Breathtaking Illustrations That Show The Extreme Strength And Beauty In Women

Inspiration | By Harriet King | June 10, 2018

Wow. We are simply in total awe of these beautiful depictions of the female form. We weren't expecting such a clear message of strength, power, and vulnerability, especially as most of these pieces were created by male artists. But every single one has managed to hit the nail on the head.

It doesn't matter which gender you identify as - this collection of stunning artwork is sure to make you think twice (or thrice!) about feminine power and the struggles that often come with being a woman. That's right, men - pay attention, because you could definitely learn a thing or two today.

Trust us when we say that you should absolutely take your time enjoying this gorgeous gallery of female centric artwork. Come with us on this journey as we explore themes of love, body image, femininity, respect, and what it really means to be a woman. You're going to love it!

1. Flower

When you normally see art representing women which has been depicted by the male gaze it can often feel tawdry, irrelevant or exposing, yet this artist, Gabriele Pennacchioli, seems to have a way of narrating female desire in a way that supersedes the talent of his other male counterparts. The innocent blushes of color add a delicacy, yet at the same time an urgency of feminine desire.

The flower signifies everything that lies in the hands of others which women are often so tentative and too fearful to reach out for as it almost seems so far out of reach, yet there's a fearlessness and a strength within the posture. The longer you look at this image, the more it has to say about the strength possessed by women who reach out and take what they want.

2. A Girl With Two Birds

Julie West's wonderful work in embossed wood tells a whole story about femininity and the urge to nurture in one image. We have the form of a naked woman, protecting her modesty with two birds in a nest. The image could almost be considered semi erotic at first glance, but a more careful study reveals a deeper message.

She nestles the birds to her bosom like she's nursing them, and they respond by voicing a unified indication of love. Her hair is tilted, coyly, and she seems either unaware or unconcerned by the clouds that are gathering behind her. This is a work about the power of a woman's love cleverly disguised as a calendar photoshoot. Although it could be interpreted as the woman focusing on the birds to distract herself from the clouds, we prefer to interpret it as her sheltering the birds and keeping them safe, like all mothers do for their children.

3. Scared

Ahh fear, women seem to have to deal with fear quite a lot from walking down a dark street alone to fearing we'll get fired if we get pregnant. Sometimes we fear the smaller, more irrelevant, more irrational things in life such as spiders. Yet even in our terror we look absolutely fabulous. Gabriele Pennacchioli captured the look of terror down to a tee with one of his most vivid depictions of female personality through this conceptually genius illustration.

His ability to make his work come alive with expression may have been what made him such a successful artist, which is part of the reason why he was invited into the Disney fold as the perfect candidate to give Disney princesses soul, fear and wonder. Who knew that fear could be such a beautiful emotion?

4. Girl From Another Planet

There's a slightly unsettling, otherworldly feel to this picture that's hard to define. We guess that's the function of all good art; it asks questions of you that you aren't always able to answer. Paul Morgan's drawing captures a blue girl seeming to almost float through a field of mushrooms, with blue grass, under an alien sky.

Is there an allegory here about forbidden fruit? Has she come to take the mushrooms away? Should we be reading into the blue theme as having an undercurrent about depression and anxiety? The pattern on her dress seems to reflect the pattern on the mushrooms, albeit more faintly. Perhaps this is actually about women finding themselves in the world or feeling alien in a world run by men. Either way, it's challenging to look at, and deceptively complex in its execution.

5. Librarian

Poet Mark Grist may have said it best when asked 'what do you look for in a girl' to which he responded, 'I like a girl who reads'. It would seem that Gabriele Pennacchioli shares that sentiment through this poignantly beautiful illustration of a girl in the library. For too long women with a penchant for books have been typecast as nerds or bookish types. But just look at the beauty and intensity of passion captured within this representation of femininity.

For too long women have been broken by the barbie doll mentality, we have been discouraged from finding pleasure within the written word, it's with images such as these that we can start to shape the way that femininity and intelligence is viewed from the outside. Whilst her pose is demure, it's 100 percent natural.

6. Aspirations

We think everyone can probably identify with this scene. Looking into the mirror and wishing you could see something or someone else in the reflection that comes back at you. The basic drawing by Flickrr artist Boboniaa has captured a mood that most of us experience on a daily basis.

