Morgana LeFay (w/slideshow!)

Attached you will find a companion piece to Guinevere

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Whenever I do a historical or fictional character, there always seems to be “that other” character that opposes or compliments them, and in the interest of balance I feel the need to draw them as well. Before I started to work on Morgana here, I checked out the wiki page about her as I really am unfamiliar with her details and actually have conflicting memories of her from the various novels or movies she was portrayed in.  The wiki went a long way to clear things up, and explain how over the centuries her character has evolved and been completely upended.

Here is a quick summary:

Early on she was only a name dropped here and there, in some tales she was an enchantress, in others a ruler of some piece of land or a relative of Arthur. Sometimes she was mentioned as a healer.  Initially she was inspired by the Welsh maternal goddess Modron.  Her name itself is also very similar to “Morgan” which was a type of water spirit in Welsh and Breton mythology, who seduce men with their beauty and visions of gold and crystal treasures.  In later tales she was also called “le Fay”, which in French means fairy or supernatural. By the mid 1100’s she was more often mentioned as a healer and relative of Arthur, with some sort of magical power. By the mid 1200’s some back story was added, where “she is sent to a convent when Uther Pendragon kills her father and marries her mother. There she begins her study of magic.”  She eventually studies under Merlin, has a string of lovers, and becomes a nemesis of Guinevere, and also of Arthur.  She is simply a “villainess: a seductive, megalomaniacal sorceress who wishes to overthrow Arthur”.  This character stays that way until the mid 1900’s, when a more feminist view takes over, blurring the black and white of good and evil and restoring her as a “representation of female power or of a fading form of feminine spirituality supposedly practiced by the Celts or earlier peoples.”

My first sketches for this drawing consisted of a straight on close up view, with her face slightly lowered and wavy, messy hair.  I was going for seductive with a hint of danger or evil, the opposite of the doe eyed, delicate girl in my Guinevere painting.  Upon reading the wiki however, all I could think of was Joan Collins! When I was young, there was a crazy popular tv show called Dynasty.  Joan Collins played the evil vixen.  Being a genius, I decided to use her as a reference for my Morgana.  I googled up some images and found one where she must have been in her teens, cause she did not really look like her older self, except for the wide set eyes.  I also recall a scene from the M. Night Shyamalan movie Unbreakable, where a character notes that villains in comic books are always drawn with something slightly out of proportion (big hands, over sized head, wide mouth, etc) because one picks up on that subtlety and unconsciously thinks “there’s something not quite right about this person”…. and boy there’s something not quite right about Joan’s eyes.  They are a bit too far apart, giving an almost reptilian quality- and they also seem large because she actually has a small nose.  The whole effect is a penetrating glare.  She is very attractive, but the more you look at her it seems she can see right through you.  You get a feeling she is smarter than you and she knows it. I find it both unnerving and oh so sexy.

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