One of the most interesting things about my creative process lately is that I generally have no idea what is going to happen on the page. I start off with a basic idea (usually a piece of work by another artist that inspires me or, in this instance, a story as well) and begin sketching in a random place on the paper.
I never had any formal art training (apart from art classes in high school?), so I’m learning about design as I go.
This particular piece was inspired by a couple works from Gustav Klimt (the subject material and the general shapes that Klimt uses in his artwork). Most of my recent work has been somewhat inspired by Klimt, or Alphonse Mucha.
I wanted to do my own interpretation of a Greek tale as well.
Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danaë. He was sent on a quest by Polydectes, the king of the island of Seriphos, to bring him the head of Medusa (why? Apparently Perseus didn’t have a good enough gift to bring to some banquet the king was holding. Silly Perseus.)
Perseus was told by Athena that he must find the Hesperides, who held all the weapons needed to find and kill Medusa. But in order to find where the Hesperides were, Perseus would need to consult the Graeae sisters (three sisters, related to Medusa, who shared one eye and one tooth between them. Commonly confused with the three fates, or sometimes their stories are combined).
Perseus stole their eye, and well. You can guess the rest.
The Graeae sisters are most commonly depicted as old and decrepit women, their father and mother, Phorcydes and Ceto, as sea monsters/creatures, and the Gorgons (Medusa and her two sisters) as hideous snake haired demons.
However, because I wanted to draw this picture from the perspective of Medusa’s family, they have been drawn as they would see each other (beautiful, regardless of outer appearance).
As I began, the composition slowly started to evolve. I started with the Graeae sisters, then one of their Gorgon sisters, then their father…and it just kept going from there.
On the left hand side Phorcydes clutches one of his daughters, who has fainted. He points at his daughter’s murderer. His wife leans against him, shielding her face from the horror.
The Graeae sisters huddle in the center of the family cluster, two of them clutching one another with their heads lowered in sadness, the other blindly reaching for the eye Perseus stole from them.
The other Gorgon completes the left side, wrapping around the Graeae sisters, also hiding her face.
On the right hand side stands Perseus. His face is cast in darkness as he is, from the family’s perspective, the evildoer. He clutches Medusa’s head in one hand and the Graeae sister’s eye in the other. At his feet are Chrysaor and Pegasus, the brothers who sprang from Medusa’s head once it had been cut off (or something. Greek Mythology can be very strange.)
This piece is taking quite a while because of the detail work.
Phorcydes’ Robe is made out of squares within squares, and tons of rectangles (I didn’t attempt to count how many).
His crown was also a lot of detail work, as is the jewelry for the women in the picture.
Perseus is wearing armor made of dark fish scales, which also takes quite a while to finish.
I’m not quite set on Chrysaor and Pegasus. This is all an experiment with detail and composition, so I need to sketch a few more things before I start filling in with a darker pencil.