Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Heart of a Lion

"He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king"
-St. Augustine

A circular icon of Poland's iconic Zygmunt I Stary, or as he is better known in the West, Sigismund I the Old. Sigismund I (1467-1548) of the Jagiellon dynasty reigned as King of Poland and Duke of Lithuania from 1506-1548. He was also the husband of Renaissance personality and cultural reformer, Bona Sforza. During his reign, Sigismund faced the challenge of consolidating his country's internal power in order to face larger external threats. The greatest of these outside conflicts formed part of the Muscovite Wars, whereby Poland was intermittently at war with Vasily III of Muscovy. 1514 became the year that marked the fall of Smolensk (under Lithuanian domination) to the Muscovite forces.

Apart from my admiration for Sigismund I and Eastern European history in particular, I just had the impulse to paint a king. A friend was kind enough to lend me a book on Polish nobility and kings. I quickly took inspiration from Sigismund's costume and began a quick underpainting during a nightime stretch between 2-5 AM (as always, inspiration opportunely seizes me when I should be toiling away at more pressing responsibilities). I made the mistake of experimenting with a gloss medium on hot press watercolour paper. The result? I was eventually forced to rip off the king's cheek after excessive paint build-up. It was only within the past two days that I found his forsaken, lacerated visage under a pile of paper. I decided to breathe some life into him again. This attitude is consistent with my approach to art, and for that matter, life. I don't believe in letting anything die prematurely. I have too much faith. The result shows some potential :) My first attempt at impasto.


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