anonyrrie: Illustration Friday - Angels & Devils

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Illustration Friday - Angels & Devils

Jonh Steinbeck wrote in Chapter 34 of East of Eden, " I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us... Humans are caught – in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too – in a net of good and evil... A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well – or ill?"

The battle between good and evil within one's soul (psychomachia) was the main concern of medieval allegories, a tradition that originated with the Bible commentators of the early Christian era and continued on through the High and Late Middle Ages. Although these allegories appeared in diverse forms, such as the poem "Psychomachia" written by the Latin poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius in about 400 A.D., the morality play Everyman, and Dante's The Divine Comedy, written between 1308 and 1321, all were ulitmately concerned with ars morendi, or "dying well." The moral lessons upon which these stories were built were intended to help their audiences lead a good Christian life so they might die in a state of grace. Although taking on many forms and appearances, the battle for one's soul and the desire to die with an unblemished record, continued through the centuries as a prominent element in literature and the arts.

Even in our modern world that has become increasingly secular, the concept of psychomachia continues to be a pervasive theme, most certainly because it is such a basic and compelling topic for human consideration. Many of us might say we've moved beyond good and evil, but still find ourselves playing referee between the angel on the right shoulder and the devil on the left shoulder. Steinbeck concludes chapter 34 with his apt explanation: "[In] the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil... evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue is immortal. Vice always has a fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is."

(micron pen/ background done in photoshop)
5/18 edit - the finished version is posted above


Blogger Aravis said...

I really like this depiction of the dichotomy of good and evil, angels and demons, within us. Beautifully done as always.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

It is always a welcoming thought coming to your blog Carla not only for the art which is rich in detail but for the lessons and thought provoking literature. Wish I had payed attention in high school as much as I do now.
I can see that she is well grounded from the root not to be swayed by the devil. Excellant!

7:40 AM  
Blogger Carlotti said...

This is a comment on a comment you left for "I wonder." I started to write it as a comment on his site, but it got too big and ended up as a post of its own. You can find it at from-a-to-b-via-xyz.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful!!As usual for you!I really like the 3 dimensional quality with the flaming muted background!She is a marvelous work of art!So detailed!!

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Carla!! You know, I just have to say I LOVE your pen drawings. The detail you put in is amazing. This new one is no exception. What a great contrast to the splashes of color in the background.
Really stunning!

9:41 AM  
Blogger steve said...

This was great to read Carla. I think much of what's considered good or evil is really based on perception. Anyhow, great iluustration as well. The dragon used to represent evil here (i assume)can lead to a whole other discussion about dragons and how they were portrayed and perceived so differently in Western and Eastern cultures.

10:07 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

I agree that the personal, internal battle between good and evil exists just as strongly in our secular world, taking it from the religious to the universal. Maybe the increase in mental illness is a reaction to not understanding this basic internal human conflict when not taught about it/reminded of it on a regular basis as happens in more religion-based society. We're on our own.

That said, have a Happy Mother's Day and I love the way you use line and pattern in this one.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Liz Jones said...

Psychomania... so that's what you callit. huh. I knew you'dcome up with something great for this topic,and you did! Love the image!

10:38 AM  
Blogger Amy Zaleski said...

Wow, Carla! You've really outdone yourself on this one. First of all, beautiful to look at ~ I love the pen details as always and the contrast of the fiery colors against black and white is powerful. I love how she seems somewhat powerless to that which surrounds her. Magnificent!

10:42 AM  
Blogger KaRLa said...

I always love your illos, full of message, the details are very good

10:44 AM  
Blogger Teri C said...

What a great concept! The detail and effective color placement is wonderful. And I love "East of Eden"!

12:29 PM  
Blogger susan said...

i love east of eden and your drawing is so beautiful!

1:13 PM  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

oh i like this very much; she is like a porcelain vase

2:54 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

there would be no way to measure good without the evil... love this carla and your woman with roots, she is the tree of life so detailed and complex.

3:46 PM  
Blogger fenris said...

beautiful drawing. i like the expression on her face, a sort of calm acceptance despite everything...

5:25 PM  
Blogger AnnaCas said...

some how your artwork reminds me of Klimt. Did you think about it?
it is its calm and serene atmosphere around the composition. And even the way the snake surrounds her ( The Kiss Gustav Klimt).
congratulations for your line work. Really liked your idea.

5:44 PM  
Blogger The Sensualist said...

Once again a beautiful pen and ink drawing in your signature style. I really love the patterns and textures you lovingly inscribe. BUT the digital background just kills me. The fuzzyness overpowers the lines for me. It just doesn't about a watercolor wash behind it? You've done that before, right?

Sorry to actually critique, especially to someone who is the SOUL of Illustration Friday. Fell free to have at my drawing ;)

6:15 PM  
Blogger carla said...

Kai - I agree with you completely! I plan to finish this with acrylics and watercolor pencils...when I have the time! I sort of got carried away with that goth background, mostly to entertain myself. It's not at all what I envision for this drawing, and I plan to post the finished piece whenever I get it done. I don't mind the critique at all; it's always good to get feedback from other artists:>

6:22 PM  
Blogger melba said...

You know what I noticed for the first time today? You don't write about what you think that often. You always give these very interesting and detailed explanations from literature. But today I was wondering,

What does Carla think?

Amazing illustration.
Maybe you want your art to speak for you.

I understand....or maybe I don't.

9:00 PM  
Blogger shoofly said...

so detailed, wow...looks like shes all tattooed!

9:57 PM  
Blogger mel said...

wow, she reminds me of some goddess.... it's beautiful!

10:28 PM  
Blogger kat@ohmtastic said...

that is gorgeous and has a nice 20's feel to me. would love to see that as a poster.


