I show you just this portion of the piece because the rest is too horrifying to show.
What could possibly make it horrifying? After all, its 2 friends wandering in a sparkling tunnel with bright lights. It should be a recipe for the warm, happy feelings one might associate with Tolkien's literature.
You should sit down for this, and you should be prepared to run from your computer the minute you see the images below. (I have already run from my computer 3 times just trying to post this.)
Here is the sketch:
Nothing unsustainable yet, right? So far, so good. I drew this while in a dank subway car in the bowels of France.
It seems harmless enough right? A simple, straightforward composition with medium figures in a dark environment.
And so I thought, this will be a great first piece to do for an illustration based on material from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I have wanted to paint some illustrations based on this awesome story for a while. For the first piece I wanted to attack what for me, has always been the most terrifying and gripping in the story: Shelob's Lair.
My thumbnail seemed solid enough, and seemed to have the right amount of tension in it. So I started doing my developmental sketches for this. One of the first things I did was to draw several hundred gestures of spiders. This is a mistake.
At about number 36 I realized just what soulless terrors spiders can be when seen close enough to make out distinguishable features.
Unholy Terror # 36
(BTW Thank you Uglyoverload.com for the excellent reference and for the regular updates on hideous creatures that I was perfectly fine before I found out existed.)
In spite of the general horror of these sketches, I persevered. I thought, "well, these are terrifying and I now have the shakes and won't be able to sleep for weeks, but hey, I'll bet I'll feel a lot better after I knock up a more finished sketch."
(Now is a good time to stop looking at your computer screen)
I do not feel better.
After I did this I took several large steps away from my desk and looked for an adult. Finding none but me in the house, I took 3 showers, then ran back in like batman and smashed the painting with my giant book of mythology. It has sat there, crushed, until just now when I worked up the courage to see if I had killed it or not.
Not convinced that this isn't the most terrifying thing you have ever seen?
Maybe I'm overreacting. In general I like spiders, of all the creatures with chitinous shells and more than 2 eyes in the world, they are among the most interesting. But what did me in was the way she was holding her legs up. In my mind I had seen it as the spider shielding her eyes from the light and trying to blend in with her surroundings until the Hobbits past her so she could sneak up on them from behind. But after I drew it out, I realized that what was really in my head, was her playing a weird and altogether horrifying peek-a-boo game with the Hobbits. As soon as I got that far my brain exploded and I had to put the drawing down. A 12 foot spider playing peek-a-boo with its prey was just too much. I could not bring myself to finish this painting.
There has always been something terrifying to me about a predatory creature that is sneaking up on you as if you don't see it. Like a lion creeping through the grass towards you, its eyes fixed, about to pounce, but acting casual. You know its about to kill you. Seeing it in stalking mode, and knowing that it is stalking you freaks me out.
I know this is a strange thing to freak a person out, but well, there it is. This drawing freaked me out. The spider hiding her eyes behind her limbs, and peaking out had some deep, primordial sinister perversion to it that crossed whatever internal threshold I have for, is going to wreck your brain if you go through the process of staring at the piece for the 25 hours it will take you to paint it.
But you are probably saying, "Well, what were you expecting Gerard? You are drawing a 12 foot spider in a dark tunnel that eats PEOPLE. Last spawn of Ungoliant, the terror of the pass of Cirith Ungol in Morder, where the freaking shadows lie. What did you think it was going to look like? A Watercolor of ducklings in a quiet pond? Adorable puppies frolicking at the beach?"
All that being said, I am not sure what I am going to do next. I will have to think about it.
Next Week: Adorable Puppies Frolicking at the Beach.