40 Drawings in 40 Days – #39 – Danae

The penultimate drawing!

In Greek mythology, Danae was the mother of the hero Perseus.  Her father, King Acrisius, had been told by an oracle that his daughter’s son would kill him.  To prevent Danae from ever breeding, therefore, he locked her in a bronze chamber.  Zeus, however, rampaging and in musth, was unstoppable.  He turned him into a shower of gold and impregnated Danae that way.  Acrisius was determined, however, so he placed his daughter and baby grandson into a box and cast them out to sea so they would drown.  Poseidon stepped in to spare his baby nephew, however, and so the two were rescued.  Perseus then did grow up to kill his grandfather.  By accident.  With a discus.  Likely story.

Poor Danae was one of those tragic victims who waft through Greek mythology.  Terribly abused by her father, assaulted by a shower of gold, cast out to sea to die, she then found herself persecuted by King Polydectes who tried to force her to become his concubine.  It was in order to protect his mother from the King’s advances that Perseus agreed to go on the quest to kill Medusa.  In some versions of the story, when the hero returned with the severed head in order to prove the fulfilment of his mission, he used it to turn Polydectes to stone.  I’m sure nobody wept.

The two most compelling visual images to Danae’s story are her being impregnated with the shower of gold and her being cast adrift in the wooden box.  Having recently produced a drawing inspired by the latter incident, I decided to draw the former.  I drew Danae curled up fast asleep.  You may have noted that drawing hands is not my strongest point – hence I have developed my own vernacular for them – so I drew her with her hands tucked under her head.  I still had to draw her feet though but managed those.  I decided to draw her naked not merely because I am missing life drawing (though I definitely am) but because the nudity underscores her vulnerability both in terms of being mistreated by her father and by Zeus.  It also gave me plenty of practice in creating flesh tones, which I did using watercolour pencils.  I gave her long flowing hair in order to create a more pleasing composition.  Once I had coloured the figure and outlined it with Indian ink using my dip pen, I sprayed gold ink (old school method using my fingers against the bristles of a brush) over the lower portion of the drawing to create the shower of gold.

I am rather pleased with how this drawing turned out, particularly with the composition, and think I might use it as the basis of a lino block print.  Watch this space.

39b - Danae

40 Drawings in 40 Days – #37 – Ariadne

Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and his wife Pasiphae.  Pasiphae was also the mother of the Minotaur which means wee Ariadne had a very interesting half-brother.  I bet he helped keep those teenage boys at bay when they were pestering Ariadne in Cretan High School.

Ariadne was in charge of the labyrinth and oversaw the sacrifice of Athenian youths to her ravenous, raging sibling so she must have had some mettle to her.  However, when the hero Theseus turned up, Ariadne turned to mush in an instant and assisted her crush by gifting him a sword and a ball of thread with which to find his way around the labyrinth and kill the Minotaur.  Mission accomplished, Theseus then took Ariadne away with him, as he had promised to do, but then dumped her on Naxos.  There, Dionysus discovered her and married her so she did get her happily ever after in the end.  Complete with never-ending wine.

I decided that Ariadne had to be naïve in order to fall for Theseus’ charms so readily and perhaps also lacking in self-esteem given that she was willing to leave her family behind and have her bull-brother killed by the hero just because he made her swoon and festooned her with promises of love and bliss.  I, therefore, chose to depict her as being young with rosy apple cheeks suggesting the first flush of infatuation with dashingly treacherous Theseus.  She holds a skein of thread in her hand which I drew in silver ink to connote its magical, GPS qualities.  I then – in a rush with my drawing – made a terrible error and momentarily conflated Ariadne with Arachne, who was turned into a spider by Athena.  I had drawn the spider on her headband and web on her necklace in ink before I realized the error of my ways.  Oops.  Draw in haste, repent at leisure.

37b - Ariadne

Ariadne – Not Arachne