Recreating Laocoon

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything to the blog. My plan is to start using it more and more to share my process with everybody as I create my various projects. So, with the first post of this new format we’ll be playing a little bit of catch-up while I get everybody up to speed on what’s been going on. For those who haven’t been previously following along (or those who are and have forgotten), I decided to put the leather aside for a few months while I focus on some opportunities coming up to put my charcoal work out there. What you’ll see over the next couple of days is a quick rundown of everything that’s been happening in the process.

I’ve been doing a lot of work as of late studying anatomy and the human form, mostly for the sake of my art since I’ve always enjoyed well executed figure pieces, but also due to the fact that I’ve been working really hard at improving my own health and physique dramatically. As I improve myself, I build a better sense of the human body, which furthers my goals in rendering an ideal human form in my art. I’m sure a lot of that is actually based on my long time love of Renaissance art, and the classical sculpture that inspired it.

That’s where my current project comes in. One piece that’s long been considered possibly the best sculpture ever created is the Laocoon Group, also referred to as “Laocoon And His Sons”. For those who don’t follow Greek writings, the Laocoon story stems from accounts of the Trojan War, with many different versions leading to various outcomes for our subjects. The most widely accepted account is in Virgil’s “aeneid”, which portrays Laocoon as a Priest of Poseidon who tried to warn the people of Troy that the horse was a trick. In return, the Gods sent a pair of sea serpents, killing him and his two sons. If you’re interested in more of this story, you can read a synopsis of this and some other versions at Wikipedia. In the meantime, we’ll get back to the work at hand.

This is actually one of the biggest pieces I’ve taken on to date, and it’s got a lot of various details that I feel are pretty critical. So, in order to ensure that I pull it off, I’m doing individual study pieces of each figure in the group. Usually when I do a study piece I like to work on an enlarged version so that I can really learn the details and find any spots that will trick me when I get into the final piece. It also helps me to determine what needs to be detailed and what can be an implied feature. Looking at the sculpture, I felt that each figure has it’s own critical point of interest, so I’m working on focusing my study pieces on those portions in order to draw the eye there. But, I also didn’t set out to simply copy a photograph of a sculpture. I enjoy photo-realism, but I really do prefer to interpret what I see. So, with that in mind I set out to transform the figures into a more human form. Most of those transformations actually happen in the face and hair. We’ll go a little deeper into that as we look at each piece I’m working on. Let’s just say that that’s been a very healthy challenge for me to create and interpret a realistic face off of the pictures of a sculpture that’s thousands of years old.

With that, I leave you with an image of our subject. Check back tomorrow to see a run through of the first study piece from start to finish, including some more thoughts on my interpretations.