The Odyssey of Homer
22 x 33
Edition of 50
5 color silkscreen
Printed on archival cream paper
Signed and Numbered
Mitch Putnam and Rob Jones invited me to make a poster for their show, “Required Reading” at 1988 Gallery on April 15, 2011, 7 pm – 10 pm. I leapt at the chance, thanks Mitch and Rob!
I chose “The Odyssey” of Homer and dug into the book for another reading. I love this book! This time around, I was struck by the kind, friendly relationship between Odysseus, and goddess Athena. How much both inspire and move the action.
In Book VII of “The Odyssey” Athena reveals herself to Odysseus, who has been praying to her for help to get home throughout the entire book. Odysseus is finally home, and they meet face-to-face, the two prime movers of “The Odyssey.” It’s a great scene: Odysseus meets Athena who is disguised as a goatherd. He immediately unwinds a meandering deceit – telling Athena he’s from Crete, fearing to reveal his true self and meet the same fate as Agamemnon who came home only to be killed. The goddess Athena uses her disguise to learn Odysseus’ frame of mind. She’s impressed by his quick wits. All at once, Odysseus’ lie is revealed, Athena changes into her true aspect, and a mist she had lowered over the island of Ithaca lifts, and reveals to Odysseus that he is finally home.
This is the scene I chose to illustrate.
Therewith the goddess scattered the mist, and the land appeared. Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus was glad rejoicing in his own land, and he kissed the earth, the graingiver. And anon he prayed to the nymphs, and lifted up his hands, saying:
‘Ye Naiad nymphs, daughters of Zeus, never did I think to look on you again, but now be ye greeted in my loving prayers: yea, and gifts as aforetime I will give, if the daughter of Zeus, driver of the spoil, suffer me of her grace myself to live, and bring my dear son to manhood.’
Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again: ‘Be of good courage, and let not thy heart be careful about these things. But come, let us straightway set thy goods in the secret place of the wondrous cave, that there they may abide for thee safe. And let us for ourselves advise us how all may be for the very best.’
Therewith the goddess plunged into the shadowy cave, searching out the chambers of the cavern. Meanwhile Odysseus brought up his treasure, the gold and the unyielding bronze and fair woven raiment, which the Phaeacians gave him. And these things he laid by with care, and Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, lord of the aegis, set a stone against the door of the cave. Then they twain sat down by the trunk of the sacred olive tree, and devised death for the froward wooers. And the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake first, saying:
‘Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, advise thee how thou mayest stretch forth thine hands upon the shameless wooers…
After many poster tours, I have always related to Odysseus returning home only to find more trouble to deal with. Getting home from tour means getting back in the saddle and dealing with getting your life back. That’s the part of “The Odyssey” that never fails to come to my mind after tour.
Anyway, for this project, I went to research the island of Ithaca. I found this tiny picture of the Cave of The Sanctuary of The Naiads on Ithaca where Odysseus and Athena were said to have met. I wanted an authentic setting.
Then I started my first draft in pencil – from pictures I had seen of Ithaca – it looked to be very similar to Liguria in Italy where I spent a lot of time – so drew the hills, trees and harbor from memory:
Second pencil draft:
Ready to ink, I realized that the Island of Ithaca scene was going to be done in a terra cotta color to emphasize the distance and bring the figures in black to the front for emphasis – so I inked them separtely:
Details of Athena’s shield – the “Greek Key” design and Aegis (Head of Medusa) design – would also be in color and inked separely:
I hope you enjoyed my design process post. “Required Reading” looks like it’s going to be a great exhibition! Looking forward to it. One interesting fact I stumbled on while researching: The Greek word Odyssey translates to “Trouble.” I like that. That’s why I went to all the trouble to do as good a job on this as I could.