Baldr's Murderer, crowned in mistletoe. For the Month of Fear Challenge, Week One: Villains & Anti-Heroes. Graphite and charcoal on toned paper.
Forbidden Fruit. Acryla gouache & watercolor. 15" x 10".
The conclusion of the myth of Hades and Persephone:
Now when all-seeing Zeus heard that Demeter would let nothing blossom or bear fruit on the earth, he sent Hermes to win over Hades with his soft words, that he might return Persephone to the light, and that her mother might see her and cease from her anger.
And Hermes sprang down to the hidden places of the earth. He found the lord Hades in his house reclining with his shy wife at his side.
And Hermes said: 'Dark-haired Hades, ruler over the dead, Zeus bids me bring Persephone unto the light, that her mother may see her with her eyes and cease from her dread anger. For Demeter plans an awful deed, to destroy earth-born men by keeping seed hidden beneath the earth.'
Hades, ruler over the dead, smiled grimly and obeyed the behest of Zeus. For he urged Persephone, saying :
`Go now, Persephone, to your dark-robed mother, go, and feel kindly in your heart towards me. Be not so sorrowful; for I shall be no unfitting husband. If you are here, all that is mine shall be yours, and you shall rule over all within my realm.'
Though he said this, Persephone was filled with joy to return to her mother. So Hades gave her sweet pomegranate seed to eat, the food of the dead, which the living must not eat, so that she would return to him and her mother could not keep her away forever.
Then Hades prepared his deathless horses and his chariot. And Persephone mounted on the chariot, and strong Hermes took reins and whip. Swiftly they traversed their long course, and neither the sea nor mountains checked the speed of the immortal horses, but they cleft the deep air above them as they went. And Hermes brought them to Demeter.
When Demeter saw them, she rushed forth. When Persephone saw her mother's sweet eyes, she leaped from the chariot and ran to her, and embraced her. But while Demeter was still holding her dear child in her arms, her heart suddenly misgave her for some snare, so that she feared greatly and asked:
`My child, tell me, surely you have not tasted any food while you were below? Speak out and hide nothing, but let us both know. For if you have not, you shall come back from loathly Hades and live with me; but if you have tasted food, you must return beneath the secret places of the earth.’
Then Persephone answered her thus: `Mother, he put in my mouth sweet food, pomegranate seeds, and forced me to taste against my will.’
Because Persephone had eaten the food of the underworld, she was forced to return there, one month for each of the six seeds she had eaten. So during in the autumn and winter, Demeter mourns for her daughter and the earth lies barren. But in the spring, when Persephone returns to her mother, the earth blooms and bears fruit once again.
My easel near the finish of the painting. Mini-Loki and his clone stand on top of the easel, where they inspire me to greater heights of artistry. (Burdened with Glorious Purpose, and all that.)
The text of the myth is adapted & abridged from the Homeric Hymns, based on the translation by Hugh Gerard Evelyn-White.
The Unquiet Thought. Acryla gouache & watercolor on paper, 9" x 13".
A while ago, I read that one of Loki's kennings* is 'The Unquiet Thought.' I haven't been able to trace that kenning to its source, but it certainly fits him. There is nothing quiet about Loki. He is restless as the wind. He wanders through the Nine Realms, never truly at peace. His thoughts are haunted, and he haunts the thoughts of others.
This was my first assignment for Rebecca Guay's SmArt School class. She wanted me to use a new medium-- acryla gouache. It's a strange medium. The paint feels almost rough on the brush. I miss the jewel-like clearness of watercolor, but I love the opacity and color of the skin tones I can create with acryla gouache.
*A kenning is a poetic name for something or someone, like calling thunder "Thor's Laughter," or Thor himself "Mjolnir's wielder." Read this article for more about kennings.
Freya - Pencil and white pastel on toned paper.
Freya, the Norse goddess of love and beauty. She was always getting kidnapped or demanded as a bride (sort of like the Norse version of Princess Peach). Freya and her brother, Freyr, were two of the Vanir hostages sent to Asgard after the Aesir/Vanir war.