What do you wish you saw when you looked in the mirror? Someone prettier? More successful? Better dressed? You're not alone. We all do, regardless of where we are in life. But look at the picture again. The reflection is much taller than the girl standing in front of the mirror. We think this is actually a young girl, projecting her future into the looking glass. Rather than being about frustration or regret, this image is actually full of hope! Every little girl dreams of being a princess. Nobody should ever stop them dreaming.

7. Cherry Blossoms

Sometimes, there doesn't appear to be any duality of meaning about a work of art and its title, and that's absolutely fine. We think Esther Kirby may have painted a study in female self-pleasure, and we're fine with that. Heaven knows that there's enough work out there in the world about male sexuality and its uses.

The title of the piece serves as both a description of the color scheme and a rather amusing double-entendre if we're correct about what the subject is actually doing. Given her state of semi dishevelment and the expression of pure orgasmic bliss, we're not going to second guess ourselves. There's nothing to be ashamed of or prudish about here. This is an ode to the joys of self-pleasure, and women enjoying their sexuality on their own terms. And we salute it!

8. Every Rainbow Has A Cloud

Ever left someone or something for what seemed like a better alternative, only to find out that you end up with the exact same problem presented a different way? We think that's what's going on here in Filipe Dos Santos' painting. All of us, at some point, have worn the exact expression as this woman, whilst we've sat and ruminated on our life choices.

She seems to hold her troubles in her hands, and although a rainbow offers her a way out, it's only going to take her to more trouble. It's a classic case of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't.' Note how her face is out of proportion to her body; it's an artistic choice designed to emphasize her woe and help us, in turn, to understand it in ourselves. Sometimes the only options we have are bad ones. We still have to choose.

9. Identity Separation

We didn't even realize that we'd had this emotion until we saw this picture. Look at the painstaking detail that artist Cecilia Carlstedt has included on the face, the hair and the headgear. This is a woman of elegance and sophistication. She's dressed up to the nines out to impress. She wouldn't look out of place at a royal wedding. Consider all of the elegance and grace of the head, and then contrast it with the jagged separation at the neck.

That violent break hasn't been put there by accident. This is about separation of body and mind; or more specifically of self and image. How many of us have put on a brave face; either one of make up or simply a fake smile; when we felt anything but fine underneath? How often have we got all dressed up to go somewhere only to feel that when we arrived, we didn't belong?

10. War Paint

There's some serious defiance in the eyes of this lady. Mark Sarmel has captured the gaze of a confident and determined woman in his drawing and applied a layer of artistic interpretation to it that enhances the meaning. It's impossible not to look at this image and think of the face painted tribal warriors of old. There's a definite juxtaposition of femininity and animalistic passion.

Women often have a harder time in the workplace than men do. Confident women sometimes suffer more; they're seen as cold or unsympathetic for having the exact same demeanor that successful men do. A confident, successful woman is therefore something of a warrior. Every good warrior needs war paint! This is a colorful, vibrant representation of a woman who's ready to do battle in the world of the 21st century.

11. A Modern Muse

Everything about Emilie Dionne's work here screams 'classical'. It could almost be a page from da Vinci's own scrapbook, as it apes several elements of his style. Sometimes, there's a real pleasure to be taken in stripping away everything apart from a sheet of paper and a pencil and working from there. That's exactly what she has done in this piece, and she's captured an image of radiant beauty with a modern twist.

It's the piercing in the eyebrow, if you hadn't noticed it already. That's what marks this out as being drawn within the last ten years, as opposed to the last one hundred. Also note the slightly contemptuous gaze of the subject. A century or two ago, a young woman would have been delighted to be asked to sit for a portrait; in fact, flattery was the expected response. The expression in this woman's eyes, by contrast, seems to ask you what makes you think you have the right to stare?

12. Nature Upon Nature

We could give this painting the one-word review of "alluring", but that would be doing an enormous disservice to artist Audrey Kawaski. All of the individual elements combine to portray a deeply sensual scene; the woman in a state of almost complete undress, the sun setting in the background, the scene straight from nature. But if you can take your eyes away from her from a second, you'll notice that there are ropes hanging from the tree. Could they be intended as nooses?

