Friday, January 23, 2015

A Death-Defying Love: Versions of the Orpheus Myth



Tim Myers has written a very thoughtful piece on versions of the Orpheus myth for the Los Angeles Review of Books. I am thrilled that  he has particularly singled out my image which was designed for the poster  promoting Opera Ireland's production of Orpheo Ed Eurydice at the Gaiety in Dublin.

You can read Tim's piece here, but in the meantime, here's an excerpt.
"Many visual artists, of course, have taken up the story too. Nineteenth-century French artists have been, to me, especially successful. Among superb renderings by Charles Jalabert, Francois Lafon, and Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret, I find those of Francois-Louis Francais, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Edmund Dulac to be especially moving. (There’s also a surprisingly forceful black-and-white contemporary version by a concept artist and illustrator called STALEH4ND.)
But in one contemporary image, a 2004 poster (see illustration above) done by Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch for Gluck’s opera, I found a deeper way to understand the story.
Lynch exemplifies how some interpretations, working with rather than against the story, can be revelatory. For he, like 18th-century Danish painter Kratzenstein-Stub and 17th-century Italian painter Varotari before him, gives curvilinear movement to the moment of the turn. Eurydice, veiled in voluminous shroud-like white, reaches half-skeletal hands toward Orpheus; we can almost hear her anguished howl. Inches away, Orpheus simultaneously reaches for her even as his eyes seem to register the futility of it all — for without her he’s as much a dead soul as she is, even in the living world.
And yet they see nothing in the universe except each other. And the sinuous lines of their bodies, their clothes, even of the cavern-mouth itself, wordlessly sing of a oneness of life and death beneath their present helplessness. That power, of course, is love, greater even than the astonishing power of music that gave Orpheus entry into Death’s kingdom to begin with. This is sacred mystery at its highest level, and Lynch’s understated impulse jibes perfectly with what we all feel beneath our vicarious heartbreak in that moment."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Checking The Proofs of New Book


It's so good to finally have the proofs of my new book on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims.
It's starting to look like a real book!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wishing You All A Very Happy And Prosperous 2015

And a very Happy New Year to you all.
This is a drawing i did quite a while ago as you might see, back when I was using pen and ink and when I was much influenced by great American illustrators like Rockwell and Leyendecker.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

From A Christmas Carol

A few images from my version of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  I keep coming back to this story. In my opinion it is unequalled as a Christmas tale.
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Portrait with Dramatic Lighting

The Finished Painting

Even as I was painting, though, I knew I hadn't gone dark enough with the left side of the face. 
When this happens, I tend to paint away to a finish from the model (second last picture above) and then a couple of days later add a dark glaze over the area where the darker tone should have been. 
Here I used liquin tinted with burnt umber and alizarin crimson. The good thing about this process is that it saves all the modulation in the initial painting but just darkens the area by a few degrees giving the painting a much more palbable sense of drama.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nude in The Moth

The Moth is a pretty cool arts and literature magazine produced by Rebecca O'Connor and Will Govan. My nude study of Keshet is in their latest issue illustrating a very atmospheric short story by John Boyne, called Empire Tour.