She owned a legendary necklace, the Brisingamen:
It has been suggested that it was a girdle, and again that it was a piece of amber, but the word men is generally used of a woman’s ornament worn at the neck…The meaning of the name has not been explained, and we do not know whether it was based on a family or tribal name, ‘the necklace of the Brisings’, or whether the reference is to the brightness of the ornament, from a rare form brisingr, ‘fire.’
-Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, H.R. Ellis Davidson
(Wasn't one of Christopher Paolini's books in the Eragon series called Brisingr?)
She had a carriage pulled by cats, and she also owned a feather cloak that let her turn into a falcon. Loki borrowed it several times, and Freya was always very generous about lending it.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. In these past few weeks I've started a job at a library. While I was driving to my first day of work, my hood latch snapped and the hood flew up and crashed into my windshield. The windshield didn't break, but the hood was wrecked. My car is fixed now, but when I drive I still find myself staring nervously at the hood instead of the road.
Kissed by Fire.
Pencil & white pastel on toned paper. 8" x 11".
Loki with one of his children. Here's the finished painting.
I recently discovered the wonders of a tripod for holding a camera steady, and decided to take shot at photographing this drawing. I had much better results than last time.
The drawing for my next painting, "Kissed by Fire." (I borrowed the phrase from George R.R. Martin.) This is Loki, god of fire, with one of his children.
That beastie is called the Mangog. The Mangog is very kind and friendly. It wants hugs.
The ads on the left page are truly special:
Scientific Wonder XRAY GLASSES. It can't be true, but look for yourself. Girls will never trust you with these, but let them look for themselves and apparently see legs right thru your pants. Amaze and embarrass everyone! Only .95.
CHAMELEON. Watch it change color! Wear it on your lapel! Alive! LIVE DELIVERY GUARANTEED. $1.95.
FAMOUS GERMAN MEDALS. Large, full size. Beautiful detail, authentic replica. Luftwaffe Nazi Pilot-Paratrooper $2.50. Nazi SS Swastika $2.50 Iron Cross $2.50.
MAMMOTH 9 FOOT HOT AIR BALLOON. AND 9-FOOT FLYING SAUCER. Ideal for July 4th celebrations, science clubs, or just real fun.
I can only imagine what the parents said when their son got a nine foot flying saucer in the mail.
Left page is a comic about Pete Duncan the Highschool Dropout and the importance of getting a GED. Great stuff!
Right page: Thor visits a hospital to heal Sif with his hammer's "strange rays." Apparently Mjolnir can create trans-dimensional vortexes, because Thor zaps himself and Sif to the Rainbow Bridge. Sif is no longer in her hospital gown, but wearing the latest in miniskirt armor.
Meanwhile, Loki has staged his weekly takeover of Asgard.
Left page: Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg are smashing things because they're bored. Right page: Loki shows up and asks (very reasonably) that they stop vandalizing the palace. Or, as the writer puts it:
But suddenly, the shrill, piercing, raucous voice of Loki rents the air like a banshee's wail--!
"DESIST! THY LIEGE COMMANDS."
Mythology 101: Loki is known to the Norse as the Silvertongue. His words can charm the birds out of the trees and soothe a savage Thor. It's probably a safe bet that he was never imagined as having a shrill voice.
Anyway, Loki sends Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg off to fight the Mangog.
Thor and Sif arrive at the palace. He and Loki turn on Yon Mystic Visi-Crystal (THAT'S REALLY WHAT IT'S CALLED) and watch the Mangog stomping his way towards Asgard in search of hugs.
And that's it. There are a few more pages, but the issue ends before Thor ever reaches the Mangog. So I have no idea how that fight ended. It's a safe bet that Thor won.
The bad news: my hard drive died this past weekend. I'm thinking about holding a funeral. I had lots of documents and image files that were not backed up, so my best hope is that the data recovery autopsy people can somehow get them back. So take warning from my mistake: ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK.
The good news: a friend loaned me some old Thor comics. They are utterly hilarious. I don't think they were intended to be hilarious, but...
This issue is from July 1971.
The ads seem targeted towards skinny adolescent boys who want to look Thor-ly.
Now Odin gets blasphemous. Also, Odin's hat. ODIN'S HAT. I can't call it a helmet. And why does the One-Eyed god have two eyes?