If we do take them to be nooses, could the theme of the painting then actually become 'temptation'? Temptation is also a part of human nature, and it was under a tree in the Garden of Eden that temptation is said to have risen for the first time. Tales of dangerous, alluring women have been used to tantalize and terrorize men for years, dating back to sirens leading ships onto rocks. Are we looking at a siren under this tree?

13. Take The Red Pill

Bear with us on this one. We appreciate that the subject of this painting, by an artist named Tavish, doesn't actually depict a woman holding a red pill. It looks more like a Popsicle. But not all art is literal, and we suspect this is one of those paintings that has hidden depths. What we're actually seeing is a very confident, self-assured and beautiful woman of color who's secure within her own identity. The fiery red hair exudes an individuality and surety as cool and level as her gaze.

In 'The Matrix' the red pill took Neo deeper into the reality, and the blue pill took him back to fantasy land. Could this woman be feeding us the red pill of reality when it comes to black women and their place in the modern world?

14. Aphrodite

For anyone not in the know, Aphrodite is the Goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation who is strongly associated with the planet Venus. Ever heard that expression 'men are from Mars and women are from Venus? Well, yeah, that's where it comes from. Cool right? Gabriele Pennacchioli used the concept in his illustration 'Aphrodite' to create a stunning piece that will make you question how women ever came to surrender to patriarchy.

After getting to this illustration you've probably by now realized how much strength and power is contained within femininity. However, none of Gabriele's illustrations paint it as poignantly as in Aphrodite. The fact that the faceless subject is having a little bit of a Marilyn Monroe moment makes it that even better as she adopts the ethereal power of the divine Goddess.

15. Love Struck

This picture by Martina Flor Arce is open to a wide range of interpretations. Note the expression of surprise on the girl. She even looks slightly embarrassed, based on the blushing of her cheeks. Given the love hearts, we can probably safely assume that she's been visited by cupid's arrow. But if we look at this as an image of a love-struck girl, are we being too simplistic?

Note how the love hearts are tangled with her flame red hair, almost as if they're part of the same thing. Red haired people; especially red haired women; have had a hard time historically. They're not as easily accepted to be as beautiful as their blonde or brunette peers. So, is the real story of the picture actually about a girl who's finally come to love herself?

16. Maze

It's no secret that for about the past ten years now, young girls outperform young boys on an educational level in the Western world. This painting seems to be about demanding respect for that fact. Everything out the image has been scaled to emphasize female superiority. We have a girl standing, aloof and from a distance, observing a boy (note how he's been made to appear even smaller by the scale) amusing himself by chasing a simple circle in the distance. Meanwhile she's wrestling with a fairly complex maze. She's apparently light years ahead of him in terms of problem solving ability.

There may be a secondary message in this piece by James Jean, too. Note how the struggles of the boy are out in the open. Everybody can see that he's chasing his circle. The girl keeps her much more complicated problem hidden out of sight behind her. Do women suffer silently with more troublesome problems than men speak aloud?

17. Blue Bikini

By now you'll be noticing that a great deal of Gabriele Pennacchioli's work revolves around semi-clad subjects, and hopefully you'll now be starting to realize why. We've been programmed as a society to view nudity and flesh as vulgar or offensive, but Gabriele has a poignant talent in his ability to draw women in a way that embraces the female form without sexualizing it or vilifying it.

Yes, the subject is perfectly toned, muscular and tanned and pretty much conforming to every law of beauty that we are subjected to adhere to, but there is no reason why a similar prowess can't be donned by every woman, regardless of what the world thinks of you, because we were never born to answer to the world. Now go put on a blue bikini and rock it.

18. Little Vampire

It is often said that it is in childhood that we at our most fierce, before a time when crippling self-doubt and general lack of confidence kicks in and by then, we're too afraid to admit what we do want and what we actively detest. 'Little Vampire' by Gabriele Pennacchioli may be the perfect representation of how that attitude can become lost all too quickly.

Replace the garlic in the picture with what you most despise, then imagine donning a similar demeanor to the little vampire and you'll find that there's not a lot that can stand in your way. Men are constantly telling us to smile whilst through his work Gabriele grants us permission to snarl instead as he tells the world that we are not as passive as we are thought to be.

