September 19, was the day I did my 5,300th art work. Like most I do, it was small, and it was done with colored pencil over a copy of an original drawing I'd done weeks ago.
This was not a good art work, matter of fact it didn't work very well at all. But it was worth keeping. Usually I know soon enough if an art work is going to work or not, and i seldom waste time on bad work - when it's not working, I stop and don't finish it. That is something I've learned through decades of experience. But this one was a study that I kept for what it didn't do. That sounds unusual. Let me explain.
Through the years one of my art projects or goals has been to paint two large murals featuring the 9 Muses. Muses, are those Greek deities that give artists their inspiration. How perfect to portray them all with each in a natural pose that would show what art form they represent.
The progression of ideas over the years on these murals went something like this.First I thought that each Muse - 4 on one painting, 5 on the other - would be portrayed in a natural pose on a somewhat flat base or background. I worked hard, for years, to get each pose as expressive as I could in a mix of iconic but subtle poses. I finally got a version I liked and kept this version, for a number of years.
When I came back to these studies, I got the idea that the background was bland, and it should be more dramatic. I got the idea of the Muses standing on different size rocks in a more mountainous scene. This would give more drama to the murals.
Then I took that idea a step further and I imagined that each painting would be a mix of day and night - with a graduation of tones from day to night, such that reading from one mural to the next you would see night turn to day in the first painting and day turn to night in the second = one full day.
Then, this last month, and remember this is all over many years, I began, to rework the poses. I thought the ones I'd settled on years before, were just too stiff and too subtle. I replaced those with 9 poses that I really liked much more. But these were drawn such that all figures were front and center again. But that meant the background was back to being flat land. The poses were right - and what was suggested on one mural, was also reflected in a similar pictorial way on the other. I liked that. I liked how the two murals tied together.
Over ten years or so, I had accumulated about 10 solid studies of the murals. I made copies of all these, and began to study the studies.
Then, last month, I decided to color a copy of the latest drawing version of the murals to see how they would look with color. This is where work 5,300 comes in. It was that work that was the first colored version of one of the murals. It showed from left to right the Muses of Music, Epic Poetry, both in strong sunlight; Comedy in half sun and half night ; Drama, and Religious Poetry, both in night. And when I was done, I didn't like it. it didn't work. And the poses I thought were perfect before, looked wrong now.
Things were not right, but what was wrong? The day night mix was not working. I kept going back to an earlier study where the scene was so much more dramatic with the Muses on boulders and rocks in a mountain landscape with dramatic lighting on some parts but not all. That was the drawing that gave me the idea for a more dramatic background with the day and night mix. This was in part inspired by Rembrandt's mural titled, Night Watch!
So then I tried putting the Muses back on the rocks. They do live on Mount Olympus after all. And the two murals began to become very dramatic again. I took the poses that represented each and shrunk them to fit a very dramatic background. Now things were starting to work and fit better.
Then I took this new idea a step further. Half of the Muses would be featured in one mural - the day/or dawn mural, and the other half would be in the other mural - the night /dusk mural. That seemed to make things fit even better.
That's where I am now.
Those clever readers with a more analytical mind will see that my mural thinking process has shifted from personality of each Muse being the key, to a dramatic landscape being the key, to personality being the key again (which didn't work on the study that started all this) to landscape being the key again.
Now the problem is to keep the dramatic rocky landscape with the smaller individual figures of each Muse, but not let the environment over power the iconic poses of each Muse. Instead the landscapes should enhance the poses of the Muses.
My next step in this process is to take the rocky landscape and through the light of the sun on one mural, and the light of the moon and stars, on the other; use it to dramatize each Muse. Light will be the key here.
The final two large paintings then should be at first dramatic landscapes that take your breath away, but then portraits of 9 Muses that breathe inspiration back - fresh air for the artists!!
The 9 Musea (Musea is named after them) are listed here. I've also listed a description of the pose I've pictured them in.
Calliope - Epic poetry - a very dramatic oratorial pose. Clio - History - has one finger touching the painting border as if touching the pastErato - Love poetry - the Muse carries a portrait of her belovedEuterpe - Music - plays a flute with visual notes pouring out like bubbles. Melpomene - Tragedy - is curled up, knees to her covered crying face, with a drama mask laying beside her. Polyhymnia - Sacred Music, - robed figure with clasp hands, that seems to be floatingTerpsichore - Dance - dancer in flight in front of a candle that casts her shadow on a wall - a shadow that is in a slightly different pose. Thalia - Comedy - face slyly half hiding behind a comedic mask Urania - Astronomy - studying the Moon.
I have taken some liberties with the strict historical Muses and have put these 9 on two murals:Day mural from left to right, Comedy, Love Poetry, Epic, DanceNight mural from left to right History, Astronomy, Tragedy, Sacred Music
I would like to have these murals set up in a single rectangular room with the two murals facing each other Each mural will cover their wall. As you walk through the entrance to the room you see a mural covering each side with a viewing and seating area in the middle area, between the two.
That's my Muse inspired mural dream!
Tom Hendricks (editor of the 18 year old zine Musea)http://www.Musea.us
ZINE, Named one of the best ZINES by UTNE magazine. Featured on ROCKETBOOM)http://www.Hunkasaurus.com
MUSIC, 5 full CD's of free Post-Bands Music)http://www.Musea.wordpress.com
BLOG for Musea, Art Contests, Weekly E-mail Messages)http://www.Myspace.com/Musead
(Myspace Page, New Friends welcome)http://www.youtube.com/TomHendricksMusea
(Youtube Page, features all my 60 videos)http://musea.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/100-plus-best-music-from-yout...
BIG LIST (Big World Music List, best and first worldwide new music list.) http://wp.me/p5S9X-36
Whether you likemy art or notthe numbers don't lieI am prolific