There are so many things wrong with it: The proportion, the perspective, the bizarre, unreconcilable monotonal* rust and metallic lead color scheme, the light source, the list goes on… But I daresay that by sacrificing so many academic notions, this work took on a life of its own. As an added bonus, it gave the camera a nervous breakdown during documentation.
Every painting is an opportunity to present a whole new reality. That’s why just copying another reference without transforming it into something else sounds more like practice. I will be eternally perplexed by how people think they can progress in any way by only training their hands and not their minds. It’s like aspiring to be a dot matrix printer.
Great examples of people who have transcended this “phonetic drawing” phenomenon are Vagabond’s Takehiko Inoue, Berserk’s Kentaro Miura, and the late but great Bernie Wrightson. They can draw anything with minimal references because they have a solid understanding of light, geometry and motion. Drawing from the mind and not the eyes is true art.
Learning to draw this way is a different story. It can be excruciating, and it’s like embarking on a journey knowing that you’ll never reach the end. You just have to strive to be a little better than you were yesterday. While struggling to not only ‘Frankenstein’ this painting, but make all the stitches disappear as well, my train of thoughts were often bleak –Like how nothing in life is certain except uncertainty, and conflict.
Conflict is the reason behind all of this in the first place. In so many words, the idea presented itself while surviving a mundane conversation. Perhaps such conversations are as detrimental to one’s health as smoking a pack of cigarettes and getting black-out wasted (and I’ll probably have more fun doing the latter too), but sometimes they are necessary. Afterwards, I always wonder if it’s normal for people to go on day to day as if they are half awake, getting excited about the dreariest things such as blankets with embroidered initials (WTF???!!!)…. But those ‘dot-matrix painters’ pretty much confirm it.
A constant struggle every individual confronts is to seamlessly flow within the laws of nature (which includes the confines of civilized society), without losing oneself in the vastness of possibility. It’s a dynamic compromise because neither end of the spectrum is favorable, and we need to orient ourselves like we are standing in the middle of a seesaw with the super-ego and the id on either side.
In a broader sense, nothing in this universe is possible without opposing forces, or simply, conflict. Even in the subatomic level, positive and negative charges ordain the phenomenon we call reality. Have you ever wondered how many bacterial civilizations die every time you take a step?
Conflict is arguably the next certainty, next to uncertainty. But even if that is the case, we certainly have control over our own will….Most of the time.
* * * * * * * * * *
Be it the most organized religion or consummate atheism, there simply is no concrete evidence of what happens after death. This lack of information or “incompleteness” is the great leveler of every notion about the afterlife or laughter-life — expending energy to argue about it is a joke.
Time has a way of erasing things, such as the history and myths behind deities like the famous Baphomet, Cernunnos and finally, the enigmatic Abraxas. By erasing their history, time has also gifted these “Incomplete Gods” with new significance by truly making them appropriate representations of the unknown past and future. If that isn’t providence, I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile, the heraldic mantling or lambrequin that pervades the painting suggests that Like knights-errant, we try to remain “motivated by idealism and goals that are often illusory”.
In the end, everyone must devise their own standards and hope to integrate them within the degrees of social, moral, and physical convenience, notwithstanding that the laws of nature give us limited time. We might even need to borrow some of these standards (heraldic pun intended) to be able to sleep at night. These battles will never cease while we’re conscious, so it’s best to choose them wisely.
The horse on the right side of the painting is based on Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps. The proportions of the original were rather surreal to make Mr. Bonaparte look “larger than life”. Making multiple personal adjustments to fit everything into my sense of scale made me marvel at, and appreciate, Mr. David’s ingenuity in creating such an illusion.
This painting would also not be what it is, without the help of my greatest friend, teacher, and personal wizard, Arnie.
*When I pertain to monotonal, imagine photocopying the rust and lead paint. Both will come out the same shade of grey, as opposed to photocopying blue vs. yellow, where the yellow would always be a much lighter grey.