This piece is actually not for the webcomic. I know, weird.

The other day I read Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman and felt like creating some allegories. And summer is nearly here, anyway. Time for something green!

I’m not yet sure if I’m going to do an art series of all twenty four universal virtues, but tenacity really spoke to me just now. Last several months were rough – I faced a death in the family and had some serious health issues (which are now, thankfully, mostly resolved). I don’t know if I can claim to possess a lot of tenacity, but the concept of it was among the things that sustained me through it all.

I imagined tenacity as a woman walking through a forest. It’s getting late, the sun is nearly down, the moon is rising, but she has far to go, so on she strides, staff in hand.

I know, staves and long travels might be more readily associated with the wizardly likes of Gandalf, but the imagery isn’t as strange as it may at first seem. The source for it is primarily Finist the Falcon fairy tale, a story of a merchant’s daughter who goes to search for her bewitched fiance.

As a child, I had several fairy-tale books illustrated by Ivan Bilibin, Finist among them, and I admit Bilibin left a big impression on me. Heck, there’s probably a part of me somewhere deep down that still holds Bilibin’s illustrations as the standard for art everywhere. That’s what happens when you show art of this calibre to a toddler.

The Grey Wolf comes to the rescue of the murdered Prince Ivan (and Prince Ivan gets better). The Big Bad Wolf of the Western European folklore never really worked for me after this.

The childhood impressions are often vague, though. When I recently looked up the illustration I remembered, it turned out that Bilibin’s girl wasn’t actually walking – he depicted her at the brink of victory, when she finally looks upon Finist’s city.

So I had to make my own girl in a forest, naturally. She was to “wear out three pairs of iron boots, break down three iron staves and gnaw on three stone bread loaves” before she could find Finist. She did it, and then figured out a way to break the enchantment, too. If that’s not tenacity, I don’t know what is.

And yes, there’s also a certain amount of impressionism in Tenacity. The sharpness of the original render, which I normally appreciate, didn’t feel right. You can probably still tell it was 3D once upon a time, but I wanted an older, painterly feel.

P.S. I didn’t put Tenacity on a T-shirt. It just doesn’t  look right on it, wrong image shape. It’s available as an art print on Redbubble, though, if anyone is interested.


  1. Pingback: “Tenacity” | History Muse

  2. Sorry you had to go through all that sends hugs
    And Finist is like the best fairy tale evah!!

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