I like to set myself creative challenges from time to time as a way of sharpening my skills while having fun. It also gives me the impetus to eke out some time for myself and for creativity.
In 2012, I set myself the task of drawing a different zombie every week of the year. That was tougher than it sounds since my youngest was still a toddler so time, space and energy were in short supply. I somehow successfully completed the challenge. For that challenge, I concentrated simply on producing drawings. I used ink and most drawings were either monochrome or just two colours – often just line drawings with no blocks of colour.
This year I decided to embark on a slightly different challenge, cranking up the gears a bit more. This year I decided I would draw a drawing every day of a month * and, to boot, I would challenge myself to colour them with watercolour – not a medium I am at all skilled with. I asked my children to pick the theme for the drawings, as they had inspired the zombie challenge, and they selected Greek Mythology. I was completely happy with that since I am familiar with it as a subject and it offered the potential for a great deal of variety. The four boys then huddled together to generate a list of subjects. They came up with 39. Clearly that is longer than any month in the calendar. However, rather than risk disappointing anyone by discarding their favourite subject, I decided I would produce all of them. But I didn’t like 39. I have an OCD thing about odd numbers at times. For instance, I cannot cope with the volume of the TV or CD player or whatever being on an odd number, I have to shift it either up or down a single notch to have it settle on an even number. 39 Drawings in 39 Days was too unsettling. I couldn’t risk asking the kids to add another one topic because they would add a dozen and that would start to become a bit unmanageable. So my dear husband got to choose the topic for the last drawing.
So the challenge is to produce 40 Drawings in 40 Days starting on 1 September – today. I have decided to tie it into a bit of a blogging challenge too and see if I can blog about each day’s drawing on that day. Let’s see if I can complete both challenges!
I rather suspected my children would select a mythical monster for my first drawing challenge. They are far more excited by vicious beasts and horrid critters than they are by divine beings and heroes. My suspicion proved correct and the first item on the drawing challenge list was a Chimera.
The Chimera is a monster comprised of three different animals – lion, goat and snake – and is one of the monstrous children of Typhon and Echidna. I would hazard a guess that I shall be drawing some of the chimera’s siblings later in the challenge. The Chimera lived in ancient Lycia (modern day Turkey) and was finally defeated by the hero Bellerophon and his flying horse, Pegasus.
In classical representations and, indeed, according to Homer, the lion was the head part of the creature with the goat sprouting out of its back and the snake forming the tail. Such weirdness. So that was the jumping off point for my sketching but I could not get it to work, a profile of this bizarre cut-and-shut style monster. However, it just looked awful, partly because I was so reliant on a photo of an Etruscan statue to assist me in configuring the parts together. So I scrapped that idea and decided to go for a front on view and, not only that, but to stop trying to make the beast look ferocious and intimidating and instead depict it as a cub / kid / snakelet. That worked so much better and I was able to pull that sketch together really quickly.
The Chimera’s chief weapon against antagonists and victims was that it breathed fire. That, therefore, inspired my choice of colours for the finished drawing, oranges and reds to connote its flames. The red eyes of the goat were inspired by an ancient tapestry in Falkland Palace in Fife. I did some work experience there in my teens and the goat in one particular tapestry used to creep me out as, no matter where I was in my walk along the hall, it always looked as if it was staring at me with its red eyes. No doubt it’s eyes don’t look remotely threatening to anyone else but the memory of the creepy goat means the eyes on the drawing do the trick for me.
I think Baby Chimera turned out to be pretty cute. Maybe I would even be tempted to adopt him if I saw him at the pound. What do you think?
* With thanks to Jean Stevens of Jean Stevens Studio Diary for the idea of a Drawing a Day challenge.