19. Poorsailor

Sticking with James Jean for a moment, here's another one of his wonderfully poignant works. Without drawing a single tear on her face, Jean has managed to paint a picture that feels completely sad. The title of the work is 'Poorsailor' which is something of an enigma, but the emotion it gives off is definitely one of misery. There is perhaps a slight undertone of accusation in her stare, too.

She's a well-dressed, beautiful and delicate woman with a pearl in her hair. Perhaps she was expecting to go somewhere, do something or see someone, but has been let down. Perhaps she's a metaphor for every woman who's ever got less than they deserved out of life. We are all trying to sail seas of our own, and sometimes the wind isn't on our side. We're all occasionally poor sailors.

20. Overwhelmed

The carnival inside your head just won't stop sometimes. You lay in bed, knowing that you're tired and knowing that you really need to get some sleep, but the never-ending cacophony of thoughts just won't quit. Other times, you know you really need to concentrate on your work, but a whole smorgasbord of unrelated thoughts won't stop distracting you. We've all been there.

This girl just can't get her work done. Jinyoung Shin has drawn us a mood we can all relate to. She just wants to get engrossed in her book and feel a little love, either for herself or someone else. Unfortunately for her, those gray-scale nightmare thoughts just won't leave her alone. They've even developed a claw to scrape at her consciousness with. Squint a little, and they have the appearance of a dragon. Whether it's distractions, depressions, disappointments or something else, we've all fought dragons in our minds before.

21. Fairy

Gabriele Pennacchioli's art piece 'Fairy' proves that magic comes in all shapes and sizes. Read into that what you will. But when have you ever seen a plus sized fairy? They don't seem to be prevalent in artist depictions of folklore, which is fairly ridiculous considering that they were made up in our minds, yet we still see fairies as petite women or girls that don't seem to vary much from character representations such as Tinkerbell.

Once again Gabriele has connected femininity and beauty to nature, showing that it's not as inseparable as we have come to believe, that may be hard to digest given the 21st centuries obsession with Starbucks, smartphones and social media, but the connection is still there, and it would probably be a lot of fun to embrace it. Go ahead.

22. Waiting

It's not uncommon to see a beautiful woman hanging around whilst becoming increasingly disempowered as she waits around for a worthless guy that wasn't even worth a fragment of her time. Yet has there ever been a more poignant depiction than Gabriele Pennacchioli's 'Waiting'? Her stunning doe eyed expression which tells you that she's very much aware of her stupidity, she's pained, but she hasn't let that power slip quite just yet.

Beyond the stockings, champagne and smartphone 'Waiting' tells the tale before it is told, before she has that momentous epiphany realizes her self-worth, throws back the champagne and tells whoever was ridiculous enough in the first place to keep her waiting to get screwed and calls her girls instead. Men may not always recognize our worth, but that doesn't mean we should ignore it.

23. Mad

To anyone familiar with the iconic still from cult film American Psycho, you're probably going to adore the beautifully ironic illustration of 'Mad' by Gabriele Pennacchioli. His subject's blood splattered face may not be the most perceptibly beautiful one he's brought to life through his deft creativity, but before you dismiss the brashness of the angsty woman as less than aesthetically pleasing model why don't you take another look.

Take another look at the light in the confrontation of her eyes, the snarl of a lioness which reiterates the fact that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. All too often women feel the need to be apologetic for their anger when we should feel free to embrace it and smash through the misconception that anger is only acceptable for a man to display.

24. Sleeping

Gabriele Pennacchioli's illustration 'Sleeping' shows the more fragile and vulnerable side to femininity which is a side that isn't portrayed all too often. The piece takes you aback to make you realize for every night that you've spent alone connected to a mobile, tablet, or laptop or whatever seeking validation you most certainly weren't alone.

The 21st century can be pretty isolating, let's not pretend it isn't, perhaps this piece makes you feel a little awkward, perhaps it forces you to challenge your own loneliness or perhaps it serves as an offering of solidarity amongst every woman that has ever felt alone. The addition of the teddy bears into the image show that despite the maturity that we're forced to adopt so early on in life, it's still there, hidden away out of social media sight.

