Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Phaeton—and the wilderness of the mind


Phaeton extracted from his father, Sun God Apollo a misguided promise to grant any wish. Phaeton demanded to drive the chariot of the sun for one day. Honour bound by his promise, Apollo was obligated to comply, and with great trepidation dispensed sage advice to handle the horses with care, to follow the set path and, well, drive carefully. You can well guess it all ended in a fiery crash.


Involving the gods, it also included burning stars, boiling seas and a deadly bolt of thunder.


This story crept into my 365 Art Card project, 3 shown, more to come (boiling seas is still a pencil sketch). Last on Yupo, two above on bristol, colours are Inktense Watersoluble pencil, plus my trusty Pentel Pocket brush, and a waterbrush (brush with water reservoir in the barrel). All these tools work great in bed—now stop sniggering.

And to revive last weeks question “is it cheating”, this is the sort of story that can’t be told with a traced photo!

Mostly, in art, I explore wilderness, or near wilderness and wild things like the managed forest I visit daily. Today, the Phaeton story, is an exploration of the wilderness of the mind through myth and folk tales. I’m reading Joseph Campbell’s, Hero of a Thousand Faces; an exploration of the ‘monomyth’, the hero myth that recurs throughout all cultures. There is much to be learned from these stories of the way our minds work, in the background, below the conscious (the running commentary part of our mind) level. Universal needs, fears, and desire is all revealed in the commonalities seen in myth, folk tales and religions.

Why I found the Phaeton story so compelling that I had to illustrate it, though, I do not know. (well, okay, it does sort of remind me that regardless of technology, the driving habits of teenaged boys remains the same—the universality of the myth reveals the truths of today)

ps. colours are a bit dull as I just couldn’t be bothered with firing up the old beast (Pentium III computer) to do a scan & so did a quick flash snapshot. Santa can’t stuff a new scanner down the chimney too soon!


Jennifer Rose said...

*snickers* ;)

I've never heard of that myth before, very interesting :) your cards tell the story wonderfully, lots of colour and movement to them :)

I find it interesting that artists are compelled to create but are not sure why, that a story needs to be told but there might not be a clear reason behind it. its an interesting thing to think about as i personally start thinking about the first artists and what compelled them to put something down even if it was drawing with a stick in the dirt (or to try to entice animals to the area to hunt as some people think). there is just something in the mind that makes people create what inspires them or interests them. this doesn't make any sense lol but it is an interesting topic to me as sometimes I don't know why I draw things.

kaslkaos said...

But it's fun to speculate, probably important too. If you are not driven to do it; it's just a pretty picture. You've done a lot of yummy food pics, hmmmm... perhaps motivation is less mysterious than we think...my turn to snicker

Jennifer Rose said...

yeah I'm addicted to candy :D drawing them is just an excuse for me to eat them after :p lol

kaslkaos said...

You are making me hungry--again. You are a bad influence.

Michelle (artscapes) said...

It was Deerhurst Resort's Tweeter that was responsible for your hunger yesterday! :)

The dictionary meaning of Phaeton is a four wheeled open carriage drawn by horses. There is a lot that could be drawn from that myth. We the children of the sun god, must learn to drive the divine chariot. Think of the Tarot....

I love the cards - the images you did are fantastic! I would love to see a mythical series! Or as Blake would have it..." I must create my own system, or be slave to another man's". Make your own modern myths! I would love to do a project like that....

Your stories cannot be photographed first! I look for my stories in the old places I visit and use my camera as a composition tool. Most of my locations do not afford the luxury of stopping and working live. My kind of realism demands more accuracy than I could achieve from memory. At least not my memory!

I use the grid system for 99% of my paintings - meaning I do my drawings with a reference grid. But in the end - I am still drawing it myself. The grid is a crutch of sorts, but I am not sure I could get my proportions well from a 4x6 or even an 8x10 photo freehand. It's part of the reason I am so slow. I can spend days adjusting the drawing.

I have done drawing from life for still life paintings where I can refer to the original still life for WEEKS. I am considering buying an antique table and water jug so that I can do that again. I want to try something I have more control over. The craft of painting has so many levels.

I sometimes think that dragons live in Jennifer Rose's head and her reference is always there - they are amazing!

kaslkaos said...

Thanks Michelle, series still to come. The Art card project is opening up new avenues given the speed of completion of these little guys I get to explore so many things.
I use photoref, too. When I'm outdoors, I just can't stand to sit still. For me, it can trip me up, because my logical mind says do this, and the inner eye says do that to result in a messy aftermath of the battle on my page (I have hidden disasters).
I tried doing a barn for my sister the drafting way and got completely lost with the perspective points and gave up. I'll confess I'm a little relieved to hear you use a grid; I beat myself about how slow I am, so it's not that. We just forge on. We use the tools we need to tell our stories, yours are rich in historical details; a wing and a prayer are just not on for that.
Re; Jennifer, does that mean she is the dragonlady?
PS. conversational blogging is fun. Tweets are too short.

Michelle (artscapes) said...

I should probably add - My drawings from the grid are mostly simple outlines following changes in value. The details of all my paintings are done by eye and the reference photo - I toss the grid very early in the game. I try ultimately to do a lot of drawing with the brush itself.

Michelle (artscapes) said...

I agree! :)

Exactly, we use the tools we need! The grid is a great tool as long as you don't get lost in the details. And it is great for perspective... just watch for lens distortion! I use a wide angle lens and it happens.

Let's let Jennifer chime in there... I am not touching that one! LOL!

Jennifer Rose said...

lol :) I actually like that, hmm dragonlady. one who draws dragons but can also be a bitc.... that works ;p

Michelle (artscapes) said...

LOL! One more comment and I'm really done!!

I think if we say some of these tools cannot be used in the making of art, it's kind of like saying that if you can't compose like Mozart, don't bother making music....

kaslkaos said...

Jennifer, maybe 'The Great Dragon' but I would think Dragonlady to be pretty cool. Take your pick.
Mozart's the genius who did it all in his head, right? Sometimes, not to say I'm mozart, but I build compositions in my head and secretly sing myself to sleep, usually start with a rhythm, add a riff, and layer on variations. Sometimes this produces a quiet mind, or perhaps just tired and confused mind.
Thanks for the comments; I really like to hear about your methods.


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