Archive for the ‘Sketches’ 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’


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?

Out in the Field, Levelling-Up

I’ve been back in Toronto since January, y’know, coupla months. And I’ve been going to a life painting session on Fridays preeeettty regularly. And y’know, there are only so many models in the city (particularly ones that are available to work on a Friday night, if ya wanna get really mathematical about it), so it stands to reason that I’ve painted a few people a few different times. Well heck, I’m into the whole improving thing, like in the case of my time in Italy this year… SEE OLDER POST. And I’m ‘specially ’bout practical, concrete results. Haha even in the world of art where NOTHING is certain and this here ain’t no goddam pipe.

So anyhow, I have two particular examples of what I’m talking about going all the way back to the beginning of the year. Progress? Improvement? Increased technical mastery over the mechanical realities of my physical body? Who’s to say?

Well, I am, goddammit. They’re my paintings and I know where I’m friggin goin with em. (Ok, kinda… to a certain degree…)

After all, a great man once said, “if yer not gettin better, then what are ya even doin, amiright?”

You’re not wrong, bud, you’re not wrong.

This painting is the from the first session I went to in 2016, back in January.

This painting is the from the first session I went to in 2016, back in January.


THIS ONE is from sometime in February, I believe.

And then about five or six weeks ago, so sometime in April, the same model returned and I made this one... There are quite a few things I like about both of these paintings. Interesting things seem to happen.

And then about five or six weeks ago, so sometime in April, the same model returned and I made this one… There are quite a few things I like about both of these paintings. Interesting things seem to happen with this model.

And then THIS ONE from this passed Friday. THERE IT IS, bros. Make yer own conclusions! Level Up! Exp to Next Level - ???

And then THIS ONE from this passed Friday. THERE IT IS, bros. Make yer own conclusions!
Level Up!
Exp to Next Level – ???

A Week on the West Coast

YO! Back in October I was visiting my bros Mike and Mariah in ol’ Victoria, BC! It was great! I had a good chance to see a lot of the– wait, what? …you don’t care? Drawings? Hey, I’ll tell a backstory if I want to, bud… Oh yeah? Well maybe I don’t care that you don’t care, you ever think of that, BUD?


Well imaginary arguments aside, I did a bunch of sketching over there!

These mountains are the Olympic Mountain range in Washington state. Pretty rad! Lemme just sacrifice a bull and pop across the wine-dark sea on my long-prowed ship!

Painting water is just... BRO. It's bro. I could bro that bro forever, bro. Fuuuuuckin' bro.

Painting water is just… BRO. It’s bro. I could bro that bro forever, bro. Fuuuuuckin’ bro.

I THOUGHT that this mountain might have been a Canadian one, but on some slightly further investigation, I’m pretty sure it’s also part of the States. Anyhow, it’s not part of the Olympic range, it’s off the East side of the island. Er, I guess the East side of Victoria, for those of us keeping track on a map.


And if your maps are still out, this is from up on a hill (Gonzalez hill) sorta facing back towards that first drawing and the breakwater where I sat when I drew it.


This is the legislature building on the Inner Harbour.

I was the subject of at least three different tourist-photos while I was sitting there. Photos from a set that will likely be forgotten and buried in an untitled folder on a soon-to-be-outdated hard drive of an obsolete computer. Which actually hasn't happened to me since Italy. STILL GOT IT.

I was the subject of at least three different tourist-photos while I was sitting here. Perhaps just a single photo from a set that will be forgotten and buried in an untitled folder on the soon-to-be-outdated hard drive of an obsolete computer. Which actually hasn’t happened to me since Italy. STILL GOT IT.

Some sketches (good and bad) from the Royal BC Museum.


Interesting sidenote, these are actually the worst drawings I've ever done.

Interesting sidenote, these seals are actually the worst drawings I’ve ever done.



Yo, ROM, you JEALOUS, bro??

Ever have lunch with a peacock in front of a castle? Sounds pretty good, eh? It’s kinda like a soft version of “ever dance with the devil in a pale moonlight?”

Ok, so the castle was behind me when I drew this. What? I like water.

Ok, so the castle was behind me when I drew this. What? I like water.

It seemed like there were always mountains just on the edge of the horizon everywhere you look in Victoria (another thing that hasn’t happened since Italy!). It’s pretty ideal. Kinda like how deer are “pests” out there. Geez and the sunshine, the bike lanes and the free-roaming peacocks are a real big problem, too. SOUNDS LIKE A PRETTY NICE PLACE, EH? Don’t even get me started on their craft beer epidemic. Anyhow, as I was saying about the mountains, the sky just behind them always had a really soft yellow glow to it that I kept trying to capture in my sketches. I think this last one is the closest I got. How about that, eh?


As an extra point of interest, all of the following names were considered for this post:

A Veek in Victoria, A Birder’s Guide to South Eastern Vancouver Island, Bros Will Be Bros, Bro Is As Bro Does, How I Learned to Relax and Love the West Coast, British Columbia for Dummies: Victoria Edition, Why I’ve Never Seen a Whale, The Trouble With Peacocks, Hey Bros Can I Sleep on Your Couch?, #firsttovisit, What I Did on Mt. Doug and Why, Don’t Go Down That Road There, BC for Basic Bitches, That Dino Don’t Look Right, Randy’s Gut is Full of Greasy Old Oyster Burgers, Selfies Done Right, and That’s Not The Proper Nomenclature.

One further point of interest:

Approximately 5% of the previous list was actually considered.

Coupla Sketches

Whew, don’t wanna let things get too far away from me on here, so here’s a quick post… An aperitif, if you will… An appetizer, perhaps… Calm before the storm, maybe…? HA! The model didn’t show up at the ol’ Waterloo life drawing the other day, so instead everyone sat for a 25-ish minute portrait. Seems appropriate, considering all the people I’ve drawn lately have been made of marble!





This guy had a pretty rad Zelda t-shirt on.


Feels like a pretty clear "this is a waste of my time" look on his face, but you never know. (He seemed like a nice guy)