May. 26th, 2010

ferrumaeternum: (hail to the hammer)
Here is the series of drawings from Advanced Drawing Strategies I’ve been working on outside of class all semester. All of the drawings are 19.5" x 12.75". The black border around the outside of each drawing is the same width as the inner border. It's impossible to photograph them perfectly straight, so I just filled the rest in with black, which I hope is less distracting than my bedroom carpet was! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish all 12 that were originally planned and required, but I managed to get 9 done and still got an A- in the class. It’s a miracle I even accomplished that many, since all my classes this semester were at the junior and senior level (300 and 400).

I probably should have one drawing that actually shows Baldr’s death, but at the same time I don’t want to be too literal. I’m mentally done with this series, so I don’t think I’ll be going back in to add it. I may revisit this topic for a completely different piece in the future. I think it’s pretty obvious that the funeral ship is Baldr’s, anyway. These are also a couple of the most famous stories from the Norse myths, and are referenced quite often in music, literature, and Yule/Christmas traditions, so I don’t feel the need to beat my audience over the head with the plot. Halfway through the series, everyone in my class agreed during critique that they’re more interested in my interpretation of it than the actual story. I also reworded some of the text from the translations I found for the sake of my class and my mostly English-speaking audience, since English does not directly translate from Old Norse. Obviously, there are things I would change about certain drawings or redo them if I could. I think they help show how I’ve improved and grown as an artist as the series progressed, so I’m keeping them as is.

I also have to add that the figures of Odin and Sleipnir riding into Hel are John Howe’s of Gandalf and Shadowfax as they ride to Minas Tirith. I wanted to change them enough to make them my own, but I ran out of time. I am making no profit on these drawings nor do I claim the two figures as my own.

I am going to be totally pretentious now and post my artist statement, but I really do feel that it sums everything up and puts the series into context for those who are unfamiliar with the mythology:

For my series, I am using passages from the Prose and Poetic Eddas that chronicle the passing of the Norse god of light, beauty, and happiness: Baldr. The Eddas are the main sources of Germanic mythology and skaldic tradition, which were recorded during the 11th Century A.D. by Snorri Sturluson as Northern Europe underwent Christianization. Baldr’s death ultimately sets off the series of events that lead up to Ragnarök, a great battle where most of the gods and all but two humans will perish. Through Baldr’s death, the gods discover a traitor among them and are reminded that even they cannot escape death or fate.

I am portraying the concept of death and the afterlife in this series from a pagan perspective while showing my personal interpretation of the mythology that inspired much of today’s fantasy genre. The figures are represented naturalistically, drawing inspiration from 20th Century illustrations, while keeping their accurate Viking Age appearances described in the Eddas. Charcoal, graphite, and ink are the materials used throughout the entire series, as the absence of color reflects the serious tone of the story in addition to Europe’s Dark Ages. I am also celebrating the narrative tradition by weaving text from this story into the series that is reminiscent of the stylized manuscripts from Medieval Northern Europe. The series begins with text taken from the original Beowulf manuscript and ends with a detailed floral illustrated Gothic manuscript. The progression of time is depicted through the evolution of typography in the series, just as the gods’ fates unfold as time takes its course.

+ 9 drawings and 2 close-ups to show detail )

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