How can I paint figures from folklore in a fresh light?
Jason Jelf, Wales
I chose Medusa for this task and before I start drawing I do some research. This stage is crucial, because you need to get to know your subject! What are its most important features? How was it drawn hundreds of years ago? How is it depicted in recent illustrations, films or video games? Doing this groundwork also means I become aware of what’s been done before, and what to avoid if I want to find a new and fresh direction.
To give my character an original twist I consider experimenting with different genres. How about a zombie Medusa? A mutant Medusa? A cyborg or robot? If you don’t have a specific brief then you have a wide range of possibilities to explore. Pick one or two and carry out the same research as for Medusa herself, but this time look for ways these genres are depicted in different media. Don’t copy what you see, though. Take what you like and mix it with things you find in real life. These can be totally unrelated objects or your own ideas.
Taking this approach will give you a better chance to create something fresh, that no one has thought of before.
I make my refinements during the final stages. I simplify certain areas and make others more interesting, until the design is well balanced.