25. Survivor

Survivor is perhaps one of the most emotive pieces yet from Gabriele Pennacchioli's recent collections of work. The subject may be semi-nude, but straight away your attention is drawn to her eyes. Her personable soft eyes offer a confrontation which is infinitely inviting and enticing as you drink in the suggestibility that her eyes effortlessly yet innocently exude.

Given that the beautifully drawn subject has undergone a double mastectomy this doesn't detract from her beauty in the slightest. Her beauty supersedes the hinderance of any scars in a way which screams 'I've accepted my difference I'm not even going to entertain the idea that it will stand in my way?' It's about time we all accepted the fact that bodies may be a little different to the plasticity that we see daily on the TV!

26. Parade

If your head had been separated from your shoulders and you were forced to carry it around on a piece of string, you'd probably look pretty sour about it, too. We don't actually think that's what Sara Harvey's 'Parade' is all about though. The expression on our decapitated subject's face isn't one of despair. It's one of resignation.

Parades just go on and on. A parade is really just a performance, and we can keep up a performance long after we've forgotten what the point is. Whether it's a job or a relationship, each of us knows the feeling of dragging ourselves along in something, far beyond the point we've passed caring. Our heads are no longer truly in it. We're just floating through our days, dragging ourselves along, in a mood of complete indifference. This picture is reminding you not to do that. Don't waste your time. Get out!

27. Snake Princess

Snakes and serpents have long been associated with female sexuality and beauty. Historically snakes have represented fertility or a creative life force, they symbolize transformation, healing and immortality. Serpents may be depicted as evil in the bible, but Gabriele Pennacchioli utilizes them in an entirely different light in his illustration 'Snake Princess'. Like women snakes are graceful creatures but getting them riled is probably a bad idea.

Gabriele utilized the imagery in an almost genius fashion as the two serpents rear up full of anger and venom whilst the girl giving the command of attack remains placidly sweet, almost with an air of innocence to her as she effortlessly uses the minions at her command to provide a defense. The illustration kind of makes you want to go out and get a snake doesn't it?

28. Dane

Whilst there's not much femininity on show in Dane, there is still so much to be read into the beguiling illustration created by illustrator Gabriele Pennacchioli. The power which the Great Dane is demonstrating in this illustration makes it almost baffling to question why the anonymous female subject is clinging on for control.

No matter how much determination the dog has in its eyes, it's no match for the strength that is being depicted in the struggle for control. That's all that life is really isn't it? A fight for power and control whilst it may seem like the woman is losing the battle, she's not losing the war considering the fact she's making no bones about attempting to reclaim her power and control over the situation. Perhaps we have a lot to learn from Gabriele's illustration.

29. Sausage Dog

With a bit of a contrast to the image above 'Dane' 'Sausage Dog' still keeps with the hound theme but tells a completely different story. The old saying goes a dog is a man's best friend, perhaps that expression should be changed to be gender neutral, because quite frankly the concept that diamonds are a girl's best friend is pretty ridiculous and we should not be buying into it (quite literally).

All women look for loyalty in men, but perhaps we've been looking for it in all the wrong places, perhaps we should have invested our attention and love into dogs who will always be more than happy to reciprocate. Whichever way you read into Gabriele Pennacchioli's illustration Sausage Dog you'll never be able to deny the irrefutable confidence and domineering stature of the woman.

30. Natural Beauty

It's occasionally nice to take off all the makeup, let your hair hang naturally and just be yourself for a little while. Artist Carambatack Sabrina would like you to remember that and treat yourself to a little 'me' time every now and then. Look how content and serene our muse is; her eyes are closed, and her expression is one of absolute relaxation.

The natural theme of the piece comes through the images we see distributed through her hair. The earthy tones and floral designs come together to form butterflies and bees if you look at them the right way, and they seem to be flowing from her, as if they were a part of her own natural radiance. It's important that you're able to feel content with your natural self. Comfort in your own skin is the best comfort of all.

31. New Life

It's no secret that women are the creators of life, it's kind of evident, yet, somehow, we forget the fact that we quite literally rule the world. Thankfully Gabriele Pennacchioli's illustration 'New Life' reminds us of this often-disregarded fact. Whilst we may not give birth to strange alien like creatures that look like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch our maternal powers are still poignantly depicted in New Life.

