Monday, November 21, 2005

Illustration Friday - Free - Aesop's lion and mouse

This week's topic on Illustration Friday is "Free"

This topic really stumped me on Friday. I could half think of ideas but nothing i really wanted to do.

I spent ages looking at a blank canvas then spent some time fiddling with the owl sketch i did a few weeks ago but discarded. It didn't seem right, even though I was thinking of the phrase 'free as a bird'.

I gave it some more thought but what kept coming to mind was a silly ring that was free with the 'Bunty' - a UK girls magazine. I didn't actually get the Bunty magazine; my aunts did. They are only a few years older than me and of course got pocket money and seemed so grown up to me. I was probably only 5 or so at the time and after school I always had to go to my gran's house to wait for my mum to come .

This particular day, I saw that my aunt's Bunty magazine had a free gift , a Troll ring [Trolls were really popular at that time ] so I couldn't resist asking my gran if I could have it. I suspect, I had an idea that my aunt wouldn't want to part with it when she got home from school.

This ring seemed so wonderful - though it was made of cheap blue furry material and a plastic ring and of course googly eyes and didn't bear a great ressemblance to the troll toys.

I seem to remember my aunt went ballistic when she saw me wearing her 'free ' gift but since she didn't remember the event when i mentioned it recently, she obviously hadn't held a grudge.

Anyway, this is a quick drawing of the 'free' Troll ringAfter drawing this silly ring, I still couldn't think of anything much so I decided to let my pen wander and after a while i realised i'd drawn a lion - maybe because the 'Born Free' tune was going round my head. After a few more stokes I'd put the lion in a net and realised that i had the beginnings of an idea.

I realised that I'd come up with Aesop's fable about the lion and the mouse.

Aesop is thought to have been born as a slave around 620BCE to 560BCE in Ancient Greece.
There are conflicting stories about his life, but it seems that he was freed from slavery and became an orator and teacher.

Aesop is thought to have been put to death by the people of Delphi, possibly for insulting the Gods or for embezzling money but noone really knows.

The fables were translated and combined into one book by the monk, Maximus Planudes in the 14th century.

Deciding on the basis of an idea still didn't help me much with how i was going to portray the fable and i've spent hours and hours trying different layouts and lion positions and mice until I decided i would try a fairly bold idea and see how that worked.

I spent ages looking at lion photographs but couldn't see any expressions that seemed right.
In the end i decided that I'd have a slightly assymetric net and a subdued looking but not too realistic lion as i wanted him to look a bit depressed as i'd decided that I wanted to show the point where the mouse comes back to free the lion from the net.

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Rowantree said...

Great work in hair lion, it´s so natural and soft !! Born Free bring wonderful remembers to me.

Holly said...

Wonderful. The lions face is beautiful-and those eyes! Really fab idea for this weeks theme. Cheers!

marion said...

Love the lion, he looks so thoughtful and intense - very expressive eyes. I always liked this fable.

isay said...

aesop-i've always liked that word. i love both your illustration-the free troll ring and the lion. the lion's face is wonderful.

i can see that you've been changing your banners and i like it a lot!

i am late in my comments because i was sick.

a said...

I love the soft texture of the lion's face and mane. The mouse is just as sweet. Great troll ring as well. You captured the fuzzy hair just right.

Caroline said...

This looks like a plush lion, from the same era as the trolls. I love your posting! (I remember my brother had a troll and got all upset when he cut its hair off but it didn't grow back...)

creative kismet said...

Great post! Both the memory of the troll ring and the lion are great. I especially like the lion's facial expression. Very well done.

Alina Chau said...

WOW!! Beautiful illo!! Great idea!

melba said...

I loved hearing about your thought process, how the mind wanders... My son recently received this little troll keychain in a goody bag from a birthday party. I kind of wanted to throw it away because trolls always looked scary to me, but he liked it so we kept it. :> Very cute illustrations!

carla said...

I've always liked that fable, and I admire the skill with which you illustrated it! The lion looks suitably furry and patient as the little mouse gets to work. The fur is quite amazing and the eyes are so...catlike!. And...I love the troll ring. I actually have a small collection of trolls that I hide in different places around the always makes for a good luagh when one is discovered.