Tuesday, September 20, 2011

His Dark Materials

Lyra Silvertongue

This is Lyra, the heroine from the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy written by Philip Pullman. For those who have read it: I imagine this image takes place sometime after the events in third book. 

I loved how unpredictable these stories where. It's not like reading Harry Potter, where you're constantly being reminded of every other fantasy book you've ever read. (Lord of the Rings much, lady?) Let me append that statement by saying I've read and enjoyed all the Harry Potter books... and I should probably say something about imitation being the best form of flattery... It's just I found His Dark Materials to be a more unique in it's vision. No deja vu to speak of.

It really wasn't my intention to attack on Harry P here, so I'll drop it cause there are other better reasons why you should read these books. If you're a fool for stories about gods and myth that's a good start, because Lyra is essentially a modernish Eve that helps save the world from the rule of a false god. What I like about Philip Pullman's take is that she isn't portrayed as a negative mother-of-all-sin Eve. Instead the Fall is seen as a positive, and that's a beautiful thought. It reinterprets original sin and the fall from grace as a great moment that brought consciousness, knowledge and love to beings in all worlds. (yes, plural.) I love that it turns the guilt and regret you're expected to feel on its head to become a desirable event that made us the wonderfully curious and complex creatures we are. Eve mother-of-all-knowledge! (P.S. Sexy-time is awesome.)
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. - Carl Sagan
You don't have to dig theology to get swept into these books though. It's a fun coming of age adventure like so many great stories. It's about embracing curiosity and wonder, and living life the best way you can. Which is a universal theme anyone can enjoy.

I wanted to share a couple of things that influenced me while working on this illustration... simply because they're cool. This is a statue I found while flipping through a massive volume of religious art in architecture at the bookstore. I liked the color, the texture, the aged gilded goodness... even the break neck angle of Mary's head. With those eyebrows, I can only assume this was the result of a Vulcan neck pinch. I'm also just assuming that is Mary, because I was an idiot and didn't write down the name of the book or the name of this piece. This is a cell phone shot... and on a second trip to Powell's Books I was unable to find it again. If anyone recognizes this please let me know!

Another fun resource was this tumblr blog called Ye Olde Fashion. While trolling the archives I saw this summer dress from 1912 and could picture an older Lyra wearing it. I imagine she would have a simple style with 'Gyptian' (gypsy) influences.

That's all for now. This was a personal project, hope you enjoy it.

*EDIT: This image is now available for purchase on Society6.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

As You Like It

As You Like It - a play by William Shakespeare

Here is another illustration based off of a Shakespeare play and made specifically for SubPlot Studio. This time I went with the comedy As You Like It. It seems I really needed to lighten the mood after delving into deep, dark Titus. 

Mix laughs, love, cross-dressing and mistaken identity together and you have the basics of the play. Plus, As You Like It has the wonderful female lead, Rosalind. Focusing on her wit and awesomeness really made up for the sadness I felt over the empty symbolic shell of Lavnia in Titus Andronicus. Also keep in mind this is a Shakespeare play... and it would be a incomplete without a healthy dose of banishment. So Rosalind, of course, gets banished. (baniSHED!) She then disguises herself as a lovely shepherd boy, names her new identity Ganymede, and wreaks sexy-havoc in the Forest of Arden. From that point on every man, women, and tree falls in love with her. him. them. er. well. anyway. Everyone falls in love with Ganymedalind. I mean Ganymede. what?

My experience with As You Like It has been a short and recent one. I saw it performed by the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse in LA. It was directed by my friend, the multi-talented artist and karaoke machine, Jeremy Speed Schwartz. He asked me to read a couple lines with some folks of superior talent. We were then recorded and our bits were edited together to make us look like botox-riddled, caffeine-drunk talk show hosts (à la Talk Soup.) Perhaps not the most traditional introduction to As You Like It?

Here's a photo that helped inspired me: