Back to monsters again. I was pleased to see Medusa turn up, however, as it was a chance to draw something female (though I have subsequently learned that the Chimera is actually female too, despite the lion’s mane) and because I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Medusa ever since I first saw Ray Harryhausen’s model of her in ‘Clash of the Titans’ as a nipper.
Medusa was one of the Gorgons and had an ugly face and a head covered in snakes. The version of her story I am most familiar with (after ‘Clash of the Titans’) is Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. In that version, Medusa was actually very beautiful. Her looks caught the eye of Poseidon who then raped her in Athena’s Temple. Athena, offended by such sacrilege, punished Medusa by transforming her from beautiful to so monstrous that one glance from her would turn a person to stone. That seems horribly unjust to me and, as such, I have always had some sympathy for Medusa as a character.
In my drawing, therefore, I opted to still maintain something of her prettiness. Her face is definitely human rather than monstrous and her expression is calm and content looking rather than raging and malevolent. In my drawing, her writhing snake hair is reminiscent of dreadlocks. The choice of green was obvious because of the whole reptilian thing but I chose to make her lips and eyes red to create some contrast and to make those human features pop in the drawing. In my preliminary sketch, the snakes looked worryingly phallic. Even in my finished version, I was worried they were going to look either completely silly or disturbingly wrong. Once I went over the green wash with some darker tones to create pattern, however, the phallic look started to be overcome and they emerged as more definite snake forms. I probably ought to have given them red tongues though.
Poor Medusa, of course, came to a sticky end at the hands of the hero Perseus. With assistance and equipment from several gods, he was able to defeat Medusa by only looking at her in the reflection of his shield, thus avoiding being petrified. He decapitated her and subsequently used her detached head to turn various enemies to stone. Poor Medusa. No dignity even in death.
I am pretty pleased with how Medusa turned out – slightly phallic snakes aside – and the drawing received eight thumbs up from my four boys so I must have met or exceeded their expectations too.