I did the following drawing as part of the PIO group which was 10 volunteers who drew on the inspiration of the previous drawing. A bit like pass the message game from childhood. Unfortunately I can’t show the drawing I received but this was my response.
In the drawing I received, there was a large black bird sitting on a fence, a stylised sun rising with a decorative tree and some lines from favourite hymns the artist’s like. It was very peaceful.
Prior to getting this I had see an article about the missing Queen of the Ravens at the Tower of London. The black bird in the received drawing became a raven in mine.
I did a lot of research before I started the drawing, mainly on the myth side of the raven. In the Native American tradition there are many traditions associated with the Raven. He is considered part of the creation story but he is also consider as a trickster. A lot of the stories are similar to stories from other parts of the world, such as once he was white before he stole the sun. In a lot of tribes, he is consider the bringer of thunder, lightening and the wind.
In Greek legends, he was the messenger of Apollo. Apollo’s raven was pure white and he was sent to guard Apollo’s lover, Coronius. Although she was pregnant with Apollo’s child, she fell in love with another man who she slept with. The raven came back to tell Apollo this news who in turned became so enraged the bird hadn’t pecked out the lover’s eyes, that the raven was scorched black by Apollo’s solar flames. After that ravens were always black and were considered messengers of bad news.
In Norse stories they were the companions of the God, Odin. Each day they would go out and travel the world, observing all the comings and goings of the world. In the Evening they would return and tell Odin all the things they had observed which Odin used to keep one step ahead of his enemies. They were called Huginn, (Thought) and Muninn, (Memory.)
No-one is really sure where the myth of the London Ravens comes from but it is considered largely a Victorian story although Charles II was also apparently told that if the ravens in the Tower of London were killed, the kingdom would fall. Another very early myth dates back to the Welsh King Brân who had the head of his rival, Matholwch, who mistreated his sister, buried on the White hill where the Tower of London stands, facing France, to protect the county from being invaded. All good tourist money.
Merlina, was the current Queen of the Ravens and although in the past, the ravens wings have been clipped so they didn’t fly away , they are not now. Unfortunately, she flew away and was never seen again. Her keeper thinks she died as she was quite elderly for a raven at 14 yrs old. Ravens are very intelligent birds and Merlina’s favourite party trick was to lie on her back with her feet up and pretend to be dead. Eventually, someone would notice and a tourist or 2 would start to shout, a raven is dead! A raven is dead! And soon a crowd would gather around whereupon Merlina would suddenly become very much alive!
Ravens are like several breeds of birds that mate for life. Before that they will crowd together and form gangs that are called ‘unkindness’ and behave like normal teenagers, creating a nuisance of themselves.
The large area behind the 2 birds came about because I had included a globe and ravens are often thought of as portents of bad news. Climate change mainly in form of devastating fires fills our nightly news. Sometimes, like this week, it come in the form of severe arctic cold like it did in Texas this week. Yet, people still disbelieve it isn’t happening and it something we can’t control.
Observations from my journal regarding this drawing:
I overworked in places and didn’t do enough in others.
Watercolour really isn’t my thing (I might have revised that opinion since.)
It is very different from the drawing I received which was very calm and serene. Mine is a frantic rush.