Tristan and Yseult – A Legend of Celtic Origin – Art Project

So I had to come up with an idea for my next artwork project and with my goal of interpreting and bringing back to life British history, myths, legends and folklore, I have decided to work with a popular medieval romance tale that stems from Celtic legend; the story of ²Tristan and Yseult.

 There are numerous versions of this tale, but all of them contain prominent features and I will most probably play on the different aspects of each telling that appeal to me the most. As a base idea to work from I might even write up a short version of the story combining the various aspects and suiting to my own interpretation, thus making me able to create more works from this further down the line, that’s not presently set in stone though I’ll have to think about that¹.

With that in mind I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of the legend just yet although I have linked to the Britannica version of the tale.

As promised before, I will use the series of posts and updates on this project to show my preliminary studies, sketches and ideas, as well as a bit of prose or poetry that I intend to write for the particular scene that I will show in my finished painting. I have chosen the scene that I want to capture and have begun sketches, mainly to work out composition and background scenery, I’m also implementing a fair few symbolic features as well so I’ll have to hit the books and see what I come up with; some symbols I am certain of and relate to the story itself and therefore will definitely be added.

I’ll leave that there for now and my next post will contain my preparatory work that I’ve create up until that point, which will most probably be next Wednesday, when my posting schedule is due, this post is more of a taster for what’s to come and to give awareness of the project I am currently pursuing now that I’ve set my heart upon it.

¹More of a note to self than a definitive idea

²Link to the Britannica version of the legend Tristan and Yseult 

JG

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British Mythology/Folklore – Art Project

I’ve structured my days now to help me with my efforts to self-teach different aspects of the art that I wish to learn; the aspects that I have decided to learn are anatomy, figure studies, drawing in many aspects such as observational, still life and drapery, perspective, architecture, and again human form. I also spend time trying different techniques with watercolour paints and I’m slowly experimenting with oil paint; which ultimately will be my medium of choice.

I also have more theoretical subjects to learn and my rotor for those at the moment consists of symbolism in art, colour theory and artist research. Those are the artsy theoretical readings, I’m also always researching history, reading about the ancient Romans in particular and I’m presently reading a book about King Charles I which I will review once finished; as well as Greek mythology, these last few are more for inspirational reasons.

However the reason for that two paragraphs of information is that every month I intend to issue myself a project to work on alongside these other subjects to keep me motivated in creating my own work rather than just all work and no play, I therefore intend to create at least one final work for each project I give myself. I’m thinking ahead a bit here as I don’t intend to issue myself this project until 5th July; that said though, I can here announce my umbrella theme which others will fall under.

My main theme, the subject of artwork that I intend to create for the foreseeable future is British myth, legend and folklore. As an enthusiastic reader of the work of J.R.R Tolkien, it’s my understanding that he created his body of literature around the basis of giving Britain a mythology of its own, one to rival the Greeks and even outdo them in the long run (let’s face it, we’ve all heard of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Gollum; how many average people can name four Greek deities). This thought process inspired Tolkien to create the most incredibly well crafted epic fantasy saga that was bursting at the seams with richness and remains the most influential piece of literature of the modern age (that’s my opinion I’m not certain how it stands nowadays with Game of Thrones growing as much as it has). I am of a similar vision, but what I intend to do is bring to life and recreate the existing British mythology and interpret it into a series of visual narratives, both figurative and landscape and breathe new life into our forgotten history.

There is already a wealth of subject matter available to me to work with, more than enough to ensure I’m kept busy for the rest of my life in fact, and who knows, one day I may even start writing my own mythologies and legends of British history, but that’s an idea for a time in the far off future yet. My main inspiration for British myth/legend/folklore/history is the Arthurian legend. Some historians say he lived, others say he didn’t, most scholars deny his existence because of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fabrications. I stand in an area where I do believe he existed, just that the story of his existence has been contorted somewhat over the centuries since his age, akin to Chinese whispers these legends grow and have bits added and taken away to the current point where some people are expecting Arthur’s second coming; elevating this long dead king to the status of the son of God. The most convincing and realistic telling of the Arthurian legend, albeit a work of historical fiction, was the brilliant saga of books written by Jack Whyte A Dream of Eagles (original series title in Canada) or Camulod Chronicles (USA series title) or Legends of Camelot (UK series title). Without going into too much detail about this incredible series of books on this post, here’s the link to a short review I wrote about them previously.

With Arthurian legend being my main source of inspiration however, I don’t intend to just limit myself to being known as a painter of Arthurian legend, like I said I want to revive as much of British mythology as I can so I’ll also be focusing on other areas as well, it’s just the that Arthur story is the one I am most drawn to.

All that said then, my next post will probably be before my scheduled post, and will be to announce the exact nature of the project I intend to create. I will post everything related to my project including sketches, research, thoughts and such and then follow all that up with the final piece that I create. So if you have happened to stumble across this post, then please check back every fortnight or so to see updates and some new artwork.

Until next time…..

JG

Featured Image: Edward Burne-Jones – The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon – 1881-1898

Colchester

The George Hotel
The George Hotel

Me and a friend decided last week to go on a visit to Britain’s most historical town, Colchester. We left just before 7 AM and after 3 buses and as many hours, we finally arrived at a our location with a fair amount of day still ahead of us to explore this ancient town.

Out of true heritage appreciation, we started our adventure in The George Hotel, at the bar, as the first beer orders of the day.

Aside from our early morning alcoholism, we did see some historical sites as the day progressed, the whole point of the venture was for me to do an area study for an art project I’m currently working on.

The main focus of my attention was on the castle and I was gutted to find it covered in scaffolding, but such is and I got on with my research.

Colchester Castle - South Entrance
Colchester Castle – South Entrance

I now have a stockpile of images and ideas that I’m working with in order to see this project through, so I will be uploading bits as I get them finished to a standard that I can happily post them.

 

Colchester is an absolutely beautiful town, to the eye at least, and is rich in history and is a place where you can immerse yourself in the scenery from the castle to the remnants of the ancient Roman walls.

Anyway, stay posted and keep an eye out for the sketches I’ll start uploading from next week some time.

JG