Thursday, April 22, 2010

Incubo - Nightmare

A new character from Dino Coltro's book Gnomi, anguane e basilischi.

Nowadays, an incubo (nightmare) is a dream full of anguish and fear, but the meaning has changed during the centuries. The italian word, incubo, comes from latin incubare, which means "to sit, to lie on top of someone or something"; a incubo was originally a kind of dwarfish evil creature sitting on the breast of sleepers, making breathing difficult. In english too, the same "shift" has occurred. According to the online etymology dictionary, a nightmare was "an evil female spirit afflicting sleepers with a feeling of suffocation".

Anyway, the original meaning of incubo has been retained in popular culture, and the little creature is the subject of a couple of drawings:

 and a watercolor (alas, the scanner has butchered a bit the colors):

Incidentally, you may want to look at a painting by Johann Heinrich F├╝ssli on the same subject.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Snow maiden

Dino Coltro, who sadly passed away last year, was a writer, poet and scholar of traditions of north-eastern Italy (link here in italian). Incidentally, his love for local traditions dated back to many decades ago, and was completely devoid of any discriminatory or racist attitude, which is (sadly) worth noting nowadays in northern Italy.

Anyway, I've recently read a book of his about some creatures in popular myth, and I decided to imagine and draw some of these strange and funny characters (in case you ask, the title is Gnomi, anguane e basilischi).
The first character I propose, la fanciulla delle nevi (snow maiden), is actually not so strange, but quite poetic. Snow maidens are fairies living in the mountains, guarding and protecting the glaciers and the snow summits. Sometimes they come down and help men to move their flock or herd:

here is a kind of character study (I hope they don't look too much like "models"):

You may have noticed that snow is almost missing in my drawings... yes, that's right, but these are simple preliminary sketches... :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Portrait of a lady

A couple of quick sketches from life.
The lady is quite an interesting person, and a good subject to draw.