Beowulf @ Ellis

Christa A.

The Lake of Grendel

            This artistic piece was created to symbolically represent the characteristics of Grendel’s personality through the lake he lives in. I wanted the lake to show that his home can reflect, define, and even reinforce his character. Grendel has proven to be very much like his environment. The frightening and gruesome lake reflects Grendel’s behavior, truest self, and helps to explain him.
Grendel is not the only one living in the lake. He shares it with several other mysterious and ghastly creatures. I imagine them as all very terrifying. I wanted to make creatures that looked as if they once belonged to a normal species of animals and are now monsters.  Reading Beowulf made me think that the creatures lurking in the lake were like evil insects or reptiles, distorted and deformed. Most of the creatures I drew resemble dragons and snakes, which both relate back to evil in the Bible and are regarded by most people as dangerous (so I chose to use those kinds of body forms for the creatures). Like Grendel, these creatures’ characteristics and appearances have been altered because of their corruption. The creatures have developed irregular fangs for teeth and sharp poisonous barbs for tails. Because Grendel’s home is “guarded” by these creatures, I feel that Grendel’s personality is a reflection of their evil and they of his.
Surrounding the lake are several trees. Normally, trees are the sign of life, but in my drawing they are the complete opposite. There are no leaves on the trees and they are all bent over toward the lake. They are very dry and are barely alive. Some of the trees that are closer to the edge of the lake have roots that reach into the water. The parts of the roots that touch the lake are black, and if one looks closely, the blackness is spreading up the root to the tree. This portrays how toxic and poisonous the lake is and how its water is more of a killer than a life giver. The lifelessness of the lake can be seen as another reflection of Grendel as well. He is not a life giver, but a killer.
The colors in the drawing are very earthy and dark. The darkness and gloominess suggest how unnatural the lake is. Though most of the drawing is done with shady colors, other brighter colors are used for specific purposes. I used a deep red color to represent the blood that the lake was infested with. It is a very dark red to show how long the blood has been there. Also, I cast a misty yellowish color over the lake underneath a gloomy cloud of dirty fog. The yellow symbolizes the eeriness of the lake while the fog symbolizes the frightening mystery of what lies beneath the surface. Grendel’s personality can be seen in all these colors, which represent his depression, confusion, corruption, and awkwardness.
In addition, I used different types of media. I used pencil to create a shadowy look in the drawing because it is easy to blend. Also, I was able to make the picture very detailed because of the fine point on the pencil. To amplify parts of the drawing, I used permanent marker. Chalk was used to make parts of the scene scratchy and rough. I put the chalk on the paper in strokes, trying not to blend them together. The stripes of chalk give the viewer the impression that nothing quite connects or goes together here. The stroke method eliminates all suggestions of unity or harmony. In order to make the scene seem more realistic, I chose to use real dirt in the picture to give the viewer a sense of Grendel’s reality--he lives in filth. Crayons were useful because they allowed me to include a variety of colors. The various media help to support the idea that Grendel is complex but all in confusion, full of anger and frustration.
Also, while drawing, I focused on the style of the images, the way they were drawn. The trees, creatures, and other objects all have sharp edges. Creating the image with this style makes the piece more dangerous. The pointy edges are used to remind the viewer of piercing objects such as knives and spears. When these items penetrate through the viewer’s mind it often prompts the threat of death. I wanted to capture the threatening atmosphere of the lake while still reflecting Grendel’s killer-like personality.
The drawing truly defines Grendel’s character and personality. His guardian devil creatures that surround him portray his terrible living habits-he crushing their skulls with his teeth, flossing them with their veins, and finally leaving their remains to rot in his lake. While the dying and bending trees represent Grendel’s lifelessness. He is described as lifeless because of his nihilistic behavior-not having a care in the world. The various colors display Grendel’s sense of gloominess and despair. The mixture of mediums signifies a conflict of emotion and his build up of anger. Also, the sharp edges and points demonstrate his dangerous destructiveness. All of the parts of the drawing in are meant to reveal a characteristic of Grendel. This piece of artwork and how it relates to Beowulf demonstrates the idea that one’s home both reflects and shapes one’s disposition.


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