So eventually Thor and Company return to Asgard, only to find that Loki's taken over by seizing the all-powerful Odin-Ring, which Odin just happened to leave lying around before he went off to rescue Thor. (Honestly. Odin just leaves stuff lying around, like the Blue Cube of Doom.) I think Loki takes over Asgard on a weekly basis. He doesn't seem to do any lasting harm. He just cackles and stalks around and banishes people.
Odin's not the only one with a funky hat. It looks like Loki stole one of the Queen's hats and stuck some horns on it. And it's pink. Loki, no one will take you seriously as an evil tyrant if you're wearing a pink hat.
Today I took the best parts of my sketches and mashed them together in Gimp, blew it up to the size I wanted, reversed the image, printed it, drew over it, flipped it over on top of my illustration board, and did a rubbing transfer. (Yes, it's a weird, complicated process.)
Then I began drawing over the transfer.
Rebecca Guay helped me design some interesting flowy robes for Loki. (I love Rebecca's paintings. As a child I loved the book covers she painted without ever knowing her name, until last year when I finally connected the name with the illustrations.)
So. Painting tomorrow!
(Update: a reader has informed me that this is a statue of Hercules fighting Nessus, sculpted by Giambologna.) I found this amazing statue in one of my Google searches, but I can't find the name of the artist. This is Hercules fighting a centaur. I love that hand pressing against Hercules' chest. I want to use that hand.
So I went back to my reference photos and began piecing together arms and legs and torsos.
At this point Donato told me to stop obsessing over musculature and concentrate on the faces, since the faces are the most important thing-- that's where the viewer's eye will linger, and the emotion on the faces is what will make the painting.
So I went and drew emotive faces.
James Gurney came today to give a lecture. He walked around the studios and stopped to talk with me for a while. He said he loved those heads!
Several other people thought that these faces weren't expressive enough, so I turned on Youtube and got Tom Hiddleston's face and drew sad Loki and screaming Loki. That ought to be emotive enough.
In the end, I decided I really like that second pair of Thor and Loki heads. Those are the faces I'm going with. This is a moment of calm in the midst of the battle, when Thor has to decide if he really has the strength of will to bring that hammer down on Loki.
I'm back at the IMC! I loved it so much last year that I had to come again. (It's totally worth the money.) The first day was spent in critique groups. My sketches of Thor and Loki were critiqued by Julie Bell and Donato Giancola.
And the photo is blurry because they were moving so fast for my camera couldn't keep up.
EVERYONE, including my brother, his wife, other students, Donato, and Julie agreed that the sketch on the bottom right is the best. Thor and Loki are eye-to-eye, staring at each other. The moment before the hammer comes down and the dagger strikes. Old friendship vs. bitter hatred.
Julie's quick marker drawing of the basic shapes in the design. Ball of lightning in the upper left from Mjölnir. White column-shapes of the bodies. Dark mist around them.
I went back to Donato for more help with the pose. He did these sketches as suggestions. His paintings are so deeply emotional and epic, and I want to channel as much of that as I can.
More revised thumbnails. Tomorrow I'll shoot my reference photos. I've already cornered a model for Thor...
I'm headed to the IMC again this year. (YES!!) One of the illustration assignments is an action sequence involving vikings or Norse mythology. I don't usually paint muscley men in combat, so I want to give it a shot. I've also been on a Norse mythology kick recently, triggered by the recently released trailer for Thor 2. (Loki's HAIR.) In the Norse tales, Loki and Thor were not brothers, though they behaved a lot like brothers. One was always dragging the other along on some wild quest, and someone (usually Loki) had to get them out of whatever mess Thor's impetuosity caused.
At some point the two became enemies, or rather, Loki became everyone's enemy. Either way. At the end of the world, at Ragnarok, Loki will fight on the side of the monsters and the dead, and Thor on the side of men and the gods.
I did a lot of quick sketches from combat videos on Youtube. On the right, Loki with his dagger. On the left, Thor with Mjölnir. I'm debating about whether a one-handed or two-handed hammer is cooler.
But I don't want to go completely action-scene-muscley-men-fighting. The real tension in this battle is bitter, venomous hatred-- and any lingering love. After all, one of Thor's kennings in mythology is "he who has compassion for Loki," and one of Loki's is "friend of Thor."
Another sketch for Loki, casting fire.