Musings About Muses and Little Red Riding Hood

What awakens your creativity?

I was always that kid watching the world, drawing. Detached.
Is it something we're born with? I think that's part of it, certainly.
Children are awake to their creative nature.
Grown-ups tend to fall asleep.

For me, my muse was fully awakened with the birth of my daughter. I was no longer the observer, I was part of creation.

There were several years when she was a itty bitty that I put down my former tools of creativity. There is something inherently selfish about being an artist. It's a timeless zone that takes offense to the interruptions of earthly demands like a crying child. So in the interest of being a fully present parent, I put those things aside, thinking I would be able to be creative again one day. I didn't realize that my creative being would be entirely transformed through her. I was blessed with a child that would happily spend hours making marks on paper with her mommy. Finger painting, play dough, gluing scraps to paper plates. She delighted in all of it, and so did I! As her creative nature unfolded and grew, so did mine.

Another child came along. I was nervous. How could I love anyone else as much as I already loved Her? What I didn't yet know is that love increases exponentially, never diminishing. And my creative nature feasted! I was no longer just the observer. I was part of creation. I was honored.

Projects became puppet theaters and refrigerator box playhouses. I discovered fabric though my children, making capes, and tents, and tiny capes and tents for stuffed animals friends. And, most importantly, I discovered an unlimited well of inspiration, available by listening.

My children rarely require my constant presence now. There is no more finger painting. But I find that if I listen carefully enough I am treated to songs and poems and glimpses of sketchbooks.

And I have discovered that creativity, like love, increases exponentially.

. . .

Is it any wonder then that I find muses buried in the stories I poured over with my children?
I'm not the first to find a muse in Little Red Riding Hood. There's just something about that girl and her edible grandmother that has captured the imagination of children (and grown-ups) for generations.

The story we now know as Little Red Riding Hood was first published in French in 1697, but had been passed down orally for who knows how long before that. It was included in several English fairy tale collections in the 1700s, such as in A Pretty Book for Children; or in The Top Book of All, for Little Misters and Misses.

So many artists have been inspired by Little Red. Charles Dickens even said that she was his first love.

Here are a few two-dimensional incarnations of Little Red and her anthropomorphic Wolfy nemesis by different artists-

In the original stories, Little Red was always eaten up (let that be a lesson to you, wandering around in the woods talking to wolves)! Then various manly-types rescued her (and sometimes Grandma) for another couple of hundred years. It wasn't until the 1970s that Little Red started outsmarting that bad ole wolf and saving herself and her grandmother without assistance.

I think I like those endings best.


  1. Let's hear it for the evolution of ideas about icons, such as girls outsmarting wolves instead of being devoured by them!! And thanks for the collection of gorgeous images from over the years. Very inspiring...must go create now...

  2. Jo that was so sweet about your children..and I love the history behind the Little Red Riding Hood....Thank you I so enjoyed this post (ok I always enjoy ur post)...

    Sonia ;)

  3. Jo
    What a fun post. I loved the story of little Red Riding Hood as a child. Funny how stories like these are timeless. I find I have wolves everyday to combat and over come, both inner and otter wolves. Sometimes doing battle with them turns these wolves into good friends:)
    Thanks for your post.

  4. Fabulous post!

    "Another child came along. I was nervous. How could I love anyone else as much as I already loved Her?"I so remember wondering the same thing when I was pregnant with our second daughter. LOL

    Loved the information and history on LRRH and the illustrations are awesome!

  5. Now there's a post that resonates. I think I'm right smack bang in the thick of working through that little battle, waiting for the way to become clear. Thank you for the reminder to listen carefully!

  6. Thank you Jo for sharing.

    I don't know you from Adam.. I mean, I wouldn't know you if I walked right up to you... but somehow through reading your posts, I feel like I do know you, or at least a tiny bit of you.

    I have known or dealt with so many types of wolves in my life! I'm getting older now. I just kick them in the groin now...LOL

    Thank you Jo


  7. Thank you so much for writing this. It was so thoughtful and lovely! You have the most beautiful insights!


  8. What yummy pictures! The different versions of the story are so interesting. :-)

  9. This was one of my favourite stories, and still is. Jo, do you know about Tatterhood? I think she's another side or version of the hooded female.... maybe even Red is a sanitized and warning the girls version.
    Thank you so so much for this post. It is full of such treasures, and THANKS for the imagery! I think I like those old black and whites the best... mmm. (no colorization for me, thanks. Give it to me straight up.)

    Have a great great weekend!

  10. What a beautiful post Jo. You are an awesome writer.

    Having my first child change my life completely. I too was lucky to have a child that was happy sitting to sit at the table for long stretches of time just playing with paints and papers and such. (It helps to keep the tv off and far away) Just today we stood together working on art and I was feeling so blessed to be able to share that time together. She is almost 13 and growing up so fast.

    Your little red photos are cool too. Thanks!

  11. What a wonderful post Jo.

    Thank you for sharing your creative path.

    Lovely Red Riding hood photos.



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