Amenemhat III and Artistic Process

So here we are again. Welcome back to my quiet ramblings. The sketchbook is proceeding, and much to my surprise, before the end of 2011 I had enough images to offer a calendar for sale, as I lurch from 1 idea to another, fascinated first by this and then by that, sometimes inspired by my Egyptology Coursework, sometimes not. It’s the way it has always been, really.

I’ve enjoyed doing my recent portrait work, which goes beyond simply recording to reconstructing. For me, it isn’t enough to just copy a photograph. While that is a great way to learn (don’t get me wrong) I always use such exercises to take my work to the next stage.

Once I know an object inside and out, then I find I want to flesh it out, make it real, put it into a historical context or help it live again in a slightly different way. For me this is how it has always been, those images have always been living breathing people.

Recently I’ve become rather taken with some interesting faces, although this probably started early in 2011 when I stumbled across the bronze of Amenemhat III. My first attempt at this image, complete with a very well researched temple facade in the background was, in my humble opinion a total failure. It just didn’t work the way I had hoped. So I filed it away, went to Melbourne, and started drawing Tjuya with her amazing enigmatic smile.

But still the image of the young king remained in my memory and I found him again in later life as one of his amazing black granite sphinxes.

Meanwhile I reconstructed the early Dynastic King Narmer, using my knowledge of Egyptian skull shapes and looking at modern examples for assistance with lighting. I enjoyed extrapolating the possibilities of how these people might have looked and combining them with an iconic object associated with them.

Then I found a striking image of Auibre Hor’s Ka, a statue which, ordinarily, I admit, freaks me out. The eyes of that statue peering out of his custom built wooden shrine, with black resins almost dripping from its eyes, almost like a wannabe goth are quite disturbing. Restoring the damage and giving life back to the statue made it more accessible and less scary.

Interestingly, this statue of a little known king survived because he crept into the shadow of our old friend, Amenemhat III. It was found in rubble near his pyramid.

Eventually I returned to the bronze of the young man and, without refering to my earlier failure, began anew, taking careful measurements from the original, and finally felt satisfied with the result.

He is an unusual looking fellow (these distinctive features were shared by several generations of men in his family) and I thought… so let me bring that out, the bronze shows the young man as he must have been, in a more honest manner than official portraiture of later kings. His name means “Amun is foremost”, and I guess that is my roundabout way of saying that I got there in the end.

Journal Comments

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