20, August 2011 § 4 Comments
“Illustrating the Iliad” opened on the 30th of July at the Aegean Center and just recently closed on 17th of August. The exhibition was very well attended and it was interesting and rewarding how many people returned several times to view the work. There were 38 images, each with corresponding texts in English and modern Greek from the Iliad.
Printed wall-mounted summaries of the story helped those that could not remember the details of the events of the story. Pleased with the many compliments I received I was also delighted that so many people mentioned they felt moved to reread the Iliad after seeing the works.
A book was also printed in Athens to accompany the exhibit. It includes the images of the show and the excerpts which inspired them in three languages, English from the translation by Fagles (published by Penguin), the modern Greek by Maroniti (published by Agra) and the ancient Greek (found in Homeri Opera from Oxford University Press). Jeffrey Carson wrote the preface and it includes an artist’s statement. The book is published by The Aegean Center Press and can be ordered via a link (soon to be) found on the Aegean Center’s website.
My son, Gabriel, sculpted a Trojan horse which held a place of prominence in the main gallery and which the children visiting found particularly alluring. I saw many of them on their hands and knees looking up into the horse’s belly from which dangled a rope ladder. Although the incident of the Trojan horse does not occur in the Iliad it did not seem right to exclude it entirely. Gabriel also made a short video of the monotype process which helped to illuminate my process. Thank you to all my students and friends who have inspired me and informed me over the years. I appreciate all of you who attended the exhibition, and for those who could not attend and sent their warm words of good wishes and congratulations, I thank you all of you for your joyful presence. Jane Morris Pack
26, February 2010 § 1 Comment
27, February 2009 § 10 Comments
My recent work has been occupied with investigating and rendering three dimensional space using vegetation and tree branches. Deep space, as in landscape, is not difficult to capture, but dealing with space a mere 6 inches to a foot is a more difficult proposition. I have been looking at Japanese and Chinese screen painting for inspiration and what I have learned I can now apply to other work.
This winter I decided to undertake a new project which I had dreamed of doing for many years. I want to illustrate the Iliad. This meant rereading Homer’s epic–I am using the Fagle translation–and thinking again about figurative work which I have not done in years.
Greek vase paintings are one of the high points of draftsmanship and one I return to often for inspiration. Their lively line work and human quality are incomparable and their deceivingly simple style shows a complex understanding of the human form. I wanted to use them as a resource without imitating them. I looked at John Flaxman’s work of the early 1800’s which take vase paintings as their starting point and are clear and accurate, dated now however, too stiff to our modern eyes. Browsing the internet for additional resources of more recent work I found little other than photos of the Hollywood movie “Troy” and some bad comic versions of the story.
First I had to make a decision as to the look of the armour and weapons as this is the most identifiable element to the story. The historically accurate type, of which there are few examples, are not familiar to the general public. The boars teeth helmets and figure eight shields of 8th c bce Mycenae are, wrongly, not associated with the romantic ideal of the Greek warrior of the Iliad. The vase paintings illustrating Homer in the 6th century bce used the classical style armour of the time which became the conventional model. The heroes are frequently seen fighting nude which probably did not reflect reality but which gave the Greek artists a chance to reveal the human form as it was being perfected in the canon of the time. I have chosen to inform my work from the vase painting style, so being guilty of historical inaccuracy myself.
Another consideration was the depicting of characters which every reader has developed in their own inner eye. I felt it was necessary to keep the faces vague in many cases so as to leave as much as possible to the imagination of the viewer. And painting Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, poses problems which every generation has grappled with. See the story of Zeuxis for his version of the problem.
I wanted to use the printmaking press and do some monoprints just to generate ideas, but I liked the images I was getting and decided to stick with this process. Inking the plate entirely I then wipe out the image with cloth, fingers, the back of a brush, a stick for line.
This method enables me to design in a very loose way the composition and re-sketch and wipe out innumerable times. The process is so limited that it forces me to stretch my handling but I like the small scale and the expressive quality I can get by dragging the ink around. I have been adding tempera paint on top with a palette of just four colors, an earth palette essentially with black, white, raw umber and small amount of yellow ochre. These limited colors on the black ink give me control over opacity and transparency, warm and cool, and value. I try to use these tools to vary the character of the illustrations but also to add space, movement and volume. The limits I am imposing on myself demand a higher level of creativity, something I always try to stress to students; do more with less.
I will probably go on to do some oil paintings and mixed media drawings around this same theme. Time is always in short supply but I hope to continue this project into the summer when classes are over.