The oldest stories of lions date back to some 32,000 years ago, they are represented in cave paintings in the south of france. More Morden, well about 620 and 560 BC. Aesop, the greek slave and story-teller wrote a fable, The Lion and the Mouse, the lion learns that mercy brings its reward, that there is no being so small that it cannot help a greater. You guessed it, the mouse saves the day. The lion being king of the heap threatens to eat the mouse, but the mouse begs not to be eaten, stating that he is an unworthy prey and would bring the lion no honour. The lion does not eat the mouse and is later rewarded for his mercy when he is caught in a trap set by hunters. The mouse notices the lions plight and gnaws through the traps ropes setting the lion free.
Another popular story is the greek myth about Heracles and the Nemean lion. Heracles famously killed the Nemean lion bare handed. It was the first of his “twelve Labours” which were set by King Eurystheus. Heracles discovered that the lions pelt had protective property when the his arrow bounced harmlessly off the creature’s thigh. So he blocked one of the two entrances to the beast’s cave, strode in the other one and battled the creature bare handed. He killed the lion but lost a finger in the process. the hero Heracles is often represented wearing the lionskin.
You can see this painting in progress in my earlier post. I wanted to capture the king like status of the lion so the kind of art deco shape was a good starting point, also the perspective of looking across the grassy plain to mt kilimanjaro helps. Big mane as well. Lots of use of Quinacridone gold in this watercolour, it’s got to be one of my favourite colours.
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With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se. Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.