Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New painting programs etc

for those who use computers to paint and either do not want or cannot afford Photoshop or Correl Painter programs I have some really great news - a very useful and absolutely free painting and drawing program that works in Windows XP and Ubuntu 9.04 (I recently migrated to Linux - see ya windows) known as Mypaint - http://mypaint.intilinux.com
.... and a fine extension to GIMP that makes that program more like painter's digital media we do need - Gimp Paint Studio http://www.jesusda.com/blog/index.php?id=314
it's creator's blog - http://ramonmirandavisualart.blogspot.com/

This is the way I like the Internet aka world wide web to function - free access, open source programs, free society, exchange of ideas...

I intent to work on this image of an ancient Iranian horseman and his stallion with those two new programs/enhancements.
until the next time

Igor Baranko - comix creator

I would like to present this blog today, blog by one of the most talented artists in the difficult genre of comix (comics) art - Igor Baranko.
I did like his Native American series - Le danse du Temps http://www.bedetheque.com/serie-12227-BD-Danse-du-temps.html
But this new two volume (one so far published) on the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Wild Lands of the southern Ukraine, and the chief protagonist Ukrainian Kozak Maksym Osa is just up my alley - so to speak. I just wish that instead of that 2008 dreadful Russian anti-Polish propaganda film titled 'Taras Bulba' they had made a movie based on Igor's work - could have been a masterpiece.
Well, you can see it here in black and white. And actually seeing the b&w drawings, before color were applied, allows us to appreciate even more Igor's work and then obviously it is a showcase of the fantastic penwork of meastro Igor -

Unfortunately for the English speaking world there has not been an English version of this story, perhaps in the near future this will change, but then 99.8 % of the fabulous French-Belgian BD or la bande dessinée (comics) never make to the English language bookstores.
well, fingers crossed.
anywa - a little sketch o a Cossack or as we say Kozak of mine

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Skuda - the horsearchers of Eurasia

Skuda, Skula, Skolotai, Saka (Skify, Skithian, Scythians, Skudra, Sogdian, Скифы, Саки, Scytowie, Sakowie ) or the Archers were the very first mounted 'Scourge of God' that had burst in the ancient world of Europe and Asia around beginning of the VII (7th) century BC. Mounted on swift horses ( according to archaeological finds - eg Pazyryk - and Herodotus mostly 130-150cm at withers geldings, armed with bow, arrows, klevetz (war ax or war hammer), spears and javelins, short and long swords they were pursuing another branch of the big Iranian nomad family- the Kimmerians or Cimmerians (yes,author of Conan the barbarian got his name from them) - and having finished with their cousins then they incidentally pillaged Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Northern Egypt..
Defeated by Medes (who themselves might have been part of these archers and local population) and later Persian (their southern 'cousins') settled north of Caucasus - in the so called Caspian-Pontic steppe until replaced by the new wave of their Iranian cousins - the Sarmatians - at the end of the 1st millennium BC.
These Indo-European nomads of Iron Age created the most amazing art and most original culture, artifacts surviving in numerous kurgans (earthy mounds) throughout the Eurasian steppe, from southern Poland and Romania to China and Korea.

I drew/copied this king or using Iranian term - a shah - after a reconstruction by Russian archaeologist and artist Mikhail V. Gorelik. I used crow quill pen and ink, while colors come from colored pencils. Later I added background using GIMP etc.
This particular warrior with his entire golden martial outfit was found in the Solokha (Солоха) kurgan located on the Dniepr River, near Nikopol in Ukraine.
He has a iron scales cuirass, bashlik (felt or leather cap) and Greek helmet adopted to his Scythian use and taste, golden Scythian belt on which two most important attributes of the Scythian male costume were hung - a Scythian sword in scabbard, and a Scythian gorythos or gorytos - a leather or felt container for both a bow and arrows, where some extra arrow points and sharpening tools could also by carried.
He wears typical nomad pants - designed for riding, and soft leather boots.
He is also wearing shins protectors or greaves (there were of bronze).
He carries a bronze mace or 'buzdygan' - a weapon and a sign of his authority (this symbolic aspect buzdygan of was to survive in the Eurasian steppe military cultures until the XVIII (18th) century AD, eg 'hetman's bulawa' in Poland and Ukraine).
Riding whip or nahaika - they used no spurs - was another aspect of their horse culture.
Finally he carries two shafted weapons - a short spear and a javelin - and iron laminated shield.
This find was dated to the early 4th century BC, and was one of the richest finds ever in Ukraine... Westerners aka Europeans and Americans call the western Saka by the name - Scythians - taken after the Herodotus Histories' name usage (which a Greek term) but our nomads called themselves Skuda. Persians of the Darius the Great times (end of the 6th century BC) used term Saka, and differentiated between their northern cousins by adding different names related to their locations in the steppes and relationship to the Achaemenid Empire- Saka paradraya, Saka tigraxauda, Saka haumavarga, Saka para Sugudam.
I've got to draw a horse for him, with the full Scythian outfit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Old Drawings continued...

Now, this rider is supposed to ride an Arabian stallion – Polish noblemen usually rode stallions (and also  geldings), Polish XVII century literature is full of references (eg poetry of Waclaw Potocki) to a 'zrebiec' (young stallion or colt between 3 years to 6-7 years of age). Although many associate Arabians with the Polish horse breeding there is very scant evidence of Arabians being present in any significant numbers in our Polish nobility stables prior to mid 1800s. There are many references to the Arabians, like in the Royal Stud at Knyszyn (1570s) or during the post-Vienna 1683 period, but so called popular literature of the period, letters, inventories, legacies, testamentary provisions always talk about the Turkish horse as being the most noble and worthy.

