The Process Behind “Through the Cracks”

I love mythologies and have wanted to do a painting of the Minotaur myth for weeks. A current painting I was working on wasn’t going so well so I decided now was the time to face the Minotaur.

At first I didn’t give the story much thought at all jumping straight into the design of the creature, emotional range, and referencing pictures of bulls. I was facing difficulties planning a composition that would make both the bull look intimating and include the maze without making the bull too small to work in details. The size I was painting this was a tiny 8×10, I was experimenting with my painting approach and wanted to work small to save time.

I have found that I really struggle with details when it comes to working in paint. My goal was to combat that by doing a really detailed drawing on the illustration board, seal it, then work in thin layers of paint over it to keep the amount of detail and values. I was also thinking that this would add levels of textures and colors, in turn depth.

So I had the approach I wanted to do for the painting, now for the composition. Coincidentally at this time I read an interview series done by Kiri Ø. Leonard called “Women in Fantasy Illustration.” These can be found on Leonard’s blog http://kirileonard.com/blog/ . The one that really influence me was Kristina Carroll, I went to her website to view more of her work then continued to her blog where she posted about her own minotaur painting http://kristinacarroll.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-minotaur.html

I was so struck with the character she had created with her minotaur, the beauty and loneliness of the character. Up to that point I hadn’t thought of the Minotaur as anything other than a mindless beast of legend but it made sense that since he was part human and had known comfort and life in his earlier years that he would experience emotions just like anyone else or any animal would. He is what he is because of his mother’s folly, innocent in all aspects except for his appetite of human flesh which condemns him to a life of being imprisoned until a hero slays him.

When I went back to working on thumbs I found that I couldn’t think of the Minotaur as a mindless beast anymore. I changed the direction of the work and came up with this lonely beast reaching out to the only warmth he has now. Alone in the labyrinth of caves he is trapped in with only memories of the outside world to contend with.

The name of the piece “Through the Cracks” means more than to describe the light. The Minotaur slipped through the cracks of life. A monster that had no business being created, no purpose to his life, is left alone to eventually die.

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