Aaargh this took like two weeks. In the end I just got sick of looking at it for so long so I finished it up and here we are. That's the good thing about working with a painterly style I guess... it looks rough no matter what stage you stop.
Anyway, this is the scene from the Aeneid book VI where Aeneas (the Roman dude) crosses the Styx, with the aid of the Sibyl (the lady carrying his Goden Bough
) and the god Charon (old guy). It's a point of no return, a river that can't be crossed back, so if he looks a bit anxious, it's with good reason.
Hrmm, there were supposed to be more reeds in this picture, as the text specifically says they land in mud and grey reeds, but mangrove trees looked more dramatic and reeds just clogged up my view of the water and foam.
But I do love the water and foam. <3 It's one of those subjects that can engross you in the process of painting it.
What interested me in this concept was picturing how different the Romans envisaged "Hell" in comparison to the fire and brimstone of medieval christian Hell. To the Romans, death and misery is blue. Seriously, out of all the colours, blue was their least favourite... boys with blue eyes would get teased as they grew up. It was barbaric and primordial and the colour of the frightening ocean depths and of rotting flesh. And so you see, Hell was blue.
Heh and Charon has to be the least prettiest god in the whole pantheon. Unkempt, dirty, with his toga tied in a knot.. the antithesis of "stylish". I kind of imagined his boat of stitched skins to be like some kind of bluish primitive canoe, but then I remember it's supposed to ferry scores of ghosts at once and this one seems to only be able to seat about half a dozen. Ah well I don't know boats. Vergil's general intent of it is here.