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

Jack Whyte – A Dream of Eagles (Camulod Chronicles)

Jack Whyte - A Dream of Eagles
Jack Whyte – A Dream of Eagles

This 9 book series written by Jack Whyte, a Scottish-Canadian author was brought to my attention when I stumbled across the first two books of the series in ‘The Works’ and bought them. In the UK the series is titled “The Legends of Camelot” and having a keen interest in the Arthurian legend, I decided to give them a shot. The UK published versions of this series have also have different titles to the originals, to save confusion I’m going to list the books by their original titles as decided by the author himself.

A Dream of Eagles (Camulod Chronicles)

  • The Skystone
  • The Singing Sword
  • The Eagles’ Brood
  • The Saxon Shore
  • The Fort at River’s Bend
  • Metamorphosis
  • Uther
  • The Lance Thrower
  • The Eagle

I tore through the first two books within a week and I was straight online ordering the rest of the series, totally hooked and hungry for more.

In my opinion, and I have read and watched a vast amount of re-tellings of the Arthurian legend, this is the most realistic, believable and gripping version I have ever come across. Jack Whyte tells the story and places it in a believable time setting and structure, Camelot being formed just as the Roman legions are leaving Britain, starting off as a few villas and some farmland, built up by two Roman-British Legionaries and visionaries, Caius Brittanicus and Publius Varrus.

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone that is interested in historical fiction, Romans, Arthurian legend, Merlin and Camelot, it truly places everything perfectly and is a really enjoyable read. As I said before there are 9 books in the series and they’re not short books either, but they’re easy to make short work of with their page turning effect.

If you have already read this series of books or want some more information on them, feel free to get in touch via the comment section or email, I’m happy for a discussion.

JG

Hill Fort at Camelot

Hill Fort at Camelot - Watercolour A4
Hill Fort at Camelot – Watercolour A4

Here’s another watercolour piece for my “Camelot Series” I spent a couple of days working on in November, this particular scene captures the Hill Fort in the early days of Camelot, erected even before Uther Pendragon had been born as far the legendarium I am working with goes.

It’s still a learning process and I had a great deal of frustration and fun in the creation of this piece, in all I feel happier with this one than the last, if my work continues progressively like that then I’ll be happy.

JG

Merlin’s Hut at Avalon

Merlin's Hut at Avalon - Watercolour Paint on Paper
Merlin’s Hut at Avalon – Watercolour Paint on Paper

I spent approximately 6 hours in total on this painting, the first time I’ve properly painted using watercolour as I tried them out some time ago and couldn’t get along with them. This time however, I really enjoyed using watercolour and drew the entire scene with the paintbrush as opposed to my usual method of drawing in charcoal or pencil first.

It isn’t exactly a masterpiece but I’m reasonably happy with how it turned out and the inspiration for the work will go a long way still, I have a lot of good ideas relating to Arthurian legend that I wish to describe through my art; this is the first in my Camelot Series, which will feature both visual artwork and poetry.

JG