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7 alternative interpretations of love

Love can mean more than just romance, roses and Hallmark poetry. These artists and illustrators have all captured the theme of love in new and thought-provoking ways. 

The illustrations here are part of the Month of Love, a project launched by artist Kristina Carroll back in 2013. Each week in February, Carroll sets challenges loosely based around the theme of love, and the artists taking part interpret them in their own way. 

If you're musing on how to draw a romantic image that is a little more meaningful, take a look at these impressive artworks for inspiration. Keeping it traditional? Here's a step by step guide to how to draw a rose

Click on the icon in the top right of each image to enlarge it

01. Angela Rizza

Angela Rizza has been participating in the Month of Love project for a few years, and likes to use the challenges to try out new directions and techniques. In this piece, she focused on playing with positive and negative space, mixing highly detailed areas with areas of empty space. 

"For the Beauty challenge, I immediately thought of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty," says Rizza. "I imagined her birth as something maybe more natural than her rising from the ocean, and ended up liking the composition of her in the foetal position among seaweed in the receding tide."

02. Jessica Shirley

This drawing by illustrator Jessica Shirley focuses on the theme of 'lies', and is based on a quote from Dorothy Allison: 'Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.'

"The quote has such intriguing imagery. It was a good summary of how many moral tales about lying turn out," she explains. Shirley incorporated animal symbolism into her piece, noting how ravens and crows are often used to represent trickery and deceit.

"I wanted to show a person coming apart when their lies were discovered," she continues. "Also, the feeling of wanting to flee or be invisible in that moment when you have been exposed."

03. Shannon Knight

Shannon Knight's piece exploring the theme of 'beauty' plays on the traditional mirror image style found on a playing card. "I wanted to paint a face card that represented both the king and queen as one entity, showing both genders blooming from the same body," she says. "To me, this celebrates the beauty and the natural inevitability of gender fluidity and transgenderism, something that should be celebrated more."

04. Qistina Khalidah

"The 'Lies' artwork that I made was about feeling manipulated by the person you hold in very high regard," says artist Qistina Khalidah. "I always like to put a fantasy facade on it to sell the story. For this, I wanted the give the feeling of a queen being controlled by someone she holds very close to her, like an advisor."

05. Janaina

Freelance illustrator Janaina created this illustration based on the theme of 'beauty'. "I have been fascinated by mythology and fairytales since I was a child, so I searched memory for myths, legends and tales that were romantic and had something related to beauty. The story of Psyche and Eros was one of the first that came into my mind," she explains. 

In the tale, Aphrodite sets Psyche four tasks that she must complete in order to get her husband back. For the last task, she must bring the Persephone's box of beauty to Aphrodite. However, inside the box is nothing other than the sleep of Hades. When Psyche opens the lid, she falls into a deep sleep. Eros escapes from his prison, flies to Psyche, and wipes the sleep from her.

"As I'd never drawn this couple before, I decided I would do it now," continues Janaina. "I think this is a good story to illustrate in the Month of Love; a myth about a couple overcoming great challenges to be together."

06. Julia Griffin

Julia Griffin decided to draw a friend of hers as a representation of 'beauty'. "I wanted to show her personality and vibrance, and also illustrate the beauty of the natural world through the Luna moth she is conjuring," she says. Griffin drew the design in charcoal on paper, before scanning it in and adding colour digitally. 

07. Kelly KcKernan

Kelly McKernan decided to challenge herself by working on a crescent moon-shaped painting panel. "In that composition, I found an underwater scene with these bright, two-dimensional fish surrounding a woman glowing with promise," she explains. "In my work, I think fish represent possibility and change, and in this piece, their presence is a positive one."

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