Monday, April 04, 2011

The Swan of Tuonela

Here's my latest painting. I took inspiration from the music of Sibelius. Namely, "The Swan of Tuonela." I had my son Ian pose as Lemminkainen. I used some reference for parts of the painting, but most of it was done directly from my imagination.

The painting (24' x 36') was done in oil using traditional methods. That is, a complete sketch transferred onto the canvas. Then a sepia wash. Then the underpainting in black and white to establish values. Then thin coats of color built up slowly until this end result.

The black swan on the Black River sings a sad song. Lemminkainen was sent to kill the swan, but the swan's song was so beautiful he was unable to do so. A Finnish god later punishes Lemminkainen for this transgression and his body was cut up and thrown into the river. His mother later rescues him and sews his body back together. Life is infused into Lemminkainen again with the help of another god and a magic drop of honey.

In Sibelius' music, the swan is represented by the English horn.

Click on image to see larger version.