This is my first attempt at a Mythology painting which contains a hidden pun! Can you spot it? Read on for a clue!
The painting is based on the classical tale of Diana and Actaeon, in which the great hunter, Actaeon, stumbles across Diana (who is, ironically, goddess of the hunt,) whilst she is bathing. In her ire, she transforms Actaeon into a stag, after which he is pursued and torn to pieces by his own hounds after they fail to recognise him.
The painting was developed from a sketch produced during an Island Art Group workshop conducted by the artist Iwan Lewis. During the workshop, Iwan presented us with an eclectic collection of objects (see image below) for inspiration, having asked us to read the passage on the Death of Actaeon from Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses prior to the workshop.
I found this approach truly inspirational and, on being informed that, as well as being goddess of the hunt, Diana was also goddess of the moon, I was prompted to bring together such disparate influences as William Blake’s print of Nebuchadnezzar, Pablo Picasso’s linocuts of bull fights (in which the abstracted skeletons of the bull, horse and rider are clearly apparent), the change scene from the film American Werewolf in London, as well as Titian’s wonderful masterpieces.
At Iwan’s prompting, I also began to pay extra attention to the interesting negative space between forms, rather than just modelling the forms themselves. I tried to focus on creating a collage/assemblage of interlocking blocks of flat colour that can be viewed as separate entities in their own right, but which then ‘metamorphose’ into a coherent image.
I also tried to select suitable complementary colours which would create conflicting effects of the warm background ‘pushing forward’ against the cooler main figure trying to ‘recede’ in order to deliberately set up contradictions between the figure and the ground as per aspects we’ve been learning about in the MoMA course on Abstract Expression.
All in all, this was an absolutely fascinating project and I’d love to paint a large scale mural in this style!
For anyone that’s read this far and wants a hint to help find the pun, then you need to consider what does a mighty hunter or the goddess of the hunt need that’s in both of Titian’s versions but not in mine?
Did you get it? Please give me a ‘share’ or a ‘like’… (Luckily, I don’t think Facebook has got a ‘groan’ button yet!)
This painting is now available in the shop.