Project: The female Centaur.

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by: Sylak.

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This is a project taken from my first portfolio, shortly after leaving college.  I found this photograhy magazine that someone had thrown in the trash with a bunch of others on Essex market in London.  They were neatly bundled together, so we picked them up and divided them all between us.  We were a bunch of out of work artists, and this was urgently needed reference material.  Many of the photos with gave me instant inspiration to work on some of my most original projects for the time.

 

I think that this magazine was on the very top, so it was the first picture that I saw.  I have always had a profound admiration for insects and a fascination for mythological legends, so it was the most natural thing in the world for me to contemplate combining the two.   When I saw this pose and the clothing she was wearing, the first thing that came to mind was a scorpion!  I say 'go with your instinct if it feels right.' I knew exactly what effect I wanted to achieve too.   Unfortunately I was not skilled enough at the time to accomplish it, and as a result, this project just seemed to drag on indefinitely.  It's a great pity that in the end it was never really finished to satisfaction, and I ended up really resenting it.   But looking back, I appreciate what a challenge she was to me in those early days, so I have gathered all my scraps together and placed them here as a memorial to the unfinished work that was: The Scorpion girl.
I produced dozens of drafts of this concept piece, many of which have long since vanished.  When we moved to our own flat, I gathered together my more promising sketches and filed them away in a large box.  It was a long time before I searched though it again and found all these drawings.  I am glad now that I did.  They are a good example of how ideas change and grow into a finished product that may have elements of many different early plans.

Originally, I just started by adding extra hips tapering back behind her.  This worked like a charm, and from that moment on I knew that it was possible to make something that looked really dramatic.   Now I really needed to find some good reference material if I was going to pass this off as convincing.

The first place I looked was the local library at Islington.  Here I found exactly what I was looking for. Later at markets and charity shops I found my very own copies of these books to keep, and so began my reference library.

To begin, I was not sure how much of her body to keep as human and how much to transform into a creature.   Scorpions by reputation rather than nature instil fear into people, but I did not want my creation to be frightening.  I was looking for 'sensual'. I would even go for slightly 'erotic' in order to balance out the repulsive notion that a 'creepy' creature was joined to human flesh.

The second challenge would prove a technical one.  In reality a true Centaur, that is to say half human, half horse, is within the realms of possibility biologically speaking.  In that such a creature could function in a way that would make it a whole animal.  A scorpion however is so removed from a homosapien that the two are truly alien to each other.  Scorpions being of the arachnid family of spiders, with an external skeleton, and humans being mammals with soft skin surrounding a core of bone.  How to create a convincing blend between the two in a way that would allow her to move was not going to be easy.

It was a really hard decision for me to remove her hands and replace then with claws.   I was not sure that it would be accepted by people.  Hands are so important in our society for expression and communication - the warm touch that provides security and comfort.  Take that away, and you risk alienating the viewer.  But the claws are what define the scorpion.  Remove too much of its identity and you weaken the transformation.  I chose to give her claws, it also helped blend the piece. Instead of a girl's body on an insect's back, she suddenly became the insect girl.  I had finally done it.  This was the way she was destined to be drawn.  Finally I could begin making some progress.


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Artist/Sculptor: Sylak

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