I started this on Saturday as a simple black pen on white paper line drawing and it turned into this. Even before this, I had originally started this as a painting when Monique and I were living in Albania, but I never did finish it. I think the problem I had with the painting was what to do with the floor. I solved this problem by creating this exaggerated wood grain, but that created a new problem for me as to what to do with the figure of Hercules to make him stand out. That’s when I decided to do the white on black Greek vase style for the rest of the drawing, with the exception of the eagle, clouds, and Prometheus.
The inspiration came from the story of Hercules (Heracles is the Greek spelling) and Prometheus in Greek Mythology. From Wikipedia…
“Hesiod’s Theogony and Aeschylus’ Prometheus Unbound both tell that Heracles shot and killed the eagle that tortured Prometheus (which was his punishment by Zeus for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mortals). Heracles freed the Titan from his chains and his torments. Prometheus then made predictions regarding further deeds of Heracles.”
This story appeals to me on many levels. First of all, the torture Prometheus has to endure is terrible and on par with anything from the Bible. Secondly, I see the story as being very Democratic and appealing to Americans because Hercules was not a God and chose to undo the harsh punishment doled out by Zeus, even at great risk to himself.
The references I studied for the drawing include Hercules the Archer, a sculpture by Antoine Bourdelle and Prometheus Chained to the Rock, which was a sculpture in the Prussian Academy of the Arts. I decided to created the scene of Prometheus as if it were a painting in a museum and I liked the idea of drawing the eagle in the act of swooping down. I positioned the sculpture of Hercules as if he was taking aim at the eagle.
I positioned the elements in the drawing to have multiple vantage points… There is the view as if one is flying above the Caucasus mountains, which is where Prometheus was said to be chained. There is also the view of Hercules at ground level aiming at the painting. Then, of course, there is also the view of the imagination, where you can picture these events taking place in an otherworldly dimension. This is the effect I was aiming at with the drawing.
After finishing the drawing, I really enjoyed the effect that Prometheus produces because he is so light and almost produces an inner glow surrounded by such a dark background. It reminds me of why I like the paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, who each used this “chiaroscuro” technique to great effect in their art.