This drawing also belongs to the same set, mentioned in the previous post, and is not really of any particular time frame etc. I used multicolor Pigma micron pens and watercolor, and lately went over with GIMP and Photoshop etc.

The fanciful hat comes form some XVIII century painting showing Bar Confederates (Polish Civil war of 1768-72 that ended in the First Partition of Poland between Prussia, Austria and Russia).
But his riding żupan or 'zhupan' is earlier, pre-mid 1600s, you can see that according to the Polish clothing fashion the lining is of a different color than the garment itself.
I drew him as a left-handed person but according to the primary sources left-handed persons and red-headed men were not really welcomed into the cavalry companies (banners or choragwie), as supposedly capable of bringing bad luck or being untrustworthy.
Nolens volens I did my drawing with with 'muy mucho gusto', as I liked the horse and the way this rider sat in the saddle – saddle I took from many painting by Polish preeminent painter of the historic genre - Julish Kossak. The stirrups are traditional Polish, his riding boots may be booty taken form a defeated Western reiter. Since he is a lefty his bowcase is on his right hip while under his left htugh he has a 'koncerz '(tuck, estoc), another steppe and Islamic weapon retained in Poland until the early XVIII century. Another very particular weapon of choice and prestige shown here is a 'nadziak' (warhammer), that during the 1600s became part of the national noble costume and in itslef was a fearsome weapon, its origins going back to the Scythian, Persian and Saka kings of the 600-500 BC.

My main interest here is the red mane and tail of his 'Arabczyk' (Arabian horse) – well, Polish noblemen copied so much the Turkish fashions that by the late 1500s  they were dyeing their horses, usually with red, and not only the horses mane and tail but also legs and lower belly. When Polish embassies made their entries into Rome and Paris (respectively 1630s and 1640s) the onlookers and chroniclers could no hide their wonder with the richly caparisoned and very spirited horses, with dyed bodies and manes and tails...

Old Drawings ...

Many years ago when B.Clinton was US president and in Poland there was comrade Alexander Kwasniewski presiding from the Warsaw's Belvedere Place, I did a series of drawings of Polish noblemen on horseback, or rather some horses with their riders pretending to be Polish riders.
Historically correct they were not and definitely on the fantasy side, yet I had lots of fun drawing them using various Pigma micron pens and watercolors. I did clean the drawing and changed the color of the Background with GIMP and PS.

This image is supposed to show one over-armed szlachcic (nobleman) of the early XVII (17th) century.

He is wearing a Hungarian style 'magierka' (headgear), a type of hat very popular with Polish nobility between 1560-1640s (more or less), a short 'zupan' (zhupan a riding coat of ancient Iranian - Sarmatians, Scythians - nomads provenance), and riding boots where the heel was of iron and shaped like horseshoe (R. Brzezinski writes about this Polish footwear in his Osprey's book – Polish Winged Hussar). The stirrup suppose to be of a Polish type, based on the Tatar stirrups – most Polish riding gear was based in the Caspian-Pontic steppe traditions.
Under his left leg he is carrying a pallasch (a Polish Palasz) a fearsome broadsword that had its origins with the Sassanian, Turkic, and Islamic knightly traditions. I drew a Tatar looking sabre that was usually carried under the bow case. He is carrying a 'nadziak' in his right hand, a fearsome weapon indeed.
Bow case ( 'sajdak' or 'sahajdak' in Polish) is a fantasy piece, the same with saddle, although it is very loosely based on the original saddles of the time period. Horse tack is a bit fanciful but especially towards the end of the 1600s Polish horse tack became more Oriental (Tatar and Turkish). The horse tail (tug or kutas) or 'bunczk' (bunchuk) hanging from the horse's neck was adopted early in the 1500s by the Polish horsemen, and was often dyed red and adorned with colorful silk cords, gold, silver and precious jewels.
By the way a big or small mustache was a must for a Polish nobleman - His Royal Majesty King Jan III Sobieski, Prince and Marechal du France Prince Jozef Poniatowski, and Conqueror of the Soviet Russia Marshal Jozef Pilsudski are the most famous examples of that continuous fashion that lasted from the early medieval Poland until the mid 1990s. Even today it is the part of traditional Polish male appearance, although not in fashion that much with the young bucks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

CURB BIT of Byzantine provenance

 we went to the MET today, to see the Afghanistan treasures of the Bactra-Margiana, Saka and Kushan eras (hope to address these in the future posts), and also the old medieval drawings (I will do a post on some nice drawings I found at the exhibit dating to 12th century AD Turnai, France), and passing by the Byzantine art section I took some pictures of a curb bit dated between 600 to 800 AD (Anno Domini or Christian Era), an example of early Medieval art and following both the Persian and Sogdian traditions of the Sassanid era and prior ancient Roman traditions.

The bit is beautiful, inlaid with various motifs and nicely preserved - it was found in Spain, and most likely is of the Byzantine provenance, perhaps it was traded or captured by the Visigoth or Moorish conqueror of Spain, as the times were very tumultuous.

The horse's bridle  must been attached via these 2 rectangular movable pieces attached to the bit mouthpiece's 'rings.' The reins could have been attached to the surviving rings on the mouthpice or down below at the end ot the shank, where there are two rein rings welded to the shank bar. It looks as if the purchase was not attached directly to the bridle, as if in the ancient 'psalion'/cheekpieced bit. It was  quite powerful device of control, most likely used on a mount destined for war and close combat.

One day  I shall do a drawing of this bit as could have appeared  when placed in a horse's mouth etc ...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

some old drawings

as I am busy with some new and old projects I have decided to share some old images of mine - they are between fantasy and history, and between enjoyment and pure struggle to achieve a desired result, the outcome not always as happy as one would like...