FROM THE TIME THE IDEA OF THE VIKING FAMILY PORTRAIT WAS SKETCHED ON PAPER, I have been reading, thinking, sketching, writing and thinking some more. By now I have well over a hundred hours reading books and websites about Viking history, clothing, ships, art, living, spiritual life, trading, wars, raiding, weapons, tool. jewelry, appearance and etc.
I started a Pinterest account a little late in the game and have hundreds of images in my own desktop files and a few on Pinterest. Still not comfortable with how to use Pinterest other than to collect images.
I FINISHED THE 8TH DRAFT OF THE STORY on Friday. I have seven friends who have read the story looking for ways to save me from my word weakness. Three are professional writers. Lois Walfrid Johnson, author of the Viking Quest Book Series (http://www.lwjbooks.com, was very kind to give me some personal tutoring on story writing and character development. She also gave me her best books on the Vikings (in the picture) and shared some of her discoveries while researching her series in Norway, Sweden, and Ireland. Then she gave my story a thorough written critique. I am grateful for a story that will give my painting focus and inform viewers of the painting in the museum setting. When all the critiques are in and the editing is done, I will post the story.
ILLUSTRATOR N.C. WYETH'S teacher, Howard Pyle, said, "You can't create an illustration without a story. The two arts - writing and illustrating - should round the circle instead of advancing in parallel lines upon which it is almost impossible to keep them abreast. Pictorial art should represent some point of view that carries over the whole significance of a situation. It should convey an image of the meaning of the text. Therefore, in illustrating a book, it is preferable to choose for an illustration some point descriptive of the text, but not necessarily mentioned in the text."
I HAVE "VIKING" ON THE BRAIN. I have been up in the middle of the night several times writing and drawing ideas for the painting. I carry a little sketch book in my back pocket so I can put down my thoughts anywhere. I spent an afternoon at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts taking "photo" notes of paintings that spoke to me on perspective, story, size, color, or gesture of a hand. My poor wife has been extremely kind to brainstorm with me or listen to my thoughts and ideas on the painting story.
IN THE NEXT POSTS I will show you a rough color comp in Photoshop and introduce you to the costume maker, models and the artists involved with making the frame for the painting.
I will be PAINTING A PORTRAIT OF A VIKING FAMILY from the late Viking age. The story is about a Viking woman with three children facing many months alone while her husband, a Viking seaman and trader sails the north seas to Iceland, Greenland, and Vineland trading for furs, skins, and sea ivory. The open house for the painting and finished Viking display is scheduled for April 2014.
THIS PROJECT began months ago. Last fall the Lake Region Arts Counsel had been encouraging me to apply for a Legacy Grant. I wasn’t very excited about it until I approached the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota, with the idea of doing historical portrait paintings for their displays. Jim Bergquist was very encouraging about the idea. We walked through the museum and talked spontaneously about some possibilities. Two of the museum displays caught my attention and interest – the Viking Diorama and the Native American Display. After conversations with the Museum board of directors and the Lake Region Arts Counsel, the decision was made that it would be better to have the Museum apply for the grant.
THE LAKE REGION ARTS COUNCIL LEGACY GRANT was approved only in part and the project almost seemed dead. Two local couples stepped up and funded the rest of the grant and the project was alive and well.
I am currently working on the 7th draft of the written story for the painting of a Viking Family. Since so many parts of this project have already been in process with sketches, notes, research, and helpful people, I will have to retrace my steps to bring you up to speed on all that has happened.
Part of the grant plan is educational, so I will be explaining each part of the painting process as a way to introduce artists and non artists to all that I have to go through to make this painting successful.
Words are a slow process for me as a visual artist, but necessary for this project. I will do my best to bring the process to you with words and pictures. If you would like something clarified, I will be happy to do so.