Thursday, 20 January 2011

Continued Research

Continuing on from my initial research, I decided I would continue looking at Satyrs and Satyr myths. Firstly, I found out how to actually pronounce the word (it's SAH-TER, providing that's not American English although I don't know whether that would affect it or not.) Secondly, I looked more into the general mythology behind the creatures.

The paragraph that I posted previously was actually very accurate as far as consistancy goes as most other sources I've looked at have the same intentions and descriptions (excluding the phallus, that gets omitted in most), so Satyrs always seem to be-

- Followers of the god Dionysus/ Bacchus

- Revellers, consumed with chasing Nymphs, getting drunk and playing music, particularly pipes.

- Forest dwelling creatures

- Always with small horns in their forheads and tailed, although the lower-goat-half thing seems to be more of a later idea and earlier Satyrs looked like regular (albeit very hairy) men from the waist down.

Marsyas, Silenus and Pan are famous Satyrs in myths, although Pan is actually more of a god who looks like a Satyr, rather than being their chief deity.

Silenus varies between being a Satyr and being a Sileni, which is almost a pallette swap of a Satyr as the only real difference is it's a horse lower half with (presumably) no horns. Silenus could prophisise and despite being from a race of literal party animals was rather on the cyncial side, as he answered the question-

"What is the answer to happiness?"

"Not to be born at all is best, but having passed through the gates of birth, the next best is to die young."

He sounds fun at parties.

Marsyas was a Satyr that became masterful at playing the aulos, a type of reed instrument and challenged the god Apollo to a contest. He either lost because Apollo had it judged by the Muses or because he tricked Marsyas into agreeing to play his instrument upside down, which was impossible, but in whichever version Marsyas is always punished by Apollo by being flayed alive. I particularly like this myth as it ties into one of the other cards I have, Live at the Apollo, although only on a name basis. Still, that itself might be enough.

Pan was involved in a few other myths as a god of , but the information that caught my eyes was that Pan particularly liked causing panic and fright and his domain was in forests and caves, taking advantage of the ambience to frighten people.

As of yet, I'm having a little trouble creating a plot that I know will keep my interest for the whole of the project. I'm concerned not so much with the style or setting or characters, but the Live at The Apollo part of it, as that show is just people doing stand up and literally just that. I'm trying to construct something based around the idea of a stage, and being forced to perform for someone elses amusement. Satyr's or men dressed as them would make humourous jokes at the end of some tragedies, hence the word satire, and as drunken sex obsessed hedonists they are very much like most recent comedy protagonists, so they do work well as comedic characters. it's trying to find a new angle on the stand up part of the show that's the trouble.

I have been practicing drawing the characters though. This isn't a specific character, more like a way to practice getting the right sort of look first.

I started off getting some reference of Goats, particularly goats heads to see the way the horns grow. Because of the hairiness of Satyrs, I needed reference of beards and the way they grow so it wouldn't sit cartoonishly on their face. I sketched a few people around the studio and a few from online sources although I think it's pretty obvious which drawings got more attention.

These Satyr's are more practice so I can fit the style into the character design. I have Surrealism, and I've noticed in the work of several Surrealists like Dali that their work is often drawn or painted very realistically, with non-realistic subject matter.

I'm thinking that the style of the characters in this project will be a different one to the setting of the world they're in- as it's a medieval/ middle ages setting I think I could get away with more outlandish designs for the backgrounds than that of the characters- I'll try to explain this in another post on Surrealism as this one is already quite long. Nothing is set in stone yet so I'll have to see how this idea pans out.

Designing the Satyr's, I decided I don't like the more human-with-horns look because it reminds me too much of Mr Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch and the Warderobe and he's far too nice a character compared to normal Satyrs. I thought if I went for a mixture of goat and human features like a wide, flattened nose,eyes with horizontal pupils and goat ears then the result would be something slightly uncanny, recognisable as having human traits but slightly off rather than being 100% goat or man. Trying to get the right balance between the mixture is quite hard, as if it's too close to a goat it no longer resembles a Satyr but if it's closer to a human my drawing style makes it more cartoony than anything. Not only that, but drawing things that are meant to be slightly odd looking makes it harder for me to decide if I like the design, if that makes any sense.

Of the above, I'd say that the far right and lower right are too goatish, while the top and lower left are further along the human scale and the one with the llama like appearance ceeps me out in particular. The 3 centred ones are closer to how I want them to look. I like both the goat-like ones to the right and below of the centre and also the more human-expression the centre one has, so I'm debating whether to vary the goat to human ration based on these small perimetres.

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