pinterest, before finding the the Kentucky Digital Library with some lovely sepia photos and the Kentucky Kernel with some interesting newspaper articles, including a great quote "Kentucky women are not idiots — even though they are closely related to Kentucky men"!

So I did some sketches and tore them up. Then went back to the drawing board and painted two stripes in violet and green gouache, the colours – along with white – of a suffragette banner.

I scanned them and moved onto experiments with text. The first attempt was with digital text, second was with hand drawn and the third was painted with a wide flat brush and this one I really liked. I went back to the scanner and imported it into Coreldraw adding it to the colour stripes and came up with this:

...which was inspired by posters with tear off tags. The first time I saw one of these was in 'Person of Interest', an American TV programme. I've since seen it used for exhibition and gig advertising, finding lost pets and as a 'Take what you need' poster with positive thoughts and reminders to smile, laugh etc.

I thought - I can use this!

So I searched my brain and the internet for words or very short phrases that would convey abstract needs that could be fulfilled by Women getting the vote. The idea being that Madge – like Uncle Sam (US) and Lord Kitchener (GB), who urged men to join their respective armed forces – would be urging women to take action.

"Take" being the operative here – in the same vein as the suffragette motto "Deeds not words" – fighting talk!

I brush wrote the words and added them to the image, now all I needed was Madge. So late that evening I went back to the workroom and quickly drew her, three or four times, using a dip pen. The next morning I choose my favourite image, added some colour and got her scanned, rearranged a few things and Voila.

I hope that this tells you that Madge was a strong woman who fought for the right to vote and she is offering you: A voice, Courage, Strength, Respect, Freedom, Hope, Justice, Equality and Progress – all things that should come with that right and urging you to –


– remembering that there are still countries where women do not have that right,

and they are still fighting for it!

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