Flower

Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category

The Oresteia

The Oresteia is a three-play Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus. It consists of ‘Agamemnon’, ‘The Libation Bearers’, and ‘Eumenides.’ Chronologically speaking (if you can assign a chronology to Greek Mythology in the first place…), it’s one of the last stories to take place in the world of classical Greek Mythology (The Heroic Age? I guess that would be a better name for it. We live in the age AFTER the Heroic Age, the fifth age of the world; the age where gods no longer mix with mortals. More on that some other time, I promise). It’s post Trojan War and tells the story of Agamemnon’s return home, his murder, and the subsequent revenge taken by his children, particularly his son, Orestes. Of course the gods get involved, and it gets a lot more complicated, not to mention, well, tragic.

Anyhow, I don’t know how much of the plot I should really discuss here, because it’s definitely worth the read. And I mean, a thousand years ago when I used to make book covers all the time, it was with the hope of creating an interest in the story itself. And hopefully that’s the case with the three illustrations I made for the Oresteia. This story messed me up! In the best way! Got my imagination all fired up and I hope that comes across in the images and… maybe.. just maybe… does it toooo… YOU?!

Long story short, you should get a good translation and read the Oresteia! Or if you can time it right, go see them being performed somewhere! (Wouldn’t that be nice…)

So these three images sort of fall exactly into the middle of the stories. It was a scene from Libation Bearers that inspired this, though it’s not so terribly specific. They are each intended to be able to stand alone while still working together as a coherent set. The colours are carried through all three, as well as the set pieces. There is a tableau-ish quality to them, alluding to the fact that they are originally plays.

I did a rough draft of them in gouache, which admittedly is pretty close to the finals, but the final images are the final images. I’m actually very happy with how these turned out. I’m a little surprised that they’re almost exactly what I pictured. That, uh, doesn’t happen very often (though it has been happening more and more lately…).

Going from rough sketches to finals.

The originals are quite small, only 5″x7″, but I made them with the intention of making prints on a larger scale for the ’18 Artist Project. Scroll back a couple posts to see them! They’re on the Death Wall.

The framed prints that were up at the ’18 Artist Project.

And finally, the final paintings!

‘The Chorus’

‘Orestes and Electra’

‘Agamemnon’s Tomb’

The Artist Project 2018

Hi! Long time, no see! Well I exhibited at the Artist Project again this year. How about we start with some setup shots?

A little bleak at the moment…

Organizing my thoughts.

I had a crack team helping out.

Nearly there!

I was in a corner booth, giving me four walls of hanging space… I organized them as follows:

The outside wall acted as the gateway… Mars and Venus guide you through landscapes and plein-air studies from the real world Florence into my imagined world of Mythology.

Of the interior walls, first I had the Underworld; the Infernal Realm.

Next was the world of the sky; the Celestial Realm.

Oh, I’ll post some close-ups of these ones soon… but you gotta wait.

And finally the earth, the world that humankind inhabits; the Terrestrial Realm.

Pretty neat, huh?

Charon

Y’know, I’ve been calling myself a “printmaker” for years. Maybe secondary to being a “painter,” but I’ve definitely said it a few times. Well it wasn’t until this past December (2016) that I did my first, proper print run. A proper edition. 40 prints of our boy, Charon, ferryman of the dead!

It was an interesting process to set this all up in my studio… that is, my apartment. It worked out very well in the end! I had to get a little creative in my setup to achieve the uniformity required for a proper edition though. Especially (well ok, MOSTLY) because I don’t have a printing press. But I documented the whole thing and here we go!

First we need our ink! I’ve certainly never had to mix this much ink for anything before. How exciting!

I love using small amounts iridescent colours in lino prints. It gives just the tiniest bit of extra luminosity without looking cheap or cheesy.

Oh, I should mention the fact that this was a reduction-print. Something I’ve never tried before. In all of my other printmaking, like the book covers and such, I’ve made a separate block or plate for each colour to be printed. With the reduction method, the same block is used for every colour; reworked at every colour change. As much as I hate to admit it, it was talking to my brother, Trevor, that made me realize a reduction-print was exactly what I wanted for this image. ‘Course Trevor taught me linocut printing in the first place, so maybe it’s not so horrible to give him a tiny bit of credit. It’s also really cool cause with this method you essentially destroy the block for each colour as you work, so I can never ever print this again! 40 of ’em and that’s IT! Here’s the second colour from block, to ink, to print, to mass drying.

So to make up for the lack of a press, I had to figure out some way I could print all 40 of them, and all four colours of each uniformly. I built myself a makeshift image-registration-apparatus. MIRA for short. My dear sweet MIRA was made of cardboard and packing tape. There was a hole to fit the inked block, and a kind of slot to line up the edge of the paper. The pressure was then applied by hand by yours truly.

