At The National Museum of The American Indian in Washington D.C., an exhibit about the Inka people showcased a beautiful crimson shawl. I was absolutely captivated by this shawl and its many colorful characters. It was truly one of those pieces where you find yourself looking closer and closer, and the longer you look, the more interesting it gets:
The shawl, created anywhere between 1600 and 1700, depicts animals, mermaids with guitars, men with guns, women with hoop-like instruments, racing deer, double-headed eagles, and monkeys proudly brandishing red fruit. One character that I really loved was the mermaid with a guitar. At least, I think it is a guitar. Maybe it is a kind of snake, or a loom? I'm not sure:
She looks a bit angry, yet resolute. Her hair is flowing, and a strange dark oval emblazons her chest. After seeing this mermaid from the shawl I made a reimagined version of the mermaid:
Who knows, I feel Shred Mermaid should get her own comic. She seems like she would have lots of cool adventures and many tasty licks and sick arpeggios.
I found another captivating monster from the past to capture while visiting New York City. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has this amazing version of The Book of the Dead, a scroll of something like 40 feet. While walking along this scroll in the Egyptian wing, this scarab beetle with falcon wings stood out to me.
First of all, the beetle in this illustration is huge, it's bigger even than the female goddesses at its feet. Compared to gods with female bodies and cat heads or gods like Anubis, this beetle doesn't seem very cool, but the longer I looked at it, the more novel it seemed.
I started really thinking about what a beetle with large birds wings would look like, but, what if I drew this in more of a realistic style?
The first version I came up with was this piece, where the beetle seems to be just coasting through the air. This piece looks very close to the original beetle in The Book of The Dead.
I started another drawing where the beetle's actual beetle wings open up to reveal not a translucent insect wing, but a flowing set of bird's wings instead. It was a fun challenge to combine the anatomy of a beetle and a falcon in a way that seemed believable.
I added a figure to this version of the eagle-winged scarab for scale - this is about as large as the goddesses were in the illustration from The Book of The Dead.
While visiting yet again the Egyptian wing in the Louvre, I saw this mummy encased in glass
I couldn't get over the mummy's face and how the weaving was so elaborate. It was hard to tell if the weaving started on the outside and worked inwards, or if the weaving/wrapping started on the inside and moved out.
After a while I started to think of the confusion of interior/exterior as a visual metaphor: