Love her or hate her, Courtney here is one powerful example of female rock badassery.
Personally, I've always been a fan of Courtney. No, I am pretty sure she did not kill Kurt. No, she is not the most talented vocalist in the world. And no, her series of plastic surgeries, mothering decisions, and attempts at acting did not go so well. But those are all beside the point. Girlfriend rocks!
There simply aren't that many women in rock who dare to be as vulnerable, ugly, and beautiful as Courtney Love. She — along with her kinderwhore compatriots like the amazing Babes In Toyland — greedily gathered up all of the traditional symbols of femininity they could and subverted the hell out of them. You know what I'm talking about: the decrepit baby dolls, the crooked tiaras, the smeared lipstick ... the list goes on. To the best of my knowledge, nobody had done that before. Hole broke some new ground for womanity, and it made a lot of people uncomfortable.
(You know what most artists throughout history have done? Make people uncomfortable.)
There are so many things I want to say about Courtney, her subversion of gender norms, and her power as a musician and an artist. She's a firebrand, and I love that about her, even if I don't agree with everything she has ever done. But I also need to make time to talk about my St. Courtney image creation process, so go put on Live Through This and keep reading!
Similar to my piece on St. Vincent, I cobbled together a Franken-Courtney in Photoshop to use as my tracing template in Illustrator. This first step was actually one of the more interesting ones because in my research, I realized: There are just not that many flattering pictures of Courtney's pre-plastic surgery face. At least not ones that would fit within the "Catholic saints" feeling I'm going for.
But then, I stumbled upon a black and white image of Courtney holding an infant Francis Bean Cobain. The look on her face was beatific, to say the least, like a mama lioness, all fierce and beautiful. True, she's wearing nothing but panties in the picture. (Not so saintly, I suppose.) But the overwhelming effect is one of rawness and power.
I decided Courtney's patron saint would be St. Germaine of Pibrac, France, who was absolutely loathed in her lifetime. According to some, she was treated worse than the family dog. This spoke to me when I recalled the absolute venom and bile with which some people attack our girl Courtney. (Not that she's perfect, but still.)
The challenge for me with this image was all skin and hair. Unlike St. Vincen't perfect, cloud-like coiff, Courtney's 'do is shaggy and messy. I used a naturalistic brush to paint in individual strands, which in retrospect, perhaps could have been done differently. (I have since found numerous hair tutorials that I'm dying to try!) And, Courtney's skin and hair are not that far off in value, which made creating contrast a little challenging. I had to tone down her brightness a few times, with the decision in the end to add a translucent brown filter over the entire image to give it a nice evening-time look.
I had a lot of fun hand-drawing Courtney's most well-known guitar, the Squier Venus, which she helped design. Unfortunately, not much of my labor of love made it into the final piece, but you can see it all here.
To top off this grungey confection of mine, I added two candy hearts, C and L, where St. Germaine's floral initials are.
Thanks for reading about my continued experimentation in Adobe Illustrator. Here's giving you the "rock on" sign until next month!