Unquestionably professional inking station, of course. UPIS for short.

MIRA in action.

It worked remarkably well.

Sebastian helping out.

Little dummy only managed to get a big paw print on one of the prints, which now has a happy home. The print, not the paw. I let him keep that. (Actually I was unsure if I was supposed to sign that one Corey AND Sebastian… Maybe a monoprint? Maybe that made my final edition 39 and not 40!? But then I realized that if he was my unpaid intern I wouldn’t have to credit him in the least, so here we are.)

The third colour.

The final colour.

I spent two-days-straight kneeling in this cozy printing nest.

Looking goooooood…

Just look at them all!

And there he is! Our boy! Charon! Crossing the river Styx. A river so austere, even the gods swear their oaths by it.

Speaking of our boy, it’s me! Checking to see if they’re dry yet! Photo credit to our boy, Andy!

Medusa

Medusa always makes me wonder about Fate…

From statue… (‘Bust of Medusa,’ by Bernini)

…to sketch…

…to painting. Detail from ‘The Golden Fleece.’ (I like the interesting things that happen when you translate a line-drawing to a painting. ‘The Golden Fleece,’ 2017, is entirely sketch-to-painting. It was a really different, really fun challenge!)

The story goes that Medusa began her life as a mortal; a priestess in a temple of Athena. She was a human like any other. At some point, and the myth says very little of this, she was raped inside the temple. Athena, in outrage of such an act occurring within her sanctuary, punished Medusa (?!) by turning her into a gorgon. A gorgon was a creature with snakes for hair, and who’s gaze turned the living into stone. She fled or was exiled to a lonely, far off island to live with others of her kind.

Much later, the hero Perseus, son of Zeus and the mortal Danae, was compelled by an evil king to bring back the head of the gorgon, Medusa. Favoured by Athena, Perseus was aided in his labours and led to several magical objects which would allow him to accomplish this. Perseus finally made his way to Medusa’s lair. There, with the powers he had gained on his quest, he beheaded the monster, and placed it in a bag to conceal it’s powers.

You know Sargent painted this statue, too. *wink* (Benvenuto Cellini’s ‘Perseo con la testa di Medusa.’ The statue, that is. The painting is by meeee!)

I guess I revisit this subject quite a bit.

And on that point, these are two very fascinating studies that Cellini did before he made the final statue of Perseus and Medusa which stands in Florence.

Incidentally there are many other branching myths which are directly related to this story. For example, the pegasus was born directly out of Medusa’s fatal wound. It leapt, fully grown, from her neck. But our concern is specifically with Medusa, so we won’t digress any further. It’s hard enough to say so little of Perseus.

Perseus made his way home through several other adventures. All the while he carried Medusa’s head with him, only removing it from it’s bag when he needed it’s power to turn his enemies to stone. This he eventually did to the king who had first sent him on this quest. Perseus no longer had any use for the head now, and seeing this, Hermes brought it to Athena.

Perseus used a reflection to avoid Medusa’s gaze and guide his sword to her neck. Oh… Who’s that reflected here…?

Athena took Medusa’s head and affixed to her shield, so that all who met her in battle would see the horrible, glaring face of the monster. Forever after, the gorgon’s head would be a symbol of Athena, an emblem of her power. And quite a potent one, too.

Athena wearing Medusa’s image as a mask/helm.

So if we were to sum this up: Athena turns a mortal into a monster and gives it horrible powers. She sends someone to kill that monster. She tells this person exactly HOW to kill that monster by beheading it. She then takes the head as her own symbol and as a warning to both her enemies and her devotees alike.

This is a rather human depiction of Medusa. There is a huge range of variation in her imagery; from the monstrous and glaring, to the human and suffering.

I saw this sculpture in a park in Rome. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.

This brings us back to my original thoughts… Was Medusa simply a victim of Fate, or at every step was she part of a Divine Plan?

In the end though, for all of us mortals, is there a difference?

The Artist Project

The 2017 Artist Project show was February 23 – 26 this year. And hey, whaddaya know? I was in it! It was a really good weekend of talking about art, meeting new people (hey, maybe you’re reading this because you came by my booth! Thanks for visiting my website!), and having a chance to show my work to a lot of people who have never seen it before!

I put up my favourites of my 2015 Italy paintings and two tantalizingly new pieces… Two mythology-based paintings which are the beginning of a whooole new body of work. Exciting, don’t ya think? Take a look at my setup!

Setup was on my birthday. Thanks go to Nina for this one!

My booth as a whole. Very simple, clean setup. See that trunk though? Makes you feel warm, doesn’t it? Kinda homey, isn’t it? You might say it… really ties the room together.

Lookit that grin! Grinning like a fool! Thanks to Nikki for taking this!