Monday 14 April 2008

Artwork Mondays: Revamping the Past

The poll is closed, and so I will be posting artwork now every Monday. (And for the couple of people who voted for bunnies, over the next few weeks, I'll have something special for you. Wink, wink!)

The artwork I post on Mondays will likely be a mix of sketches, past artwork revisited, and new works-in-progress. Time can lend new dimensions to pieces, and this is something worth discussing as well. Perhaps we can do a critique now and again, where I step aside for some initial comments from you, the viewers.

To start the artsy Mondays off, I thought I'd revamp an older drawing. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll share some updates on this piece of art. Here's the original drawing, a detail from my 1997 drawing, Lord Extinction Yawns:
I've tinted it blue here, but it's actually plain ol' graphite of the HB persuasion.

Back in 1997, I was in University studying Fine Art and was drawn more and more to the fin-de-siecle, The Symbolist period of the 1890's. To give an idea of that period to people unfamiliar with it (but by no means a thorough explanation), the Symbolists were the artists still in love with the past. While the Impressionists made great strides in optics and colour, innovating new ways to paint, the Symbolists clung to classical and Renaissance ideals. Symbolist work was often very realistic, and illustrated incidents from classical Greek and Roman mythology and Biblical stories. A general feeling was the the Symbolists were afraid of the end of their century, and of the dawning Industrialism heading into the last century of the millennium.

Their fear of the future was not what fascinated me, although I often wondered if all the "x-treme" sports in the late 1990's were tied to a similar feeling of being afraid of tomorrow. In particular all the peculiar beasts such as the Sphinx-Muse in Fernand Khnopff's brilliant The Caress fascinated me. Here were images from the old myths, newly informed by realistic illustrations of cheetahs, anemones, and New World parrots. Part-human, part-other creatures have drawn the eye since artists first started synthesizing the beasts.

Post-university, I still find a major portion of my work influenced by depicting part-humans with something earlier from Earth's biodiversity-parade. Why not the Permian? The Cambrian? How will we see ourselves anew, in the light of beasts we have no historical symbols invested into?

The woman above is a Sphinx, but not part-human, part-lion. At the time I modelled her after a dimetrodon instead of a lion. An apex predator fittingly older than the Sphinx itself.

And so I thought I'd see where I am, just over ten years' removed from that drawing. Here is a preliminary sketch of the new drawing I will produce in my spare time over the next few Artwork Mondays:

Hmm. This pose is a little too side-on, although I'm fond of the shoulder. Perhaps I'll have our Dimetrodon-Sphinx looking over her shoulder at us. Dark and predatory.

This sketch is out of my head, with a look at a photo to get the back and shoulder right. To begin, I'll use some photo reference, a model, and my trusty .3mm mechanical pencil. Trusty being a relative term; I love the .3mm, but it always jams like a reluctant hyperdrive when I need it for the delicate stuff.

I'm not sure where this piece will lead. Painting? Coloured-drawing? Love the concept, dislike the execution? Hate it and find it derivative? Please voice your opinion, throw tomatoes or inflate my ego by leaving comments. And thank you once again for those who voted in the poll.

Welcome to The Flying Trilobite's Artwork Mondays!
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traumador said...

So that's what extinction looks like!!!

I always didn't trust them fin backs, what with their pretending to be Dinosaurs and all... mix them with a human and all death breaks loose!

Glendon Mellow said...

I agree it is a strange thing, Traumador, that Dimetrodons are so often shown with dinosaurs. Even in kids' toys.

I wonder if they will be placed in the new Ice Age movie?

traumador said...

yeah i JUST saw the teaser for ice age 3...

i had no idea larry was so desperate for work...

though i have to say "dawn of the dinosaurs?" is kinda odd in the middle of the cenozoic, i DO approve of the under ground haven of dinos... i always liked pulp novels

Leslie Hawes said...

I think you might find this artist interesting. He combines myth and human form, like the sphinx-muse in The Caress, in a way you might find inspiring...

Glendon Mellow said...

I have seen Michael Parkes' work before, and he is an astoundingly good artist. I haven't looked at his website before though, thanks for the link.

There are days I want my painting style to be as smooth and crisp as Parkes' and other days I wish I could loosen up like Jon Foster.

When I'm painting, I think my wrist just takes over, and it's hard to push it one way or the other.

By the way, I need to drop by for some lemonade on the veranda.

Leslie Hawes said...

Show more fin, and have the skin textures blend one into the other...

Do come over to the vacation house for a lemonade. Renovations on the Mansion are moving along...

I am liking the idea of Artwork Mondays.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks for the lemonade, Leslie!

I think more fin is a must. You're right. The newer sketch was just to play with the shoulders, mainly. My wife is willing to model for some reference shots, so that's cool.

The scientists among us have Science Fridays - I like that there is a regular day to expect a certain kind of post.

Mondays are a good day for me, I usually have the house to myself in the evenings. If you want to join me on Artwork Mondays, I'm sure you could come up with a catchier title, Leslie.

And then we could use peer pressure to harrass Bond until he starts posting art on Mondays, and then give a little brush to Traumador to scrape with...

Anonymous said...

So, what you're saying is you were attracted to your wife because she has nice fin? :)

If my name were Mellow, I would be doing some Mellow Mondays, dontcha think? Monday Muse?
I don't know... Artwork Mondays is pretty self explanatory, and I like that.

Once The Mansion is finished being renovated, I would like to do the artwork Mondays.

Sweet, dangerous Traumador!
I think we should encourage him!
(I now have a distinct 'visual' of Traumy holding a paintbrush...)

Heather Ward said...

I love this idea. Can't wait to see how it comes out!

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Heather! :-)

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