40 Drawings in 40 Days – #23 – Orpheus

Orpheus was a revered musician in Greek mythology.  He was given the golden lyre by Apollo who also taught him how to play it.  He was said to be so gifted that he could charm even non-living things with his lute playing and singing.

As a hero, Orpheus travelled with the Argonauts on their quest to obtain the Golden Fleece.  He saved his fellow crew members from the sirens by playing music that drowned out their deadly singing.  The most famous story about Orpheus, however, concerns his descent into the Underworld.  His wife, Eurydice, was killed by a snake on their wedding day.  Orpheus, bereft, travelled to the Underworld and used his musical talent to charm Hades and Persephone into promising to return Eurydice to the land of the living.  The catch was that he was to ascend in front of her and not look back.  Unfortunately, anxiety, impatience and impulsiveness got the better of Orpheus and he turned around upon reaching the surface forgetting that both he and his beloved had to have reached the world of the living.  Eurydice was instantly returned to the Underworld.  Orpheus’ own death was rather unpleasant.  A gang of zealous female followers of Dionysus tried to beat him to death with stones and sticks but the inanimate objects refused to strike him because of the beauty of his music.  Still enraged, the women set about ripping Orpheus to pieces using their bare hands.

Thinking of a musician who had immense and boundless charisma, who was incredibly talented, who inspired devotion and fervor among his fans, the inspiration for my drawing was immediately obvious: Elvis.  I would not describe myself as a big Elvis fan – though I have been to both his birthplace in Tupelo and to Graceland – though I do enjoy his music.  My 7 year old is, however, a massive fan of The King so I knew my drawing would appeal to him.  I chose to base my Orpheus drawing on Las Vegas era Elvis because to my mind at least that was the peak of his showmanship.  ‘Suspicious Minds’ is my favourite Elvis song so I had that playing in my head as I sketched out my drawing and the white flared jumpsuit with the deep V collar just drew itself.  I like that it provided the drawing with a strong graphic shape.  I had to raid google images to get a reference for the lyre but at least this time my gold ink was compliant and was easy to work with.

23b - Orpheus