The Wrath of the Hero Twins

I’m winding down (for now), on the creation of  my pantheon of gods, demons and beasties. I spent much of yesterday and today finishing up the Hero Twins, central players in the Popol vuh.

My very first maquette, link, was of Xblanque, one of the Maize God’s sons, I wasn’t very happy with him from the start but after a few revisions (mostly a spray tan) I’m happier. I ditched his Roman warrior helmet for one of Olmec design. I also added jaguar markings as he is traditionally depicted with patches of jaguar skin.

His brother (in my mind, the younger, slighter, prettier Twin) is Hunahpu, the Spotted One, I have just finished up.

The paint is a bit tacky.

Now that they are complete, I look forward to creating compositions, most particularly revenge upon the Lords of Xibalba for sacrificing their father the Maize God, Hun Hunahpu.

It really is a bit like playing with paper dolls.

Hunahpu the Spotted One- the cuter of the two.
Xbalanque the Jaguar Spotted

I am taking satisfaction with the fact that due to my great many characters I can now cobble together multiple compositions with increasingly complex narrative, in this case Hunahpu  menaced by the wrathful Quetzacoatl.

The Menace above.

 Clive had asked for some images of my process of creating maquettes, I confess I have never taken photos of the “before”, too much adrenaline to slow down. When creating my figures I am biting at the bit to see them come alive-I’m beginning to understand God’s delight in playing with mud.

With that pompous comment floating about, the following is an image  of the uncut royal headdresses  which are based upon Olmec design.

Uncut headdresses for the Boys.

The design from which I drew inspiration is from an Olmec altar stone depicting an acrobat in motion. Upon his head he is wearing a headdress notable for its reference to the Maize God. Most striking is the tripartite, curiously phallic shaped maize emblem which crowns the headdress. The three part maize emblem occurs time and again, the emerging corn symbolizing fertility and abundance. The acrobat, most likely in a frenzy due to hallucinogens and ritual blood-letting, is recreating through dance, the narrative of the Maize God’s ritual sacrifice and rebirth.

I  find this all terribly fascinating, I hope it doesn’t bore  reader to tears.

Carved Altar

Carved Altar

600-300 B.C.

Stone

80 x 20 cm

Olmec

Museo de Arte Precolombino, Guatemala

So far, this has been great fun, I have been painting, but the images are blurry due to the intimate size. After the pups have their walkies I will return to a quiet studio to paint-demons await me!

Rose (left) and Viola patiently waiting for their evening stroll.

Good night folks.

Out of the Mouth of Hell

I’ve missed making maquettes, so as my painting was drying I decided yesterday’s rain provided a great opportunity to clip away.

I chose as my subject a place as opposed to a character . I chose Hell Mouth, the mythic entrance to the Underworld.

There isn’t any reference to Hell Mouth in the Popol Vuh, but what the hell (pun intended). What is mentioned is the characters entering and leaving the Underworld through a cave-like portal. The device of the Hell Mouth, as I mentioned in an earlier post has many incarnations: Medieval and Elizabethan Morality plays, monastic manuscripts, Renaissance pleasure gardens, examples are found in Asia, even in Mesoamerica. I am cobbling together a post on this hellish topic on my other blog, Babylon Baroque, link found on side bar.

Update: new post on Hell Mouth up and running, check out Babylon Baroque, link in sidebar.

My own vision of Hell Mouth is more Morality play theatrics than tasteful Renaissance grandeur, I have taste as subtle as a train wreck. My vision may lack discretion but boy can it articulate.

HellMouth

 I’m not sure if it is clear but the lower “jaw” of the gate is fastened by a brad allowing it to be raised drawbridge fashion.

 Dancing Demons on the lower jaw of Hell.

One part of the narrative is when the underworld princess Xquic is told to leave the Underworld by her Maize God spouse; pregnant with his children,the Hero Twins, she flees the sulphur aided by three owls (one depicted). As can be seen I had a bit of fun putting the tableau together.

The Flight of Xquic

As I mentioned the lower jaw raises to better trap snarling demons and intrepid Hero Twins. Detached it provides a dandy bit of stage setting as can be scenes above in the ghoulish disco.

 Entrapment at the Gate of Hell

Details follow, I like the wrathful demon and the little articulated gargoyle, the lower jaw of the gargoyle moves as does his body, not very necessary but fun to play with.

Well that is it for now, I may put together the aforementioned post or I may return to the studio. The spouse returns tonite, I might not return to these pages until next week, until that time, take care.

LG

Stuck in Limbo

Given that Holy Week has just passed, I feel that Limbo is a good metaphor for how I am feeling.

Like the Savior I have been spending the last few days in the land of uncertainty. This current painting has been a struggle, as I mentioned acrylic is challenging for me, it puts me on edge. Rather pitiful to be so easily emotionally influenced- by a little tube of pretty color.

Last evening, in the wee hours, the painting began to make sense, today I will begin in oil, the underpainting is complete, at least for my needs.

Good Friday was spent in the studio, I am not traditionally religious, but I am culturally Roman Catholic. Good Friday is my favorite holy day, the reflective quality of the day suits my temperament . I spent the day drawing Christ upon the cross. My pagan maquette of the Maize God serving as inspiration, I love how his neck looks so broken and defeated , the 3 pm moment.

The following are images of the painting thus far, as mentioned this is the underpainting stage.

underpainting April 10 2012

The following is a detail of the underworld princess Xquic gazing upon the Maize God, Hun Hunahpu.

I like the demon.

Xquic and her cousin Ralph

The inspiration for the Gate of Hell is from the Parco die Mostri, for more info follow this link.

Monster Gate

That is the progress so far, will begin painting very soon – after the breakfast dishes are tended to.