Perhaps what's most striking about the image is the urgency, the expectation and trust offered to the woman by the little alien spawn, to be fair, it looks cuter than most new born babies so you can't help wanting to give it a cuddle, but the reproach depicted by the woman as she stares into its enlarged eyes through pure wonderment is more than words could ever narrate.

32. The Princess And The Pea

What at first glance appears to be a gaudy and colorful retelling of a famous old story is, in fact, anything but. If you looked at Lorena Alvarez's art and saw nothing but the princess struggling to feel the pea through far too many mattresses, look closer.

There is, admittedly, a leaf of the pea towards the very bottom of the pile. The pea itself, however, has escaped. It's no longer in the bed. Our princess is never going to feel it, because it's not there to be felt. All she has below her is a tiny piece of it. If she wants to feel the rest, she's going to need to get off the bed. Sometimes the things we want are within our reach, but not within our grasp. We have to go looking for them. Lorena Alvarez has subverted a fairytale to remind us of that.

33. Alone

No one ever likes to admit feeling alone, as a consequence people grow up believing that it is shameful to experience the emotion when really, when you think about it, that line of thinking is quite ridiculous. 'Alone' is a truly harrowing concept piece from Gabriele Pennacchioli which speaks volumes about the interconnected dysfunctional world in which we live in, but really, we may as well be living in outer space.

As the melancholic subject stares into space oblivious to the wonderment contained within the galaxy you realize how isolating the world can be, especially for women. Its images such as these that make you question every woman that you've ever encountered and seen as a rival or a threat, when at the end of the day, we're all human living in an alien world.

34. Man & Woman

Gabriele Pennacchioli seems to be caught up in emasculating men through his representation of the sexes which you have seen in 'Man', 'Lady of the Lake', and 'Athena' which makes a change from most how artists represent women in their work. However, by now you've probably realized that Gabriele isn't your average artist. His admirable passion to invoke feminine positivity is palpable in pretty much every single one of his recent art works.

As the miniscule man sits atop her voluptuous frame it is impossible not to feel the least bit empowered as you drink in her demure attitude whilst she questions what she's going to do with him and he defenselessly awaits the verdict from the woman he's come to respect in a rather pious fashion. See, that's all women ever really wanted - respect.

35. Joy

When's the last time you looked as happy as the voluptuously stunning woman depicted in Gabriele Pennacchioli's colorful piece 'Joy'? One things for sure, you're probably not going to see someone reveling in such catharsis one their morning commute. In one of his most vividly eye-catching pieces yet Gabriele invites you to challenge any prejudice or misconceptions you have of beauty and shows you what true beauty is really about.

If you're still struggling to work out the definition of beauty, it's acknowledging the fact that humans weren't all designed to be aesthetically pleasing to you, but that doesn't mean those that don't fit the bill should be chastised under anyone's sniping judgement. All women should be free and made to feel comfortable enough to find this level of contentment everywhere that they go.

36. Contact

It's a gorgeous piece, but what on earth does the Fantasy piece represent in relation to feminine strength and beauty? Good question! For too long the history books have always put men at the forefront of discoveries, voyages and pretty much every human evolutionary advancement. Hell, men have even taken credit for discoveries made by women but in Gabriele Pennacchioli's catchy illustration 'Contact' we see the natural curiosity which is all too often hidden away in depictions of femininity.

The way the scantily clad subject reaches out for the radiant reflection of light through absolute wonderment shows a passion that is often unseen through a woman's eyes in art. All too often they are glazed eyed and passive under the male gaze. Gabriele may just be one of the best feminist illustrators of our time.

37. Sailor Moon

To anyone that may be blissfully aware of the iconic Japanese Manga character Sailor Moon the irony of this illustration by Gabriele Pennacchioli may get a little lost on you. So, let me fill you in; Sailor Moon is a super cute, petite, doe eyed stick thin character who always seems to be adopting the smiles that men insist women wear. So, Gabriele's illustration is quite the contrast with his plus-sized raging representation.

The headstrong battle-ready queen in Gabriele's Sailor Moon has shed any coy or demure restraint which women in anime (and everywhere else) are so often repressed under to create an image that speaks volumes on how society expects women to carry themselves. There really is no tearing yourself away from the determination in the eyes of Gabriele's intergalactic genius representation of Sailor Moon.

38. Stitched Up

This woman is not holding a misshapen party balloon. It's actually a balloon that's been ripped open, stitched back together again, and still floating against all the odds. The holder may not be enraptured with it, but she seems content enough. It will do.

The dreams we have when we were younger don't always work out. Even the dreams we have as adults can lose their way. But we shouldn't allow that to get us down or discourage us. Lyubov Dubina's picture shows us someone who's had the courage to put their dream back together again and let it float once more, even if it doesn't look exactly as it did previously. Note the angle of the woman? It's almost like she's being pulled along by the balloons. Your dreams - even repaired ones - can still carry you if you let them.

39. Shame

This stylistic design by Laura Su is, to us, a coming of age piece. To many, it may be a slightly sad looking girl in an elegant ballgown, perhaps on her way home after a disappointing night. To us, the color of the dress and the age of the girl is totally relevant to the piece.

Some countries are lucky, in that periods and puberty aren't taboo subjects. We can talk about them openly, we're told what to expect and when to expect it, and we're usually supported through our whole introduction to them. That isn't the case elsewhere in the world, where girls and women are seen as unclean when menstruating and can even be forbidden from contact with other people. In our eyes, this is a young girl coming of age, visited by the red tide of her first period, and feeling shame because of it. And now we want to give her a hug.

40. Hidden Depths

It might take you a couple of glances at this picture to notice more than the weather and the smile of the blonde woman who's front and center. If that's all you registered, have another look. We'll give you a clue; look underneath her coat. She'll catch her death of cold in that wind!

This is a work by Alisa Astrouskaya, who appears to be making a point about retaining our sensuality and sexuality as women regardless of whatever life throws at us. The sun won't always shine in our lives. Sometimes the heavens will open, the winds will blow, and we might even wonder if we'll ever see the sun again. But in adversity, we should always retain the power and the confidence to be sensual, to be sexy, and to be proud of both of those things.

41. Shower on the Beach

Has there ever been a Disney princess that didn't strictly follow the normative body hair removal processes? No? I didn't think so, which is funny if you think about it considering that I'm pretty sure female Disney characters have never been seen with a razor in hand. Is it any wonder that girls grow up compelled to detest any sprouting of body hair, compelled to follow the regime without question in the belief that body hair is unsightly?

Shower on the Beach is one of Gabriele Pennacchioli's most undeniably unapologetic pieces yet, the fierce female subject is quite literally owning it and looking absolutely stunning in the process. Let that be a lesson to you girls; defy the normative concepts of beauty that are inflicted upon you and let go of any shame or self-doubt.

42. Ice Queen

So much of this Mark Sarmel drawing seems to scream 'sex' at you that for a moment you wonder why he gave it a title like 'ice queen' - until you pause to consider the posturing and the color scheme. The title also invites you to think about how that phrase is used, and the sort of women it's used to describe.

The woman in this image seems guarded. Her collar is up, and she's almost side on to our gaze, as if in a defensive post. So-called "ice queens" are accused of being emotionally remote and sexually inaccessible, but in reality, they may just be closely guarding their emotions and their sexuality. This woman's sexuality is written all over her face if anyone cares to look, but presumably nobody notices because she's been dismissed as per the title.

43. Childhood

The time between childhood and adulthood is a traumatic one to navigate. One day, a child goes out to play make believe in the garden for the last time ever. They'll play with dolls for the last time, draw you a picture of a flower for the last time, cry over a scratch for the last time. As children approach their teenage years, almost every day contains another 'last'.

This picture by Amy Sol appears to capture a girl right on the cusp of letting go of her own childhood. She's out among nature, still gathering posies and flowers, but in her eye-line, a teddy bear has packed its bags and is preparing to leave her. She no longer requires it as a friend. Note the steel in her eyes; she isn't sad. She no longer feels like a child, and no longer needs childish things.

44. Wonderland

Wyanne Thompson is a clever artist. What appears to be a basic - perhaps even childish - painting of a girl in a field may actually be something a little darker. There's a slight feel of Alice in Wonderland to the painting, probably owed to the color scheme and the rabbit passing by. Everything seems fairly normal until you start to notice the leaves of the trees are made from newspaper clippings. And that there's only one complete word on the whole painting.

