Saturday, 28 February 2015

Gods and Monsters: Developing an idea.

The world is split between dog and cat lovers.  I swing more in the cat direction myself, but only because they are mostly silent.  (I can’t stand all that barking!)  I accept that they are pretty self reliant, sometimes aloof and at times have some revolting habits, such as yakking up on the floor without warning and filling the litter tray just as you’re sitting down to eat.  But they are beautiful, and in the words of the great Flann O Brian, ‘...they have a lot of life in them when they are but juveniles’.

The ancient Egyptians knew this, their goddess Bast was depicted as a cat, and because of this the cat was sacred.  They made countless little statues of these cats, all symbolic of the goddess, and even mummified cats by the hundreds of thousands.

So, the start of an idea.  Lets follow it along its thread.  In 1922 Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen and sparked a craze for all things ancient Egyptian.  And the style now know as Art Deco was also beginning to become very popular.

Howard Carter.  Public domain.
Now the thing with Art Deco is that it takes from everywhere and from every time.  If you look you’ll see influences from ancient Greece, China, Japan, India, Africa, from Russia the Aztecs, Assyrians and of course, very strongly from ancient Egypt.  That was Carter and Carnarvon’s unwitting and inadvertent contribution to Deco.

Art Deco therefore has a strong affinity with ancient Egypt.  And I’ve always liked Art Deco.  As a designer I felt I could put something together around the gods of Egypt that would be attractive, and which I could design in an Art Deco style.

I like a clean and spare approach, good strong lines and solid colour, and I wanted to reflect the actual Egyptian cat figurines which are small and usually a dark bronze or stone.  I chose black for the colour fill and a blue and gold for the lines.  But first I needed the image itself.

Here are some of the early working drawings (scribbles really) for my Bast design, and instead of showing Bast as just a cat; I thought she should have something of a human figure, especially with hands.  (Just think of the mischief most cats could accomplish if they had hands!)  I knew a real deco designer would go to town on the exotic eye make up, so that was an obvious area to accentuate. Some of the work behind a design of a figure is the posture that it will hold, what to do with the arms, what direction will the head face?  

Bast sketches.  Already looking for mischief.
All these things have an effect on the finished whole, and it can take more time than you might think to work this out and get a pleasing result at the end.  The Egyptian manner of depicting characters is more than the sideways walk-like-an-Egyptian style, its also to do with the angular position of arms and hands and heads usually seen in worship or mourning scenes.  I want to reflect a little of that as I go along. 

So Bast's hands could be together as if preying, her arms could be crossed over her body as we have seen in some mummies, her arms or hands might be moving to the left, while her head turns to the right.  This is part and parcel of the method of suggesting life and movement in drawn figures.

Working on body posture
Then as always you polish the design, work on the outline, because this particular image will practically be a silhouette and so it has to work as one.  When I first began, I didn't intend to give the figure a blue outline.  I tried combinations of black outline and dark blue grey, but I found the outline disappearing and the whole began to lose its strength.  I think I decided on blue by accident while I was trying to do the blue eye makeup.  It wasn't my natural choice, and I wasn't  sure for a while, but I saw over time that it was the only way it would work.

Bast detail.
There had to be a strong colour between the black and white to give it the extra lift.  Black and white work together well as generations of artists will tell you, but as I wanted the features that exist amongst the solid colour to be outlined, I felt they looked better when connected to a unifying outer line.   And I decided the eyes were more impressive if they were round like a real cats eyes appear, than with the traditional 'Egyptian eye' that I used in the above sketches.

So here's the finished thing. Some might object to the way I have depicted her, as most people think of cats as slinky thin little things, but some cats have a pleasant sturdiness about them that I wanted to express.  Some of them have stumpy little legs, and chunky bodies, but somehow are none the less attractive for it.

Finished Bast design.
I will continue this blog next week with some thoughts on my Image of the God Anubis.


  1. Anubis, yes, that's more like it! You know of course, that he was actually a wippitt? :-)

  2. Thanks madwippitt, a kind of 'African dog' sort of wippitt. They're tricky these wippitt's.

  3. gan good job, this article is very interesting to note, cool deh,, of course we have new insights that we get after reading it, thanx yah :-)

    pengobatan tradisional mata juling,pengobatan untuk mengurangi mata minus,cara cepat mengatasi trigliserida tinggi,cara mengobati penyakit selulitis orbitalis,pengobatan tradisional wasir (ambeien),obat pereda nyeri pinggang tradisional,pengobatan tradisional luka gangren,cara mengobati penyakit skleritis,pengobatan tradisional retinopati diabetik,pengobatan kanker rongga mulut,cara mengobati ginjal mengkerut,cara mengatasi peneglihatan lemah dan kabur,cara mengobati infeksi di mulut rahim,cara mengobati tumor telinga di luar,cara mengatasi telinga terus berdengung,cara mengatasi nyeri leher dan bahu,cara alami menyembuhkan hipertiroid,cara mengobati syaraf kejepit di punggung,cara mengonati gula basah,cara alami menyembuhkan mata silinder,cara mengobati tulang memar,bahaya kanker lambung stadium awal,cara menyembuhkan benjolan di mulut rahim,cara mengobati penyakit atelektasis,cara cepat menurunkan berat badan berlebih,cara menyembuhkan kram usus,cara alami mengobati penyakit miopi,cara alami menyembuhkan kista tiroid,cara mengatasi kejang demam pada anak,cara cepat menghancurkan batu empedu,cara alami menyembuhkan penyakit lupus,cara menyembuhkan kanker saluran empedu,obat radang selaput dada tradisional,cara menyembuhkan penyumbatan usus,pengobatan alternatif tumor hati,cara alami menyembuhkan kencing nanah,cara menyembuhkan turun berok,cara mengatasi maag kambuh saat puasa,obat herbal kelenjar getah bening di ketiak,obat chikungunya tradisional,obat kanker laring tradisional