Take care, and thank you for all the kind words of support.

LG

In the Beginning

Starting a painting is tough for me, I thoroughly enjoy the sketching, and thinking, planning and drafting; but actual brush to virgin canvas can send me into a tizzy. This new painting is not an exception. I vacillated between medium, initially favoring watercolor, going so far as to buy expensive paper. But now I lean towards oil.

I’m blocking out the painting in acrylic because I can cover a lot of ground with fast drying mediums. All well and good, but acrylic gives me a headache, it is sluggish in my hands, fighting me most of the way. The images that follow are just the germ of what I want this painting to be, but I am determined to post even if it isn’t where I want it to be at the moment.

For someone of my controlling temperament a big step.

I look forward to moving onto oil, but I have a lot of work to do before that;  I probably will not bring out the linseed oil until next week.

First day of blocking in.

So there we are, looks a bit rough, quite rough. The Maize God needs to be blocked in , as do the infant Hero Twins. I haven’t even added the Underworld Princess. I need to sketch her out, will do that tonight.

But for now, with an aching back, I’m calling it quits.

Until tomorrow,

take care,

LG

Composition Thus Far

Now that I have cobbled together a few maquettes (eager to make a few more), I feel I have sufficient a crew to compose a composition . I am hoping to depict that fateful moment when the princess Xquic miraculously finds her self with child – twins actual, the Hero Twins. Making use of the World Tree maquette along with the Maize God and Xquic, I spent much of yesterday just arranging little paper dolls , it was a great deal of fun. Last evening and much of today was sketching out ideas. Two, thus far, are beginning to pass muster. The rest, well it is safe to say my garbage can runneth over. 

I was trying for a rather sickly, Underworld palette  without relying heavily upon hellfire and brimstone.

detail of Hun Hunahpu, the Maize God

I think I like this composition of the Maize God, it is a bit blatantly sensual, but I also feel it conveys the vigor of a corpse that is able to miraculously impregnate the virgin princess without ever actually touching her. The Hero Twins are seen being transported to the motherland; an idea lifted from early Renaissance representations of the Annunciation. Red snakes in Aztec iconography represent sexual love- World Trees, Virgin mothers, dead Saviors, why pass on yet another Judeo-Christian reference?

The following is another compositional option.

In this composition I really play upon the princess’s lineage to the Underworld, albeit with a strong nod to Dante. I like the princess in this composition far more than the first. I had wanted a placid virgin, but the first just looks insipid. I’m loving the Maize God a bit less. I will pull the maquettes out tomorrow and fiddle around some more. Until that time here is a detail of the Princess.

Detail of Princess Xquic and her demonic cousin Ralph.

Until next time,

take care,

LG

A Fateful Encounter @ the Axis Mundi

The Axis Mundi, also referred to as the World Tree, is according to legend found at the very center of the world.

For the Maya the Axis Mundi was the yaxché,the Ceiba tree which is the national tree of modern Guatemala. It is a spiny  tree of spare beauty, little foliage but gorgeous orchid like flowers. I know this tree well from my time living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

According to the Popol huh,the head of the slain Maize God was placed upon the branches of the Calabash tree where it nestled in amongst the gourd-like fruit.

This maquette is my attempt at depicting the Axis Mundi, that fateful moment when the slain Hun Hunahpu meets and miraculously impregnates the Underworld princess Xquic.

The construction of the World Tree proved to be quite complicated, I had hoped to post it last evening but I was still snipping away; it “branches” out to almost 36 inches. But after using many brads I have put together the first tableau. 

Maize God ensnared within the Axis Mundi

Tradition has only the head of the Maize God placed upon the branches, but I chose the full figure ( at least for this composition). The visual reference to another slain Savior was too difficult to resist.

Fateful encounter at the Axis Mundi

Please pardon the terrible quality of the image, my I-phone is not the best tool for recording, but it is readily available. This image is of Xquic looking upon the Maize God.

Princess Xquic ensnared.

As I mentioned the Ceiba tree is considered to be the inspiration for the World Tree. It is a beautiful tree, one I would love to illustrate, but I chose an abstract tree, all prickly spines and entrapment for the very reason that I want to avoid just illustrating the tale. I would be a very happy camper to create a botanical drawing of the tree but the Popol vuh  is a cosmic tale and I wanted to represent that sense of timelessness.

I will soon begin a painting (deciding upon medium) , I will also continue to create a few more figures ( I want to rework the owls for instance); but creating this tableau is satisfying.

Until next time,

take care,

LG

The Resurrection of the Maize God

The Maize God Hun Hunahpu suffers a great many indignities , he is duped by treacherous Underworld Lords, ceremonially sacrificed and ultimately beheaded. His head, like  the head of sacred Jokannan  an object of ghoulish veneration ; for the Maize God, instead of a silver platter, his severed head is placed upon the branches of the calabash tree.

From this perch the severed head impregnates the Underworld Princess Xquic.

I’ve decided this is most likely the scene I will depict , using my maquettes as inspiration.

I am fast creating a cast of a thousand, Cecil B. De Mill beware.

This maquette seems particularly flexible, perhaps I am beginning to better understand construction.

His tattoo of sprouting maize is typical when depicting the maize god, tripartite ornament, particularly in the god’s brow can be found early as the Olmecs. I must confess the ornament is not usually placed in such an erotically charged part of the body, but he is a fertility god after all.

As I noted Hun Hunahpu is quite flexible, when the poor fellow needs to be beheaded, a simple unfastening of the brad does the trick nicely.

Well that is much of today’s output, ended a bit early; toying with retiring to the study with Vasari, I should paint, but I feel a bit weary.

Until next time ,

take care,

LG