Artwork by Monica Gunderson

Artist Statement

Why Sugar Skull Drawings?

October 22, 2015 at 10:27 PM

Sugar Skull Couple - Day of the Dead ink pen drawing

Sugar Skull Couple - Day of the Dead © 2015 Monica Gunderson - All Rights Reserved; Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited


Why Sugar Skull Drawings?


Sometimes when I pick a theme for my artwork, in drawings in particular, I enjoy creating illustrations based off of folklore or mythology. I really enjoy learning about different cultures and their stories. It all began when I was a little girl, and hearing the stories from my mother's Yugoslavian folktale stories. My favorite was the story about Baba Yaga, the witch who lived in a house that walked around the forests on chicken legs. As I grew up, I would hear all the silly tales and superstitions from my mom and just thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, even of the Domovie or the house spirit that would hide your most prized processions if you did not keep your room clean, in fact, I tell that story to my son today.

While growing up, my interest of folktales and mythology grew to where I began reading about other cultures stories as far back to Egypt, ancient Greece, Aztec, Celtic, and so on. From there my interest blossomed into curiosity of the history and stories behind holidays such as Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. Where did these holidays originate from? What where they like before Christianity came into the picture? One of the holidays that I really came to appreciate is the Spanish holiday, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead.

Ever since I moved to California, when I can I have gone to celebrations for Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead. It is not only a very fun event, but a holiday about reflecting on the loved ones and friends that have passed on and gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the cycle of life.  Once a month long celebration, it is now combined with the Roman Catholic holiday of all Saints day on November first and All Souls Day on November second. Families create beautiful alters or decorate gravesites of deceased loved ones. They are decorated with marigolds, candles, sugar skulls, and pictures of those who have died. They also provide offerings such as toys, bread, drinks, candies, and other favorite foods of the deceased. The flowers and candles are believed to guide the spirits home back to their loved ones. This is a time for families and friends gather together and celebrate the cycle of life and death, not to mourn the death of those who have passed, but in remembrance of their ancestors, and celebrating the journey or the transformation into the afterlife.

This year I have the opportunity to show artwork at two Día de Muertos events in Modesto California, so I have drawn images of sugar skulls. While drawing these unique ink pen drawings, I had reflected on my friends and family who have passed away, smiling at the memories that I still cherish deep down in my heart but instead of being sad of their journey to the afterlife or wherever they may be. I am glad that I was able to have the time spent with them when I did. I had even drawn sugar skulls of a cat and a dog. Again, these represent special animals that have died or made their journey to the afterlife. I am very thankful that I had my time well spent with them, and now I am able to celebrate their life, and cycle onto death. For me, my ideas and thoughts may be different as the traditional Día de Muertos, but the holiday has helped me move on from the mourning and sadness of those who have died that were close to me during my life. It has helped me realize that there is more to death than being saddened by family and friends dying or desperately missing them. Instead, it is a time to celebrate their life that they did have, celebrate my and others who are living, and reflect on the cherished memories I have of them and because of that, they will continue to live on within me. I am in hopes that others will enjoy my sugar skulls artwork and realize that these images where not just created because I find them to "look cool" but in reality, they are a reflection of those who I hold close to my heart that have passed away. View my Sugar Skull Drawings that are currently for sale, all hand-drawn on blank greeting cards.

Artist Monica Gunderson *~

Tags: Art Day of the Dead art Dia de los Muertos arte drawing ink pen drawing Modesto California artist Musings of an Artist pointillism
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Monica Gunderson Fine Artist

Modesto CA