Transition (Medusa’s curse)

Medussa copy

Transition (Medusa’s curse) – original by Shane Swann

Medium: Fine line pen

Original: NFS yet
Frame: Black ornate victorian frame, glazed with museum-grade glass

Medusa blog post
The story of Medusa is a solemn one. She is commonly known as a terrifying monster, but was actually, possibly the greatest victim in all Greek myths. According to the most common story, Medusa was once a beautiful maiden with golden locks of hair, but was unfairly punished by the Greek virgin goddess Athena after Poseidon raped Medusa in Athena’s temple. The punishment was a curse that transformed Medusa’s hair to venomous snakes and her skin to scales. It also meant that no man could look at her face without turning to stone. The story also tells the tale of Perseus, the hero character that eventually slays Medusa. He slices off her head with his sword, after using a mirrored shield received from Athena, which enables him to see Medusa without directly looking at her. Medusa’s head even though dead, remains as powerful, and is used as a weapon by Perseus before he eventually presents it to Athena to be fixed to the front of her shield.

It has been said that the story of Perseus and Medusa derives from a patriarchal fear of a matriarchal society, which there is evidence to show existed in Greece in the early bronze age, and that the slaying of Medusa by Perseus represents the fall of female ascendancy. Therefore Medusa represents an anxiety of female power and the fear of a potential overthrow of the patriarchal establishment. The snake in classical Greek culture was also seen as a cunning, intelligent deceptive animal, that should not be trusted.

My drawing
In my drawing I wanted to convey the transition from the beautiful maiden to the monstrous gorgon. I used the same ‘Victorian engraving‘ drawing style that I had used to draw my Silver hare illustration. As I think this effect evokes a subdued, dark, gothic like feel, which I believe works well with this subject matter. Also with this style, the sinuous lines I use to create the effect of hair, works rather well to convey the sense of locks of hair transforming into slivering serpents or snake like tongues. The pointillism method I used to shade the face (which again adds to that engraving feel) I believe gives a sense of soft skin turning to scales. I also tried to give Medusa a dominating, femme fatale like, death stare gaze, which I thought was appropriate for the character.


Framing of Medusa
The photo shows the frame I used for my Medusa drawing. It is a timber frame, stained, with an embossed gesso surface, which has the appearance of an antique, carved wooden frame. The vintage character and ornate design, I feel suits the image well, not only because it enhances the Victorian engraving effect, but also the dark rustic tone and intricate features echoe the style and feeling of the picture.

To see Medusa in her frame, please visit the Framing by Shane section of my site.

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