10:58 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

is she contemplating which path to take with her eyes closed and so deep in thought?....very interesting reading everyone's observations...great as always :)

6:20 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

wow she is wonderful. I love the way you have draped the snake around her like the staff of Asclepius very clever.

12:01 PM  
Blogger modroom said...

Like the concept and beautiful execution. The contrast between background and the detailed fiures works very well. Cool info, I love Steinbeck, read a few in late teens.. one of those times when an author and the age I read him timed perfectly. Regarding good and evil, one problem is how people perceive and what something signifies to them. Think that makes sense, on the lines of "vice always has a fresh young face."

12:23 PM  
Blogger Kaya said...

I love this image, the thing that originally drew me to it is the powerful woman central figure. To me, the dragon is just a companion, she is the powerful one. That's what I saw there anyway. I loved reading your discussion on good and evil, I loved East Of Eden, and I learned a new word - psychomachia! As for writing more personal stuff, that always is a question of taste. Ultimately anything you choose to write about reflects back on you anyway. Anyway, I really love this one.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

beautiful and delicate!!

1:18 PM  
Blogger String said...

Yes, beautiful, ah the subconscious - reflection on another is really reflection on self. We are all part of the same big ocean!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

I LOVE your drawings and the stories/info you share as well.

This is really beautiful.

4:42 PM  
Blogger melanienyc said...

this is beautifully done!!

5:18 PM  
Blogger Leezy said...

Another beautiful illustration Carla. And interesting story. I find this topic fascintating and wonder if one cannot exist without the other. Like so many opposites in life.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Natura said...

Very strong image. That's how human nature is, it's so tempting doing what you're not supossed to.

"East of eden" is one of my favorite books, love how you give a conceptual base to your work.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Rrramone said...

Very nice image, kind of like I feel today. :-)

1:09 AM  
Blogger AG said...

i love her face. and the details. :D

and the blog design! XD

2:48 AM  
Blogger Princess Pepper Cloud said...

You blow me away with your level of detail and composition. I always enjoy your extra information, and your eloquent writing style too.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Princess Pepper Cloud said...

You blow me away with your level of detail and composition. I always enjoy your extra information, and your eloquent writing style too.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Brandi said...

Beautiful Carla! I love the yellow against the black. She does look very angelic! Brandi

1:05 PM  
Blogger Wee Cottage said...

You give your art such wonderful details. I love the patterns you create - wonderful as always!

4:05 PM  
Blogger albina said...

Devilishly divine.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

Yikes I had to hunt to find you in the new IloFriday! It was worth it. Beatiful penmenship as always. Didn't somebody do an entire good and evil book - Nietzsche? And good always comes before evil like Steinbeck says... I don't think we ever could move beyond that concept, it exists without any religion, it's just the human condition. Anyway, lovely work on all levels as always and now that I found you again I shall bookmark you!

9:48 PM  
Blogger Jeope said...

Hey Carla, great jorb as per usual. Not to pick - and not just because I'm not doing one this week - but I'd love to see the sketch shown by itself also. I could get lost in that linework!

10:17 PM  
Blogger Bron Smith said...

Beautifull illustration, Carla. Such a strikingly beautiful contrast between to exquisitely detailed forground figure and the high contrast color background.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

I knew you would bring it this week. Your knowledge in literture and your artistic ability combine beautifully. This figure is awesome. looking forward to seeing it with the watercolor and acrylic backround.

2:55 AM  
Blogger Lu*** said...

A wonderful drawing on a immortal words. Your handling of the micron pen is exceptional.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Tony LaRocca said...

Beautiful detail. Far too many people are concerned with whether being good or evil pays off in the next world. If they were more concerned about it paying off in this one, the world would probably be a nicer place.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Michael O'Connell said...

carla… you've done it again… i do love your style and thank you for the accompanying words…

12:36 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Ooooh-that was really intriguing to read. I love the snake wrapped all around her. Cheers!

12:41 PM  
Blogger HARDWAX said...

Thought provoking words and image. Your lady looks at once accepting of her fate-becoming part of the evil that wraps her body and is about to consume her roots/ spirit, but, maybe she is just calm in her knowledge that the evil can't really touch her.

The beauty of the forms in their fine detail is beautiful!

Carla, you wondered if my illo is digital or traditional-it's digital.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Roz Foster said...

Your posts are always so thought provoking, Carla. This one was particularly timely for me. I was just talking to someone about this idea of "dying well" and the human drama of struggling with good and evil.

Your drawing is lovely and very impressive with all of that detail. She looks very much at peace with her battle.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Hotwire said...

since i love that book and your artwork is fantastic, i really like your post this week!

1:52 PM  
Blogger wynlen said...

Nice! I like her look, and I like that she is a kind of a tree.

Anette V. Heiberg

1:53 PM  
Blogger Shano said...

Beautiful illo as always. I love your attention to detail. You always put so much thought and prose into your piece. You're so durn talented and insightful!

1:55 PM  
Blogger LudaChristian said...

great stuff... love the detail your work has. i don't have the patience for that many lines. :)

2:31 PM  
Blogger scribblesk said...

What an artful depiction of depravity!

7:05 PM  
Blogger Ian T. said...

Although that old Serpent might occasionally presume to speak (or not) for her, this girl looks well and truly centred and in control, with her feet planted firmly on the ground. An evocative image! The background contrast works well, but the drawn part of the picture is amply strong on its own.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Lois said...

I definitely like the softer version. Good allegory. The softer one, seems to go more with your observations, that we are made up of good and evil, not usually one winning out, which seems to be the case in the first one. More, of living with the two. And it's a nice drawing too.

10:42 AM  

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