Monday, August 25, 2014

Frankenstein Returns!
The Creature (detail). Mixed media.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has fascinated me since I was lucky enough to be forced to read it in high school. 

As a kid, I loved the 1930s movie. The fear Karloff's face inspired remains a vivid memory.

I didn't know of Thomas Edison's movie--the first film version--until adulthood. You can see the
whole thing here:

Mary Shelley's description of the creature has been ignored, attempted, and also revised by movie-makers and artists, but it is definitely evocative: His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid 
contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the 
dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

I've ignored it for my versions as well. Following is the progression of the newest painting, done as a poster design soon to be released. Hope you enjoy it!

Lots of sketches preceded the final face. Here are a few.

After a search for a border I found this copyright free design in a Dover book.
I modified it greatly as you will see.

Here's the initial pencil prelim (on watercolor paper) of the lower part of the border...

...and here's the big guy, with his initial pair of boots, later changed to somewhat goofy slipper-shoes.

Inked with both pen and brush, it's ready for watercolor.

After an initial wash of raw umber, my colors were added in layers. Striving for a monochromatic look, my palette was mostly limited to ultramarine, burnt sienna, and raw umber. 

The bits of green came from raw sienna mixed with ultramarine, but I brightened his eyes at the end by adding lemon yellow and cerulean to the initial green mixture. (Shot with a camera phone, these look more saturated than the actual piece.)

For another rendition of the creature, you might enjoy

As always, questions and comments are welcome.  Thanks for the visit!


  1. I've never read Mary Shelley's book so I had no idea Frankenstein was supposed to be yellow with black flowing hair! But I like your version. I love the details and the way the creature is breaking the plane of his frame. Beautiful work!

    1. Thank you, Laurie--I appreciate you checking this out, and your comments!

  2. I have not read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, either. Although yours does not follow her description precisely, it carries the spirit. Fabulous!

    1. Thanks Miss Gladys--mine's a bit goofy. Hope Mary Shelley doesn't mind =]

  3. Neither I read the story , but I like your approach. The final work is great. Moreover - my eye focused on your old microscope - believe me or not , but I have EXACTLY the same at home!!

    Ello ello :) thanks , looks good, but still I have to learn to use it !

    1. Nice to know there is a fellow Victorian-microscope lover out there! Thank you for the compliment, Ludek! I have not learned to use Ello well either, but I like the absence of
      Facebook-Malice so far, haha! I will keep practicing.

  4. Cool, man, and of course -- fascinating.

    1. Glad you found it so--thanks for checking it out, Erik!


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