"Caution". For whom is the warning intended? Us, as the viewer, or the girl in the picture? There's a danger that sweet little girls like the one seen here can wander off into the world without realizing its dangers and downfalls. Not everywhere is Wonderland. Not everything is beautiful. Sweetness and innocence are wonderful things, but caution will always be required for young girls becoming women.

45. Adele

Based on an original portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by the famous painter, Gustav Klimt, this piece of art is certainly something special. If it doesn't scream feminine power to you, then we have to assume we're looking at two different images! Everything about this modernized image of Block-Bauer I's portrait has the ability to send shivers up the spine.

We don't know if it's the extravagant dress with too many ruffles to count or the various representations of the legendary 'evil eye' draped across her lap - but there's also an element of mystery about this sensual woman. The image of the throne-like chair behind her symbolizes a level of importance in society, as well as a confidence that she wears in her stare. We bet Adele was a very cool lady in her time!

46. Dangling the Carrot

Why just tempt a beast when you can have fun riding one at the same time? This piece by Gabriele Pennacchioli is ingenious beyond words It simultaneously depicts the presence of control that all women have locked away inside of us. However, sadly, due to the insecurities which comes off the back of being force fed notions of beauty that power can all too quickly slip away.

Men may very well be the stronger sex in a physical sense, but what women harness is almost insurmountable in comparison. Our feminine wiles are one of our greatest weapons. Why fight the beast when we can tame them instead by dangling a quite literal carrot? Well played Gabriele well played. If there was ever an illustration to help you realize your power and potential, it's this one.

47. Elephant Rains On Girl

And now for something completely abstract. We have a DeviantArt poster named 'noINKLing' to thank for this design, which is truly a work of the imagination. In it, a faceless girl seems to clasp her hands together in thanks, as an upside down celestial elephant rains down on her, with added lightning. The image is a basic pencil drawing, with simplistic strokes contrasting with a violent shade of yellow, only slightly offset by a comforting pink-ish red.

Step back from the image for a moment and consider whether the patches of color behind her may actually be wings. Think about whether the elephant may really be a halo. Note how her hands are crossed, and suddenly what was a basic and confusing image is suddenly angelic. Could the tiny bird she holds in her transparent hands actually be stigmata? This may actually be a comment on the heavenly nature of womanhood.

48. Love the Rain

Did you know that water was yet another feminine symbol? It's like the world literally revolves around us! Water is regarded as a symbol of emotional healing. If you've ever got caught in a thunderstorm on a summers day you'll know what we mean, which is what makes the concept of Gabriele Pennacchioli's illustration of the girl in the rain deeper than you would presume it to be at first glance.

The beautiful hunger displayed by the curvy woman in her praise and worship for the rain is steeped in such moving symbolism when you consider the fact water and rain embodies physical and mental depths into which women plunge to discover what lingers inside of our gloriously created souls which are screaming out for empowerment. You'll never see rain in the same way again.

49. Indulgence

Who said art has to be high-brow? It definitely doesn't. Kathy Jefford is here to remind us that a painting can contain no hidden depths, no secondary meanings, and nothing but a sense of fun, and it's still fine to enjoy it. In fact, it's sometimes nice to look at something simple, instead of straining your mind trying to decipher what may or may not be there.

We've all wanted to be this woman occasionally. Lazily drifting along in a river, untroubled by another living soul, and surrounded by all of our favorite things. Images like this are what remind us to do things for ourselves occasionally. Book a holiday. Go to a spa. Have a massage. Do something that's all about yourself, and your own pleasure. Switch your phone off and find your own river to drift along. You'll thank yourself for it!

50. The Pain of Heartbreak

What better way to conclude the list than with Gabriele Pennacchioli's beautifully melancholic piece capturing a girl in the midst of her heartbreak? Whilst the reason for her heartbreak isn't evident in the illustration this just draws you deeper into the ominously perplexing piece as you get drawn into the pensive emotion that has been so poignantly depicted. Whilst a tear may be falling from the girl's eye her posture exudes pure strength, her chin is still held high, boldly proving that tears don't equate to weakness.

The coastal background is yet another example of Gabriele's playful experimentation with the symbolism of water and healing. Her tears are literally a drop in the ocean, how utterly genius is that? If you're not moved by this piece you may as well consider yourself as dead inside.



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